December 27, 1890


The dead lay in the street, and I hunted down the living.

I followed the police chief into a shop, ignoring the crash and roar of his Spencer rifle and the shattering of glass around me.

We stared at one another down the length of the shop as he brought the rifle up to his shoulder once more. There was panic in his eyes and fear writ large across his face. He pulled the trigger, and a loud click sounded as the weapon misfired.

The chief soiled himself, cast his rifle down and tried to run.

I put a single round into his lower back, dropping him to his knees. I saw him claw at his belly, trying to push his guts back in while I walked towards him.

After a moment, he regained some semblance of sanity and tried to draw his sidearm. He brought the pistol up to his head, and I put a bullet in his shoulder. The slug tore through the joint and nigh-on severed the limb.

The pistol fell from his deadened hand, clattered on the floor and lay still as blood pooled around his legs.

The chief wavered, then collapsed. His breath came in great, hitching motions, and the telltale death rattle seeped out of his chest. The noise filled the room and close to drowned out the sound of my own footsteps.

When I reached him, I hunkered down and looked at him.

His face lay in the ever-spreading pool of blood, his left eye fixed with fear upon me.

The man was a fool.

He had no need to fear me. Not any longer. He’d be dead soon enough, and far from any sort of pain, I might visit upon him.

But either he did not know it or did not want to know it.

In the end, it comes out the same.

“Where is he?” I asked.

“No,” the chief whispered.

I put the Colts away and pushed a finger into the hole in his lower back.

The man’s shriek shook glass bottles on their shelves.

I withdrew my finger and asked again.

He shook his head, and I shrugged.

Another scream rang out as I twisted his injured arm.

“Where?” I asked.

“The Academy.”

I nodded, drew my knife, and finished the man off.

I got to my feet, cleaned the blade, and reloaded the Colts. In silence, I packed my briar pipe, and when the tobacco was good and lit, I left the shop.

It was time to find the academy.

#paranormal #christmas

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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