They stood on the side of the road.
I saw them from a good distance away, and, as I came upon them, I could see the confusion on their faces.
As one, they turned and faced me, the woman on the far right calling out in Japanese, “Can you tell us where we are?”
“You’re in Cross,” I told them. “In America.”
The women frowned, gathered close to one another and whispered in a moment. The one who had first spoken returned her attention to me.
“We’re pilgrims,” she stated, “and we are looking for a way to return home. This is not where we’re supposed to be.”
I nodded. “That’s plain truth. Well, I’m not sure how you can get back, but if you follow this road for a mile or so, you’ll find a stonewall. Climb over it and walk into the tree-line. If anyplace in Cross will get you home, it’s the Hollow. The way might be a bit of a challenge, though.”
The three women nodded in unison as they affixed their hats to their heads.
“There is only one matter remaining,” the speaker added. “We need sustenance before we continue our journey.”
The women threw off their cloaks, revealing the extra limbs which had been hidden.
Each had three sets of arms, the fingers of the lower two pair being long and tipped with black and jagged nails.
The sight of them was a surprise, but my own hands have long been trained to war.
The Colts were out of their holsters as the women sprang towards me, and the fight was on.
Their screams of pain and anger filled the air, punctuated by the heavy roar of the Colts. The women moved faster than most creatures I’ve come across, and I nearly lost an eye when the speaker dragged her nails across my face. The tip of my nose flew off even as I jammed my Colt up under her chin and blew the top of her head off.
The fight was over in a matter of minutes, but I was left bloody and angry, surrounded by the corpses.
As my nose stitched itself back together, I drew my Bowie knife and took the lead woman’s head. She put up a hell of a fight, so tonight, I’ll boil the flesh off the bone and put her in my library.
I suspect she’ll come back as a ghost, and I believe she’ll make damned good company.