Octavius was nearly as old as me.

According to the donkey, we’d met in New France in January of 1753, where he was attached to a small militia unit of Canadians. Animals who spoke were not a rarity, nor were they afforded any sort of courtesy.

The Duncan Octavius met did not agree with such a philosophy, and he left a dozen men bleeding out in the January snow.

We’d traveled a bit, up and down the length and breadth of New England, but he managed to stumble into the Hollow one day, and that was all it took. He’d met a few other versions of myself, and he’d run into my mother more times than he cared to remember.

I understood completely.

We jawed long into the night, and when I finally fell asleep in my chair and he on his side stretched out in front of the fireplace.

The rapping of a raven on the door woke me.

Opening it, I found Edgar. “Duncan.”

“Did you find something, Edgar?”

“Elroy’s farm. Young Jim is in the beet field by himself this morning,” Edgar stated.

My shoulders sagged, and I nodded. “No sign of the rest of the family?”

“Not even smoke from the chimney.”

“Alright,” I said. “I’ll put on the Colts and head over. My thanks, Edgar.”

The raven nodded once and turned away.

“Bad news?” Octavius asked, the floorboards creaking as he got to his feet.

“More than likely,” I answered. “Jim Elroy, the youngest of the Elroy family, is in the beet field by himself. I’ve never seen any Elroy in the field alone.”

“Want company?”

“I’d appreciate it.”

We left the house together, the donkey walking on my right.

It took us a little over half an hour to reach the Elroy farm. Edgar was perched in a nearby elm, his sharp eyes watching. Jim Elroy had a machete in hand and worked at topping a beet with a dull and dazed expression.

“Jim,” I called as we approached.

The boy hesitated, lowered his machete, saw my face, and began to wail.

I bade Edgar stay with the boy, and I went into the house with guns drawn.

There was no need.

The other six members of the Elroy clan were dead, half-eaten. A pair of children who were not children lay on the floor near them, the tops of their heads across the room.

Jim had topped them as neatly as he topped a beat.

#supernatural #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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