July 14, 1938

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“You’re a young fool.”

My eyes open and brought my Colts up.

An old dog gazed upon me with rheumy and disapproving eyes.

His breath was foul, a stink of rot and sickness. The smell of death.

“Put them away,” he grumbled, sitting down. “Or are you stupid as well as a fool?”

I snorted, slid the guns into their holsters and pushed myself up.

“Hector,” the old dog said, “told me you were different. If I hadn’t smelled it for myself, I wouldn’t have believed it. He drinks too much. And he smokes too much. But he was right about you. You’re different.”

“What’s your name?” I asked, digging out some bread and passing it to him.

He grunted his thanks and ate the bread slowly, gumming it. When he finished, he said, “I’ve had a few names. My favorite, though, is Rex. My first boy called me Rex.”

“Rex it is.”

“Tell me,” the dog sighed, shifting his position, “did Hector tell the truth? Are you looking for your dog?”

“I’ve no love for the Hollow,” I told him, “if it weren’t for Turk, I wouldn’t have come in at all.”

“That would make sense.” Rex eyed me and chuckled. “They make a great effort to get your kind in here without any weapons. For the most part, they succeed. Oh, a few make it into the Hollow with their Colts. Sometimes a scattergun. There are some deaths among these hunters of Bloods, but not many. And there are always more recruits to the cause. Your mother makes certain of that.”

“She’s a delight,” I muttered and took some more bread out, breaking it into smaller pieces for the old dog.

“She is at that,” Rex chuckled. “I’ve taken a bite out of her several times, and I’ve lost my teeth because of it. Worth it, though. Quite so.”

“Is she here?” I asked, hate filling my voice.

“She comes and goes,” Rex answered.

A silence fell over us, broken a moment later by Rex. “You need to keep better watch if an old dog and can sneak up on you.”

“Aye.”

“I’ve a favor to ask you,” Rex said.

I raised an eyebrow.

“I’m tired,” the dog said, settling down onto the floor. “Damned tired. Will you help an old dog?”

“Aye,” I sighed and drew my Colt again. I placed the muzzle of the barrel against the base of his skull and pulled the trigger.

#horror #fear #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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