Madness: Nov. 2, 1867

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She said penitence was its own reward.

She was wrong.

Alicia Ellison was a girl with no particular bent toward religion. Neither her father nor her mother was of the frame of mind to attend any service with regularity, and in Cross, that was no strange fact. We are not a god-fearing people, and that is because there are too many of them.

I was called down to Olive Street at quarter past ten in the morning, and I was asked to bring my Colts.

When I arrived at the street in question, I found the militia had sectioned it off, and all the residents except the Ellison family were accounted for. I was about to ask why I had been called down when I heard it.

The whispering of a child.

Looking down the street, I caught sight of a creature crawling on all-fours, clad in bloody vestments, and speaking in Latin. The creature was praying in obscenities, the likes of which I will not put down on paper.

The creature, I learned, was Alicia Ellison, age eight. Several men had gone out to help her stand up when a trio of events occurred.

First, they discovered she was wearing the skins of both parents as clothes. Second, she charged at them, and third, she wounded the men. Some of the injuries were minor. One man, a cousin of the Coffins, would later lose his arm to her bite.

None of them could bring themselves to shoot a child.

That task was left to a Blood, as it had been since we founded the town.

I was the only Blood still living, and I have shouldered worse burdens in my time.

I had both weapons primed and went out onto the street, walking toward the girl, who had stopped and was on her knees, staring at me.

“Blood!” she called out, asking in Latin, “Have you come for me?”

“I have,” I answered in the same.

“Will you not pray with me?”

Her face was barely visible beneath the double folds of her parents’ loose hides, but I could see madness glinting in her eyes. She reached into her mouth, and the sound of teeth breaking reached my ears.

Laughing, Alicia cast them at me, howling, “I throw pearls before swine, Blood!”

“I know it,” I said, and I brought the Colts up.

She was screaming in Latin as I gunned her down.

#horror #fear #art

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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