January 2, 1923


Time is fluid.

Not only is it fluid, but it is a river, from which a person – or persons – might emerge at any given point, either voluntarily or involuntarily.

In 1923, Samuel Hitchcock was expecting his brother James and James’ family to arrive sometime during the morning of January 1. When his brother didn’t appear as scheduled, Samuel didn’t worry.

James’ family consisted of his wife, Caroline, and their three young children, all boys, and they were traveling from Worcester, Massachusetts, a fact which could lead to unplanned for delays.

Samuel did begin to worry when there was no word from James, and no sign of the family either. Inquiries were made on his behalf by the Worcester Police Department, but James’ home was empty, and neighbors reported that the family had left early on the first, as planned.

At dawn on January 2, 1923, Samuel set out to follow the route his brother normally took to and from Cross. The route led down past Duncan Blood’s farm and cut through the wide, unclaimed expanse known as Gods’ Hollow.

It was there that Samuel found James and his family, or rather, what remained of them.

They had been stripped bare and hacked to pieces, their clothing and belongings piled haphazardly nearly a quarter of a mile from the bodies. Hoofprints were visible in the frost-heaved ground, and among James’ possessions was the new camera Samuel had sent him as a Christmas present.

Later, when the film was developed, the last image was not of James’ family, but of a group of riders charging across Gods’ Hollow.

Riders with their sabers raised.

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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