The photograph took me aback.

It was a daguerreotype tucked between the pages of my father’s journal that I had found on the Hollow’s stonewall.

I had finished reading through some of the older journals, and I felt sufficiently prepared to see what my father had written after vanishing into the horrors of Gods’ Hollow.

I was wrong.

I had never expected to see my mother in a photograph, especially since I had killed her long before the advent of the art.

I lifted the image up out of the pages, the silver-plated copper cold and hard against my fingers. There was no madness in her eyes. No hatred in her face.

This was not the face of the woman who had attacked me on that dark morning. This woman was not frothing at the mouth, nor was she trying to drive a carving knife into my chest.

This was not the woman I would butcher when I was ten years old and wanting nothing more than to break my fast before beginning the day’s chores.

I held the daguerreotype a moment longer, then I set it down and read the entry that went with it.

‘I am unsure how to react to this encounter,’ my father wrote. ‘When last I saw my wife, Duncan had stabbed his mother to death, leaving her corpse on the table. She had attempted to kill him, but the boy was too quick. He is a Blood, through and through.

‘She gazed upon me as though she had seen a ghost, and when she regained her wits, she drew a pistol and fired at me. She is a far better shot than she was a century ago.

‘The round took me in the stomach, and as she tried to finish me off, the weapon jammed.

‘I did not rely upon a weapon, for I’ve killed my fair share with bare hands and little else.’

In silence, I reread my father’s entry.

It pleased me to know she was dead again. I killed my mother whenever I found her, and it was reassuring to know that my father was doing the same.

Still, I’d done enough reading for the night.

There was bourbon to be drunk and memories to forget.

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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