August 30, 1880


They weren’t all sailors.

Hell, not even most of them were sailors. The burglar told me that they’d been transporting soldiers when they met some version of my mother and struck a deal with her. They could rape and kill to their content, so long as they did it in Cross. If they met me, well, they were to try and kill me.

But she told them I was unkillable, which was exactly the right statement to make to a group of Russian soldiers.

Come to think of it, it’s spot-on for any group of soldiers.

They took her up on the deal, and she sweetened it, saying that if they killed me, they’d find a way to a land of milk and honey. From the burglar’s description, she meant North Road and the Hollow.

Some of the soldiers would wait me out, of that I was certain. Others would come looking for me.

I was worried about a third group, those who would try and take what they wanted from the people of Cross.

But Cross is under my protection. My father had founded it, and I’ll be damned before I see it razed to the ground.

If the town ever needs to be put to the torch, it’ll be my hand holding it.

I was in a bit of a temper when I left the burglar’s corpse draped over the stonewall that runs the length of the Hollow’s border with North Road. My temper hadn’t improved any by the time I reached Martin Ill’s house a mile up the road. Martin was off on some fool trip to Hartford, and he was lucky.

I found one of the Russian soldiers seated in the yard, his eyes fixed on me. There was no weapon that I could see, but the stench of death lingered about him.

A smile spread across his face, rotten teeth revealed behind cracked lips. He winked at me and beckoned me forward.

Instead, I drew a Colt and put a round in his head, which he turned at the last moment. It should have been a clean kill, but his eyes were blown out, and his nose exploded as he tumbled off the chair.

He was too shocked to do much more than lay on the ground, panting, his hands held up and trembling.

I cocked the hammer again and finished him.

According to the dead burglar, I had 78 left to kill.

Whistling, I reloaded the Colt and went hunting for my new friends.

#horrorstories #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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