Recollections, 1960: Ernst Buch


Ernst Buch was one of those rare folk who traveled through Cross as a young man, decided he liked it and settled down to stay. The town has seen its fair share of drifters, but most either end up in the ground or on a train to less dangerous places.

Not Ernst.

Ernst was a cobbler by trade, and when he moved into Cross, there was need of a new one, the last cobbler having been eaten by his wife.

Ernst never married. Nor did he ever seem particularly interested in courting. His true love was the violin he had brought with him from Austria when he immigrated at the tender age of twelve. He enjoyed his music and his beer, neither of which are faults as far as I’m concerned.

When he sold his cobbling business, Ernst lived off his savings in a one-room house he rented from the Coffins. On any given night, you could see him with his stein of beer and his violin. As the troubles with the creatures from the Hollow multiplied, Ernst was a recipient of a raven companion.

This raven, Wulf, was the only one I knew of whoever sang along with an instrument. The harmony between the bird and the man was impressive and beautiful.

On September 3rd, 1898, I went to Ernst’s home to visit and drink beer, but the man was not there, nor was Wulf.

What I found was a note written in Ernst’s shaky hand and pinned to the table by his stein.

‘Tell Duncan Blood they’ve taken Wulf. I am off for Gods’ Hollow and my friend.’

I wasted no time racing for the Hollow, but when I reached it, there was no sign of either the man or the raven. Not at first.

As the sun started to set a loud, cracking sound rang out, and I looked up in time to see an object curving in the air towards me. It landed with a sickeningly wet thud, and when I looked down, I was not surprised to see the head of Ernst. Wulf’s own head protruded from the dead man’s open mouth.

Not for the last time did I wonder what it would take to burn the Hollow down.

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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