In Gods’ Hollow: May 26, 1912

I carried the blind boy on my back and sought an exit from my mother’s warren.

The cat had fled with the death of its mistress, and the raven had led the other boys into the room. No one spared a glance at the corpse of the Keeper.

“She was young here,” the raven observed as we found a narrow passage.

“Younger than she was when she gave birth to me,” I replied.

We walked on in silence, the boys behind us marching in single file.

“Do you think there are others of her here?” I asked.

“No,” the bird replied. “You are far too dangerous, Duncan Blood. They cannot risk having you kill more than one at a time. It throws off the balance.”

“The balance of what?” I inquired.

“Of everything,” the raven stated, blinking his good eye at me. “This is nexus, as surely as the Hollow is a nexus. You will close this when we leave?”

“Of course,” I answered. I glanced over my shoulder at the boys behind us. “How many?”

“Thirty-seven,” Grimnir answered preening. “They will stay with you.”

“Me?”

The raven nodded. “Until it is time for them to move on.”

“When will that be?” I asked, trying to think as to where I might put thirty-six boys, some of whom I doubted spoke any language I knew.

“Some tomorrow, others the day after,” the bird stated. “Quite a few will drift out to your islands on Blood Lake. They will remain there, living out their days in solitude and reflection. Such is the way of our world.”

I shifted Johnny’s weight, and the boy sighed.

“He is asleep,” the raven observed.

“Good. She took his eyes.”

“Ate them, to be precise,” Grimnir informed me. “Then made him sew his own lids closed.”

I swore, and the bird nodded. “Yes. It is good she is dead, Duncan Blood. Tell me, what will you do when we leave this place?”

“I’ll burn it to the ground.”

“Good.”

For hours, we walked in silence. When we finally climbed out of a tunnel and into the Hollow, with the sun shining upon us, I set fire to my mother’s warren.

Then, as the day ended, the boys gathered around me, and we watched her world burn.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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