Duncan Blood’s Journal: 1881

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I found the bodies at a little past sunrise.

They were splayed out on the side of the road, stripped bare and gutshot. The two men were strangers, and by the callouses on their hands and feet, they were working men looking for just that: work.

I spent a short time by the bodies, examining the ground and looking for sign. Soon, I discovered there had been three of them, walking together. The third man had backtracked, following North Road out of Cross.

Judging by the state of the bodies, he had killed them the night before.

Leaving the bodies where they lay, I tracked their passage, catching glimpses of sign that showed me the killer was moving along at a slow and casual pace.

And why shouldn’t he? It wasn’t likely anyone other than myself would find the bodies. There were few people who wandered out towards Gods’ Hollow on the best of days.

I wasn’t more than a mile from the murders when I heard the unmistakable sound of someone snoring. Loosening my Colts in their holsters, I followed the noise off the road and along a narrow game trail that led dangerously close to the stonewall that surrounds a fair portion of the Hollow.

Soon, I came upon a rough camp. The remains of a fire lay in the center, and a pile of clothing stood off to one side. There were two pairs of ill-repaired boots and a single, small derringer pistol atop them. Beside it was a half-eaten rabbit, the animal’s hide and offal cast off to one side.

Directly across from me lay the snorer. He was wrapped in a large leather bag, a curious sleeper I’d seen a few men use during the war when it got cold.

It looked exceptionally comfortable, and I could see why the man was undisturbed by my presence.

He hadn’t even noticed.

For a moment, I considered waking him and questioning him regarding the reason for his attack on his traveling companions. Then, I decided I didn’t care.

I put a round in his belly, which woke him up in a hurry, and as he screamed, I set fire to the sleeping bag.

I suspect he died quicker than the men he murdered, much to my chagrin.

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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