July 20, 1938

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The song was bold, the singer proud.

Her voice woke me as the words rolled down the hallways and reverberated off the walls. I felt no need to draw the Colts.

I could sense no magic in the tune, no malice in the singer.

Still, I’d learned too many lessons the hard way in my long life.

I checked the loads of the pistols, loosened them in the holsters, and made certain the pruning knife was at hand. With that done, I took a drink of water to slake my thirst and went in search of the singer. I was hopeful, perhaps foolishly so, that the singer might be able to provide me with some directions as to how to reach my dog so Turk and I might leave the house and the damned Hollow all together.

The woman was only a few doors down, and when I knocked upon the closed door, she paused long enough in her singing to call me in.

The doorknob turned easily, and I stepped into the room.

She was a handsome woman, a cigarette in one hand and a stein of beer in the other. Her right leg was crossed over her left in a decidedly unladylike fashion, and I took a liking to her immediately.

She gave me a nod, waved towards a chair and asked, “Do you want beer, Duncan Blood?”

“Will it kill me?” I asked, sitting down.

She snorted, winked, and replied, “Only if you’re a damned sight weaker than all your kin.”

“I should do fine then.”

She nodded, and a stein appeared on the small table beside my chair. Beads of condensation formed on the stein as I lifted it to my lips and took a long draught of the sweet brew.

The singer tapped the ashes of the cigarette onto the floor, narrowed her eyes and stated, “You’re going the wrong way.”

I waited, and she continued a heartbeat later. “You’re looking for Turk.”

I nodded.

“Don’t,” she said. “The house doesn’t want you to find him. Don’t look for him, and the house will look for something else to do.”

“The house is alive?”

She snorted. “Of course it is. Damned place is having fits with you tromping around inside it. Just walk, Duncan, and you’ll find Turk.”

“That’s it?”

“Yes. Now drink your beer and light your pipe,” she said. “It’s not often I get to visit with family.”

#horror #fear #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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