Stories from the Sentinel: October 1874

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She was peculiar.

Annie Smith had always been a strange individual.

When she was born, she came out chewing on what remained of her twin, and the doctor wasn’t certain if the blood she was awash in was her mother’s or her sister’s.

She had a tendency to eat her meat raw when she could get it, which was far more often than her parents liked.

By the time she was a young woman, she was entertaining several suitors from as far away as Connecticut and as close as Pepperell.

Her father chased them off.

She had, he once told me, a hungry look in her eye.

Unfortunately for the staff of the Sentinel, a great many pets vanished from Cross in September of 1874, and more than a few tongues were set to wagging because of it. Annie was seen speaking to those same animals, for she had a way with them. And, when she got them alone, she had her way with them.

At the end of September, her parents died. Her father shot her mother, and then he turned the pistol on himself.

Few of us were convinced of the murder/suicide of the elder Smiths. I especially didn’t believe it, since her parents’ tongues were missing when the bodies were found.

Within a week, a child from Pepperell vanished. By the end of ten days, a pair of babies were stolen off a train as it wound its way out of Boston, the mother found with her throat slit. One of Annie’s neighbors reported the sound of a cat screaming one October weekend, and the information was relayed to me.

When I reached the house, I kicked the damned door in.

I found her in the parlor, a look of surprise on her face.

The Colts roared and bucked in my hands, and the woman staggered back toward the hearth. In the embers of the fire, I saw the bones of children, and I pulled the triggers again.

Her guts were blown out, and she sagged to the floor.

For a moment, she knelt there, and then, with a smile, she pulled meat out of her own stomach and thrust it into her mouth.

I watched for a moment as she dug out the remnants of her evening meal and tasted them again, and then I blew her brains out.

When I left, I set fire to the house, and all of Cross came out to watch it burn.

#horror #fear #art

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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