Strangers in Cross: Jan. 20, ‘38


All he wanted was a little quiet.

Duke Iverson retired after fifty-eight years working on the railroad and after giving all the fingers on his right hand. He lived in a single room, easy prey for the monsters seeking to settle themselves in Cross.

Had the ravens not observed one of the creatures slipping into the boarding house where Duke resided, then it would have taken me much longer to track them all down. And, more than likely, I would not have found them all.

As it was, I went to the boarding house and spoke with Philomena Whyte, the widow who ran home, and asked her if she was letting out rooms to anyone other than Duke. She replied that she was not, and when she saw my face, she asked, “What’s in my home, Duncan?”

“Something that’s probably done for Duke,” I answered. “You best go out for a bit, Philomena. It’s liable to get messy.”

She raised an eyebrow at the last comment, but she didn’t argue as she pulled on her coat and wrapped a thick kerchief around her head. “Make sure it’s gone,” she said as she walked to the door. “I’ll be certain to give Duke a fair funeral, should it be needed.”

“Aye,” I called after her.

As the door clicked shut, I climbed the stairs to the third floor, made my way to Duke’s room, and rapped on the door with the butt of a Colt. There was a grunt of a response, which was a far cry from the bellowing invitation Duke usually issued, and I let myself in.

The creature, in the form of Duke Iverson, lay on the man’s bed, one of his railroad magazines clutched in his good hand and balanced with the remnants of the other. It was disturbing, the way the creature’s eyelids clicked and fluttered behind Duke’s glasses, and for a moment, I believe it thought that I might have been fooled.

That moment was short-lived, as was the monster’s time in Duke’s body.

As he began to rise from the bed, I pulled the trigger, putting all six rounds in the center of the monster’s chest.

It imploded upon itself, and before my ears stopped ringing, I was reloading the Colt.

There were still monsters for me to hunt.

#horror #fear #art #writing

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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