I knew the house for what it was.
I’d wandered for the better part of a week and knew, without any doubt, that I was lost.
Oh, I was still on the island. Still on Blood Lake.
But I was in the Hollow and damned displeased about it.
A steady, persistent fog had remained for those days I wandered, and when the fog finally burnt off one morning, I saw the house.
I wondered when I was.
Was I here earlier than before? Was it later? Would I step into the small barn and see myself engaged in conversation?
I didn’t have any answers.
Still, I remembered what had been said, and I drew my knife.
I walked toward the house, and as I approached it, the door opened. My breath caught in my throat, and my steps stuttered for a heartbeat before I continued.
The woman who now stood upon the porch was beautiful. Her sumptuous form was clad in a black mourning gown, and on her head, she wore a small cap, the veil of which did nothing to hide the stunning lines of her cheeks.
She moved with a delicate grace down the steps and crossed the yard toward me. Her eyes, a powerful silver, gleamed with madness and hunger. When she smiled, vicious, triangular teeth flashed and snapped against one another.
She was hungry, and she could not see me the way she would.
And the only way she could was with my knife.
I came to a stop and braced myself, wondering which leg it would be, and waited.
The woman snarled, launched herself with the grace of a mountain lion, and slammed into me. Her fingers raked up my thigh, and her teeth sought purchase on my neck.
A quick blow to the back of her head sent her tumbling to the ground, where she caught hold of my pants leg.
A moment later, she sank her teeth into my thigh and began to eat.
With a snarl, I reversed my grip on the blade and brought the pommel down on the back of her head. It was enough to stun but not stop her.
As she chewed, I took hold of her hair and prepared to cut out her eyes.
It was, she had told me, how I had saved her. And by saving her, we would have a daughter.
I would have a daughter.
I would if only briefly, have some sort of peace.
With the tip of the knife, I set to work on her eyes.