July 24, 1938

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The head was on the third step down from the landing.

The plaster dust and the wreckage of the stairwell were undisturbed. There was no blood or gore around the severed head, nor was there any sign of the rest of the body.

Still, I stepped out of the doorway with caution. In my hand, I held the pruning knife, the curved blade catching the sunlight that streamed in through gaps in the lathing and the broken plaster. The stairs quivered beneath my feet, and I felt certain that should I fire a Colt in the confines of the stairwell, the reverberation of the blast might set off a chain reaction I wouldn’t enjoy.

When I reached the head, I lifted my foot to step over it, and a dry chuckle caused me to pause.

“Turn me over,” came a muffled command.

With the toe of my boot, I did so, and I found myself looking into a desiccated, older version of myself.

“Do I look handsome, Brother?” the head asked me.

“No,” I told him.

The head coughed and laughed at the same time. “Of course I don’t. I’m a sight. Did you think you could ever end up like this?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “You’re not me.”

“I am,” the head grinned. “You’re the first Blood I’ve seen in a long time. I can’t tell you how long because, well, you lose track of time when you’re like this. Did you know you can’t grow back our body?”

I shook my head. “Never crossed my mind to find out.”

The head chuckled again. “Should have. Anyway, why are you here? What are you looking for?”

“My dog, Turk.”

The head frowned. “We never had a dog named Turk.”

I wasn’t sure if the ‘we’ he spoke of were the Duncans as a collective whole or himself in the third person.

“I do,” I said. “I need to find him.”

“Will you bring me with you?”

“No.”

The head glared at me. “Why not? We’re Blood.”

“I’m not sure that you are,” I told him. “I’ve got to find my dog, and I’ve a feeling you don’t shut up.”

“No,” the head laughed, “I don’t!”

As I stepped over him, the head swore at me in a cheerful tone and continued to do so for as long as I could hear him.

#horror #fear #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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