December 17, 1870

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We hid in the forest.

After the failed attempt to gain information from the doctor and his nurses, my father and I retreated to the woods surrounding the town. Most of the time was spent in silence. We kept watch, and I repressed a smile or two as we saw people race around the general store and the doctor’s building.

We’d been sure to cover our tracks, and a light snowfall had aided us in that regard. The townsfolk sent out a few groups of armed men into the woods, but none were close to us.

As morning stretched into afternoon, we broke camp and moved toward our next target, a textile shop several buildings down from the doctor’s office.

There’d been a bit of movement around the shop, but nothing out of the ordinary.

When we’d looked at the ledger from the general store, we’d both recognized the name of Obadiah Coffin. He’d been a first cousin, one who’d gone missing shortly before my father in the early 1700s.

Neither my father nor I believed this would be an Obadiah we knew, but the Coffins were family, and if anyone might be willing to help us here, it would be a Coffin.

We entered town a few streets down and made our way along the main street, walked up to the textile shop and entered as bold as you please.

Three women greeted us, and then a man stepped out from a small office.

The man was Obadiah Coffin.

He was older than I remembered but as well dressed, and his mustache was waxed into curls on either end. As he sat down at his desk, he smiled at us both, adjusted the hat on his head and asked, “Now, how might I be of service?”

“I’m in need of a new suit for my son,” my father stated.

“Ah,” Obadiah nodded. “Growing boys always need new clothes, is that not so, Duncan?”

The young woman nearest the exit stepped toward it, her eyes darting from Obadiah to me.

It was her only mistake.

Before my father or I could move, Obadiah’s hands were a blur.

All three women collapsed to the floor, long, thin knives protruding from their skulls.

“You are not this Duncan’s father,” Obadiah said, taking a pipe out from his pocket. “But this Duncan is my cousin. How are you, Duncan? It’s been too damned long.”

And that it had.

#paranormal #christmas

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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