Bad Meat, 1875

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The Hollow doesn’t like signs.

In the first few years of my life, my father attempted to warn strangers away from Gods’ Hollow. The local tribes already knew better than to wander around in the place, and so, too, did some of the residents of Cross. Others, though, seemed to make a habit of going in when they shouldn’t.

So, my father would put up signs warning of dangers. No sooner had he attached the sign and turned his back than the warning was gone.

After a decade or so, he gave it up as a bad job best left unfinished.

Following in my father’s footsteps, I don’t bother with signs. I do make it known that I don’t like strangers nosing about the Hollow.

Still, people don’t listen.

Word came to me that an elk had been spotted in the Hollow, and that was a bad sign for some folks in Cross. There were a few men who fancied themselves hunters. For regular animals, these men were no doubt well-equipped.

But they would be woefully unprepared for anything that lived in the Hollow.

By the time I reached the stonewall at North Road, it was already too late.

Ethan and Silas Gauvin were hauling a field-dressed elk over the wall. There was a fair-sized pile of innards half a dozen feet in, and the grass around it was trampled and soaked with blood.

“Best to put it back,” I told them, and the men laughed at me.

“What do you know, boy?” Ethan asked. “Nothing. You don’t know a damned thing.”

“I know you’ll want to put that back,” I remarked. “It’s not fit to eat.”

The men laughed even harder at my statement and wiped tears from their eyes as they shouldered their burden and headed toward their home on Gordon Way.

I looked back into the Hollow and wondered how bad it would be.

Well, it turned out to be pretty bad.

They cooked up some of the elk for dinner, and by the time they were done, the bad meat struck.

When I found them later that night, I saw the brothers had vomited out their stomach and their intestines. They’d even managed to pull their lungs out of their chests.

I don’t know how they could have eaten the meat. It stank.

But then again, those boys couldn’t cook worth a damn to begin with.

#horror #fear #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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