December 11, 1870



I don’t know if he was a great shot, a bad shot, or blind in one eye. Regardless, the bushwhacking sonofabitch put a bullet through my right knee and dropped me.

Snow fell heavily from a dark sky, and I kept myself pressed close to the earth, ignoring the cold and focusing on where the shot had come from. As my knee throbbed with pain and blood pumped out into the snow, I caught a glimpse of metal and a flash of an eye.

He was only a hundred, maybe a hundred and twenty yards away from me.

Slowly, my knee knitted itself back together. The bullet, which had fragmented, was pushed out through a dozen spots, an excruciating act that brought my anger to the forefront.

I slipped the hatchet off my belt and backed out of the gatekeeper’s coat.

No sooner was I a dozen feet away than another shot rang out, causing the snow in front of the coat’s hood to spray up.

The shooter thought I was still there.

Perhaps he was trying to frighten me into moving, to check to see if I was truly dead.

I don’t believe he knew who he was shooting at.

Fresh snow began to fall, the flakes large and heavy, racing one another to the earth. They covered me as I crawled along, one eye on the shooter as my path took me in a wide arc.

I’d covered half the distance to him when I heard him chamber another round and shoot again. Like the second shot, this one threw up snow in front of the coat, and his mutter of disgust told me he was trying to shoot me, not frighten me.

I nearly laughed as he touched his trigger finger to his tongue and then held it up to gauge the wind.

There was no wind to gauge. Not even the faintest whisper of a breeze.

The snow fell straight down from the sky.

The shooter fired again, this show going over my coat and slamming into a distant tree.

As the man reached for another round, I reached him.

“Hello,” I whispered.

The man jerked around, horror in his eyes.

I slammed the hatchet into his lower back, severing his spine with a single blow. His scream filled the air before fading.

He lay on his stomach, unable to move and gasping for breath.

I could have finished him off.

I didn’t.

#paranormal #christmas

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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