Chapter One

It was chilly outside, but the small house was toasty warm and smelled of freshly baked bread. The Horseman had already killed the man of the house. He could sense movement from upstairs, and he knew immediately that the footsteps were too loud to belong to any children. It must be the wife, he knew, the other one that he had been sent to kill on this night. She was the midwife of Sleepy Hollow, and he wondered if there would be a decline in the birth rate following her death. He strode upstairs confidently, and found her calmly awaiting him in the corner of the room, her palms pressed against the wall for support. She was afraid, yes, but wasn't about to put up a fight, not against him. She was smart…there was no point in fighting. He felt no sorrow when he lifted the blade and cut her head clean from her body. It bounced on the floor a few times before he picked it up. The wife had been beautiful…she'd make a nice addition to his ever-growing collection.

His job was done now. He could return to Hell. He would have returned, but a strange scent stopped him before he headed out the door. In his hurry and eagerness to see the job done, he had almost forgotten about the two children. Their murders weren't required, but what was a little more bloodshed to him? The more the merrier. He could hear them clearly now—they were scuffling under the floorboards, waiting for him to make his next move with bated breath. He began to tear into the floor with his sword, expecting the blade to appear tinged scarlet with blood. At last, he got a clear look at them: the boy was the younger and the calmer. He stared at the Horseman with big eyes, gawking at the place where his head should have been.

The girl screamed in terror, hardly daring to believe her own eyes. If the Horseman had his head, the mouth upon it would have smiled at her fear. But he could still laugh, and laugh he did as he grabbed a fistful of her fine yellow hair and pulled her out of her sanctuary. He did the same with her brother. She cradled her sibling in her arms, unable to take her eyes off of the man that had killed her parents. And the Horseman could smell her fear, which was as strong as the taste of blood was to him. It had been ages since he had seen terror that strong, and he wondered if it would be such a crime, even by his few scruples, to drag a little more out of her. Why not bring her to the highest form of life in the lowest way possible? Laughing at these thoughts, he grabbed the boy and forced him into the bag he had brought…he screamed loudly, losing all self-control when he realized that he was trapped with the heads of his parents. The girl was hysterical now, wringing her hands out and pleading for mercy, begging for release, trying to bargain with him. But all of her words fell on deaf ears, and he dragged her out of her home by the wrist. With a loud cry of triumph, he rode out of Sleepy Hollow with the two innocents.

The whole time, she was screaming loudly for somebody named Will. This Will was going to be her knight in shining armor if he saved her, the murderer thought to himself. This only amused the Horseman more. Nobody would dare challenge him. Once he had made up his mind, nothing could change it.