April 17, 1948


The bag of scalps is heavier.

I’d been working my way along a road, trying to figure out how many more of the headhunters I could kill before it was time to go home. It was close to midday when I saw one of the bastards set up alongside the road with his dog and ready to bushwhack someone.

When I was close enough, I slid my rifle off my shoulder, eased a round into the chamber, and rested the stock on a tree limb. I waited a bit to see what would happen; as I did, I heard the man and the dog begin to speak.

“This is foolishness,” the dog growled.

“The hell it is,” the man responded. “Word is there’s a man in these parts. Scalp-taker.”

“He’s more than a man,” the dog replied with something akin to tiredness. “He’s a Blood. When will you get that through your thick head?”

“Huh, that’s funny. Who’re you bound to, mutt?”

“You,” the dog stated, and the venom in that word could have struck the man dead.

“Me,” the man chuckled. “Bound you are, through and through.”

“Aye,” the dog agreed. “’Til death do us part.”

“Don’t make it seem like we’re married, you piece of filth,” the man snapped and backhanded the dog, causing my finger to tighten on the trigger.

The wind shifted as the dog recovered himself. As it did, my scent was carried to the hound, and his tail thumped once in the dirt. Then, the dog eased himself to the ground, resting his muzzle on his paws.

“You ought not to have struck me,” the dog observed. “Wasn’t a wise thing to do.”

“I’ll do what I want when I want,” the man grumbled. “And when the time comes for me to put you down, I’ll make a stew out of your damned bones. The ones that talk taste the best.”

“So you people say,” the dog said. “I doubt you’ll get to taste me, though I might end up tasting you.”

“The hell’s that supposed to mean?”

“That you’re a fool. Isn’t he, Blood?”

I pulled the trigger and took off the top of the man’s head. His body slumped off to one side, and the dog stood up.

“Would you care to eat?” the dog inquired as I ejected the casing and picked it up.

“Not today. I’ve a few to kill.”

“More than a few. Enjoy your killing.”

I left the dog to his master’s brains and whistled as I walked.

#nature #horrorstories

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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