Strangers: The Hermit

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He had been silent for sixty-three years.

The hermit had wandered out of Gods’ Hollow in the 1880s and had taken up residence in a small cave a short distance from the Hollow. On occasion, he could be seen wandering along the length of North Road.

He didn’t speak to anyone. He didn’t break bread with any of his neighbors.

The hermit minded his own business, and that was why I let him live.

As I’ve stated in the past, I’m not overly fond of the Hollow and those things or individuals who make their way out of it. More often than not, I have discovered a very real need to put them down, and sooner rather than later.

And while the hermit never gave me cause to, it didn’t mean I stopped checking on him.

I don’t know how he fed himself, because the man did no work. Nor do I know how he entertained himself. The hermit, for all intents and purposes, simply was.

Over the years, the hermit built a small house for himself from salvaged materials. While he stayed close to the cave, he made the house his primary residence, and it was there, I could often find him sitting.

He would look at me, and I at him, and he would nod.

We did that for decades.

This morning, he was not in front of his house. Nor was he in it, or in the cave.

The hermit was gone.

I went back to North Road and caught sight of him walking toward me. As he did so, the earth rumbled beneath my feet, and I saw the source of it came from the Hollow.

The hermit and I turned at the same time, and I saw a dark green beast hurtling out of the trees. I drew my Colts, and as they cleared the leather, the hermit climbed onto the stonewall.

The beast, its shape twisting and formless, charged at him, snatched him up with curious appendages and stuffed him whole into its mouth.

As my fingers tightened on the triggers, the beast shuddered, stopped, and then imploded.

It vanished, not in a spray of blood and gore, but with a soft and almost gentle ‘pop.’

I holstered the Colts, scratched my head, lit my pipe, and walked toward home.

It’s strange to see a man know his fate and do nothing to try and change it.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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