Strangers in Cross: Jan. 27, ‘38


They were outside and playing in the snow.

It wasn’t unusual to see the Sullivan children running wild. What was unusual was that they looked happy and fed.

Their mother lacked any maternal instinct.

Annie Sullivan was a woman who reminded me of my own mother, and that was never a good thing.

When the ravens settled on the roof of their house, I was concerned, especially when the children appeared in such good spirits.

I asked where their mother was, and the children replied that she was inside, entertaining company. Upon hearing this bit of information, I gave them all a bit of money and sent them to the general store to find some toys to buy.

The children, being children, did not bother to ask why. Instead, they seized the money and raced off.

Anger, hatred, and the bitter memories of my own mother kept the Colts securely in their holsters. Instead, I walked in with my knife drawn.

The stench of bad food, full chamber pots and a chimney in desperate need of cleaning assailed me. The odors did not hinder me.

I went through the filthy main room, passed along a narrow hall, and came to a stop in the doorway of the kitchen. Annie and her guest sat at the table. The monster was in its natural form, a dark shape that fluctuated in color from sickly white to dull gray, occasionally settling into a deep black.

Both turned their heads toward me, and I could see that Annie was none too pleased to find me in her house.

I was none too pleased to be there.

Before either Annie or the monster could speak, I strode forward.

Of the two, the monster was far more dangerous, and I killed the beast with cuts both quick and sure.

“It only wanted the children!” Annie snarled. “We were bargaining!”

There was no mercy in me when she uttered those words, and I killed her by inches.

When I was done, I found some water that wasn’t too fetid and cleaned my hands and face as best I could.

It was time to find the Sullivan children and tell them their mother had gone away for a spell and that they’d be spending some time with the Coffin family, where they’d get decent clothes and a meal worth eating.

#horror #fear #art #writing

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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