In Gods’ Hollow: May 11, 1912

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Beneath the surgical theater, I found them, mute and filthy.

Their tongues were gone, and I knew who had taken them.

There were dozens of boys, some as young as four, others nearly sixteen. All watched me, unsure as to what I might do. When I spoke to them, they did not understand me. I tried every language I knew, and nothing was familiar to them.

In that dim and foul place, I sat down and offered what little food I had to them. They nodded their thanks and broke bread with me.

Grimnir remained on my shoulder, the raven preening upon occasion, but offering nothing in the way of conversation. Occasionally, the boys would look to the bird, and he would let out a croak. Each child would laugh in their strange, muted way, and continued with their meal.

The food, I discovered, did not run out. This, I attributed to the raven. The Gallows god, it seemed, had a soft spot for the boys in that room.

We ate for hours, the closeness of the bodies muffling the sounds of their eating.

When they finished, the raven let out a sharp cry and as one, the boys got to their feet. Starting with the youngest, they approached Grimnir in single file. He touched his beak to the forehead of each, and the child would move on, following the stairwell up and out of the small room.

Soon, we were alone, and there, on the floor, a trapdoor was revealed. The children had been seated upon it.

“They have been here a long time, Duncan Blood,” the raven informed me.

“Hm?”

“Nearly as long as you have been alive.”

The thought chilled my bones, and when I looked at the raven, he nodded.

“This place,” he said, “it is an abomination. What will you do to those who run it?”

“I’m going to kill them,” I replied, getting to my feet.

“Fast or slow?” Grimnir inquired.

“Slow,” I answered. “I’ll hang each one, and it won’t be quick.”

The raven chuckled his satisfaction, and I opened the trapdoor.

It was time for the next level of this hell.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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