November 18, 1891

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Something was wrong with the island.

I’d gotten word from the ravens about a strange bit of construction on Heartless, a fair-sized island close to the Hollow side of Blood Lake.

Leaving Horatio in charge of the house, and with whiskey keep him company, I set off for Heartless in one of my larger boats. With the sail trimmed and a fair wind, I reached it after an hour of mild sailing.

I should have known something was wrong when the merfolk didn’t attack, and the naiads were nowhere to be seen.

I tacked into shore, reefed the sail, and dropped anchor a short distance away. I stepped down into the cold water and splashed my way to shore, swearing and cursing along the way. But I’d rather wet boots and pants than not be able to get the damned boat off the shore again.

I found a small, well-trodden path that cut through the heavy grass and bushes, and as I followed it, the air changed. It took on a dry taste and a heat unnatural for the time. There was a scent on the wind I’d not experienced before, and I drew both Colts as I went.

I stepped through a small clearing and saw them.

Three men were seated in a graveyard I’d never seen before. Two faced me while the third peered out over a pair of crypts at a building that dwarfed my home.

When the men saw me, they began to chant.

The air became heavy and pushed down upon my shoulders. Heat swirled around me, and my tongue grew thick. My blood screamed within my veins, and my fingers threatened mutiny, howling to drop the Colts to the ground.

I know magic when I see it, and I damned sure know it when there’s a spell being cast.

The men’s voices rose as I brought the Colts up an inch at a time. The speed of their chanting increased, and blood spilled out of my nose to trace the outline of my lips. Tears filled my eyes and tinged the world with red, and I pulled the triggers.

The man in the center, whose back was to me, pitched forward, as dead as those buried beneath him.

The weight lessened, and my hands obeyed me once more.

The Colts thundered, and the men died.

I holstered the guns and returned to the shore. My boots were wet and there was whiskey to drink.

#fear #horrorstories #supernatural

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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