Toys in Cross: A Drum from Boston


Marcus Starr’s drum rallied the dead.

His father bought him the drum from a sailor in Boston, and Mr. Starr brought the damned thing back to Cross.

I was home when it arrived in town, and I felt the shift in the wind.

Mr. Starr and Mrs. Starr, proud of their son’s pleased reception of the gift, had a portrait taken of the boy with the drum, and then, as they stepped out of the studio, Mrs. Starr had her son bang upon the drum.

It was, for the Starrs and several others, a poor decision.

Marcus pounded it with a steady, curious rhythm, one that sent a chill through my bones as the earth beneath my feet rumbled and complained. Had the farm not been bound with blood by Blood, I would have had a rough time of it. As it was, I knew something bad was coming.

I retrieved my war club and left the house at a run. There was no time to dally. The drum was getting closer, and the risen dead would be there to meet it soon enough.

I reached the end of my drive about the same time as Marcus and his parents appeared.

Less than a minute later so too did some of the dead.

They clambered over the stonewall around Gods’ Hollow, and they made their way unerringly toward the Starrs. I yelled to the living to come to me, but they could not hear me over the reverberations of the drum. Mother and Father smiled upon the Son, and death stumbled toward them.

A carriage came down from Gordon’s Way, and the driver focused on the boy with the drum, and nothing else.

Only the terrified shriek of Mrs. Starr disrupted the boy’s playing, and by then, by then, it was too late.

The dead fell upon the living. They dragged the horses down in their traces, and the driver from his seat. The man’s passengers were taken out a moment later. The dead swarmed over the Starrs, and the drum went silent as the living died.

I waded into the fray, smashing heads with every blow. For nearly an hour, I battled the dead, and when I was finished, I piled the corpses of all and set them ablaze.

The drum, bespattered and foul, sits upon a high shelf in the library, eager to be played.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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