Strangers in Cross: Jan. 14, ‘38

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The wind whipped along the snow and carried the scent of blood along with it.

At the far end of the university’s property, the ravens had gathered around the caretaker’s house.

When I first caught sight of Enoch Hearth, I believed all was in order. He was as I had seen him on many a cold morning – standing in front of his truck, the blanket around the radiator, and a cup of hot water poised above the radiator.

It took me a moment to see that all was not as it should be, and I hesitated.

That hesitation, and the sudden cries of the ravens, saved me no end of trouble.

The creatures came out of the woods, and they had taken on the forms of bears. They charged at me, and I could only admire the amount of effort that had gone through to find half a dozen bears in Cross that weren’t hidden deep in their dens.

That admiration flickered and died even as I drew the Colts.

A .44 round can do damage, even to a full-grown black bear charging along.

What it cannot do is stop that bear when the animal is something other than itself.

Still, I was game to try.

The fight lasted a hell of a lot longer than I wanted it to.

Our battle raged for the better part of fifteen minutes, which is no small amount of time when you’re trying to stay alive.

The bears soaked up the bullets, and I spent a fair amount of time reloading. One of the bastards, a big one, took eight rounds before it went down, and then another two to split open the skull before the creature’s form broke down.

When I finished, I was nursing a score or so of wounds, one nasty bite in my left shoulder, and a terrible headache. As I was putting the last of my ammunition into the Colts, Enoch Hearth turned around, eyelids clicking left and right, and up and down.

I put two rounds into his head when he stepped toward me.

His body struck the snow, bursting apart as it did so.

Grimnir landed on the corpse, preened, and looked at me.

“Cross,” the raven spoke.

My shoulders sagged, and I shook my head.

The damned creatures had left the university’s grounds.

I needed more ammunition.

#horror #fear #art #writing

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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