Seeds, 1881

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Walther Volk was as cheap as they came.

If he could get away without paying for something, Walther would.

Today, when he was riding his old mule along North Road, he saw something he couldn’t resist, though by rights he should have. Hell, at 92 years old, he damned well knew better.

But, as I said, he was too cheap.

In the Hollow was the tallest corn I’d ever seen, and I had stopped to admire it. The stalks were easily over seven feet tall, and they had some of the biggest ears to ever grow in Cross. My admiration didn’t lead me to climb over the wall. That corn, I knew, would be dangerous and not worth any effort to retrieve some.

Walther didn’t see it that way.

He glanced at me when he rode up, looked away, and then guided the mule into the Hollow. I watched as he made his way directly to the corn and, without getting off the animal’s back, set about pulling down ears of corn. He was looking for good seed corn, and I can only imagine the figures he was tallying in his head.

His old hands worked quickly as he dropped the corn into the pockets of his coat.

He’d put a fourth ear in when there was a rustling among the stalks. The mule’s ears perked up, and its tail twitched uneasily. Walther shook his head, swore at the mule, and reached for another ear of corn.

It was his last.

A dark shape tore him off the back of the mule, and the man’s scream was short-lived as he was pulled into the stalks. The mule’s, however, was far too long. Shadows latched onto the creature and dragged him towards an ever-widening opening among the corn.

With my own muttered curse, I drew my Colt, cocked the hammer back, and pulled the trigger.

The bullet caught the mule in the head and killed it instantly.

As the body thumped to the ground, something in the Hollow howled in fury.

I fanned the hammer and put the other five rounds into the opening among the stalks.

The unseen creature stopped and dragged the mule out of sight.  

For a moment, there was silence, and then my mother’s voice rolled across the Hollow.

“I hate you, Duncan.”

I nodded in reply. What was there to say?

I’d stabbed her to death when I was ten.

Our hatred was mutual.

#horror #fear #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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