They were missing.
Caesar brought the news of Agatha Helmut. The little girl and her dog, Princess, had been snatched from the front porch of their home.
I’d known Agatha’s father, Dane, for the better part of 20 years, and his recent passing had left Isabella, his wife, and Agatha distraught. Caesar and I had been spending a fair amount of time at the Helmut home, bringing in wood for the oncoming winter, and news of Agatha and Princess’ disappearance was not welcome.
When I arrived at their house, I found the door open and Isabella on the hallway floor.
She was dead, her eyes wide and unseeing.
There were no signs of violence about her, no blood. Caesar found no trace of anyone else either.
Had she died trying to find clues as to her daughter’s disappearance?
I could not know, but I would find out what happened to the girl and dog and locate them if I could.
On the left side of the porch, Caesar picked up a new scent. It was neither man nor woman, nor was it any beast with which he was familiar.
But it had left a trail the dog could follow.
Caesar and I took off at a run, and soon we saw the creature’s destination was the Hollow.
Once it reached that hated place, there would be little chance of rescuing Agatha or Princess.
In a short time, we reached North Road and only a dozen yards in front of us; we saw the kidnapper.
A tall, thin creature, it wore ragged clothes that were once of a fashion in the early 1700s. On its head, the thing wore a tricornered hat, and over its shoulder, it carried a gray sack. From that container came whines and sobs, and we knew where the dog and child were.
Caesar bolted towards the creature, slamming into its calves and knocking it down onto its knees. Caesar darted out of the way as the thing lashed out at him.
The thing turned, its face little more than skin stretched across the skull; eye sockets were empty and mouth barren of teeth.
I drew both Colts as it dropped the bag and stood.
“Blood,” the creature snarled, and I put two rounds in the creature’s chest.
It shook off the shots and came for me.
I gave it the other ten slugs and put the boots to it when it fell.