The Hallow Man

December 11, 2007

Daniel Fenton stumbled into town, breath rasping in and out of his lungs and sweat soaking his shirt. His car had broken down several miles back, and the walk to town in the blazing sun had made him grateful for the occasional hiking trips he still went on – and sad he hadn’t made them more of a habit.

Nonetheless, he had made it to the next small town on the route, where he could hopefully find a mechanic to get his car fixed, and a phone to call the Literary Conference and let them know he would be late at best.

Unfortunately, the town wasn’t looking especially promising – it was deserted. He looked around in disbelief at the handful of buildings lining the street, but there wasn’t a soul in sight. It was like he had walked onto a movie set – the streets were dusty, shop signs were swaying in the breeze, and the only thing missing was a tumbleweed rolling by.

“Hello?” he called out as he set off down the path, glancing at windows and looking for a sign of movement – it was almost noon, surely someone was around! He called out a second time before he got an answer.

“Psst! Over here, mister – quick!” Daniel turned to spy a young boy peeking out from behind a door held ever so slight ajar. Bemused, and possibly slightly dazed from the heat, Daniel walked in the kid’s direction. “Hey – do you know where I can find a mechanic? And do you have a phone in there?”

The kid shook his head, and glanced up and down the street, gesturing for Daniel to move faster. “That don’t matter none – get in here quick, if you care for yer hide. The Hallow Man’s a-coming!”

Ah. Now Daniel understood. Someone was having some fun at his expense. He shook his head. “Look, I’m not in the mood for that. And that name doesn’t make a bit of sense – don’t you mean ‘Hollow Man’, or something like that?”

The kid’s eyes grew wide, and the door slammed shut. Daniel sighed – and then jumped up with a start as a soft cough echoed from behind him. He spun around to see…

… an ordinary looking fellow in simple clothes, carrying a bible, and wearing a wide straw hat that rode low over his eyes. “‘scuse me, sir, but ah was wonderin’ if you had some time to listen to the word o’ the lord?”

“Look, sorry, but I don’t know what your game is and…” His words trailed off as the man lifted his head, and Daniel found himself staring into terrible, terrible eyes. A hand reached out and gripped Daniel’s shoulder, and the professor found himself starting to scream.

The Hallow Man’s soft voice said, “No game this, son, just looks like you need a bit of purifying.” And Daniel felt bits of him being torn apart inside, his very soul being shredded in the grasp of this horrible, haunting figure. His flesh tore apart, holes appearing all over his body, and through it all he felt his mind held fast and awake, unable to escape, unable to flee into even the blessed relief of death.

The screaming continued for a long, long time.

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