The soft humming was barely audible above the tumbling brook.
Despite being several miles into the depths of my own lands, the humming brought me up short. It was a distinctly human sound, and there shouldn’t have been anything remotely human on Blood Farm.
Part of me wanted to charge in towards the noise, to discover who the interloper was and put a bullet in their gut once they’d answered my questions.
But things had, if possible, been stranger of late, and thus a little more caution was called for.
Not necessarily diplomacy, but definitely caution.
I drew one of my Colts and eased forward, moving with a silence I’d learned from men long dead and far more skilled than I was in the art of the ambush.
When I reached the brook, I kept to the shadows and peered out at the intruder.
The sight was not reassuring.
There was a Japanese woman with her child on her back. She was crouched at the side of the running water and washing greens in a basket. She hummed to her child and, every so often, the child let out a laugh.
After a short time of watching, I prepared to confront her, and then the clouds above us broke. Bright sunlight pierced the gloom of the morning and shone through the woman and child as well.
They were dead.
I don’t know if they knew they were ghosts, but it wasn’t my place to inform them.
I holstered my Colt and remained where I was.
The woman broke off a bit of a leaf, whispered, and handed it up to her child, who let out a pleased laugh, taking it in its small fingers.
In a moment, the bit of food vanished into its mouth, and the mother and child faded from view.
They returned a heartbeat later, the mother humming and washing the greens.
In silence, I turned away from them and made my way home.
There were things far worse than the ghost of a mother and child on my lands.
I alone was proof of that.