July 9, 1938


The smell of pipe tobacco and beer greeted me.

I opened my eyes and tightened my hands upon the Colts, easing the hammers back. When I saw I was still alone in the small closet in which I’d slept the night, I got to my feet and took stock of the situation.

The strange house was unnaturally quiet.

In the past week or so, I’ve grown accustomed to the sound of my mother howling over the speakers, to mad gibberish being spoken in the halls, and the occasional scream of some other Duncan dying when caught unawares.

Every so often, I’ve heard Turk barking in the distance, but never close enough.

I worry about the dog, and more often than not, it is difficult for me to sleep.

Settling my pistols back into their holsters, the hammers returned to their ‘at-ease’ positions, I let myself out of the room, wary of what I might find in the hallway.

There was nothing other than the sunrise streaming in through dirty windows.

A bluish smoke hung in the air, and I followed it to an open door. I lingered outside the doorway, allowing myself to awaken fully before entering and seeking information.

“I can smell you, Duncan Blood,” a deep voice stated in a flat, emotionless tone. “Best you come in.”

I stepped in, hands on the butts of the Colts.

I found myself looking at a large bulldog who was seated behind a table. He was smoking a jaeger pipe, and there was a fair-sized mug of beer in his right paw. On his head was an old Federal forage cap, and he had a tired air about him.

“They’re idiots, you know,” he told me, nodding towards a chair across from him.

I sat down, and he drew me a mug of beer from beneath the table. I nodded and accepted it. The brew was a fine lager.

“They think you’re all the same,” the dog continued. “Far from it, I tell them, but who are they to listen to me? You’ve all a different smell. Some closer to others. You though, you’ve a scent the likes of no other, and you’re worried about your dog.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means we’ll drink and smoke together,” he answered, “and not try to murder each other.”

We raised our mugs in salute and got on a fine, sweet drunk.

#horror #fear #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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