December 20, 1916


     It is known as Die Feldhausen von Totenbaum, the tree of dead hares.

     The tree can rarely be found for it is hidden somewhere on the vast estate of Duncan Blood, and the only warning that the tree has blossomed is the sound of rifle fire emanating from his land.

     Most years, the tree bears no fruit. It grows and, according to legend, it follows the seasons as any tree will.

     Some years, however, the tree serves as the harbinger of disaster, and the only way this is known is to see if the tree bears its strange and hideous fruit.

     When the field rabbits of Cross can be found hanging from the branches, and the triple guns and the dog of the unknown Hunter are present, Death will visit the town.

     The last known observance of the tree in bloom was December 19, 1916, when Bram Hall was wandering – drunk – and somehow managed to end up in the middle of Duncan Blood’s property. A day later, when he found his way out and back to the center of town, Bram stopped first for a drink, then made his way around Cross, telling everyone he met about what he had witnessed.

     While many people ignored his ramblings, a few of the older residents knew what it meant, and they barricaded themselves in their homes.

     On the night of December 20, 1916, a storm tore through Cross, destroying houses and sweeping livestock and horses into the river.

     While only five people were killed in the storm, the sickness caused by exposure to the elements resulted in 37 hospitalizations, and the property damage prompted two men and one woman to commit suicide.

     Recently, the crack of rifle fire has been heard from Duncan’s land.

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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