My dead and missing are not always silent.
I remember, back in ’36, when Emma Coffin told me they’d come out of the Hollow and ambushed them.
Daniel, her husband, and their son, Connor, had both been gunned down as they struggled to free themselves from the car. Emma hadn’t moved. She’d been trapped in her seat, and it had saved her life.
After the raiders had left, rescuers had found Emma and taken her into town to see the doctor. Later, when we pulled the bodies of Daniel and Connor out, I could see the powder burns on their temples.
They hadn’t just been gunned down. They’d been executed.
As some from Black’s farm came in with tractors to pull the car back to the road, and Bobby Lake took the bodies into town in his wagon, I went back to my house and considered what I’d seen and what Emma had told me.
I poured myself a tall glass of bourbon, sat down in my library, and waited. Something about this was wrong.
The answer came close to midnight when I heard the voice of Patience Blood.
It’d been six years since I heard my cousin’s voice. Six years since she’d had me lock her away in a family crypt so she could walk amongst the damned in Hell.
She whispered to me, her voice as lovely as ever, and when I closed my eyes, I could see her face and her hair, I could smell the sweetness of her, and I could remember our times together.
“They’ll bring war to Cross,” she told me.
“Some in the Hollow. They’ve anchored their own town to it, trapped it in such a way we’ve not yet learned.” She sighed, and in my memory, I saw her run her fingers through her hair, that cousin whom I’d adored. “You’ll need to go in, Duncan, and do what you do best. What you were bred to do.”
“Aye, Duncan, killing.” She laughed then. A soft, beautiful sound that I missed dearly. “Kill them all, Duncan. Every last one of them.”
I promised her I would.
If I close my eyes, I can picture her, see her mad grin spread across her face.
And even now, as I remember this, I strain to hear her voice, but it’s been a long while since my missing spoke.
I’m afraid it’ll be longer still.