It wasn’t the wind howling through the trees.
In fact, there wasn’t any wind at all.
I was on Gordon Road, close to dusk, when I heard it. To any other person, they would have suspected it was the beginning of a rough gale coming in off the Atlantic, or perhaps some foolish boys up to no good.
I knew better.
Beneath the howling, I could hear words, and none of them were pleasant.
There are few things in this world as ill-disposed as the child of an Oni, and the one lurking in the upper branches of the elms on Gordon Road was no exception.
When he appeared, he did not do so in the guise of a child. He was clad in the straw raincoat of a peasant, a mighty thresher over one shoulder and a short, sharp stick in his other hand. He stood in front of a weather-beaten fence and stared at me. A smile spread slowly across his face, and I could well imagine the tortures which he believed he was about to visit upon me.
It was time to disabuse him of that idea.
I unbuttoned my coat and flipped the sides out behind the butts of my Colts, easing my hands onto the smooth wooden grips.
His eyes narrowed, his smile broadening.
“What would you do against me?” he asked, dropping his stick and taking a two-handed grip upon the thresher. “I will bury my face in your stomach and eat my way to your heart. You will pray for death, and it will not come.”
“Who are you to allow anything?” I asked in Japanese.
His eyes widened in surprise and, in that brief moment, his third eye opened in the center of his head, revealing the creature’s one weakness.
I drew both Colts, thumbing the hammer backs as he brought the thresher up.
It was too late for him.
I’d already seen where his third eye was.
The Colts roared, and the thresher was knocked from his hand. Splinters of wood drove into the Oni’s face, and a heartbeat later, bullets slammed into his forehead, splitting it wide open.
He straightened up, and then his head imploded, pulling the rest of his body and part of the fence into the void created by his collapsing form.
A moment later, I was alone and wondering how many more creatures had been unleashed.
I didn’t want to know.