Strangers in Cross: Jan. 29, ‘38


Nathan Coffin couldn’t be bothered.

He had been clearing deadfall off the southern stretch of his property for the better part of a month, and he was none too pleased with the chore. There were plenty of other tasks around a New England farm to get caught up on, especially during the winter.

Nathan’s family had gone south to visit some of his wife’s family in Georgia, leaving him alone. Originally, he had planned on some quiet time. He and I had discussed overhauling his tractor, perhaps even getting around to finishing the new addition he had started for his eldest son and daughter-in-law. The young woman was expecting, and, in true New England fashion, Nathan had built a pair of rooms for them on the back of the house.

All those plans had been cast aside once a giant had come crashing out of the Hollow and tore ‘round the Coffin Farm for the better part of a day and a half.

That had soured Nathan quite a bit.

The ravens passed along word to me that they’d spotted one of the monsters stumbling toward where Nathan was working, and I made all haste to get there in time.

I needn’t have worried.

When I arrived, Nathan was focused on the task at hand – sawing another piece of deadfall.

Nathan didn’t even bother to look up from his work as I called out to him.

“There, Duncan,” he answered, waving a hand back toward an ax.

My eyes spotted not only the ax but what was left of the monster.

Nathan had put the ax to good use.

As I turned my attention back to him, Nathan straightened up, spat into the snow and shook his head.

“Damned inconsiderate,” he muttered, taking out a handkerchief and wiping the sweat off the back of his neck. “Don’t they know better than to interrupt when a body’s workin’?”

Without waiting for an answer, he went back to work, and I took up the ichor-covered ax. I brought the tool over to another piece of deadfall, shrugged off my coat and went to work.

Nathan had helped me with my chore; it was only right I help him with his.

#horror #fear #art #writing

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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