Tales from New Texas: The Girl

On a night much like this one, with a chill in the air and the two moons shining red in the winter sky, a little girl no more than six years old searched for her father.

If I’m not home by midnight, go to the Hayers tavern and wait for me there. I’ll be there within the hour. Don’t trust anyone. Don’t stop for anyone. You hear me?

The girl packed her sack with blouses, dresses, socks, jerky, and tools. Midnight approached. This time she was prepared to abandon their home for good.

She wasn’t afraid.

She took the knife her mother gave her, and the black laces her father gave her, and buttoned them into the pocket sewn inside her dress.

Then she heard a long steady creak from the front porch. A heavy boot kicked open the front door. She told herself it had to be her father. But when she started toward her bedroom door, her stomach wrenched and tightened so hard it brought her to her knees.

Ahhh. She screamed out in pain.

Something wasn’t right. That feeling in her body. It meant one of the Sheriff’s was hunting her. They’re all dead. She peeked through the crack in the doorway, hoping to see her father’s round and weary face.

Instead, she saw the man who was in the house. Tall, gaunt man with a tangled brown beard and empty hollows for eyes. The front door shut behind him. The girl took out her knife, by reflex, even though she knew it’d be useless against him.

She pushed her dresser against the bedroom door and climbed on top of it. His paced quickened and he pushed the door open, sending the dresser shaking beneath girl’s feet. He took hold of her ankle just as she made her way into the cupboard above her doorway.

She climbed through to the ceiling, out onto the roof and jumped.

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