July 3, 1938

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The building was a warren of rooms and floors.

It was, I soon realized, as complicated and confusing as the Hollow itself.

I focused on signs Turk had left behind. A pile of scat here. A wet column there. Twice I came upon the remains of some rodents and an open commode as well. So, the dog was eating and drinking.

As was I.

In one room, I found an icebox, and I helped myself to some cooked meat. The idea that I might be eating bits of some version of myself was not lost on me.

Several times I came upon rooms with speakers, from which came the sounds of music, none of which I recognized, and that of a man and woman conversing in a language I could not recognize.

If it was meant to frighten me, it failed. The noise was more irksome than anything else.

The sun was setting as I climbed another set of stairs and decided it would be a good idea to find a place to bunk down for the night. As I entered a narrow hallway, the windows rattled in their frames, and I glanced out to see the last of the day illuminating a battered and forsaken village. From where I stood, I could make out twenty or so shapes hanging from gibbets.

I approached the closed door at the end of the hall and, just for the hell of it, knocked lightly on the door.

A tired voice bade me enter, and I did so.

I found a man crouched over a table, six skulls in front of him as he meticulously worked on restoring one of them.

“It’s a shame,” he muttered, “that they feel the need to break the cranium after they’ve stripped off the flesh. They know how much I like the skulls.”

He looked up, a look of woe on his face. Then, he blinked, looked from my face to the skulls, and his skin paled.

“Oh,” he whispered, and he touched the skull in front of him. “It’s been such a long time since I’ve seen you alive.”

He tried to get to his feet as I crossed the room to him, but I had him by the throat. I dug my fingers deep into his flesh and asked, “Why?”

“Your mother hates you.”

As the sun finished its descent, I snapped his neck and dropped him to the floor.

The room, I saw, would do for the night.

#horror #fear #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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