I found him in his room.

The book’s directions, not surprisingly, had been dead on.

I didn’t bother kicking the door in. When I reached the top of the narrow stairs, the last few boards squealed, and the wood of the door splintered as Langer emptied all five shots from his pistol. I heard the clatter of empty casings on the floor and let myself into the room.

He sat in a chair, sword on the table in front of him and a box of cartridges open beside it. Langer fumbled with an older model Colt, his fingers failing him as he dropped his reloads onto the floor.

I drew my Colt, thumbed the hammer back and waited.

He glared at me, a sneer creeping onto his face, half-hidden by his beard. “I am not afraid to die, Duncan Blood.”

“I’ve no fear about killing you,” I answered. “But that’s not what this pistol’s for.”

His eyes flickered, darting from my face to the Colt’s barrel.

“The pistol is here to make you comply,” I continued. “You’ll put your revolver on the table and your hands on your knees.”

His sneer broadened. “No.”

I shot him in his left shin.

The deafening roar of the Colt in the confines of the room did not smother Langer’s howl of pain.

I cocked the hammer again, and he slammed his revolver onto the table, pushing it away from him, his face pale and his breath rushing in and out between clenched teeth.

“You killed my friend,” I said, drawing my knife with my free hand. “Had him cut down and his limbs scraped and shaved to weave a basket around your dead child.”

“Yes,” he snarled.

“You did it wrong and opened her flesh to whatever was lingering in the air.”

His hands twitched and moved towards his sword.

I shot him in the other shin.

Panting, he let his hands fall to his side.

Striding forward, I kicked the wounded man out of his chair, holstered my Colt and leaned over the old bastard.

“When I was young, I went to Quebec, and I fought the French and their allies, the Huron. I remember when the Iroquois would take a Huron prisoner and how they would torture him. They wanted to see how strong he was. How well he could withstand the pain. Some of them lasted for days. I doubt you’ll make it through the night.”

I was right.

#trees #horrorstories

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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