Strangers: The Horse Eater

I hate Gods’ Hollow.

Throughout my long life, strangers have drifted out of the Hollow. Some few have been travelers passing through Cross. Others, like the Horse Eater, came to prey upon our world.

How this man developed his taste for horse flesh I’ll never know, nor do I want to.

He arrived in town around 1846, and within days a horse went missing.

The mare belonged to Henry Black, and he was none too pleased with her theft. Word went out to the various outlying farms to keep an eye out for the mare, and Henry was hopeful she would be found.

She was, in a manner of speaking.

On the North Road, across from Gods’ Hollow, her remains were found. She’d been eviscerated, and all her organs were gone. The horse had been cut open deftly, and whoever had killed her had taken her brain as well.

Some few thought it might be a bear, perhaps a mountain lion if one had come in from the west.

I disagreed, though I kept my own counsel.

Over the next week, another two horses and one foal were stolen, and they were all found at various points on the North Road. Several townsfolk stationed themselves on the road after the foal, but nothing happened. For five days, they remained on the road at night.

When they left after the fifth night, I remained.

The Horse Eater arrived close to midnight of the sixth day, leading a gray stallion from my own barn.

The Horse Eater was the stranger I had seen around town, and he laughed and sang as he walked my horse along. When he drew near the spot where Henry Black’s mare had been found, the stranger stopped. He leaned in, whispered something to the stallion, and then drew a long knife from his waistband.

The ball from my Colt took him in the elbow, shattering it and causing him to scream. The stallion, being no fool, took off for home.

As I stepped toward the Horse Eater, his arm limp, he turned and cursed at me in a language I had no knowledge of. His teeth, I saw, were serrated, and his eyes flashed silver.

I don’t know what he was, but he took a long time to die.

Not that I minded the work.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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