“Little gods.”

Imperator, one of the bird dogs I’d liberated the year before, spoke those two words as I set my coffee to boil on the stove.

I looked at him with a raised eyebrow and had to wait while he dug at a flea on his hindquarters. When the dog was good and ready, he continued.

“They are at the Hepplewhite house.”

Frowning, I rubbed at my chin and asked, “How many?”

“Two,” Imperator replied. “And at least one guardian.”

“What’s the guardian?”

The dog chuckled. “What else would a little god have in this place?”

I nodded and took my coffee off the stove. It would have to wait.

I kept my Colts on but didn’t entertain plans to draw them. Little gods, in my experience, were far more dangerous than their older relations. Less volatile than demigods but more dangerous than both combined. The few scars I bore had been made by two types of creatures, various versions of my mother and little gods.

I followed North Road to Gordon Road and turned upon it, walking another quarter mile before I came to the shack that had once been the Hepplewhite house. It had seen better days, and I suspect that if the little gods had any intention of staying there, it would.

I came to a stop in front of the house and let my arms hang loose at the sides. I gazed upon the two little gods in the shape of young girls and the large guardian who stood beside them.

“Duncan Blood,” the taller of the gods greeted. “We had hoped you would visit us.”

“I would have come sooner had I known,” I replied.

The shorter god nodded. “Of course, you would. Your father taught you your manners.”

“We have come with a warning,” the shorter god continued. “Though it is, I confess, self-serving.”

“You see,” the taller god stated, “there are some men coming from the Hollow. They have been chasing us for some time and suffer under the delusion that those of our color should be enslaved. We have led them on a merry chase, and we have brought them to you.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because it would please us,” the shorter god said. “You will be inventive with your destruction. Humans are, without a doubt, too clever by far. We want to watch them suffer.”

The gods fixed their eyes upon me. “Of the many people you will meet in your life, Duncan Blood, these men deserve to die. And to die badly.”

I nodded. “When?”

“Soon,” was the answer, and then the dog cleared his throat.

“Mistresses,” the dog’s voice was rich and true. “Might we not offer Master Blood some coffee?”

“Would you care for some?” they asked in unison.

I smiled.

“That would be much appreciated.”

As the gods went to make the coffee, I took a seat on the front steps, took out my Colts and waited.

There was killing to be done.

#dogs #horrorstories

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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