Agatha Poole, 1936

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The house was quiet.

I stood in the kitchen, Colts in hand and listening.

Agatha Poole was a widow who rented a small, ramshackle house on the southern outskirts, not far from Baker’s Mill, and so it was the next stop on my way ‘round the borders.

Agatha wasn’t a native. She’d moved into town just a year before after her husband had been killed in an accident working on the Boston & Maine Railway. She was out of sorts, and she came to stop in Cross because it was the first town where she found someone who would rent to a single woman.

I had knocked on the back door, then opened it and called in. Finally, after a few minutes of silence, I had stepped into the house. Supper, several days old, remained untouched and rotting on the small table.

With a sigh, I worked my way through the small, three-room house.

In what might be called the parlor, I found a shattered mirror. Beveled glass with silver backing strewn across a moth-eaten rug. Broken harp-shaped wood lay close to it, as did a few bits of torn clothing.

Leaving the debris behind, I entered the bedroom and found a neatly made bed and a chest of drawers. The mirror, it appeared, had once been paired with the chest of drawers, and the items that were arranged upon the bureau’s top spoke of orderliness.

Among the items laid out was a man’s wedding band.

I picked up the hand mirror and saw the glass was missing.

I set it back upon the chest of drawers and left the house. There was nowhere to hide inside, and so I looked into the crawlspace beneath it.

There, in the center of the house, was Agatha Poole. Her pale, bare feet faced me, so I got down on my belly and took hold of her cold flesh. It was supple beneath my fingers, and her body moved easily as I dragged her out of her hiding place.

As the sun struck her toes, she squirmed and tried to escape.

But I kept my grip, even as her flesh burst into flames.

She was screaming by the time I yanked her out, and I shot her twice in the head as she tried to scramble back to safety.

The sun roasted her, and soon she was nothing more than ashes.

I packed and lit my pipe, and then I kicked her ashes to the wind.

#fear #horror #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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