Drifters, 1936

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They weren’t what they seemed to be.

I was traveling along Lake Street when I heard them. They were cursing good-naturedly, and there was the clatter of tools. The wind shifted and carried with it the smell of oil and grease, coffee and tobacco. All the smells and sounds one would attribute to men in search of work.

But there was an underlying odor too.

I’d smelled it just a few hours earlier when I took the Cajun boy out of the squatter’s shack.

It was the vampire scent, and the fact that it was present in the daylight meant there was a familiar about.

Possibly more.

I left my BAR slung over my shoulder, but I drew both Colts as I followed a worn path in the growth on the side of the road. In a moment, I came to a small clearing, and a trio of men gathered around a battered auto with Vermont license plates. They had a tent strung up and most of the vehicle’s engine on the ground.

All three looked to me with blood-rimmed eyes and pale skin. Not one of them seemed concerned with the Colts in my hands or the heavy weapon on my shoulder.

I’d come across familiars before. One or two at a time. Never three, and that had me worried. Either there was a corresponding trio of vampires prowling Cross at night, and the situation was worse than I thought, or there was one powerful bastard, and we were in a hell of a lot of trouble.

They looked at me, and the wind shifted again, carrying my scent to them. Nostrils flared, and eyes widened as they smelled garlic and death, and they knew what I’d been about.

They threw themselves at me, and, like the nature of their kind, they were a hell of a lot faster than they looked.

But my guns are quick.

The Colts thundered in the morning air, the heavy slugs from the .44s tearing great holes through the flesh of the familiars. Still, the men came on, bleeding and staggering forward. Anger and fear drove them. Their masters would accept no failure.

In less than a minute, it was over.

The men were dead. Blood and bones spread out over the ground. I put an extra bullet in each man’s head.

When I checked the tent, I found it empty.

The hunt is still on.

#fear #horror #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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