Strangers in Cross: Jan. 7, ‘38


Ron Burnham was lucky today.

Ron had learned his trade at the hands of his grandfather, who had raised him after Ron’s parents died of tuberculosis.

His grandfather had been a watchmaker and a jeweler, and a damned fine poker player, too. On more than one occasion Harvey Burnham had taken home the pot.

Ron was out in front of his shop, shoveling out after a nightlong storm, when one of my ravens called out that one of the creatures had slipped into the business when no one was looking.

When I neared him, Ron looked up, nodded, and leaned on his shovel, thankful for the break that conversation might supply.

“Need something, Duncan?” he asked. “Or have you come to chew the fat a bit?”

“I’ve word you’ve a visitor in your shop,” I told him, and the man raised an eyebrow.

“No one’s been in to see me yet,” he remarked, straightening up. “Someone from Miskatonic?”

We both glanced at the university, the top of which could be glimpsed over some of the rooftops, and I shook my head.

“Surprisingly, no,” I told him. I took my pipe out, packed some tobacco into the bowl and lit it. “You may want to leave your shovel here and take a walk up to the diner. Have a cup of coffee. Maybe two.”

“That bad?” he asked.


“Huh. Well, then, you’ll gather me up when you’re finished?”

I nodded.

Ron put the shovel into a bank, adjusted his hat, and strolled past me.

I entered the shop, and Becca Roi came out of the backroom. She was ill-dressed for the weather, but I knew it didn’t faze her. She smiled, her eyes clicked in the strange fashion of the creatures, and she walked toward me.

I nodded, smoked, and when she was close enough, I slipped the Bowie knife into her chest.

She opened her mouth, needle-shaped teeth slick with a foul spittle, and she tried to latch onto me.

I cut her in half, and as she quivered on the floor, reverting to her true form, I smoked my pipe and cleaned my blade.

The day had started fine.

#horror #fear #art #writing

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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