October 25, 1976

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It’s been a long time since I was here.

With good reason, too, I might add.

I’d last seen my cousin Aretas Blood in 1866.

Our relationship was difficult at best, violent at its worst.

In 1866, it was at its worst.

Aretas had arrived from England in 1865, and through the courts in Boston, he was attempting to lay claim to the familial lands. I learned about it through the local magistrate and filed paperwork to stop the process.

At first, Aretas hadn’t believed I was home, and so he made it a point to take the Boston and Maine train down as soon as he’d gotten word.

He stated that the land was his by right of abandonment. According to Aretas, I’d had no right to leave the farm and wander down to the warmer states.

The idea that he considered my fighting alongside the Union as a mere jaunt irritated the hell out of me, and I said as much. I also reminded him that there wasn’t a damned thing of his on the property.

It was here that he made one of his few mistakes, and it was the largest of them by far.

I’d no sooner stated the fact about the property than he turned sharply on his heel and commanded, “Follow me.”

I followed him more with a mind to brain him than anything else, and as I considered how many ways I could do it, we moved along a narrow path to an older, unused section of the property. When I stepped into the glade, I’ll admit, I was surprised.

Aretas had built himself a mausoleum. Put his name right on it.

He strode up to the doors, swung them wide and declared, “Behold my final resting place, Cousin. I shall sleep here when the years are long.”

“Why wait?” I asked and knocked him into the mausoleum.

He stumbled, fell, and howled with rage as I closed the door. I used one of my braces to tie it down, and then I went back to the barn for a solid lock.

Aretas has been in there ever since.

With a sigh, I walked up to the doors and gave them a sharp rap. “Aretas, you alive?”

“Did you burn me, Duncan?” Aretas asked, his voice rough with ill use.

“No.”

“What do you want?”

“To parlay?”

My cousin’s weak and broken laughter rolled out from the mausoleum. “What do you need?”

With a growing smile, I told him.

#paranormal #Halloween

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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