Strangers: Roses


She lived long enough to regret the roses.

Lauren Kelley took up residence in a weathered, one-room house on North Road, despite my best efforts to warn her away from the property. I offered to help her find a better place, but she resisted all such attempts. She wanted nothing more than to live in a small house.

I watched out for her as best I could, but I cannot be in all places at all times, nor can I stop people from behaving foolishly.

At some point, after she moved in, Lauren Kelley crossed the stonewall and went into Gods’ Hollow. I am still amazed she managed to get in and out when so few others have, in the end, though, she paid for her foolishness with her life.

Lauren was a great admirer of roses. Along the edge of the stonewall, there were large rosebushes, and Lauren, I found out later, made the decision to take some clippings and to bring them home. She had a small but beautiful garden, and she wanted to add the roses to it. Lauren told her sister, who lived in Pepperell that she had never seen such colors on roses before. She spoke of their incandescence, and she swore the colors shimmered when the sun slipped behind a cloud.

The roses did more than that.

On Sunday morning, when I knew Lauren would be out and working with her roses, I took a walk. When I came to her home, she was not to be found.

Dishes stood in the drying rack, and a pie was cooling on the windowsill. Laundry hung on the line, and her chickens wandered about the backyard, eating and muttering to one another.

But there was no sign of Lauren.

It was unlike her to leave on a Sunday. She was of a mind that Sundays, more than any other, were for working with her roses.

Growing worried, I went to the rose bushes, looked around, and found what I suspect were the physical remains of Lauren.

There were twenty-four teeth and a pair of garden shears. The earth was churned beneath them and knew what the roses from the Hollow had done.

They’d devoured Lauren.

I pulled the bushes out, dragged them home, and doused them in kerosene. I put them to the torch, and for two days, the air stank like burning flesh.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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