In Gods’ Hollow: May 5, 1912

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The sound of machines shook bone dust from the ceiling.

I stood before the door, my eyes fixed on the handle, wondering what fresh horror I might find behind it.

Would it be another of my dead? Someone not forgotten? Someone whose loss I still felt, decades or centuries later?

There was, of course, only one way for me to find out.

The machinery went silent as I touched the hand and slid back the bolt. I entered a cavernous work floor and saw a single child standing among a veritable forest of machines.

I was in a mill of some sort, and around the spools, I saw not thread, but human hairs. All were bleached white, and the boy who stood in front of them looked at me with apathy that I had never hoped to see in a child’s eyes.

His gaze went from me to my guns, then to Grimnir, the raven sitting silently on my shoulder.

The boy opened his mouth and let out a keening wail that pierced my head and drove a spike through my stomach. Had he not stopped a moment later, the sound would have sent me to my knees.

The raven spoke in a language I had no knowledge of, and when he finished, the boy wailed again.

I sank to one knee, grinding my teeth together as blood seeped from my nose and pooled in my ears. When the child stopped, I gasped for breath. It took me a moment, but I was able to stand.

“The child says the Coffin boy passed through,” the raven told me. “There is a door on the far end. He will grant us safe passage to it, as he did the boy. You must hurry, though, Duncan Blood, the machines will not wait for long, and when they start again, the harvesters will come out to take your hair.”

Whispers raced along under the machines, and I nodded my understanding. I could not bring myself to thank the child, for my mind could barely force my feet into motion.

It took me an hour to cross the work floor, and every step was agony. When I made it to the exit and closed the door behind me, I heard the sharp, high laughter of young children a heartbeat before the machines began anew.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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