Strangers: Crucifixions

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The sound of hammering rolled along North Road and ushered in horror.

North Road runs parallel to Gods’ Hollow, and there’s a stone wall that separates the beaten dirt of the road and the Hollow’s ever-changing expanse.

The harsh sound of hammer on iron caught my attention as I was writing in my journal, and given that there was no moon and dawn was still a ways off, I cleaned my rifle and my pistols. By the time the sun crested the horizon, the weapons were loaded, and I was ready. The hammering had grown louder and frenzied. The steady rhythm of hours earlier had been replaced with a relentless, maniacal beat that made little sense.

When I reached North Road, I came to a stop and stared at what stood before me.

Along the left side of the road, facing the Hollow, men, and women had been crucified. They were dead, their chests splayed open, and the sun glowing in the drying blood that clung to shattered ribs and cracked sternums. The victims were bare, their pale flesh awash in their own blood. Flies swarmed around the corpses, seeking to feast and mate in the filth.

As I advanced along the road, rifle in hand, the sound of the hammering increased, and then slowed. Someone laughed, and another screamed. There was a loud, disturbing cracking noise, and the screaming stopped.

I saw a man scurry out of the shadow of a tree, then dart back into the woods. Someone yelled, and a slapping followed.

A moment later, I saw a woman sprint out of the woods, and when I called out to her, she hesitated.

Her hesitation killed her.

A hammer soared out from the woods and struck her in the back of the head, crushing her skull and driving her to the road where she twitched in the dust.

Her killer came out a moment later. He made a straight line for the corpse, jerked his hammer out of the back of her skull, and ran toward me.

I put a single round through his shoulder, causing him to drop the hammer. A second shot took out a knee and sent him tumbling to the ground.

He was a blacksmith, I learned, and he and his victims were from the Hollow.

I nailed him to the wall of my barn.

Unlike the blacksmith, the spikes are still there.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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