Hunting, 1936

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Joel Hanson wasn’t with his sheep.

I couldn’t remember a time in the past 65 years where the man wasn’t with his flock. He’d never married, and when his mother and father had died of influenza in 1918, he’d continued working the small farm just as he always had.

On any day of the week, I could stroll past his house on the outskirts of town and find him tending to his small flock. At night, he was wont to sit by the fire and spin the wool into yarn, and then Mrs. Brisbee up the road would sell it when she went into Pepperell.

As is the nature of most New England towns, Cross likes its repetition.

So do I.

When that steadiness is interrupted or broken altogether, it means something’s in town that shouldn’t be.

I was worried for Joel when I didn’t see him in the field. Close to midday, I went up to his house, gave a solid rap on the door, and when he didn’t answer, I opened it and went into the house.

He was there, dead on the floor by his chair.

The fire had long gone out in the hearth, and the cup of tea on the small table beside his seat was untouched. A bible lay on the floor beside the man, and his large, calloused hands were curled up. His eyes were open, the irises and pupils milky white. The man’s skin, always a deep tan from his time in the pastures, was far paler than it should have been. I could see the spiderweb pattern of blue veins on his cheeks, and I knew what had happened to him.

Going into the kitchen, I found a string of garlic and a large butcher’s knife. I up-ended one of the chairs at the table and snapped a leg off, leaving a jagged point on it.

Returning to Joel’s body, I set the knife and garlic on the mantle, picked up an old iron, and then set the point of the chair leg against his breast, just above his heart. I slammed the iron against the leg and drove the wood into the man’s chest.

For the next few minutes, I set about the task of removing the man’s head and stuffing his mouth with garlic. When I finished, I put the head in a bag and carried it out of the house with me.

It would go into the Cross River, and then, well, I’d have to look for the vampire that’d killed Joel Hansen.

#fear #horror #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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