April 30, 1875


I woke up in a house that was not my own.

Sitting up, I looked about me and found the house was curiously built, reminiscent of the few I had seen in Japan and, more recently, those that had cropped up in Cross and the Hollow.

For a moment, the silence threatened to overwhelm me, and the fear that I had been struck deaf attempted to rise up.

I crushed the fear, gathered my wits about me, and forced myself to understand that silence was not the same as the inability to hear.

Turning around, I inhaled sharply.

An old man sat across from me, a curious headpiece atop his crown. He nodded to me, and his voice rang out strong and true in my thoughts.

“Duncan Blood,” the man stated. “It has been a long month.”

I nodded my agreement, not bothering to hide my dislike of being in a home that was not my own. He smiled, not unkindly and said, “You are in my thoughts. You are neither here nor there. You exist in the space between worlds.”

“Am I asleep?” I asked.

He shook his head. “No. You’re here. With me. Should someone walk into your bedroom, they will find your bed empty.”

I frowned. “You could have asked.”

“Would you have come?”


The man chuckled. “I did not think so.”

I made myself as comfortable as I could. “What’s this about, then?”

“We have hunted the last of the creatures set loose upon your town,” the man informed me. “Those that have needed killing, they have been killed. Those that needed to be put back, they have been put back.”

“And what about the ones I’ve given sanctuary to?” I asked.

He smiled. “They will remain here, with you, as you have told them they could.”

I nodded. “What about you?”

“We are returning home,” the man replied. “This is not our place. Not our world. We belong in Nippon. We wish to be among our own.”

“Fair enough.”

“We are well met, Duncan Blood,” the man told me, pressing his hands together and offering a short bow. “We may well meet again.”

Before I could respond, I was plunged into darkness. When I could see once more, I was in my room, and the sun was setting on the last day of April.

Smiling, I stood up and went down to the kitchen for a glass of beer.

#horror #fear #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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