Wildflowers, 1868


The Hollow is a hateful place.

I saw the man and child from the road, and I don’t know if they were strangers on the road to Cross or strangers from the Hollow wandering around the open field. Either way, they were in danger.

He was carrying a load of branches on his shoulder and holding the little girl’s small hand in his own large one. I called to them and bade them come to the stonewall.

Neither of them understood me, and when the man answered, it was in a language, I did not know.

As I climbed onto the top of the wall, the man and child each took a nervous step back, as though they were wary of strangers.

I dropped down into the Hollow and saw the field was fairly covered in off-white flowers, the stalks of grass a strange, hunter green.

And as my mind registered these facts, the field came alive.

The grass lashed out at me, each strike bitter and sharp, sending jolts of pain through my feet. Far across from me, the child screamed, and the man howled, dropping his load of branches as he snatched the child up and cradled her in his arms.

I took several staggering steps toward them, but even as I did so, some of the flowers bent their heads and touched the man’s trousers. Purple flames exploded in the fabric and raced up them. The man turned around to try and flee, but the grasses pinned him into place. The girl screamed in his arms, and he twisted back to face me, desperation on his face.

I could see what he planned to do, and, ignoring the pain, I sprang toward them, sprinting across the ground.

With a howl, he threw the girl, and she sobbed as she struck the earth and rolled. Her sob became a scream, and she raced to me. The grass snapped at her, and her smock smoldered from the flowers.

As I thundered across the grass, the girl leapt to me, and I caught her as the man was pulled to the ground.

Cradling her against me, I sprinted for the safety of North Road and cleared the stonewall in a single leap.

The girl is alive and silent, and in the morning, I’ll find her a home.

Then, well, I’ll see how the Hollow likes kerosene.

#horror #fear #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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