Strangers in Cross: Jan. 23, ‘38

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He was a happy man who died screaming.

I’d had my suspicions regarding Steve Kirby’s predilections ever since he stopped working as a truck driver and took up manning the fountain at the Woolworths up the road in Pepperell. Each day, he would get in his car, drive to work, and come back into Cross late in the evening.

Any grown man that throws aside a good paying job to work serving ice-cream shakes to teenage girls is suspect, as far as I’m concerned. I was planning on discussing the situation with him at the start of the new year when the sudden arrival of the Hollow’s newest horrors distracted me.

I was moving along North Road, heading back toward the Hollow, when I heard a high-pitched screaming coming from a small cut in the woods opposite the stonewall. When I made my way into it, I saw Steve’s Packard. The back door was open, and the shrieking came from within.

Drawing my Colts, I came at the car from an angle, and when I reached the open door, Steve’s screaming face greeted me.

He was clawing at the seats and the glass, punching at the monster pressed against his chest and feeding on him. The creature was clad in the clothes of a young girl, one who had been no more than perhaps twelve or thirteen.

I could see what he had done.

What he had intended to do.

I lowered the Colts, and I waited.

Steve Kirby saw me, screamed my name and begged for my help.

I watched and enjoyed his suffering.

When the monster had eaten its fill, and Steve was dead in the back of the Packard, I put a pair of slugs into the creature’s chest and watched it slump down onto his corpse. For a heartbeat, it held its form, and then it collapsed upon itself.

It had turned out, I realized, to be a pleasant night.

Two monsters dead, and I’d only had to kill one of them.

#horror #fear #art #writing

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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