Apples, 1936

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The barn wasn’t as empty as I would have liked.

There was little to the barn itself.

Most of the wood had been stripped away over the years. If the place hadn’t been built by the Coopers, I doubt it would have lasted as long as it had.

Still, I wasn’t about to leave a place unchecked.

Once I went inside the barn, I found that there was little in the way of protection from the sun. A fair amount of the shingles were missing from the roof, and someone had long ago disassembled the tack closet.

Standing near the tack closet, I saw a trapdoor set into the floor and remembered that it was there that the Coopers had kept their apples for the winter. Dane Cooper once confessed it was the best way to get his boys to check on the animals. Once they were done feeding the horses, the boys could get the animals – and themselves – a few apples.

What bothered me about the trapdoor now was the fact that the dirt of years had been swept aside.

I walked into the small room, took hold of the old leather latch, and pulled the door open. The sweet smell of apples mingled with the fetid stink of the undead wafted up and caused my gorge to rise.

I drew one of my Colts, thumbed the hammer back, and walked down the narrow, ancient stairs to the cellar floor. I stood in the square of light offered up by the sun above me and looked about the cellar.

In the far corner, touching gathered apples, was a man who had seen better days even before the vampire had claimed him as its own.

His fingers brushed across the fruit.

Finally, the man turned and faced me. His face was tight with age and longing, his hands clenching into fists at his side.

When he spoke, the sharp incisors of his kind flashed in the gaping wound that was now his mouth.

“Days,” he whispered. “I spent days gathering these apples. They were gonna hold me over through the winter. Find work and then move on. I loved apples as a boy. They reminded me of my momma. I can’t eat ‘em now. Can’t eat nothin’.”

He looked at me, took his hat off and nodded.

I brought up the Colt and blew his brains out.

I drew my knife and stepped up to the corpse. Before I took his head, I put an apple in his hand.

#fear #horror #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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