Unholy Trinity: The Animals by Olivia Wulf
Our church worships at the altar of the Unholy Trinity. Its gospels are delivered as a trio of dark drabbles, linked so that Three become One. All hail the power of the Three.
We sat in that dark attic, night after night, listening to animals through the window. In the morning were crows, and squirrels midday. At night, there was usually a bat or two outside the window. After dark, Trevor scraped his soiled sleeve across the warped window pane and stared out at the moonlight. Then, he blew against the warped window pane and retraced the familiar word with his fingertip. He always added a tally.
On the fourteenth night, he turned to me and said, “This ends now.”
He found heavy tools in the corner, but we kept our footsteps light.
The neighborhood knew Halloween was Stuart McGregor’s favorite holiday. He decorated the yard with plastic ghouls from the local thrift store, secondhand witches and monsters whose scuffed edges only made them more terrifying.
Children were wary of the house, clutching their plastic pumpkins or overstuffed totes close to the chest, picking footsteps carefully en route to the front door.
He was always kind to them, though. Had good candy to offer.
That made the terror worthwhile.
At least, that’s what Harvey Cade thought, until he noticed two shadowy figures looming in the attic window. Decorations, he thought. Until they moved.
The mailman was new, and couldn’t get house numbers straight. Greta Shoemaker had been collecting letters and running them around the neighborhood. First, to the Johnson house. Then, for the Cade family.
She’d tried to avoid it, but enough was enough. She cursed the mailman as she walked up the gravel pathway, holding a letter addressed to Stuart McGregor.
There were still Halloween decorations up, well into March. The lawn was overgrown. Greta knocked firmly, and considered saying something.
But Stuart didn’t answer. Two young men did.
“Stuart home?” stammered Greta.
Silence. Then, “No.”
Greta dropped the letter and ran.
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Stephanie Ellis writes dark speculative prose and poetry and has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Her longer work includes the folk horror novels, The Five Turns of the Wheel and Reborn, and the novellas, Bottled and Paused. Her novel, The Woodcutter, is due for release via Brigids Gate Press in 2023. Her dark poetry has been published in her collections Lilith Rising (co-authored with Shane Douglas Keene), Foundlings (co-authored with Cindy O’Quinn) and Metallurgy, as well as the HWA Poetry Showcase Volumes VI, VII, VIII, and IX and Black Spot Books Under Her Skin. She can be found supporting indie authors at HorrorTree.com via the weekly Indie Bookshelf Releases. She is an active member of the HWA and can be found at https://stephanieellis.org, on Twitter at @el_stevie, Instagram stephanieellis7963 and also somewhere on Facebook.