October 10, 1976

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Randall Brown was missing.

Marcus, Randall’s father, said the boy had gone out earlier to see a girl he was sweet on. When Randall hadn’t returned home in time for afternoon chores, Marcus grew worried. He and his younger sons went out looking for Randall but to no avail. Worse, the young man had never made it to the girl’s home.

Marcus tracked his boy as best he could, but he lost the trail close to the Hollow. When he did, he sent his younger sons for me.

I arrived on the back of Claude, who was kind enough to allow me to ride, and with Thain keeping pace. Neither of the animals spoke to the Browns, which was a wise decision.

Some families can accept the curiosities that accompany me, others cannot.

I sent Marcus and his remaining sons home, and with Claude at the roadside, Thain and I went into the Hollow. It didn’t take long to pick Randall’s trail back up, but when I saw it, my heart sank.

There was no hope for the boy.

On either side of the boy’s wandering steps were a set of bootprints. A single glance at the depth of the prints and the way they were formed told me Randall was being hunted. Hunted by men who knew what they were doing.

While Randall’s trail was wild and carefree, I could see the deliberation and caution with which each foot was placed by the men trailing him.

Thain moved a little ahead of me, his nose dipping down to the tall grass now and again as we tracked the boy and the men. Soon, the dog sank low, his hackles up.

I got down beside him, and together, we crawled forward. In a short time, the grass parted before us, and I saw how the Hollow dipped down. Ahead of us, a pair of men sat across from one another. Their hands were bloody, as were their mouths, and they ate strips of raw meat.

I didn’t need to guess whose flesh it was.

I slid one of the Colts out, eased the trigger back, and took aim at the nearest man.

They never heard the shots, though I wish I’d had time to make them suffer.

Thain raced ahead of me and found Randall’s body. The boy’d been bushwhacked and then made a meal of.

I bundled him up best I could and carried him out of the Hollow.

Marcus needed to bury his son.

#paranormal #Halloween

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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