War in the Hollow: Dec. 3, ‘36

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I smelled bacon and coffee, fresh bread and tobacco.

I followed my nose for a spell, and soon I was moving parallel to a well-used road. The trees thinned, and I was forced to walk along the road’s shoulder, all-to-aware of the conspicuous figure I cut.

It wasn’t my weaponry or the fact that I had a pack on my back.

No, I could feel that I didn’t fit in, and I suspected there would be others who might notice my oddness as well. It might not be an overt observation, but they’d know it nonetheless.

Soon enough, I found the source of the good and wholesome smells.

A gatehouse, larger than most, stood on the left side of a road, a well-crafted, wrought iron gate stretching across to a stone pillar that was probably as old as I was. At the gate stood a warden, and in the doorway of the gatehouse, either his wife or a female servant. Both watched me with curiosity as if they were unsure as to what to do.

I was pleased to see that there were no telephone lines or any real way to signal for help, should they need it.

The wind shifted as I approached, carrying the rich scents of breakfast away from me, and as it did so, I saw the woman’s eyes widen before she shouted, “Pierre! C’est Duncan Le Sang!”

As she turned into the doorway, I snapped off a quick shot with the Spenser, the round catching her in the shoulder and spinning her around. She struck the door and left a broad swath of blood as she sank down in the doorway.

Pierre, the warden, drew a sword from his cane and charged at me, a look of rage tinged with fear upon his face.

A single shot from the Spenser tore through his throat, and he ran several more paces before he collapsed, his head nearly severed.

I walked to the woman, who managed to draw a small derringer from her blouse. Before I could fire, she placed it against her temple and whispered, “Vivé la Croix!”

The pistol’s report was dull and flat, but the weapon did the job.

I stood there for a moment, then stepped over her legs and into the gatehouse.

The woman, I discovered, made a damned fine cup of coffee.

#horror #fear #art

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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