A Bad Habit, 1905

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He should have picked a different hobby.

When Ezekiel Miller returned from his studies abroad and settled back down in Cross, he brought a selection of seeds with him. In 1880, he built a considerable greenhouse and focused all his spare time within it.

Around the turn of the century, I noticed how Ezekiel was spending a fair amount of time on North Road and – when he thought I didn’t notice – plying the waters of Blood Lake looking for interesting plants.

More than once, I spoke to him about this. Rather than trying to explain to him that he was risking his life, I merely threatened him with a sound beating.

It seemed to do the trick.

At least until 1905.

It was a hot and humid August day when his maid and a neighbor arrived at my door. They had heard a fearful screaming from the greenhouse, and the door, always unlocked, was barred from the inside.

Neither had wanted to risk breaking the glass.

I told them to go into town and fetch the police, and when they left, I put on my Colts and rode out to Ezekiel’s property.

I left the horse hitched to his front porch and went around the back to the greenhouse. A long, low whimper reached my ears, and I saw that the glass of the greenhouse was opaque from steam.

When I went to the door, I didn’t bother with trying the handle. Instead, I smashed out a pane of glass above the lock with the butt of a Colt, and I unlocked the door.

The sharp tang of blood hung in the air, and the whimper rose to a moan of pure agony. Looking around me, I saw a great many plants that were not native to this world.

Ezekiel had gathered seeds from the Hollow.

I made my way through the aisles until I found him, his expression one of abject pain and misery.

He was suspended between a pair of trees, his arms and legs akimbo. The skin had been peeled back, and the roots of various plants were feeding on him.

Without a word, I put a bullet in his head and left the greenhouse as the trees shook with anger.

Outside, I lit my pipe and smoked as I broke every plane of glass there was.

The trees screamed in protest, which, I admit, made the whole trip worthwhile.

#horror #fear #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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