Short Story
                                    The Bitch on Ridge Road
                                                                           By L.L. Asher


   “Nah girl, I ain’t fuckin with Ronnie no more.” Ashleigh held the microphone attached to her earbuds to
her lips as she spoke. “He ain’t right.”

   “He sexy, though,” Tammi said through the bud in Ashleigh’s ear.

   Ashleigh rolled her eyes, the cord of the headphones swatting against her elbow as she walked along
the uneven sidewalk.

   “I’m just sayin’,” Tammi went on, Ashleigh rounded the corner on Bright Street. “That boy is hella hot.”

   “Mm.” Ashleigh pursed her lips, glancing at two women walking in her direction. They giggled and flailed
their hands as they chatted.

   Ashleigh sneered at them.

   “But, girl,” Tammi said. “He likes you.”

   “Fuck Ronnie!”

   The two women stopped giggling but didn’t look at her. Ashleigh narrowed her eyes at them.

   “Damn, girl. That’s har—”

   “Mother fucker gave me chlamydia.”

   The two women both glanced up at her as they passed and moved faster.

   “Oh shit!” Tammi sang.

   Ashleigh turned to the women, her arms spread wide. The earbuds dropped from her ears and the cord
swung down, bouncing across her legs.

   “Yeah, chlamydia!”

   They didn’t look back.

   “You got a fucking problem, bitches?” She stomped toward them, her arms outstretched, matching her
words to the stomps. “Mind your god-damned business!”

   The two women sprinted away, disappearing around the corner.

   Ashleigh glared after them. She sucked her teeth, then lowered her arms.

   “Bitches,” she whispered.

   She turned and continued walking, avoiding the cracks in the sidewalk, and lifted the earbuds back to
her ears.

   “Ashleigh? You there?”

   “Yeah, girl.”

   “What happened? You okay?”

   “Yeah. These two white-ass bitches, up in my business.”

   “Girl, stop. You white.”

   Ashleigh snorted and opened her mouth, her tongue lolling out, and laughed.

   “You know what I mean, though. Snobby-ass bitches.”

   “For sure. Where you at?”

   “Bright Street.”

   “You ain’t home yet? Damn you slow!”

   “Psh, whatever. I live three miles from the high school.” Ashleigh plodded up the hill leading to Ridge
Road, beads of sweat cascading down her back.
   
   “I can’t believe you got chlamydia.” Tammi snorted. “Oooh, girl! That’s nasty.”

   “You tellin me?”

   “Ashleigh, you breathing all up in the phone. Damn. Sound like you dyin or something.”

   “Gotta get up this fucking hill.” Ashleigh leaned forward, marching toward the street sign at the top of the
hill. Her heartbeat pounded in her eardrums.

   “If you don’t stop breathing in my ear, Imma hang up. You got phlegm or chlamydia juice bubbling in your
lungs or something.”

   “Oh my God, shut up! I’m at the top.” Ashleigh wrapped one hand around the signpost and braced the
other on her knee as she bent, catching her breath.

   “You wanna go out with Cherish and Lauren tomorrow night?”

   Ashleigh straightened, her heart no longer hammering against her ribcage. She gazed across the
street, her eyes drifting over the abandoned warehouse.

   “Nah, I hate those bitches.”

   Broken windows lined the grey building and huge slabs of broken concrete smattered the lawn in front of
it, casting dark contorted shadows out toward her.

   “You hate everyone.”

   Chains hung around the front double doors.

   “Ashleigh?”

   “Yeah?”

   “What you doin’? You sound weird.”

   “Standing in front of Hampton Co.”

   “Oh, Hell no, girl. That place gives me the creeps.”

   Ashleigh dropped her gaze to her hand holding the mic and snorted. “The creeps? You Scooby-Doo
now?”

   “I know I wouldn’t be fucking around with that warehouse.”

   Ashleigh turned and headed toward Cleveland Avenue.

   “So, you really not coming tomorrow?”

   “Girl, I told you—Huh?”

   Something snapped behind her.

   She whirled around.

   “Girl, what? You breathing in the phone again.”

   Ashleigh’s eyes darted across the lawn in front of the warehouse and over the concrete slabs.

   “Girl, wh—”

   “I heard something.” Ashleigh’s breath caught when her eyes landed on a figure standing in front of the
chained double doors at the entrance.

   “What’d you hear?”

   “Girl, some bitch is standing in front of the warehouse.”

   “Oh, Hell no. Who is it?”

   Ashleigh stepped into the street, squinting at the woman. “She’s wearing a pink hoodie.” She took a few
more steps. “She’s got her hood up, I can’t see her face.”

   “Fuck that, girl!”

   “Yeah, you right.” Ashleigh turned but didn’t walk. “She might need help.”

   “Are you serious?”

   Ashleigh turned back. “Oh fuck!”

   “What?” The octave of Tammi’s voice piercing Ashleigh’s eardrum.

   The woman stood at the sidewalk across the street, about seven yards away from the double doors. Her
body faced Ashleigh, but her covered head bowed down, hiding her face. Brown greasy tendrils hung in
limp sheets from beneath the hood. Her pale hands dangled at her sides, the fingers twitching.

   “Shit,” Ashleigh whispered.

   “Ashleigh,” Tammi whispered back.

   Piss or something drenched the front of the woman’s pants. Ashleigh wrinkled her nose.

   The woman’s fingers continued to twitch.

   “Excuse me?” Ashleigh took a step toward the woman, whose covered head had also begun to twitch.

   “Girl, no! What you doin?” Tammi yelled.

   Ashleigh held the mic to her lips. “She’s having a seizure or something. I can’t leave her.”

   She moved closer, only a few feet away from the convulsing woman. “Lady? Do you need help?”

   The woman stilled, then lifted her hand. Her black broken nails, lined by cracked and torn cuticles, oozed
with white pus.

   Ashleigh flinched back.

   The woman clenched three of her four fingers and thumb into a fist, and thrust it up and down, the middle
finger jutting toward the sky.

    “This bitch,” Ashleigh whispered, staring at the woman.

   “What’d she do, girl?”

   “She tryna…”

   The woman thrust her other middle finger up at Ashleigh, pumping her two fists back and forth.

   “Yo!” Ashleigh flung her arms out, her fingers splayed wide. “You got a fucking problem? Crusty-ass
bitch!”

   “Oh shit, girl!” Tammi yelled. “You tell that bitch!”

   “You think I’m playing, ho?” She stomped toward the woman.

   The woman’s hands dropped to her sides.

   Ashleigh glared at the woman and thrust her chin forward, her arms still extended.

   The woman retreated, as if gliding and stopped in front of a giant concrete slab.

   Ashleigh stood on the street, her toes grazing the curb.

   “What’s she doing?” Tammi asked.

   The woman flipped her off again, then beat her fists into her pelvis and jumped from one foot to another,
hiking her knees out to the side.

   “Ashleigh, what’s she doing?”

   “Girl…” Ashleigh reached into her back pocket and pulled out her phone. “You gotta see this shit.” She
opened the camera and held it out.

   Ashleigh watched the screen.

   As the lens focused on her, the woman lifted her head and pulled back the hood, her matted hair ripping
away from the scalp and falling to the ground in knotted dripping heaps. Bloody pus spurted from the
woman’s head in arching bursts, splattering the grass at her feet. Black and purple veins etched their way
around her face and neck.

   The woman’s eyes rolled up to meet the lens. Two shimmering red pupils flashed onto the screen before
the phone sparked and burst into flames.

   Ashleigh dropped it, the earphone plug popping free from the port as it fell. The blazing phone landed on
her foot, igniting the hem of her jeans.

   “Fuck!” She danced around, batting at the flames, the earbuds’ cord swinging out around her in wide
arcs.

   The flames bit into her skin, melting the flesh of her leg. She dropped to the grass and rolled,
extinguishing the fire.

   Ashleigh sat up and examined her calves. Her jeans hung in seared tattered ribbons around them. The
skin looked okay. She touched her left shin with her index finger, running it up the length.

   Her mouth dropped open in a silent scream as the skin peeled away and green pus plumed out in its
wake. She yanked her hand away, her stomach convulsing.

   Ashleigh blinked and the pus vanished. Her jeans covered her calves again, showing no sign they’d
been burned.

   “What the fuck?” She breathed.

   A female voice cackled in her ears through the earbuds making Ashleigh’s scalp prickle with tingling
dread. She ran her fingers along the white plastic cord and brought the metal insert at the end to her face.
Her eyes drifted past the sidewalk to the street, where her phone lay. Tammi’s voice shouted from it.

   “Ashleigh, you okay? Ashleigh?”

   The other voice tittered in her ears.

   “Tammi!” She scrambled to the phone on her hands and knees. When she reached the sidewalk, the
cracked concrete projected out in front of her into an endless white horizon. Tammi’s voice shrank away,
and the other voice howled in her ears.

   She wheeled back and threw herself onto the warehouse lawn.

   Tammi’s voice rang out again. “Girl quit playing!”

   Ashleigh twisted her body to the sound. Her phone lay on the black pavement on the other side of the
normal-looking sidewalk.

   “Now who’s a bitch? Bitch!” The voice shrieked into her ears.

   Ashleigh tugged at the earbuds, but they wouldn’t come free.

   “Who’s the ho?!”

   Ashleigh gripped the buds with her fingers and yanked, screaming as pain exploded through her inner
and outer ears.

   Her eyes darted across the lawn, from slab to slab, as she dabbed her shaking fingers over the
earbuds. Her stomach and chest clenched in ringing horror as she moved the tip of her finger across the
skin of her earlobe and found that it extended up over the earbud as well.

   A whimper croaked out from Ashleigh’s gaping mouth. Her skin had also fused with the plastic cord.
Violent spasms rocked through her as she ran her finger down the cord, feeling the touch with her new
skin. She lifted the end of the cord to her face, closing her eyes against waves of nausea. She opened
them again and vomited, chunks spewing from her mouth and nose. Ashleigh looked at the end of the cord
again, her head twitching back and forth. Instead of the end of the cord being capped with a silver insert, it
funneled out while thick yellow discharge tinged with a red shiny film pumped out to the rhythm of her
heartbeat.

   A cold, wet hand wrapped around her forearm. Ashleigh cried out, her head snapping toward the
assailant. The woman’s face rushed down toward hers, pus and blood still spurting from the open sores on
her scalp, showering Ashleigh’s face in thick, warm globs. The scent of rotting fish and sewage flooded
her nose and mouth.

   The woman’s vein-lined face broke into a wide grin. Her long-blackened teeth gnashed at her glistening
red tongue. Inky liquid oozed from behind them and dripped down her chin.

   She grabbed Ashleigh’s other arm, her red glowing pupils dilated.

   “All mine now, Bitch.” The voice said through Ashleigh’s earbuds, though the woman’s mouth hadn’t
moved.

   Ashleigh’s eyes dropped to the woman’s toothy grin, the growing teeth. The dark liquid gushed out from
behind them as they grew. Longer and longer.

   Then a tapping from inside the woman’s mouth.

   Ashleigh shrank back, but the woman’s grip tightened.

   Little chips of enamel shot from the woman’s mouth, spattering Ashleigh’s face.

   The woman’s teeth burst apart, spewing juices and bits of bone, as a black, furry animal erupted from
the woman’s mouth. It launched itself at Ashleigh, clinging with dozens of tiny claws to her hair, ears, and
chin.

   Ashleigh tore herself away from the woman’s grip and wrapped her fingers around the furry thing pulsing
against her face. She wrenched it off with a squelching pop. It swelled in her hands, bubbling, then
exploded into a thick froth of slimy goop.

   A breeze wafted across her cheeks.

   She looked up rocking back on her heels.

   “How did I get here?” Ashleigh gripped handfuls of her hair and tugged as she spun in a slow circle.
Beams of sunlight filtered in through the broken windows of the enormous building that surrounded her.

   As she turned, her footfalls echoed against the floor and walls. The cord of her earbuds grazed her arm.
She glanced down.

   Plastic!

   She ripped the earbuds from her ears and stamped them, her foot grinding bits of metal and plastic into
the stone.

   “Bitch.”

   Ashleigh jerked toward the voice.

   “Bitch!” She answered.

   A figure, shrouded in shadows, hovered at the opposite end of the warehouse. It shifted and darted, as
if made of smoke.

   “No! None, of that voodoo shit, you fucking bitch!” Ashleigh flung her arms out and stomped toward the
shifting mass. “You wanna fight me? Fight me! But I’m getting the fuck outta here!”

   The shifting mass drifted up and swirled in a dark vortex.

   Ashleigh glared at it.

   It pulsed out, changing shape and color.

   A woman’s face, the size of a minivan, hung suspended in the warehouse over Ashleigh. The eyes
twitched and the cheeks jerked, morphing the appearance.

   “It’s me,” Ashleigh said. “That’s my face, bitch!”

   The face folded in on itself again, and again, becoming a thick pile of folded skin dappled with long
curled hairs.

   Ashleigh’s lip curled up in a sneer.

   White liquid secreted from between the folds, spilling to the floor at Ashleigh’s feet.

   “Girl…” Ashleigh breathed. “You nasty.”

   The image dissolved into thousands of tiny droplets that swirled around Ashleigh, spraying her with icy
mist.

   “No, bitch.” The voice rang out from the mist. “You nasty.”

   The mist materialized in front of her. The woman stood in her pink sweatshirt, the hood pulled over her
head. Matted greasy hair hung around her downturned face. She raised her hand to the hood, pushing it
back.

   “I don’t think so, bitch!” Ashleigh swung her fist into the woman’s face, skull crunching and caving in
around her hand. Blood and yellow pus exploded from the head, drenching her.

   The woman collapsed.

   Ashleigh leaned over the body, spitting a mouthful of the woman’s fluids back onto her.

   She turned and ran, her sneakers pounding across the stone floor, echoing off the walls around her.
Ashleigh threw herself against the double doors and they flew open, whacking against the outer stone wall.

   She sprinted across the lawn past the slabs of concrete.

   A truck drove by, crunching Ashleigh’s phone beneath its tires.

   She threw her arms over her head and waved as she raced toward the truck.

   “Hey!” She forced her legs to move faster. “Stop!”

   Ashleigh’s sneaker hit the cracked, uneven sidewalk. It fanned out into the horizon. White concrete
spanned across her line of vision.

   Tears streamed down her cheeks.

   Cackling laughter erupted in her ears.

   Ashleigh glanced down. A skin-colored cord hung around her chest, dangling from her ears. Blood and
pus pumped from the end, drenching the front of her pants.

   Sobs wracked her body as she turned back to the warehouse. The woman stood in front of the chained
double doors at the entrance, her pink hood up over her head. She lifted both fists to Ashleigh, middle
fingers thrusting up, and hopped from one leg to the other.

   “Bitch,” the voice said in her ear.



About L.L. Asher:  
To read other short stories,
click one of the titles below.
About LL. Asher

L.L. Asher lives in Dallas,
Georgia and has
published short stories
with Zimbell House
Publishing, Bewildering
Stories, Castabout Art &
Literature, The Raven
Chronicles, Fantasia
Divinity Publishing,
Bending Genres, Writer’s
Club and the Cygnet. L.L.
has a bachelor’s degree
in Psychology and is
currently working on a
second degree in English
with a concentration in
Writing.