September 13, 1880


His fear filled the church.

I entered the small church looking for food. I’d been in the Hollow long enough for the food to run out, and so I wanted to chew something that wasn’t a root.

In the back of the building, I found a pantry well-stocked with jerked venison. While I ate a bit of jerky, I stored the rest of it in my bag, and I was about to leave when I heard a voice coming from the main place of worship.

The voice was a man’s and rose and fell with a soft quality. The man’s prayer was a delight to hear, but I drew a Colt nonetheless.

I walked up to a drape that served as a barrier between the back room and the sanctuary, and when I edged it aside, I found myself looking upon an orthodox priest. His head was bent down over the altar, forehead touching it, hands spread wide and pressed firmly against the marble.

He straightened up, his icons rattling against his chest. He glanced at me and then stiffened, his eyes widening.

I cocked the hammer on the Colt and looked at the empty pews.

“Anyone else here?” I asked.

The priest shook his head, his eyes never leaving me as I stepped out onto the dais and made my way ‘round to the first pew. I kept the Colt trained on his overly large belly and sat down. “Tell me, Father, who’s in charge here?”

He opened his mouth, thought better of it, and closed it again.

“They know you’re here,” he replied.

“Most do.” I took out a piece of jerky and had another bite. “I’ve been leaving bodies wherever I find them.”

“You shouldn’t be here,” the priest whispered. “This place is not yours.”

“Well,” I replied, “you all should have stayed out of Cross.”

“Your mother paid them well to hunt you,” he said. “She will pay more when you’re dead.”

“They won’t kill me. Better men have tried.”

“Will you kill me?” he asked.

“Can you convince your friends to stay out of Cross?”

He shook his head, and I pulled the trigger.

The shot was clean, and he died before he struck the floor.

I finished my jerky, stood up, and crossed to the body. I knelt beside him and lifted his scalp.

They needed to know I was coming.

They needed to know none of them were safe.

#horrorstories #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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