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Headstone House - Max

By: C.W. Lochland

A grave is where you go to end a story. And the more stories that end, the more headstones you find. I suppose if you build a house atop the headstones, it becomes a place that welcomes those that are already dead. And if you listen closely to the walls, you can hear the cold pulse that still runs through them. And all the stories they carry. I lived in a house like that for 204 years. The Headstone House, I called her. And I know all her stories. This is but one.

I was reading Albert Camus’s The Stranger when Max came into my life.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

I felt my entire world go still.

Was it another inquiry with the police? Had they finally noticed that the same man was acting as a landlord to this house for 127 years?

If that was the case, I had everything prepared. No matter who was coming to visit me. My phylactery was waiting on the side table, and my handgun was just beside it.

And when the smoke had cleared from the conflict, I had a suitcase hidden in my bedroom, packed to the brim with money to fund my escape.

My heart beat faster as I contemplated who would be waiting for me just outside the door. A vengeful Watchman? A nightwalker from the Old World?

I could hear no footsteps, heavy breathing, or the gentle clicking of a handgun being prepared for firing.

This was someone who was prepared for what was waiting on this side of the door. And that meant I had to take every precaution.

I crept toward the front door, and made no sound as I crossed over the floorboards. When I landed at the threshold, I prepared my handgun. It had been engineered to make no sound, right up until the moment I pulled the trigger. And even then, the sound was kept very faint.

For good measure, I recounted all the incantations that I could whisper to the phylactery and gain the upper hand against any supernatural enemies.

I was ready for whatever was waiting on the other side.

I was sure of it.

“Tenere adhuc,” I whispered.

There was an ethereal hushing sound that engulfed everything just outside of the front door, and I threw the door open.

My gun was raised, and I saw nothing stretching into the distant reaches of the night.

Just the same wilderness that had always been there when I opened the door these last 127 years.

My eyes lowered to the doorstep, and I found a peculiar object waiting for me.