October 25, 1937

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The rustling of feathers woke me.

I opened my eyes and expected to be greeted by one of the ravens from the rookery. Possibly even Grimnir himself.

I was sorely disappointed.

The window to my room was open, and the man-bird perched upon the footboard and peered at me. When he spoke, his voice whispered through my thoughts, and I worked hard to hear and understand him.

“You are awake, Blood.”

I nodded.

“She has information for you.”

I didn’t need to wonder who the ‘she’ was. I could well imagine that she wanted more hearts.

“What is it?” I asked.

“There is a new house in the Hollow,” he informed me. “It is close to the shore of your lake, and those who hide within it believe they are far enough away from the water to avoid you.”

“Are they?”

The man-bird chuckled. “They were last night. They will not be this morning. She is shifting the boundaries as we speak. They will not know.”

“And my mother won’t warn them.”

The creature snorted, the sound loud and abrasive in my mind.

“Of course, she would do no such thing,” the bird-man confirmed. “Your mother is a beast no matter where or when she comes from. It is my mistress’ wish to eat your mother’s heart, Blood, but she does not believe this will ever come to pass.”

“If I find one alive, I’ll cut the heart out for her.”

The bird-man shook his head, feathers shifting and unseen bells ringing.

“No,” he told me. “She likes the meat fresh and the blood still warm. I do not believe your mother’s heart ever beat with warmth, Blood.”

“That makes two of us.”

The creature nodded. “There are more than you think in that house.”

“How many?”

The bird-man shrugged. “More than ten and less than one hundred.”

I raised an eyebrow.

“It hurts to count, Blood,” the creature snapped. “I carry messages. I do not count humans. It would be easier to count fleas on a dog.”

I nodded. He wasn’t wrong.

“Where is the house, and when should I head to it?”

“It is north by northwest, and you should leave now.”

Without another word, the man-bird twisted and sprang from the footboard to the window and vanished into the morning light.

I threw the covers off me and got out of bed.

It was time for killing.

#fear #horrorstories #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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