War: 8.7.1930

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The ringing of a hammer on an anvil sang out through the forest.

I followed the sound of the unknown blacksmith until I came to a wide and well-worn path. I crept along to a large and low smithy, from which the hammering originated. When I came within twenty feet of it, the hammering stopped, and I let my hands rest upon the Colts.

“I smell you, Duncan Blood,” a woman stated in a flat and unimpressed tone. “Will you come in or stay out in the rain with your hands on your metal phalli?”

I chuckled and let my hands fall.

“In,” I answered, and I walked into the smithy, and my eyes took a moment to adjust. What I could see in the dim glow of the forge’s embers were the trappings of a blacksmith, and a woman at her anvil. She glanced at me. “Sit a spell. I imagine you’re wondering how I know you.”

“It had crossed my mind,” I confessed, sitting down and resting the BAR across my knees.

She set her tools aside, put a pot of coffee on the embers, and faced me.

“You’re not the first of your ilk to drift through here,” she informed me. “Although, I’m sure you’re aware of that.”

I nodded. “I came upon a tortured version of myself.”

“Many of you have died here,” she stated. “But we’ve been fighting for years.”

I did not bother to ask what about. It rarely made a difference.

She gestured to a pile of stained and pitted metal off to one side. “I salvage what I can from the dead. Then I bring it here to forge new weapons with which they might kill themselves.”

“Do they pay you?”

Her smile was one of broken, jagged teeth. “Their deaths are payment enough.”

She took the coffee from the embers, not bothering with a cloth or bit of fabric to protect herself against the heat. She poured the dark brew into a steel cup and passed it to me. The coffee was strong, and it had a hint of blood to it.

 “There’s a barrage that’s due,” she told me. “You’d best finish your coffee and be off. I’ll survive, of course. But not you.”

I took her advice, finished the coffee, and sought a safe place to weather the impending storm of steel.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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