His death was a tragedy.
Adam Cuthbert was a man who kept close track of nearly everything that went on in Cross. He was a polite and considerate man, a widower who had buried his wife and their eldest son after the two of them had succumbed to fever ten years ago. While he was considered an eligible bachelor by some of the women in town, they knew better than to approach him.
His devotion to his deceased wife was complete. He could be found, every Sunday morning – regardless of the weather – at the cemetery, tending to the graves of his wife and child.
Adam enjoyed speaking with the other residents of Cross. While his questions were probing, they were never intrusive. He knew exactly what to ask and to who. There wasn’t a single person he spoke with who refused to answer at least one of his questions.
He documented every conversation he had, keeping copious notes and compiling them before sending off a weekly batch to the Cross Historical Society. There, the information was typed up and added to the yearly history printed for the Society’s own reference.
I can only assume that he stopped to speak with one of those whose form had been stolen, and had not the ravens told me of his plight, I never would have known.
Still, I was not quick enough to save him.
When I burst through his back door, Colt in hand, Adam was dead on the floor of his kitchen. His shirt had been torn apart, his stomach ripped open, and the monster had its entire head inside the wound. It was a curious and grotesque sight, the stomach shifting and rippling as the creature fed.
Either the beast didn’t hear me when I threw open the door, or it was too hungry to care.
Furious, I holstered the Colt, snatched a cast-iron skillet off the oven, and brought it down on the monster’s back with both hands.
By the time I was finished, the creature was dead, and I was covered in what passed for the damned thing’s blood.
It took me half the night to get the stink of it out of my skin and half a bottle of whiskey to wash the taste out of my mouth.
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