September 11, 1880

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They mean to stay.

Tucked in a slight dip in the land and half-hidden by pine trees, the building proved difficult to see. Had I not stepped further into the woods to look for a place to hole up for the night, I might have missed it entirely.

I’m glad I didn’t.

The building squatted amongst the pines, its doors and windows small and set deep within thick walls. There was no smoke from its chimney, nor was there any sign of life.

I knew better than that, though.

With a Colt in hand, I made my way around the building, listening as I went. Soon, I heard short, sharp orders barked out in Russian. The rough smell of gunpowder hung about the air, and it brought me to a stop by a back door. I stood there, considered how best to gain access to the structure, and then decided to bang on the door.

The voices continued as the sound of footsteps joined them. A lock rattled, and the door opened.

A frowning face greeted me, and I punched him in the mouth, sending him into a wall. He slipped, fell, and struck his head hard enough to leave him moaning on the rough wood.

Beyond him stood a group of men, and it was clear as day what they were doing.

They were making ammunition.

Canisters of it stood on shelves while two men in white directed a trio of assistants. All movement stopped when they realized I was not their associate.

One of the men in white, far older than anyone else there, nodded toward my Colt.

“You know what this place is?”

“Aye.”

“You’ll die if you fire your weapon in here,” he continued.

“Chance of it.”

“What is it you want?” the elder asked.

“For you to leave Cross alone.”

The younger man laughed, and the assistants grinned. Even the older man smirked.

“What do you think this is for?” he asked. “This is enough to destroy the town.”

I shook my head.

“You disagree? What is it then, hm?”

“An excuse,” I told him.

“An excuse for what?” he asked, and I shot the man on the floor.

There were shouts of dismay as the men backed toward one another, and I stepped out and into the fresh air once more. They huddled against the wall, and I killed them where they stood.

They had nowhere to run, and I didn’t miss.

#horrorstories #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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