A warning.


She was waiting for me by the road.

It was 1871, and dreams of the war woke me far more than I cared to admit.

The sun had only been up for an hour or so when I saw her on the side of the road, about as out of place as a person could be. No one in Cross dressed so fine, not on a Saturday morning. There were no church fairs or celebrations I was aware of, nor was she anyone I recognized. The Hollow had been acting up of late, more so than usual, I should say, and so, I was a bit on edge. Add to that the lack of sleep, and well, you can understand why my hands drifted towards the Colts when I laid eyes on her.

A smirk appeared on her face as she took note of my reaction. When she spoke, her voice rolled through the land, echoed gently by the trees around her.

“So like your kind,” she said, “to fight first and seek peace later.”

“Humanity is like that,” I remarked, the butts of the Colts comforting in the palms of my hands.

“Bloods are like that,” she corrected. “Your father more than others, it would seem, and he, from what I was told, had outlived most of his kind. No mean feat, young Blood.”

“Who are you?” I asked.

“I am Rowan,” she replied. She rested her hand on the tree she stood beside, then gestured across North Road to the Hollow. “I come from Gods’ Hollow, and I bring a warning from my kin to you and yours.”

“What’s that?”

“Your mother has been seen,” Rowan stated. “More so, she has been heard. Some of the elder trees have learned she intends to mount an attack on Cross. Whether it is your Cross or some other, I do not know, young Blood. We are warning as many as we can.”

“Why’s that?”

“She takes the heartwood of my kin for her spells.”

“Fair enough.” I took my hands off the Colts and folded my arms over my chest. “Do you know when?”

She shook her head. “Only that it may come and that you best be prepared. Of all whom I’ve spoken with, young Blood, you seem the readiest.”

I nodded my thanks at the compliment and watched her cross the road and into the Hollow. She moved gracefully across the field and vanished in the forest.

I headed home to clean my guns and speak to my trees.

Mother was coming to visit.

#trees #horrorstories

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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