5:30 AM January 1, 1931


I hated Rodger Wilder.

I suppose it wasn’t a terrible hate, not like I’ve felt for others, but it was a hate nonetheless.

He was a mean and spiteful man. One who enjoyed the sufferings of others and who made it a point to inflict as much harm as he could. I’d seen him drive a man out of business just for the sake of doing it, and there was rumor that he’d driven more than a few to suicide.

He tried to throw his weight around more than once, and I had thrown my own right back.

There’d been no cause to kill him before the first of January that year.

Rodger Wilder had taken a liking to some of Jasper More’s books. In fact, he had decided he wanted all twenty of them. Jasper’s parents had brought the books from England, and they’d been in the family for close to two hundred years.

Despite his youth – Jasper was only fourteen – he lived alone and worked the small bit of land left to him by his parents after their death the year before. The books, and a cabinet photo of his parents in their double coffin, were all that he had as keepsakes.

Rodger didn’t care for the photo, but he wanted the books. They were rare examples of heretical psalms, and Rodger had a growing collection of such occult works. His appetite for the books and for violence grew at the same rate.

I found him pounding on Jasper’s door, and the boy was refusing him entry. As I approached the man, I watched as Rodger took out a small volume, undid the silver clasps which kept it closed, and opened it. He read aloud a line of the vilest Latin I’ve ever heard, and then he struck the door with his free hand.

The wood shattered into matchsticks, and the man tried to step forward.

He didn’t cross the threshold.

I had both Colts out, hammers rising and falling in the bitter January night, and I blew his heart out of his chest.

Jasper spent the next few nights at my farm, and I locked up Rodger’s book. When I held it, I could feel the leather cover writhing beneath my hands.

It’s in a locked case alongside a few others, and it’s rare that I peek in at it.

It has a tendency to look back.

#books #horrorstories #supernatural

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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