They’ve been dead a long time.
I’ve taken to patrolling some of the larger islands in Blood Lake. Especially those close to the border with Gods’ Hollow.
After yesterday’s gunfight with the pastor, which I was still feeling – despite the wounds having healed and the lead being spat out – I took to the water. The winds were fair and the sailing easy, and the first island I came to was barren of interlopers.
Not so with the second.
At Angel Island, I found a dock that should not have been there. What bothered me most was not the presence of the dock but the damned thing’s age. The wood was weathered and scarred as if it’d been there for close to a decade, though I’d been at the island not six months prior.
It wasn’t a good sign.
The Hollow was encroaching.
I secured my boat to the dock and took out the Winchester I’d brought with me. She was an 1876 model with the long musket barrel and accurate as hell. I had no desire to suffer through another night of plucking lead from my chest.
Armed and ready, I made my way ashore and soon found half a dozen paths. I chambered a round, double-checked the loads in the Colts, and followed the widest path into the center of the island.
There’s naught much that surprises me anymore, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t taken aback by what I found.
The trench system reminded me of some of the fortifications we’d come across during the war of the rebellion. These were built better, meant to last. In the dugouts and scattered around the grounds, I found the remains of men. Bones and clothes. Cartridge belts and uniforms. All the trappings of war. Near the center of the encampment, I found three corpses, each intact, the bodies curiously preserved.
Two of the men had been shot in the back of the head. The third had stuffed the barrel of a pistol into his mouth and blown out his brains.
Time had passed, death had claimed all those save the three I stood near.
As for them, despair had done for them.
And one man had been strong enough for all three.
Despite the cold and the frozen ground, I went in search of a shovel.
The men had been above ground long enough.