6:20 AM January 1, 1931

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He trapped them to save them.

Moses Abernathy was a man of god, though I don’t know which particular god he worshiped. I’ve met my share, and none of them are worth my devotions.

Moses, on the other hand, he’d found his particular god, and he was dedicated to a life of salvation. He put his money where his mouth is, as the saying goes, and he worked hard among the sick and the poor. Moses lived up to his namesake as well, leading many people up from the depths of poverty or from the brink of death. I admired his dedication and his piety.

Moses was a man who lived in a spartan fashion. His only vice was the collection of books. Some were small, others large, and he kept them all on organized shelves, which he cleaned on a regular basis.

As he aged, his library grew. By the time he reached 92, he had little more than a bedroll and his few sets of clothes. He took his meals with the writers of The Sentinel.

On his last morning, I found Moses sitting with a bemused smile as he watched the journalists at their work.

“Today is my day, Duncan,” he told me as I sat down with him.

“Is it?”

He nodded and took the key to his home out of his pocket, placing it on the table between us. “You’ll look after my books?”

“Aye, if that’s what you want.”

“It is. They’re more than books, you know.”

The journalists stopped their work and focused on us.

“Are they?”

“Yes,” Moses sighed. “They’re all those I couldn’t save. The old and the young, men and women. I teased their souls out of their dying flesh and eased it into the pages of those books. They’re alive, in their own way. Dreaming, mostly.”

He looked at me and smiled. “Only those who wanted it, mind you. And they were surprisingly few.”

“How few?” I asked.

He closed his eyes, paused and then answered, “There are 322. I helped the first, my younger brother, in 1812. I was nine, and he was seven. I visit him, on occasion. And a few others. No more, though. No more. I’m ready, Duncan. Quite ready.”

Moses Abernathy smiled and died at the table.

His books have their own alcove in my library. Occasionally, I speak with them. But mostly, I leave them to their dreams.

#books #horrorstories #supernatural

Published by

Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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