5:00 AM January 1, 1931

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She thought she’d made a deal with Death.

Susannah White had a tremendous fear of dying. So much so that she went in search of Death to strike a bargain. Like so many others, she got her hands upon a book that promised to extend her life.

On a winter’s eve, she released a creature calling itself Death. She’d gone out to one of my islands on Blood Lake, and it was the worst choice she could have made.

The creature was not Death. Not even close. He was a trickster, locked into the book and released on my land. His name was Iktomi, a Sioux trickster in the form of a giant spider.

He listened to her plight, understood what it was she wanted, and he lied to her about how she might achieve her goal.

Iktomi told her to bring him the feather of an eagle, the tears of an orphan, and the blood of an innocent man accused of murder.

Not surprisingly, Susannah gathered all this. What she didn’t know, however, was that I ran into Iktomi while patrolling my islands. He was as little pleased to see me as I was to see him.

I found him in a large nest, waiting patiently for his acolyte to return, and as we argued about his presence, she did exactly.

Susannah walked stiffly and triumphantly into the small glade where Iktomi and I spoke. She ignored me and presented her gifts to him.

He crept forward, praising her as he settled down to examine the items. When he was satisfied with their authenticity, he called her forward, and I waited.

“Do you still wish for immortality?” His voice came out soft, lilting, a delicate sound for so monstrous a body.

“Yes,” she whispered.

“To live forever?”

She nodded, her body quivering.

“Then let it be so,” he said and sprang from his perch. His fangs sank into her breast, silencing.

I picked up the book and slid it into my rucksack.

Iktomi peered at me with his eight eyes. “Will you come back for dinner?”

“No.”

“She’ll be sweet by then.”

“I don’t doubt it,” I told him, “but I’ve other plans.”

We bid each other farewell, and I left him to his feast.

The bookis on my shelf still, and every so often, I can hear Iktomi singing about how sweet she was.

#books #horrorstories #supernatural

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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