October 11, 1976

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Not all the Killed Soldiers were well.

He didn’t remember his own name. He didn’t remember where he was from.

Unlike the others I had met up to that point, he didn’t know a damned thing about himself.

Despite my mother’s resurrection of him, the man had not healed completely. Either that or his death had been so significant to him his body was reverting to his death wound.

I found him sitting in the backyard of a farmstead in Pepperell. He was surrounded by blood and bits of flesh, and he looked more confused than crazed.

Off to one side lay a bayonet, the steel bloody and chipped. A rifle, its stock broken and the barrel bent, was only a few feet off.

Beyond him, I could see a pair of bodies. Older folks, if the gray hair on their shattered heads spoke true.

A great bandage was wrapped around his head and down over his right eye. He stared at me with his left, the gaze a raw mixture of fear and misery.

I drew a Colt and sat down a few feet from him.

“Mornin’,” I greeted.

He nodded, scratched at his chin and asked in German, “Where am I?”

“New England.”

He frowned, grimaced, and closed his good eye. “Where is it?”

“United States of America.”

He shook his head and whimpered. “No such place exists. A witch found me as I lay dying. She sent me here. Sent me to harvest for her.”

“Did you?”

He held up two fingers.

“I will harvest no more,” he added as he scratched his chin again.

“What do you want?”

He glanced up at the sky, then back to me.

“When I thought of death,” he told me. “I always thought I would want one more day. Perhaps a dance with Genevieve. Perhaps a night with her sister. Now, though, there is nothing I want more than death. I have slain for no reason, and I have slain for good reason. This was something different. Something over which I had control. I do not wish to do it again.”

He closed his eyes and pulled open his shirt to reveal a thin chest.

“When I was a boy,” the man began. “My mother sang of the fey and the dark woods. Places where a boy could hide from the horrors of the world.”

I shot him twice through the chest, and he slumped back.

He’d seen enough of horror, but I’ve yet to have my fill.

#paranormal #Halloween

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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