Harvested, 1907

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The Hollow takes what it wants.

At first, I thought they were alone. A pair of young lovers sitting on the stonewall and laughing as they peered into Gods’ Hollow.

Foolish, but so long as they remained where they were, they might be safe.

I’d made up my mind to leave them to whatever their fate was when I heard the woman say, “Yes, Darling, I think that’s a beautiful flower.”

I looked towards the attention of their gaze and saw a child.

The girl stood on a path, holding a dark blossom up to her nose and peering towards her parents.

The sight of her sent a chill through me.

“Call your child back, sir,” I said in a low, hushed voice.

The man glanced at me, mistook my youth for ignorance, and offered a condescending smile. “I think we know how to watch our own daughter, young man. This place seems harmless enough.”

“Seems and are, those are worlds apart,” I snapped. “Call her back!”

The man opened his mouth to speak, but his wife’s shriek cut him off.

As one, he and I turned to look into the Hollow and saw that the child was gone.

The child, the path, the bushes she had been next to.

A field, freshly mown, stood there instead. The hay was cut close to the earth, from the wall to the far tree-line.

I did not try to tell them to wait. Did not try to stop either of them from hurling themselves into the Hollow. Why tell them that they might not ever see their child again? That she might well be dead even as they took their first, confused steps into the Hollow’s wretched grounds?

I drew my Colt and shot them both in the back.

They were dead before they struck the ground, and neither knew what had happened.

My mother’s laughter rolled across the field, and I reloaded my Colt.

With a sigh, I sat myself on the wall and hoped the Hollow would reveal the fate of the child.

It did not.

#horror #fear #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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