September 4, 1880


They had a howitzer.

I found this out the hard way when a shell went screaming overhead and crashed into the orchard.

I was in the kitchen, having coffee, when the bastards opened up on the farm and upset the apple trees. Even from the house, I could hear the trees crying out their anger, and so I hastened out of the kitchen, snatching up my Spencer as I left home.

I didn’t bother saddling a horse. I had neither the time nor the inclination, and I knew there was only one place they could have fired from.

The Hollow.

I tied down the Colts as I went, made sure my Bowie knife was secure and set off at a run.

I hate running.

Within a few minutes, I was at North Road and caught the bitter smell of freshly fired artillery.

A northerly wind carried the scent to me, and so I tracked it back, following the curve of the stonewall until I saw a house and a landscape that’d not been there the day before.

From within the depths of the building, I heard laughter and chattering in Russian. A flicker of movement in the upper window of the house revealed a man with a spyglass, evidently attempting to ascertain whether they’d struck my house.

I brought the Spencer to my shoulder, sighed on the bastard’s nose, and put a round through his head.

The laughter changed to shouts of confusion and the unmistakable rattle of a howitzer being reloaded. Someone threw open a pair of shutters, and I caught sight of the howitzer being moved forward. Several men peered around, and beyond them, stacked against the wall, I saw barrels of powder.

What type of fool does that?

Evidently, one who doesn’t expect to be shot at.

Someone called out an order, and the men in the window turned back. There was a flurry of motion, and the men leaped for the gunpowder.

It was too late.

I took aim at a barrel and fired.

The explosion shook the earth and brought most of the house down as well.

Body parts and pieces of the building rained down as I listened for a moment on the off chance that one of them had survived.

They hadn’t.

I shouldered the Spencer and walked home, not looking forward to the mess in the orchard or the cold coffee in the kitchen.

#horrorstories #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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