Lilies of the Valley, 1859

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His faith did not protect him.

Minister Josiah van Doren was a regular in Cross.

For several years, he had made his way through at least once a season, attempting to drum up congregants for his church in Westford. Since Cross has never been known for its faithful, he generally found the townsfolk a hard sell.

In 1859, he came into town and stopped in at the post office when I happened to be jawing with the postmaster. The minister was in a state. For the first time, he had heard the name my father had given the Hollow. At first, Minister van Doren had believed it was God’s Hollow, but someone had disabused him of that idea and so informed him that it was Gods, plural.

He was having none of it.

The minister was attempting to gather men to put the Hollow to the torch. I told him it was a bad idea, and he scoffed at me, telling me that he would take no advice from a man not yet out of his teens.

I admit I look young for my age. How could he know that I was nearly 230 years old and not the fifteen I looked?

Still, I volunteered to go with him, if for nothing more than to see how the Hollow would deal with him.

No one else took him up on his offer.

The minister was surprisingly quiet on the walk out to North Road and even quieter when we reached the stonewall. We stood there, looking into the Hollow, and then he whispered, “Are those Lilies of the Valley?”

I looked at the flowers, nodded and said, “Best to leave them be. If you’re aiming to set the Hollow ablaze, I’d do it now.”

He ignored me and put his hands on the stonewall, leaning toward the flowers. “They’re beautiful.”

“They’re poison.”

The minister crawled over the wall and reached for the nearest flower, which seemed to arch itself toward his hand.

He smiled and then shrieked as the flower seized his hand.

Others coiled around his wrist, burrowing into his skin and dragging him the rest of the way in. The ground roiled, erupted, and then opened wide enough for the man to disappear.

I stood at the wall until his muffled screams faded and the white blossoms on the flowers took on a reddish hue.

#horror #fear #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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