Strangers: A Hidden Appetite


For some, hunger can never be sated.

In 1866, Madeline Roche arrived in Cross and took up a position in the Hall house as caretaker.

She was, by all accounts, a diligent worker. She cared for the Hall children as though they were her own, and the house was immaculate on the few occasions I had reason to visit.

Her decorum was perfect, her personality stunning. Had I been of a mind to wed at that time in my life, I most certainly would have sought her hand.

As it was, I was, shall we say, preoccupied with other events occurring. My amorous pursuits were of little concern.

Nearly six months after her arrival, dark creatures came to my library in the depths of the night and whispered tales of missing children. I spent almost a month following up these stories and found them all to be true.

Most of those missing children had belonged to families passing through, or to families just over the town’s border.

In July, the first Cross child vanished.

Annie Proctor, age three months, was taken from her crib.

Suzanne Renquist was found dead on Myrtle Street, the pram empty; her son, Liam, age eleven months, was missing.

By the end of August, four children had been taken, and two more mothers had been slain.

There were no clues, and not even the dark creatures could tell me where the monster was hiding.

I suspected the Hollow, as I always do, and as I prepared a hide from which to watch the Hollow, I was able to stop the next kidnapping.

Ellen Westinghouse, who lived on Gordon Way, was pulling her year-old twins along in a small wagon when a creature sprang out from the Hollow. It was fast and wrapped in black cloth that hid its form, and it was pure luck that I hit the damned thing with my Spencer rifle.

Ellen snatched up her children and ran while I sprinted for the creature. As it tried to escape, I tore off the cloth, revealing the upper half of Madeline Roche and a monstrous mouth and dozens of legs from her breasts down.

The scream that escaped the thing caused my ears to bleed as I emptied the Spencer and both Colts into her.

Then, for good measure, I reloaded and emptied them into her again.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

Published by

Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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