Virginia, 1936

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She was waiting for me.

She was hunkered down in a house that had seen killings and worse.

I had waited ‘til dusk and then made my way there until I stood outside, hands on the butts of the Colts and waiting.

She was in the window, looking out at me. I could see a flower to her left and a cascade of ivy from the window-box. She stared at me for a moment, then left the window and opened the door.

I went in and found her seated by the hearth. A kerosene lantern burned on the mantle and cast a pale, sickly light about the room. Virginia wore the tattered, mismatched clothes of an Okie, and I considered how far she had fallen.

When she spoke, it was with the genteel tones of an educated Southern lady, not the thick drawl of a backwoods farmer. Her posture was perfect; her hands folded neatly in her lap. She eyed me warily, and when she finally spoke, I caught sight of the massive fangs within her mouth.

“You came at night,” she stated.

I nodded.

Her smile broadened. “This is my time, Duncan Blood.”

“It is.”

Her smile faded. “You should be afraid.”

I shrugged. “I came to talk. It’s why I didn’t come in guns blazing.”

She lifted her chin slightly. “Talk of?”

“Orphans.”

She winced. “Their parents were bad.”

“Not all of them,” I remarked. “Hell. Probably not even most of them. You didn’t do a single one of those children a kindness by sparing them. Fact of the matter is, you probably set them up for worse.”

Virginia snarled at me. “No one will harm them!”

“Not any vampires, true,” I nodded. “Can’t say much about the people around them.”

“You’ll care for them.”

“Best I can,” I agreed. “But I won’t be there all the time. Not when I should be. Not when they’ll need me to be.

Panic flashed across the vampire’s face. “I’ll keep them safe.”

“You can’t turn them.”

Her expression became one of desperation.

“You can’t be here.” My voice was gentle. “You’ve got to go.”

“Where?!” Virginia wailed. “I was invited!”

“The Hollow.”

Her eyes widened. “Non! Mon Tante, ta Mere est la!

“One Blood or another.”

In silence, she stood, and I walked her to the Hollow. Better my mother, it seemed, than my guns.

#fear #horrorstories #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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