October 30, 1976


They arrived.

Sitting in the Child’s house with the afternoon sun fighting against the darkening storm clouds for dominance in the sky, I remember the day in stark tones of gray and white.

With the arrival of our cousins, the Coffins, it was time to prepare for the fight.

We gathered on Blood Island, our kin at the front of the house while Aretas took a seat beside me. Molly and her pack were scattered around the island, as were the ravens. Both groups of animals kept watch while we prepared for our fight.

The men had come up from Pennsylvania, and all had brought their rifles with them. They listened politely as Aretas explained the situation, and when he finished, the men asked for some time to discuss it among themselves.

I was not surprised that they did not leap at the opportunity to go to war.

Aretas, however, was disappointed and angry.

“What’s wrong with them?” he asked, lighting his pipe. “Why are they even discussing it?”

I smiled as I lit my own pipe. “Easy enough to understand. These aren’t old Coffins, cousin. They are bereft of magic. Their wounds are permanent. Their lives short. It takes far less than fire to put them down, and when they do go down, that’s where they’ll stay. No, this is a great deal for them, and they’ll want assurances that not only will they be cared for should they be injured, but that their families will not suffer should some die or no longer be able to work their land.”

Aretas mused over this for a moment, taking in long draws from his pipe and then letting them out slowly. Finally, he nodded. “That makes sense.”

“We’ll be fortunate to get half of them,” I remarked.

“Care to place a wager on it?” Aretas asked, grinning around the pipe.

I raised an eyebrow. “What’s the prize?”

“Another island.”

I smiled. “A smaller one than Mad Island.”

“Smaller is fine. Just make sure it’s close,” Aretas stated.

Before I could reply, the Coffins appeared.

“What say you?” Aretas asked.

“What assurances can you give us, should we fall or be crippled?”

I answered, “No man or his family will suffer.”

The speaker nodded. “Then we’ll all go, Coffins beside Bloods.”

I looked like I was out another island.

#paranormal #Halloween

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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