October 9, 1937

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She was waiting at the end of the path.

I walked for the better part of the day until the stones came to a stop at a circle of rough grass. As I came to a stop, the branches of the weeping willow intertwined behind me and sealed us in.

She looked younger than I remembered, and that worried me.

“Sit, Duncan.”

I did so, focusing not only on her youthful face but on keeping my hands calm as well.

I’ve never been sure as to what she is, only that she could kill me with a breath, and I made a habit of avoiding her as much as possible.

“Have you seen your father of late?”

I stiffened and shook my head.

She frowned. “How long has it been?”

“Right around two centuries.”

“When your father gave me this place,” she said, “he told me I would be undisturbed.”

There was a gentle note of reproach in her voice, and I nodded. “I know it. I would not have bothered you if I did not think it was necessary.”

She raised an eyebrow, and a smirk appeared. She shifted her position, and her jewelry clicked and clacked in the stillness. “What you think is necessary, Duncan, may not seem so to me.”

“Aye.”

She used her fingers to comb her braids, first one and then the other. “Tell me what this necessity is.”

“There are some trying to bring my mother back into Cross.”

Her fingers stopped, and she looked at me with cold, brutal eyes. “How?”

“Blood and music.”

The ground beneath me vibrated.

“Do you know who they are?” she demanded.

I nodded.

“Find them and bring their hearts to me,” she stated. I broke into a sweat as her anger heated the air.

“I will.”

“And I will seal your mother into the Hollow,” she muttered. “At least whatever damnable version they are trying to bring in.”

I heard the branches whisper as they opened behind me.

“Go,” she commanded. “I will eat their hearts, Duncan, and that is all the payment I require.”

I got to my feet, bowed, and took my leave.

I’d gone no more than half a dozen steps before I was back in the yard. The sky vibrated, and a long, high wail of rage drifted on the wind.

The god my father had given refuge to had sealed the Hollow.

Now it was time to gather the hearts.

#fear #horrorstories #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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