12:00 AM January 1, 1931

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I killed a minister for the book.

I held the book in one hand and read the title aloud, as I had nearly three centuries earlier.

“The Discourse of Witchcraft,” I murmured and took a sip of my brandy.

I was fifteen years old when the minister came to Cross, searching for my father and all others whom the minister considered witches.

My father was in the Hollow, hunting werewolves at the time, and my siblings and I were alone. Alone, however, did not mean we were unable to look after ourselves.

I was the youngest and the angriest. My mother had succeeded in murdering one of my brothers before her failed attempt upon my life, and her treachery had scarred my elder brother and sister.

When the minister arrived in his black coat and his high collar, it was 1645, and our place in this new world was tenuous.

The man clutched the book to his chest, his eyes wide and feverish. His free hand plucked at the pocket of his coat, and when he spoke, his words rose and fell with a frenzy I’d not heard before. He told me he’d been sent to deliver God’s judgment upon my father for practicing witchcraft.

These were not words I wanted to hear.

I asked the minister where he was from and upon whose authority was he acting.

He told me Boston Towne and that both the King and God had sent him to Cross.

I told him he’d find no witchcraft in Cross and that he best make his way back to Boston Towne ere my father returned and expressed his dissatisfaction with the minister’s presence.

The minister waved the book at me, and I felt the book’s power radiating toward me. There was madness hidden in the pages, and so long as the minister held it, he’d not relent.

I asked to look at the book, and he refused, drawing a long knife from his pocket instead.

He howled at me, and foaming at the mouth, he declared me a sinner and a witch and that only through death could I be saved.

I took the knife from him on the downswing, reversed it, and buried the blade to the hilt in his chest.

My siblings and I buried him in the orchard, and I tucked the book away.

I never told my father.

There was never a need to talk about our chores.

#books #horrorstories

Published by

Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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