November 8, 1891

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They were waiting for me.

I stepped outside of the Cross Train Station and saw a curiosity. An organ-grinder and his monkey. They both stared at me, the organ-grinder keeping his hand on the monkey’s leash.

As we gazed upon one another, the man’s right hand moved ever so slightly. He pushed back his coat to reveal the butt of a pistol in a cross-draw holster. From where I stood, I could see the worn pattern on the revolver’s wood grip.

The organ-grinder gazed at me, calm and confident.

I looked at him, judged his speed, and decided he could definitely let go of the monkey’s leash and draw that pistol quick enough to get off at least one shot before my own Colts cleared leather.

That made the situation tricky.

Not to mention we were in the middle of town, where any stray round could kill or maim.

A smile spread across his face.

“I’d as soon put a round in your head, Duncan Blood,” the organ-grinder said, breaking the silence between us. “But I’ve been told to bring you to the Hollow. There are some who wish to speak to you before you die.”

“That a fact?”

He nodded and let go of the monkey’s leash, his hand free and held close to his waist.

The monkey looked from me to the organ-grinder, and then it took hold of its leash.

Before I could speak again, the monkey flicked its wrist, and the leash snapped up and out, looping around the organ-grinder’s head. With a shriek, the monkey pulled the leash tight and jumped off the man’s shoulder.

The sudden shift in weight and the loss of air sent the man to his knees. The instrument on his back slid to the left and carried him down to the road. His hands reached up to the leash, fingers seeking purchase, but the monkey tightened its grip.

I drew the Colts and crossed the street as the man struggled to free himself. He saw me from the corner of his eye, and he grasped for his pistol. I stomped on his hand, shattering the fingers as the monkey strangled him to death.

The monkey freed himself from the leash and looked up at me.

“Are you taking in strays, Blood?”

“Most days.”

The monkey scrambled up to my shoulder, and we left the organ-grinder where he lay.

#fear #horrorstories #supernatural

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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