War in the Hollow: Dec. 31, ‘36

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“Do you miss me?”

My wife’s voice brought me to a standstill.

She stepped out from behind the tree and stood there, clad in a black cloak, waiting for my answer.

“Aye, Adelaide,” I whispered. “With every breath I take.”

Her slim, strong hands pulled back the hood of her cloak and let it fall about her shoulders, and there was the beautiful face I would never forget. She was the same age as when she had passed away in my arms twenty years earlier.

She smiled at me, and I smiled back.

“I always wondered what your voice sounded like, Duncan,” she told me.

“Fair enough?”

“Better than fair,” she grinned. Her expression of joy was replaced by one of sadness. “You’re leaving this place.”

“I am,” I told her. “Are you a ghost?”

“Of a sort.” Adelaide looked around. “There are a few of us who died in your Cross who drift from place to place, the doors always leading from the Hollow and back again.” She looked at me and smiled. “I’m supposed to tempt you to stay. There are creatures here that want you for their own.”

I swallowed dryly. “It wouldn’t take much from you.”

“I know, my love.” She sat down and rested her back against the tree. “They have promised that I can stay with you if I do.”

My knees weakened as the wind shifted, carrying her sweet scent to me.

“They’re lying, though.” Her voice became bitter, and she looked at the wall half-hidden in the fog that lay upon the land. “It is a promise they cannot keep. The Hollow does as it will, as it has ever done.” She looked back at me. “It will send me to where it wants, regardless of the promises made by others. Still, will you sit with me for a bit? I’ve missed you terribly.”

 “Aye,” I whispered in return and went and sat beside her. I took her hand in mine and did not mind her cold flesh. “There are no nights where I do not dream of you. There is not a book I open where I do not think of you.”

She lay her head against my shoulder, and the tears came unbidden to my eyes.

“Tell me a story, Duncan Blood.”

“Aye,” I whispered, and I told her the greatest love story I knew.

It began when she and I first met on the streets of Cross.

#horror #fiction #writing

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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