Tobacco, 1907

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The smell was strong and beautiful.

I have to admit I was intrigued by the smell coming in with the wind off Blood Lake.

It took me a good half hour to pinpoint exactly where it was coming from, and when I did, I saw it was one of my islands that was more in the Hollow than in the Lake. Still, the scent was pleasant enough for me to investigate.

I took along my scattergun and the Colts, as well as my Bowie knife. Some of the merfolk forget their lessons, and it does well to remind them. Nothing like gutting one of the mer-bastards to correct any bad behavior.

I rowed for the better part of an hour, following my nose, and soon I was pulling the canoe up onto a short stretch of beach. A quick scan revealed a hint of a trail that led up through the scrub brush and into the island’s interior.

With my scattergun in hand, I followed the path, the smell of tobacco growing ever stronger. I heard murmuring voices, and soon I came upon a pair of men seated in the brush. One of them was smoking from a long pipe, and the other was watching me with calm.

“Blood,” the pipeless man greeted me. “We were wondering when you would find us.”

The man with the pipe exhaled through his nose and grinned. “We were certain the tobacco would bring you.”

The men exuded power, and when they motioned for me to sit, I did so.

I laid the scattergun across my lap and left it untouched.

The man with the pipe nodded. “It would do you little good.”

“And it would irritate us,” the pipeless man added. “Which would be unpleasant.”

“I suspect it would,” I agreed.

The two men chuckled. “You were always brighter than your kind, Blood. Your father too.”

“Do you know where he is?” I asked.

“He is here, in the Hollow,” the man with the pipe said.

“And he is not,” the other shrugged. “This is the Hollow, Duncan, and we Gods tend to run wild within its boundless borders.”

“Here,” the man with the pipe extended the smoking instrument to me, and I took it.

I brought it to my lips and inhaled.

For a short time, I smoked in the company of Gods.

And as I did so, the weight of Cross was lifted from my shoulders, and I was nothing more than a man.

#horror #fear #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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