He was greeted as a friend.

My father has grown both weary and wary of the Hollow. From what I have read, it is difficult for him to tell the passage of time. This is a common ailment among those of us afflicted with long life, but he cannot judge the days or the weeks or even the seasons. There are some places where he steps out, and it is summer, or he might awaken in the grip of winter. He has experienced the future and the past, in both our own world and in that of others.

He is a man struggling to maintain his grip upon reality, a reality that is not what he believes it should be. As flexible as my father is, mentally, nothing could have prepared him for the Hollow.

I have lived most of my life near Gods’ Hollow, and I have hunted my fair share of creatures in its blasphemous depths.

He has not.

And while this most recent entry relates an amicable event, it nonetheless shows how strange it is for him.

‘The stonewall which occasionally appears along North Road is there once more,’ my father wrote. ‘Yet it is not intact at this time. There is an opening, wide enough for a man to pass through, but little more than that.

‘I went onto the road and turned toward home, with, I admit, a desperate hope to find my son. Yet the further I traveled, the more I saw this was not to be. The houses were abandoned, and when I reached my home, it had been burnt to the ground. I did not waste time there but turned and headed back to the Hollow.

‘I paused at a house, went round to the back and found a water pump. As I went to draw a drink, I saw a large dog standing off to the side. He raised his head, sniffed, nodded and looked me in the eye, saying, “You’re late, Blood. Where have you been?”

‘I answered I was in the Hollow, and the dog let out a short bark of amusement before saying, “You are not the Blood I was expecting then. You’ve a son?”

‘I told him I did.

‘The dog nodded. “Then it is he, I await. Drink and go in peace.”

‘I did so, wondering if the dog spoke of Duncan or some other from this place.’

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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