August 27, 1880


The ship arrived off-shore today.

I’d been keeping an eye out for the ship ever since speaking with the reaper at Aldritch’s studio. I’d not been able to stay and camp out, but word got back to me quick enough when the dark hulled ship came into view.

By the time it was steaming in toward the mouth of the Cross River, I was in the tower of the Cross Lighthouse. There was a good wind at my back and a clear sky. As the ship turned and slowed, I opened up the package I had brought with me.

During the War of the Rebellion, when the secesh had decided it was necessary to try and break up the Union, I’d managed to get my hands on a Whitworth rifle. It was a thing of beauty, to be sure, with a hexagon barrel and scope mounted on top. I’d taken it from a sniper who put a round through my leg at 1,000 yards.

I put a round through his head at about two inches in return.

I’d been impressed enough with the weapon to send it home, along with the strange bullets that whistled in flight. Since the end of the war, I’d only fired it a handful of times. Mostly to shoot at what looked like my mother prowling around the tree-line of the Hollow.

Pushing thoughts of my mother aside, I loaded the powder, then the bullet, and when I was set, I brought the rifle up to my shoulder and rested it on the railing of the walkway. Through the scope, I could see the ship, and I breathed slow and easy as she broke through the waves. Here and there, I saw men moving about the deck, none of them in a hurry. None of them seeking cover.

A handful of them gathered at the bow, watching and gesturing. The man at the fore seemed to be in charge, or at least respected, for his shipmates gave him a bit of space.

Sighting on the respected man, I inhaled, held my breath for a heartbeat, and pulled the trigger.

The bullet shrieked as it left the barrel, and a moment later, my target staggered, stumbled, and collapsed to the deck.

I watched the sailors drag the body away, and soon, the deck was cleared.

Smiling, I straightened up.

I always enjoy welcoming strangers to Cross.

#horrorstories #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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