The air in the room was oppressive, weighing me down as I crossed the threshold. I paused, just inside the doorway, and listened. I heard a faint whisper, but the words were unintelligible. A deep compulsion arose within me, beckoning me forward, enticing me. When I reached the destroyed billiard table, I stopped again.
The words were spoken by a woman. Her voice was sweetness and light, amongst the unknown syllables and consonants, I heard soft, pleading words.
My head began to pound, and my mouth went dry as I moved forward again. Without knowing it, I drew both Colts. When I realized what I had done, I cocked the hammers and walked with stilted steps.
The voice grew louder, the pleading transformed into begging, a note of hideous want within the tones.
When I reached the doorway at the far end, I found her. An old woman, her eyes gouged out, her tongue lolling. Her nostrils flared when I stood before her. The dress she wore was little more than a tattered rag, the skin clinging to her bones was paper-thin and rustled as she moved. She asked me who I was, and I told her, staying out of reach and keeping both pistols leveled on her.
When I asked for her name, she told me.
She begged me to kill her, to free her from her bonds. The children, she told me, had trapped her and imprisoned her.
I asked if she knew Josiah Hauptmann. She flinched at the name, and I holstered my pistols. Her screams followed me out of the room, and I smiled and wished I had a harmonica.
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