Evening, August 30, 1880


They knew their business.

It didn’t take me long to find another target, but these weren’t as foolish nor as prideful as the first two.

These men were soldiers. Hard and weathered. They had their rifles with them, the bayonets as long as any I’d seen before, and I had no doubt that they knew how to use them.

We were gathered on North Road close to my lands when we stumbled upon one another. They saw the guns on my hips, and they spread out.

Killers can always recognize one another.

A quick glance at the rifles told me the weapons were primed and that the fight was going to be a painful one if I wasn’t careful.

They kept their rifles at their hips, the bayonets pointed unwaveringly at me.

I put my hands on my Colts and nodded by way of greeting.

“You best be getting into the Hollow,” I said.

“What we do is none of your business,” the one in the center remarked, his coat a good deal paler than his companions.

“It is.”

“Who are you?” the man asked.

“Duncan Blood.”

They brought their rifles up to their shoulders, and I drew the Colts as I dropped low.

All three rifles fired, and the bullets tore through the air over me as the Colts roared. I shot one of them in the belly, knocking him down, but the other two were moving. Neither bothered reloading.

Instead, they sought to pin me to the road.

I snapped a pair of shots into the closest one, his leg crumpling beneath him. From the corner of my eye, I saw the man I’d gutshot reloading, and I put a round in his chest.

The last man, the one in the pale coat, drove his bayonet toward me, and I twisted my head at the last moment. As the blade drove into the road, I put both pistols against his chest and pulled the trigger.

The force threw him back, where he landed hard on the road, blood splashing spraying out over the last of the trio, the man I’d shot in the leg.

He was clawing at his bayonet, trying to free it as I stood and walked towards him. His face was pale, his wound fatal.

I stepped on his hand, crushing his fingers beneath my heel.

He beat at my boot with his free hand until he died.

They had known their business, but not as well as I know mine.

#horrorstories #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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