Visitors, 1937

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Sixty years have passed since I last saw it.

Grimnir landed on the porch this morning, the old, one-eyed Raven greeting me with a low, harsh call that I knew well.

Setting my coffee aside, I asked if he wanted a drink, and the god shook his head. Instead, he spoke a single word.

“Hollow.”

There was no urgency behind the name, but the fact that Grimnir spoke was enough to move me out of my chair and back into the house. By the time I finished strapping on the Colts and returned to the porch, he was already gone.

I didn’t bother with my truck or with saddling one of the horses.

The walk would help me brace myself for whatever I would find.

I was wrong.

When I caught sight of Gods’ Hollow, a second wall stood a short distance from the stonewall, and my heart thundered against my chest.

I recognized the new wall, though it was far longer than the last time I had seen it.

Some of the bricked openings had fresh mortar; others were single, solid slabs of marble.

There was a name inscribed on each, faint and only visible when the light of the sun struck it full on. There were no dates, and there didn’t need to be.

I could remember each one, and why wouldn’t I?

I was looking at the wall of my dead.

These were not the graves of random folk or monsters, criminals or neighbors.

No, these were the graves of my loved ones. Relations and friends. Some I had put down myself, out of need and nothing more.

Some had been taken from me by others. A few had been claimed by old age.

But only a few.

I climbed over the stonewall and walked to the one grave more important than all the others.

Adelaide’s.

I sat down beside my wife’s grave and rested my forehead against the cool marble.

Time passed, and the sun climbed higher, and soon, I heard her sweet voice come from the depths.

“Duncan,” she sighed. “Why didn’t you wake me?”

My own voice was raw and broken when I spoke. “I did not wish to disturb you.”

“You never do,” Adelaide laughed. “I met your son.”

I could not speak.

“He is well,” she continued.

“Is he?” I whispered.

“We all are, Duncan,” she told me. “The dead have no more worries.”

“Aye,” I sobbed. “Aye.”

#horror #fear #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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