They died on the porch.
I don’t know who they were or where they came from, and that tends to be the case with a great deal of the dead and dying I find in the Hollow.
It was March of ’35, and I was missing Adelaide far more than usual. So, rather than sit at home and stew in my own sadness, I oiled the Colts and set out for the Hollow. More often than not, there’s something in there worth killing.
I wasn’t wrong this time.
About a hundred yards in from the stonewall on North Road, I saw a quaint little house. It was well-kept with a fair garden around it. The clapboard siding had a fresh coat of white paint, and the bricks on the chimney’s top had recently been repointed. Someone cared a great deal for the home, and it showed.
As I climbed over the wall and kept my eye on the house, I saw the front door open. A pair of men staggered out, tried to right themselves with help from the porch’s railing, and failed spectacularly. Both men went over the rails and slammed into the earth, an act reminiscent of sailors who’d yet to get their sea legs.
They writhed and twisted on the ground, clawing at the trimmed grass and making hideous noises.
When I got close enough, I saw why.
Their throats had swollen, and their faces were red. A yellowish-green mucus seeped from their eyes and noses while blood-tinged bile leaked from their mouths. They stared at me, and a moment later, their eyes exploded. The men convulsed and then stopped.
I stepped over the bodies and knocked at the door.
“Hello?” A surprised woman’s voice greeted the knock.
“Mornin’. Name’s Duncan. Might I come in?”
She hesitated a moment before answering, “Yes.”
I let myself into the home and found a woman sitting in a small alcove. “Are they dead?”
“Do I need to kill you?” she asked.
“I hope not.”
She peered at me for a moment. “Did their eyes explode?”
“Good. I didn’t like the way they looked at me.”
“You here to kill?” she asked, eyeing me.
She nodded and went back to her book. “I have coffee on if you’d like a cup.”
I took a seat across from her and waited.
Who am I to turn down a cup of coffee?