November 9, 1891

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They came in by way of the lake.

Now, the naiads and merfolk who live in Blood Lake have no love for me.

However, they have even less for strangers. Especially strangers from the Hollow.

I was in the eastern orchard with Horatio, for that was the monkey’s name, and showing him which apple trees to avoid. Some of the older ones have a tendency to eat whatever they can catch, and I didn’t want the fellow to end up as an appetizer.

We were actively engaged in arguing with one of them when a dryad appeared to inform me of some unwanted visitors on Boar Island.

I returned to the house long enough to put Horatio in the kitchen with a cup of coffee and a drop of brandy and to grab a 12 gauge. I loaded it with birdshot rather than solid slugs since I had a mind to have a chat with the strangers.

It didn’t take long to reach the island, and when I arrived, I could hear some men arguing. In short order, I came upon them.

There were three of them, each with their own canoes, and their bickering had reached a crescendo. They were fighting, over all things, about who would shoot at me first. As far as I could tell, that was putting the cart before the horse before the damned horse had been foaled.

I brought the shotgun up to my shoulder, took aim at the one fool standing on the island by his canoe, and shot him.

Then the damnedest thing happened.

The man on the island pulled his sidearm halfway out and tugged on the trigger, shooting a fellow standing in his own canoe. That one fell back, dropped his rifle, and the rifle fired. The bullet passed straight through the head of the man sitting in his canoe. This man had managed to draw his own revolver, and as he pitched off to the side, he pulled the trigger on that, killing the fellow I’d hit with birdshot.

I stood there for a moment, the sounds of gunfire rolling out across the lake, and wondered if I could believe what I had witnessed.

Shaking my head, I pushed the bodies into the water, kicked holes in the canoes, and went back to my own canoe.

There was coffee and brandy waiting at home and a monkey who’d want to know how it went.

#fear #horrorstories #supernatural

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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