Strangers: An Island

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The complaining caught my attention.

I’d heard some of my neighbors complain, of course. But what neighbor doesn’t complain? Oh, there was some griping in town as well. Canned and dry goods vanished off the shelves. Clothes were snatched off the lines and utensils nicked from kitchens.

It wasn’t until I spotted one of my canoes that had gone missing a month earlier that I took a genuine interest in the thefts.

I was out on Blood Lake when I rounded one of the islands and spotted the canoe tucked into a small cove.

I made landfall on the island, secured the craft I’d arrived in, and made my way through the old elms and oaks that grew thick along the edge. Soon, I found a well-worn path that I knew I’d not made on any of my travels to the island over the centuries.

Following the trail, I came to a shack with a canvas door and tarpaper on the roof. For a few moments, I stood and listened, and a heartbeat later, I heard a young voice call out, “Come in Duncan Blood. I know you’re out there.”

While I have heard my name a great many times, it still surprises me upon occasion when I hear it in a place I don’t expect.

This was such an occasion.

I decided to enter, knowing that the person inside could easily have taken a shot at me had they decided to.

In the shack, I found a young boy who was getting his noonday meal ready. He smiled at me and bid me sit. I did so, and he fixed us both a cup of coffee. I did not ask him how he knew my name, and I did not ask him his own.

“I’m from the Hollow,” he said. “I’ll be on the island for a year.”

I raised an eyebrow but held my tongue.

He smiled. “There’s a woman coming to town soon. She’ll set up house, take a husband, have a child.”

He sipped his coffee. “When the boy is born, I’ll cut her throat while she sleeps. It’s a mercy she doesn’t deserve.”

“Who is she?” I asked.

“My mother,” he replied. “More coffee?”

I nodded. I’d killed my own mother around his age as well.

With full cups of strong, black coffee, we drank to his mother’s death.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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