Disaster and Calamity: A Raging Sea


The Atlantic is an unforgiving entity. It is, in truth, a wrathful God who seeks to destroy those who love it best.

Cross has been witness to this harsh truth for centuries. Early into the twentieth century, a group of sailors on leave from Boston decided to take a pleasure cruise along the coast near the mouth of the Cross River.

It was a poor decision.

The sea had been rough for the better part of three days, and it had tossed larger, more seaworthy vessels onto the shore. Our life-saving station had been busy, and only a handful were still able to man their posts. I was there as a favor to a cousin, hoping that we would not be called out. I have no great love for the sea, nor does it have any for me.

My hopes were dashed, of course, as easily as the sailors against the rocks beneath the waves.

What hellish creature upended their small craft, I do not know. Considering the wounds I saw on the survivors and the bodies we were able to recover, I count myself lucky in not having seen it.

Of the nine sailors who took their little trip that day, only four survived, and each of them was wounded. We recovered the bodies of two others, and some of the parts for three more.

When I asked if anything had predicated the attack, the answer was a unanimous ‘no.’ They had been sailing, and then they were fighting for their lives.

I went down to the beach a short time later and stood there, trying to determine what happened. As I pondered the situation, a head tumbled out of the waves. The eyes had been torn out, and I understood the message perfectly well.

It was time to go home while I still could.

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Disaster and Calamity: Vengeful


Some people, I suppose, still might consider the destruction of the Good Fellowship Church a disaster of some sort.

Personally, I don’t know why.

Cross has been the home to many churches over its existence. Few have survived intact for the duration. Many end up like the Good Fellowship Church, which is for the best. There is no dominant theology in Cross. Instead, there is a pantheon which ranges from negligent to horrific, with more in the latter than the former.

I don’t know what the congregation of the Good Fellowship did to annoy their particular God. I don’t know if it was the result of one parishioner’s actions, or anyone’s. What I do know is that on a bright and sunny morning in October, their God came calling.

There were reports of a little girl walking into the building after most of the congregation had gathered for their Sunday worship. A few minutes later, the building exploded from within. Within an hour, the entire structure was destroyed.

There were no survivors.

I was there when the dead were hauled out. What struck me as unusual was the fact that the tongue had been torn out of every person. I found them gathered in a pair of large chalices on the altar. Pristine and untouched by the flames.

I suppose the God had tired of listening to them talk.

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Disaster and Calamity: Loss


Disease and disaster are never easy to overcome. Invariably, we lose something of ourselves.

In 1912, this was driven home when a strange illness afflicted residents of Elm Street and only Elm Street. Seven people came down with the disease. Rather, seven young men between the ages of 18 and 23.

The young men lived in a pair of boarding houses, each across the street from the other. On Saturday, the men woke up, prepared to go to work, and ate their morning meals. They were, by all accounts, hale and hearty at seven in the morning. By 7:30, all were struck low, screaming and clawing at their faces.

Of the seven men, only one of them, Alexander Keel, survived the experience. While his unfortunate co-victims died screaming in agony, Alexander took the drastic step of cutting his entire face off.

Surprisingly, he survived the massive shock to his system through the valiant efforts of the local Red Cross and a pair of doctors who had learned their trade fighting the Indian Wars. Eventually, when he was well enough to communicate again, Alexander was asked why he had mutilated himself.

His answer was simple and to the point.

“Better alive mutilated than dead and whole.”

I would have to agree.

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Disaster and Calamity: Inferno


In all honesty, I thought Jonathan Coffin had died in 1867 when fire tore through the small home he kept on an island in Blood Lake. Part of my reason for this belief was the length of time in which the fire burned: 72 years.

It was a smokeless, terrible fiend which could not be approached for fear of death. I forbade any attempts to examine the flames and threatened the Cross Branch of Miskatonic University with several lawsuits (which, it turns out, is the best way to repel any interest they might have in a subject).

On a warm day in October, I noticed that the fire no longer burned on what had become, not surprisingly, known as Fire Island by some of Cross’ less than imaginative residents.

As soon as I discovered the absence of flames, I set sail for the island and saw immediately that there were other intrepid investigators as well. I later learned that they were graduate students from Miskatonic, whose curiosity drove them forward.

It also cost them their lives.

I was pulling into the lee of the island when I heard gunshots. By the time I reached the students, I found all five of them dead, and Jonathan Coffin sitting in front of his home.

Luckily, Jonathan recognized me, and he allowed me to approach. I asked him where he had been for the past seven decades, and he shrugged.

“Don’t know,” he replied, “but it was hotter ‘n Hell.”

Well, I suppose he was right about that.

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Disaster and Calamity: The Flight


1936 saw the last flight of any sort of aircraft over Gods’ Hollow.

For years I had been arguing for the prohibition of travel, either military or commercial, over Gods’ Hollow. I went so far as the State House in my attempts, calling in favors my family had cultivated over centuries.

All my efforts were in vain.

Air travel was coming into its own, and despite the Depression, far-sighted politicians saw the monetary benefits of refusing to place any prohibitions on that means of transportation.

I wish I could say that the wreck of The Boston Zephyr had as victims several of those politicians. Unfortunately, as is so often the case, the two men who died were Army pilots attempting to map the Hollow from above.

They paid for it with their lives, which I ended for them on Ash Court, their bodies engulfed in flames and half-eaten by the creatures which had brought the plane down.

I am uncertain as to the exact heritage of the creatures. They appeared vaguely humanoid with wings and teeth similar to some of the blood-feeding bats in the lower Americas. When The Boston Zephyr had traveled over the Hollow, I watched the creatures rise up and swarm over the plane. I raced to town, following the erratic flight of the plane and arriving moments after it crashed.

For several minutes I kept my Colts busy, laying waste to as many of the damned things as I could kill. Members of the militia joined in, and we made short work of 29 of the creatures. The pilots, doomed by their injuries, begged for death, and death I gave them.

No one flies over the Hollow now.

Occasionally, I see one of the creatures rise up, and I take my time with a long rifle to bring it down. It is a rather peaceful way to spend a summer evening.

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Disaster and Calamity: Debris


There are times when I think that the Gods in the Hollow have a terrible sense of humor.

A perfect example of this was during a heavy windstorm which took place on October 15th, 1909. It was one of the worst storms I could remember, and by far the worst I had experienced on land.

A great many outbuildings were destroyed, and more than a few head of livestock were lost. Several people went missing, and two others were crushed when a house was dropped onto them.

Yes, a house.

And this is why I believe the Gods in the Hollow have a sense of humor.

The house wasn’t from Cross. I don’t know where it was from. Nor were six of the eight people killed.

The two from Cross had been rushing to get home, seeking to find shelter from the heavy rains and winds. By the time they were within a hundred feet of their home, the interloper house crashed on them and crushed them into the street.

When I went into the house, I found an additional six bodies. All were damaged by the storm and scorched by lightning. The house stank of burnt flesh, and as I attempted to discover who they were, the corpses rose and attacked.

I didn’t bother to ask why, or to seek any answers. Instead, I seized a broken table leg and defended myself. It took me fifteen minutes of hard fighting, but in the end, I had succeeded in crushing the skulls of all six.

Yes, the Gods in the Hollow have an interesting sense of humor, and I hate them for it.

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Disaster and Calamity: A Hard Frost


New England is no stranger to the cold, nor am I, for that matter.

I have lived through winters where we had to shovel out just to leave the house, winters were people died for want of warmth.

Those occurred centuries ago, and they are times I was happy to see the last of. For many years I believed they would not return. How often in recent memory has a storm buried a town in New England? Buried it so that only the second-floor windows allowed egress? Even then, when the snow is falling, most know enough to seek refuge with a neighbor or to risk the effort to get closer to town.

Earlier this week, we had what I shall nominally describe as a ‘hard frost.’

In normal circumstances, a hard frost will kill your vegetables and your young trees if you’ve not the foresight to protect them. Three days ago, we had something entirely different.

I don’t know where the cold came from, or why, but it struck the town at a little past seven in the evening, and laid a great many people low. Those close to their homes, or to any structure, managed – for the most part – to gain safety, although they suffered terribly from frostbite.

The day had been pleasant, though, and as such, more than a few people were out and about later than usual. These folk were caught in the frost.

So far, we have recovered seven bodies. Three of them townspeople and the other four strangers merely passing through.

And this is only on the outskirts of town. We have not taken the sledges to the outlying farms, nor have we inspected all the roads into and out of Cross. Rumor has it that a train stalled just over the border, and I wonder how many, if any, are still alive upon it.

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Disaster and Calamity: Gas


I was dining with a friend at the Historical Society when word reached us of a curious situation. A man had come stumbling out of a door in the Cross Branch of Miskatonic University. While this might not seem out of place for a university, even one as storied as Miskatonic, it was the particular door from whence the stranger came.

There are several doors, one of them located in the Department of Dead Languages, that lead to worlds other than our own. None of these worlds are safe, and interlopers are far from benign.

Begging my friend’s pardon, I exited and sought out this stranger, but he collapsed just outside of the Department for Dead Languages before I could reach him. What occurred next could only happen in Cross.

The man was brought inside to a classroom where several young men attempted to perform life-saving techniques upon him. What they did was dislodge an item in the man’s throat. An item that expelled a noxious, poisonous gas into the building.

Of the 61 students and staff members affected, five – including the stranger – died from the gas. The others were injured to greater or lesser degrees. Some were blinded, others went mute or deaf. Of those who survived unscathed, they would all be dead within five years, suffering terribly from the growth of malignant tumors on their skin.

All the dead are buried on one of my small, barren islands. Their bodies are poison, and it is safer for me to watch over them than to have them sicken my town.

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Disaster and Calamity: Infiltrators


Life is a constant stream of surprises. Some are large, and others are merely hiccups in our day.

On June 11, 1904, Cross had a horrific surprise.

It began in the evening, just as dusk faded into night. Within moments, the first screams were heard from the apartments over the shops on Main Street. The curses of men and women rang out through the warm summer air, and lights were ablaze. Older children, some carrying two siblings or the infants and toddlers of neighbors, raced into the streets while their parents battled in the homes and apartments.

From the river and the sewers, giant, dark brown river rats spread out through the town. They were vicious and aggressive, seeking the flesh of only the youngest of Cross’ residents. Some of them even made it as far as my farm. My guns were quick, and I was soon on my way to Jacob Issacsen, a man who raised ratters for use in Boston. We brought his four dogs into town, and throughout the night, aided by dogs and fire, we beat back the rats, laying waste to hundreds of them.

When the morning arrived, we traced the rats back to a rotten hulk of a ship that had risen from the river bed. We towed the wreck out to sea and set it afire. None of the rats escaped.

Nor did the children of Cross. An entire generation bore the scars of that night on their faces, a brutal reminder of how even the mundane in Cross is dangerous.

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Disaster and Calamity: The Storm


It lasted for three days and kept all Cross indoors. Rain was driven against the windows and the doors, and the wind blew hard enough to collapse roofs and blow away lean-tos.

When the storm ended at the stroke of two on Thursday afternoon, a rider was sent for me. After listening to the boy, I saddled my horse and rode hard into town. There, at the Historical Society, I met with several of the members who confirmed the truth of the boy’s statement, and then directed me to a small field off Olive Street.

With the Cross Militia forming a perimeter around the field, I alone entered it to examine the storm’s unwanted harvest.

Stretched out in the grass, lay a cluster of dead men. Who they were, where they had come from, and why the storm had cast them into Cross were all questions that would never have any answers.

Over the next few days, more bodies would be discovered, but singly or in pairs. All were unknown.

As we gathered them up, we noticed the men had been killed by bullets and by shrapnel. There were powder burns and even saber cuts. By the time the bodies were buried on one of the islands in Blood Lake, I was certain that the storm had originated from somewhere in Gods’ Hollow, and that for an unknown – and unknowable – reason, the dead had been torn from a battlefield in one world only to be deposited in ours.

We’ve not had another storm like it, and I have a terrible feeling that we’re due for another soon.

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