November 11, 1891


Horatio appeared ill.

I was sitting in the parlor, reading when the monkey came into the room. He doffed his cap, set it on the small table I’d put by the door for him, and moved at a slow, concerned pace to stand in front of the fire. He held his hands up, rubbed them, and then glanced down at the small jacket he wore.

“Alright?” I asked, setting the book down.

The monkey shook his head. “No. Not at all.

“Why’s that?”

“There’s someone out by the grain barn,” Horatio answered. “He wants to speak with you.”

I stood up and reached for the Colts.

“No,” Horatio stated. “I don’t think you’ll need those.”

I looked at the monkey, but he kept his eyes fixed on the fire. Leaving the Colts where they lay, I exited the room and made my way outside.

Around the corner of the grain barn, I found the stranger. He was a tall man, at least a head taller than me. He smoked a pipe and gazed at me with something akin to amusement. The stranger smelled of tobacco and the sea. With a nod, he took the stem of the pipe from his mouth and greeted me in a language I’d learned at my father’s knee.

I cleared my throat, and the knowledge of old Norse rose up from the past.


The man chuckled. “Are you well, Duncan Blood?”

“Tolerable,” I answered.

“You’ve an interesting companion,” he observed.


The stranger nodded. “Is he pleasant?”

“More than most, less than some.”

The man laughed, drew long on his pipe and exhaled through his nose. “Do you know who I am?”

I peered at the man. “There’s a stamp of the familiar about you, but I’ll be damned if I remember why.”

“Oh, you’re damned for a great many things other than that,” the stranger winked. “My name is Andlát.”

I stiffened.

“Oh, no, not for you, Duncan,” he winked. “For others in the Hollow, but not for any here in Cross. I came across the water to sit and speak with you.”

“And the knife?”

His smile broadened. “This is for any who might interrupt me on my travels.”

I snorted. “Have any been so foolish?”

His smile became cold. “I have slain worlds with this dagger.”

“So, what would you speak of?”

“The weather.”

I sat across from him, for who am I to argue with Death?

#fear #horrorstories #supernatural

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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