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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Western · #2253514
Enjoy the moments -- they only come around so often
Boots scraped across the front porch, breaking the constant whir.

Thomas looked up from the table as the front door swung inward. A hum flooded the cabin.

“How long are these things going to be here?” The voice sounded from the darkness as it entered the room.

Thomas gasped. Across the table, Peter stumbled to his feet, toppling the chair behind him.

“What’s wrong with your face?” The newcomer stepped closer to Thomas, studying him in the dim lantern light.

“Walter…” Thomas whispered.

Peter scrambled around the table and slammed his back against the wall.

“It can’t be!” he said, eyes wide as he studied Walter.

Walter turned, looked Peter up and down. “What’s wrong with you?” he asked. “And your face!”

Thomas stood and took a step toward Walter. “Is that … is that really you?”

Walter shook his head. “You two are acting weird,.” He smiled. “But look!”

He slung a thin chain from over his shoulder and slammed a pile of bones onto the table.

“I got fish for dinner!”

Thomas grunted and hopped backwards. Walter followed his gaze and frowned at the dried-out carcasses.

“I don’t understand,” he said, then yelped and slapped at his shoulder. A cicada flew off and crashed against a windowpane.

“How long are those things going to be here?” Walter repeated. “A really big one bit me night before last.” He rubbed his neck. “Haven’t felt right since then.”

“Where were you when that happened?” Peter asked.

Walter didn’t answer but studied his friend. “What’s wrong with your face?” he said again.

“What do you mean, Walter?”

“Well, you look different, is all.”

Thomas picked up the lantern and held it close to his face, revealing deep lines.

“You been gone seventeen years, Walter,” he said.

Outside, the cicadas roared like wildfire.
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