Flowering, 1912

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They weren’t supposed to be there.

Of that, I was quite certain. I’d clear-cut and burned the island, not a month before, and here it was, full of life.

Well, that’s what happens when things are too close to the Hollow.

Sharpe’s Island was one of those small bits of land that was but a hop skip and a jump from Gods’ Hollow, and all manner of things blew in on the winds. It appeared, unfortunately, that quite a few things had settled on the island, and they’d propagated far quicker than I would have thought.

Norbert Harwich had come to me, saying his daughter and his hired hand had slipped away. He thought, at first, that she might have gone off to get married. It wasn’t out of the question. I’d been young once and foolish on more occasions than I care to remember. Norbert, though, was worried that the two could have strayed onto my land, as he had done when he was fifteen.

He’d left an arm on my property and counted himself lucky.

I told him I’d have a look around, and so I made some inquiries amongst the ravens and the fey, and all were agreed that the lovers had slipped away in a canoe. One of the naiads had even seen them reach Sharpe’s Island.

At first, I wasn’t terribly concerned about it. The island was, as I recalled, in poor condition to sustain trespassers.

But the sight of its flourishing greenery changed my mind.

I pulled up onto the shore and stepped out of my canoe.

I followed a winding, well-manicured path across the small island, and in a short time, I found myself looking out at the Hollow.

Neither the hired hand nor Norbert’s daughter was in sight.

Turning around, I prepared to leave, and a bit of white caught my eye.

A small bone lay near the base of one of the shrubs.

Looking closer at the others that lined the path, I found more bones. One for each plant.

At the end of the path, only a few feet from my canoe, the shrubs on either side grew up through a pair of skulls.

Without a word, I returned to my canoe, climbed in, and shoved off.

I had to tell my friend that his daughter was dead.

#horror #fear #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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