Joy Recalled, 1912


The house stood across from the Hollow and waited.

The home, a beautiful Victorian painted in colors both bright and gay, shined in the morning light. The door, which was wide and painted a soft robin’s egg blue, stood open, and the sound of birds singing came from within.

What surprised me about the home wasn’t the paint or the birds, but the fact that the house hadn’t been there an hour earlier when I’d made my way into town.

I was used to structures appearing within the confines of the Hollow, not outside of it. And while there was the faint, pleasant scent of roses emanating from the home, I still felt as though it had come from the Hollow.

That simple fact worried me and spurred me into action.

Drawing a Colt, I cocked the hammer back and entered the home.

There were fresh-cut flowers everywhere I looked. Birds clung to the frames of doorways, and bees moved in large, lazy circles from one clump of blossoms to the next, their legs thick with pollen.

The house itself hummed, and the birds sang louder as I approached the last room of the main hall.

Within the room was a large fireplace, a painting of a mother and child, and a chair. The mirror above the mantle was festooned with flowers, and more were arranged within the hearth. On the mantle stood a clock, the hands frozen at 11:45, and a photograph of a man who appeared vaguely familiar.

Standing there, with the birds singing, I understood there was nothing to fear from this house.

I eased the hammer of the Colt back into place and then holstered it.

As I turned to leave, I saw a tall and beautiful woman in the doorway. A smile spread across her face.

“I thought I might see you soon, Mr. Blood.”

“Who are you?” I asked.

“Joy,” she answered. “Joy Mast. My mother has passed, and I decided to return to Cross, at least for a bit. Your mother makes the Hollow challenging at times.”

I processed the woman’s identity and nodded. “She does at that. I’m sorry to hear of your mother.”

Joy shrugged. “Death comes for us all, Duncan Blood, and sometimes, you hold the door open for him.”

Well, she wasn’t wrong there.

#horror #fear #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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