Toys in Cross: Toy Soldiers


I’ve a man to kill.

I have only a first initial and the last name, van Zant. From what I’ve been able to gather thus far, I should be able to find him in San Francisco.

He’s a toymaker, and the toys he made have done some damage in Cross.

This week, a box of toys arrived at Cross Elementary School. It was addressed to the children of the second grade, and to the children of the second grade, it went. Ms. Hausen, their teacher, was thrilled at the toys found within. They were soldiers and artillery, an ambulance, and a tank. Magnificently rendered and perfectly constructed for children.

When she passed them out, it was mostly the boys who wanted to play with them, though a few girls partook. Those few children who refrained were the luckiest children in Cross.

Within an hour, screams could be heard coming from the classroom.

The children who had played with the toys were afflicted with wounds of the war.

Some were blind and shrieking; others collapsed, sounding as though they had been gassed. Shrapnel and bullet wounds sprang open, and soon Ms. Hausen’s classroom had the appearance of a field hospital.

I was visiting a friend near the school when the screams reached us, and I was one of the first into the room.

I have seen a great many horrors in my years, and those inflicted upon children are always the worst.

I must give credit to Ms. Hausen, who kept the uninjured children calm and helped care for those who were wounded. As I helped to bind wounds and make the injured comfortable, I saw the toys. Without a word, I swept them into the box in which they had arrived and then turned my attention back to the children.

By nightfall, three of the second graders were dead, and seven more were permanently scarred. I doubt that any in that room will ever sleep well again.

I am headed out to San Francisco shortly. I will take paths not fit to be traveled upon by good and generous men, but I am neither of those.

I will find Mr. van Zant, toymaker, and when I do, I’ll keep him alive as long as possible.

P.S. Three days, six hours, and nineteen minutes. Not nearly long enough.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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