April 5, 1875

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Solomon Doyle was dead.

The old man was stretched out on his porch, his head on the first step, arms and legs akimbo and his face a mask of terror.

I can’t say that I was terribly upset. He’d been a right bastard ever since he was born.

Hell, I can’t say I was upset at all. More than once, I’d beaten him, and I even put a load of birdshot in his backside when he was cutting through my property.

The only concern I had as I gazed upon his ugly corpse was what had done him in.

I had a suspicion it was something that came out of the box.

Loosening the Colts in their holsters, I stepped over Doyle’s body and rapped once on the door. I wasn’t surprised when no one answered. Word had it that Becca Doyle hadn’t been seen these past few months, and I suspect she finally got sick of her husband.

When I opened the door, I discovered I was wrong on that account.

The sickly sweet odor of decaying human flesh wafted over me, and it took only a few minutes to discover the source. Becca was hanging in the upstairs guestroom. The fact that her hands were tied behind her back made me wish her husband was still alive. By the looks of it, it appeared as though she had been dead for the better part of March.

When I turned away, closing the door behind me, I was confronted by a faceless warrior.

We stood there, silently, and then the warrior’s shoulders sagged.

“You’re not afraid,” he sighed.

“No,” I agreed.

“Well, that’s not any fun.” He scratched at his topknot. “The other one died when I scared him. What am I to do now?”

The mournful note in his voice raised up some empathy for his plight.

“There is a place you could go, and I promise I won’t tell anyone about you.”

“Yes?!”

I nodded. “Come on. There’s a new island on my lake. One of my kin who can use some company. He arrived only yesterday.”

“I will get to scare people?” the faceless warrior asked.

I chuckled. “As many as you want.”

Together, we left the house and kicked Doyle’s corpse as we did so.

We walked in silence towards Blood Lake, enjoying the warmth of the day.

#horror #fear

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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