Madness: Nov. 17, 1867

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Silas Wood was an unhappy child.

He was small for his age, and his father, Zebediah, did not believe the boy to be the product of his own loins.

It was a foolish thought, but one the man clung to.

When Silas’ mother passed away in September, Zebediah took to beating the boy on a regular basis. The man and I exchanged a few words on the subject, and while I didn’t convince him of the error of his ways, I did knock out a few teeth for him. We parted company with him spitting blood and my promise of worse punishments to come if I even thought the boy had been struck by him again.

There are, of course, other ways to heap abuse upon a person, and Silas practiced as many as he could.

Whether the violence of his father drove him mad, or the bitter touch of the Hollow was responsible, I neither know nor do I care.

The fact of the matter remains the same. Zebediah Wood was brought to justice by his son.

For several days, Silas was not seen. Some of the mothers in the neighboring houses grew concerned, and I was sent for.

When I knocked on the door of the Wood home, no one answered. I went ‘round the back and found a trail of sorts that lead into the tree line, and I followed it with my Colts drawn.

In a short time, I found the boy and what was left of his father.

Silas was sitting on a piece of deadfall, an ax resting between his legs. The head of it was splattered with blood and gore, as was the boy himself. His father’s clothes were on one side, and his father was on the other.

Silas had chopped the man into sections and then gone through the process of stacking him with the cordwood they had been laying in for the harsher months.

When Silas saw me, he smiled and said, “I don’t think he’ll burn well.”

“No,” I answered, holstering my guns. “You look hungry, Silas.”

The boy nodded and smiled. “I am, and soon, your mother will feed me. She promised.”

Before I could utter a word, the ground beneath the deadfall opened, and the boy and his ax vanished into darkness. As the ground sealed itself, the boy’s muffled screams pierced the air for a heartrending moment, and then there was nothing save silence.

#horror #fear #art

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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