Professor Elwood Ackerman firmly believed in another world lurking beneath our own.
He was right, of course.
When he arrived in Cross, he sought me out and stated that he wanted not only to visit Honor’s Path – from the Black Farm to at least Coffin – but he had heard of a place called Gods’ Hollow as well.
The man had done his research.
I asked him why he had come to me, and his response was that he wanted a guide through both places. My response was blunt and to the point.
I’d be happy to drag whatever remained of him out for burial, but I wasn’t tempting fate by wandering needlessly into the Hollow, nor was I going to blithely travel along Honor’s Path.
He tried to convince me it was necessary for the good of research, and when that didn’t work, he shifted tack and offered me a significant amount of money. I told him the answer was still no.
Finally, disgusted, the man had stormed off in search of someone else to guide him.
Apparently, he went to the Hollow first.
I know this because I was out for a walk along North Road, still amazed at the stupidity of the learned class. I am of the opinion that a great many of them trade common sense for expertise in some strange and forgotten subject.
Professor Ackerman only reaffirmed that belief in me.
At a low point in the stonewall that separated North Road from the interior of Gods’ Hollow, I found several curious items.
Professor Ackerman’s shoes were set neatly at the wall’s bottom. On the top were his clothes, all folded and prepared for his return. Right down to his undergarments. His billfold and pocket watch, as well as a small penknife, were laid out beside the clothes. The knife was open, the blade nicked and bloody.
Next to the knife was the reason why.
His genitals had been neatly removed and stretched out in the sunlight. A path of blood led over the wall and into the Hollow, disappearing beneath the tall grass gone to seed.
In silence, I tucked his remains into his shirt and carried everything back to the farm.
I told him I’d bury what was left, and I’m a man of my word.