They sang on the shelves.

The books I’d taken from Langer’s were among their kin in my private library. They sang to one another in languages I’d never heard and others I barely understood. Occasionally, one would speak in a recognizable tongue, but even their conversations were upon subjects I could never comprehend.

Still, it was pleasant to hear them.

I sat in my chair and worked my Bowie knife over a whetstone. I had to put the edge back on it. I’d spent eleven hours cutting on Langer, and that time had left the blade dull and nicked in more places than one.

I smoked my pipe as I worked and tried not to think about the task that lay ahead of me. There were bodies in the barn, bodies brought from Miskatonic University and from Langer’s farm in Pepperell. Over the next few days, I’d be digging holes in the orchards and planting corpses to feed Jack’s saplings.

It was the least I could do for my friend.

At the thought of the apple tree, I glanced over at the shelf to where Langer’s skull stood. I’d taken it from him, seeing as how he didn’t need it anymore, and I’d let it boil over a fire made from the limbs stolen from my friend.

Langer’s skull had taken on a faint scent of applewood, and it was a damned fine smell.

It reminded me of Jack, of fine conversations, and the satisfaction of revenge.

“Blood!” one of the books called.

I looked up from my knife. “Aye?”

“Sing us a song,” the book demanded, and the others lent their voices to the request.

“A song?” I set the knife and stone down, tamped down my tobacco and replied, “I don’t know any that are fit for decent company.”

At this, the books roared with laughter, and the book that had spoken asked, “Who says we are decent company, Duncan Blood?”

“Fair enough.” I chuckled and cleared my voice.

I thought of the foulest marching song I knew and then let it fill the room.

The books knew it as well, and soon the house shook with our singing.

It was a fitting way to honor my friend and those soldiers I’d been forced to kill.

#trees #horrorstories

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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