October 27, 1976


“Gatling guns.”

Aretas handed the glasses back to me, and I peered through them once more. I could see the Gatling guns on their carriages, and I was none too pleased either.

Aretas and I settled down with our backs to the wall, heads just under the lip of the same.

“Seems you’ve upset your mother,” Aretas observed.

I grunted a noncommittal response.

“Then again,” he continued. “I’m fairly certain you did that just by being born.”

“Sounds about right,” I replied.

“What are you thinking about?”

“That I wish the dogs were here,” I replied. “You?”

“That our kith and kin had responded.

“Coffins are naught but cousins,” I reminded him. “And distant ones at that, now.”

“Hm. I thought a few would be interested in a gunfight,” the man sighed.

“Well, dogs should be here in a day. P’raps two at the most,” I stated.

We sat in silence for a moment, and I waited for him to ask.

He didn’t disappoint.

“Duncan,” Aretas began.

“You can have an island,” I told him.

The man’s mouth moved in stunned silence for a moment. Then he cleared his throat and asked, “An island?”

I nodded. “I’ve got a few more than I used to. Some of the bigger ones seem to have drifted to a spot and affixed themselves to it. The merfolk and the naiads keep a close watch on them, but I’d feel better about a family member out on one of them. One of the bigger ones, too, so we could mount a proper defense, should we need it. There’s one island with a lighthouse, too. Some days, it’s even on the sea.”

He peered at me. “Has it gotten that bad?”

“Worse’n that, at times. The one with the lighthouse, Mad Island, ruined as it is, is possibly the best of them for a Blood. Got to watch out for James, though.”


“Aye,” I grinned. “He’s from somewhere best left unthought of, and he’s a taste for hearts. Human ones.”

“I’ll worry about James after we take care of your mother’s soldiers,” Aretas said.

“Aye,” I agreed. “It’s a good thing I brought my Spencer.”

Picking up the rifle, I rolled onto my belly and judged the distance to the closest Gatling gun. Men were easier to replace than machines.

I took aim at the gun, found the rhythm of my breath, and squeezed the trigger.

#paranormal #Halloween

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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