I have returned to Child’s Island.
It has been a long time, and I rarely come to this place Child had called his own. The windows are clean and still look out at all corners of Blood Lake.
I find it to be a place of solitude and reflection for me.
I have returned here to sit and smoke, to drink and to remember. I have slain the last of the Killed Soldiers, a task which has taken me nearly 80 years.
In 1903, some version of my mother resurrected dead soldiers from across timelines and various worlds. She sent them through the Hollow, of course, and they wreaked havoc as they left Cross. I slew the first few when they arrived, but there were 31 of them altogether. A playful bit of spite on my mother’s part.
She had sent 31. Thirteen had we held the number to a mirror.
I don’t know why my mother, regardless of the version, finds pleasure in such games.
I certainly don’t enjoy them. Which, upon reflection, is probably why she does it.
Damn her eyes.
Tonight, I raise of glass of hard cider to the Killed Soldiers. It was no fault of theirs that they were resurrected, nor could they do anything but follow my mother’s commands. They fought well, and they died just the same. Only twice. First at war, second by my hand.
The first soldier came out of the Hollow on a cool autumn night, and he used his saber on three members of the Andersen family. Leonard Andersen managed to escape, although he left his right hand on the road. When he reached me, I took care of the injury, then went out to hunt down the killer.
I found the soldier sitting on the wall, naked sword across his knees.
When he saw the pistols on my hips, he nodded.
“I was dead,” he stated, getting to his feet. “Dead and at peace. Your mother has said this is not to be, Duncan Blood. There is no rest for the soldier. Neither living nor dead.”
He saluted with the sword and charged at me.
I drew both Colts and put four shots in his chest. The impacts of the .44 slugs knocked him off his feet, and as he lay gasping on the road, I put another bullet in his head.
I looked to the Hollow and wondered if my mother would send more.