He Loves Me, She Loves Me Not, 1923

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The sound was reminiscent of fish gasping on a deck, and it set me to running.

I found them on the backside of Devil’s Island, and I’ve no idea as to how they got there. It appeared that they had settled down to a picnic, though I couldn’t tell when.

Most of the food was gone, and what little remained was rotten through. While their clothes were ruffled in the wind, and while the lady’s parasol shifted uneasily in her hands, neither the man nor the woman moved. They were frozen in their positions, and the madness in their eyes told me all was lost.

I drew a Colt to end their misery, and I nearly lost my life.

Vines snapped out at me, seeking to lock onto my wrists and ankles, and the bullets meant for the tormented souls in front of me went to my own protection.

The vines were larger than I had ever seen, and they were deadly fast.

I was in the midst of reloading when the vines reached for me again, and I stomped upon them, cursing them in the most blasphemous language I could muster.

It caused the vines to withdraw, and a moment later, the couple collapsed. Smaller vines pushed their way out of the ears, eyes, nose, and mouth and crawled away toward the center of the island.

Angry, I hastened after them, and as I did so, my mother called out to me from the water between the Hollow and the island.

For a heartbeat, I saw her standing on the water offshore, a creature of dazzling hatred and malice.

The meaning of her words was lost to me, as was her response when I fired several shots at her. She vanished beneath the waves, though I knew she was not dead.

Not yet.

No matter how much I wanted, her to be.

Turning around, I went back to the bodies and wrinkled my nose at the smell. They’d been dead for quite some time.

With a muttered curse, I stalked inland to one of my small sheds, found a length of rope and a shovel, and went back to gather up the corpses.

I can’t abide a mess.

#horror #fear #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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