It happened one cold, wintry night in late October. The moon was nothing more than a slither, its feeble light struggling to break through the heavy, ash-colored clouds that hung over the town of Black Hollow like a death shroud. It was the sort of night that brought folks down to Mab's Tavern, seeking solace in the golden waves of warmth that spilled from its windows, and away from the unforgiving chill that threatened to devour their very souls.
It was also the night that Eve Harrington came back from the dead.
"You're full of hogwash, Chuck!" Boomed Gary, an iron-knuckled steelworker who usually ended his night with a glass of whatever rotgut Mab had on tap. His eyes, barely hidden beneath his thick, grizzly brows, bore into Chuck with all the skepticism of a man well-versed in the tall tales of drunks.
Chuck, a weather-beaten man whose face bore the brunt of forty winters and a lifetime of empty promises, only shook his head with a gravitas reserved for clergymen and Kings. "I tell ya, Gary, it was Eve. Saw 'er with my very own eyes."
The tavern basked in an uneasy silence, the usually jovial atmosphere snuffed out by the chilling notion that Eve Harrington, a woman who had been dead for nigh on two decades, was walking around Black Hollow again.
Eve had been the belle of the town, a woman of unrivaled beauty and intellect. Possessing an almost ethereal aura, she had the men of Black Hollow wrapped around her little finger, even as she broke their hearts with a graceful elegance. She had been their obsession, their dream, their blight... and eventually, their nightmare.
On an eerily similar October night, Eve disappeared. Not a single soul seemed to know what happened — whether she had left town or met with a sinister fate — till her body was found three weeks later, deep in the Black Hollow woods. Her ethereal beauty was marred, her heart and eyes gouged out, a gruesome testament to the malice that had taken away their belle forever.
Now, twenty years later, Chuck's tale was enough to send chills down the spine of even the most cynical man in that tavern. Shortly after, the patrons filed out, each man going to his own home, his heart carrying a shrill uncertainty that reminded them all of the fateful night they lost their beloved Eve.
This is where our story begins — a town haunted by the ghost of its past, and a man, Chuck, who swore he'd seen the dead walking. But as the nights wore on, and Chuck's tale became the cornerstone of every whispered conversation, something began to stir within the hollow darkness of the town, something that bore the undeniable scent of old secrets coming unburied.
To the townsfolk, Black Hollow became filled with whispers in the wind, eerie sighs in the silence, and the feeling of eyes watching from the shadows. Each man would feel an icy breath on his neck, each woman would awaken from nightmares of eyes staring at them from the dark, each child would hear a soft lullaby echoing from the unoccupied corners of their rooms late at night.
The unspoken fear had settled into the marrow of their chilled bones, from the children who curiously peered from behind their mothers' aprons, to the elders who had dug Eve's shallow grave. It was as if their collective nightmare had re-emerged from the depths of a long-forgotten past, threatening to throw the town of Black Hollow back into the clutches of a chilling horror from which they had hoped to never awaken.
Over the following months, the close-knit town found itself isolated and torn apart by the ghost of Eve Harrington. One by one, those men who had once vied for Eve's affection began to disappear, each man found in much the same gruesome state as Eve all those years ago.
Those who remained carried the weight of dread on their heaving shoulders. They barricaded their doors, armed themselves with anything they could find. They hardly slept, paranoia pushing them into an eternal dance with fear. They waited, each passing second whispering another eerie tale, each chilled gust of wind spelling out another name.
No one knew when this haunting would end, if at all, and all that was left was a desperate, breathless game of survival, etching deep into their souls a truth that had taken twenty years to surface...
The ghost of Eve Harrington was not yet done with the town of Black Hollow.