Ben Sattler, 1936

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I hadn’t slept well.

Dawn found me in the kitchen, fixing a pile of eggs and a pot of coffee, the Colts already on my hips, the BAR on the table. Nothing had come to the house, and none of the fey had come to warn me of trespassers. There’d been some minor rumblings in the fields, but nothing more.

I had just finished dumping the eggs onto a plate when one of the ravens lit in through the open window and told me there was a boy coming along the road.

I left the coffee to simmer and the eggs to cool, and I followed the bird out. She led me straight up to Blood Road, where I saw Ben Sattler, Kenny’s youngest boy. The child looked worn and ragged, his horse plodding along as best it could.

The Sattlers lived on the far southern side of town, and it was rare that I saw any of them past East Road.

When the boy saw me, he raised a tired hand, and as I took the reins in hand, he collapsed against the saddle. I lifted the boy out and carried him back home, the horse trailing along behind me. I led it into the barn, shucked the saddle and tackle from it, and let it feed on some loose hay while I brought Ben inside. His eyes fluttered open when I sat him down at the table.

He started to speak, and I shook my head.

“Eat first, boy,” I told him. “I suspect what you’ve come to tell me can wait a bit.”

He nodded, picked up a fork and ate mechanically. I poured him a cup of coffee, and a sip of that brought a bit of color to his lips.

“Everybody’s dead,” Ben told me, his hands wrapped around the mug.

“Ma and Pa, both your brothers?” I asked.

“Ayuh,” he whispered.

“What happened?”

Ben shook his head. “I don’t know. I was up in bed when there was a knock on the front door, and I heard Ma tell Jake to answer it. Last thing I remember, Jake was saying someone could come in.”

I nodded. “How do you know they’re dead?”

“They’re not breathing,” Ben answered. “Not moving. All of ‘em are in the barn, beneath the hay.”

“Think you could do me a favor?”

“Yes.”

“Stay here,” I told him. “Watch the house. I’ll go and get help.”

The boy nodded and stayed while I went and put down his family.

#fear #horror #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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