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Lost in Cross: 1870

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Cross is a place of horrors.

I have not yet become inured or deadened to the horrors that slip out of the shadows in Gods’ Hollow, or the fetid creatures lurking on Honor’s Path. Nor, for that matter, have I accepted the fact that my mother – whom I killed at our kitchen table when I was still a boy – lurks as a ghost in my home and as a living and breathing flesh within the confines of the Hollow.

Ennis Hack vanished in the winter of 1867 when he had come into town to write a bit of fiction about New England. He had taken a room with the Hutchinson family off Washington Street, and then, one fine, brisk morning, he had lit his pipe and set off for a stroll.

He never returned.

A soft snowfall hid his tracks, and it was assumed that the town had had its way with him.

The Hutchinson family, being good people, packed up his belongings and set them aside in their attic. They did not know if the man had family of his own and if the man’s kin, at some point, might show up to claim it.

It was not his family who showed up to claim it, but Ennis himself.

I met with him at the house for the family sent for me. He was a careworn man, ragged and wary. His story was plain and brutal.

He had heard a child crying from the Hollow, and not knowing the history of the place, he had gone in to help it.

Ennis never found the child, and he almost didn’t find his way out of the Hollow. He had been walking for the better part of three years, and he refused to speak of what he saw, with whom he spoke, or what he had been forced to do.

When he gathered up his things and finished a cup of hot coffee, he looked at me and shook his head. I raised an eyebrow, and he flashed a smile of broken, black teeth at me.

“Your mother doesn’t like you, Duncan Blood,” he told me.

“That’s fine,” I answered. “I don’t much care for her either.”

He chuckled, nodded, and got to his feet. “She said you killed her once.”

I nodded. “I aim to do so again.”

“Good,” Ennis replied. “She deserves it.”

With his bag in one hand, the man left the house without looking back, and I was amazed my mother had let him live.

Wonders will never cease.

#horror #fear

Lost in Cross: 1869

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I don’t have much when it comes to forgiveness.

Allen Cuthbert learned this, and I only wish I had been able to show him how truly angry I was.

The situation robbed me of that opportunity.

Somehow, Allen Cuthbert got it into his fool head to become a guide for those wishing to explore the mysteries of Honor’s Path. On several occasions, I wanted to brain him and leave him for dead on the tracks.

Danielle, his daughter, was the only person who held me back from this.

She was a delightful child, a sweet young creature who had a magnificent singing voice, and while she rarely smiled after her mother’s death, she still sang. Granted, the songs were a tad mournful, but they were beautiful, nonetheless.

After the publication of Vivian Husker’s book, several people managed to find their way to Cross, and they had even gotten as far as Honor’s Path, where they were promptly slain by whatever hellish creatures thrive beneath the path’s poison soil.

Allen Cuthbert saw there was money to be made by an intrepid fellow, and so he took Danielle with him on his forays into the Black and Coffin farms, always seeking some new route to Honor’s Path.

He found it.

This morning, as I saw with Phineas Black and enjoyed a cup of coffee laced with whiskey, Allen came stumbling and shrieking from the woods. He collapsed before we could reach him, and Phineas wanted to send for a doctor.

I told him, no, and I slapped Allen Cuthbert awake.

The man screamed when he saw me, and then he babbled that his daughter had been taken, that she was gone into a tree. My blood ran cold when I heard that, I knew what it meant. I demanded to see where, and the man refused.

Refused to take me to where his child had gone missing.

I broke his legs, shattered his teeth, and then dragged him by his hair back to the path. Phineas Black caught up with me and handed me a mallet and spikes.

Allen screamed and wept the entire time, and when we arrived at the tree, I searched for any sign of the girl.

There was none.

I nailed him to the tree and blindfolded him.

I didn’t want him to see them coming.

I didn’t want him to know when he was going to die.

#horror #fear

October 18, 1937

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Some days are worse than others.

I’ve been alive for a long time. Too long, it feels like.

I’ve buried a wife, killed my own kin, and served as Death’s right hand since I killed my mother in the kitchen when I was ten.

She deserved it. Hell, she would have killed me if I hadn’t stopped her.

Still, the deaths weigh on me.

I haven’t slept since I delivered Michael Dunwich’s heart to the god and sat with her as she ate it raw. It wasn’t the manner that she ate or the simple fact that she ate the damned thing; it’s that I’m not done yet.

Not with those who tried to bring my mother back.

They’ve gone to ground, and I’ll ferret them out, of course, but the world is gray today.

A storm has rolled in off the Atlantic, and it’s hidden the sun the whole day. The rain that fell earlier was cold and unforgiving as the ocean, and there’s been some sign of merfolk in the river again.

They’ll be hunting soon, and I’ll need to chase them off just as soon as I finish with the bastards at Miskatonic.

There’s no doubt I was feeling low, and I suspect I would have just gone home to get good and drunk if I hadn’t seen the dog.

I was sitting out in front of the Cross Library, smoking my pipe and considering whether I wanted beer or whiskey for dinner when the dog came along the sidewalk and saw me.

He was a Boston Terrier, and he stopped in front of me. He tilted his head to one side, his tongue lolling out, and his short stump of a tail beat the concrete with a fierce and cheerful rhythm.

The sight of him caused me to smile, and his tail wagged all the harder. I called to him in a soft voice, and he stood up and trotted over to me. He sat down by my side and snorted with pleasure as I scratched between his ears.

We sat there for a good hour with nothing more pressing than breathing air. Then, with a final wag, the dog stood up, shook himself, and went back the way he’d come.

I suspect he was headed home.

It was a fine idea.

#fear #horrorstories #paranormal

October 17, 1937

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He made a hell of a racket.

I had made my way into the newest of the buildings on the Miskatonic Cross campus, and I was looking for Michael Dunwich. He was the newest nightwatchman, and his name was on the list of those who needed killing.

I had asked around a bit, sent out a few letters here and there, and the information had come in with the order of ammunition from the Schlacters in Connecticut. One of their suppliers had served with Dunwich in the Marine Corps, and he was well-aware of the man.

Dunwich was a murder. He had been discovered in a French villa at the end of the Great War, and he had enjoyed himself with the corpses of several women he had gutted one night.

The Marines hadn’t been able to prove he had done the killing, although he bragged about it after he was drummed out of the Corps. The Schlacters’ supplier warned that the man was dangerous and that he had left a trail of dead men from Tallahassee to Boston.

Dead men weren’t the only ones there’d been more women too.

I wasn’t surprised that he’d found a home at the university or that he’d had a part in the murder of the orphans.

Standing in a stairwell, hidden in shadows, I listened as the man walked through the lower hall toward me. He was whistling, and when I caught sight of him, his mind was not on his job.

I wasn’t kind.

As he passed me by, I stepped out of the shadow, knife in hand, and punched the blade deep into his ribs. Bones cracked as he let out a shuddering breath, the emergency plug-in phone dropping from his hand and clattering to the floor.

I twisted the knife, and he gasped. With my free hand, I dug a thumb into his right eye and scooped it out, the orb tearing away from the nerve and bouncing with a wet smack against the wall.

As he tried to scream, I drove him across the hallway, smashing him into the wall before freeing the knife and slamming it down into his shoulder. I drove him down to the floor, where he gazed up at me, horror on his face.

“I didn’t say you could look at me,” I told him, and I gouged out his remaining eye before I went to work on his heart.

#fear #horrorstories #paranormal

October 16, 1937

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Her disdain was palpable.

I was in the Cross Train Station waiting on a shipment of ammunition. The Schlacter family out of Ledyard, Connecticut, had been selling me my supplies for over fifty years. They knew how I liked the loads and crafted perfect .44 slugs.

I had taken up a comfortable position leaning against the ticket counter and talking with Herschel, the station master, as the train from Norwich, Connecticut, pulled into the station. Within a few moments, the doors to the passenger cars opened and disgorged those few souls who had business in town.

A young woman, beautiful and well-put-together, stepped off the train, crossed the platform and entered the station with undeniable grace. Herschel stopped in midsentence to watch her as she approached us, her eyes flicking dismissively over me before settling on the station master.

I stepped aside, but not quick enough.

Her hand snapped out, and I caught sight of a slim knife a heartbeat before she plunged it into my belly. With a snarl, she twisted the blade, dragged it across my stomach and pulled it up. I smelled my blood, felt a wave of pain, and grabbed her hand with one of mine.

“Your mother says hello, Blood,” she spat and drew another knife with her free hand.

I let her punch it into my chest, my blood pumping out over her hands, and I drew a Colt.

“Didn’t she tell you I don’t die?” I asked between clenched teeth.

She tried to back away from me, eyes widening in confusion.

I grabbed hold of the front of her blouse, blood smearing across the white fabric spilling out at her throat, and then I jammed the muzzle of the Colt up into the soft underside of her chin.

“Tell me, girl,” I whispered. “Are you as unlucky as me?”

Before she could answer, I pulled the trigger and blew off the top of her head, brains and hair flying up. As I dropped her body to the floor, Herschel vomited behind me, and I couldn’t blame him.

Brains are always a hell of a mess to clean.

#fear #horrorstories #paranormal

October 15, 1937

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The ship rode low in the water.

The ravens informed me of a new vessel out on Blood Lake, and I found it anchored on the lee side of an island, her masts hidden by the tall pines.

The ship was large and looked as though she had carried at least thirty guns. I can only imagine how they managed to get it onto my lake. There are too many places where the waters touch upon the Hollow, and I wondered for a short time if my mother had shoved it through before the god sealed her in.

I rowed up to the side of the ship, climbed up, and slipped aboard with a Colt in hand.

The spars creaked, and the rigging groaned as I made my way down and found the captain’s quarters.

It smelled of pipe tobacco and the sea.

I pushed through a door into a library and realized I had found their room.

The books on the shelves had bindings of human skin, and there was a whispering in the walls that spoke of pain and anguish.

Stepping up to the shelves, I saw most of the titles were written in Latin, the words themselves leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

There was no mistaking what was done on this ship, the only question was how many had been sacrificed. What might I find in the holds? What did the bastards use as ballast?

I did not want to know, nor did I want them to come back to their floating sanctuary.

In my youth, I burned more than a few ships. Usually, it was when the crew was still aboard.

Not now.

I doubted any of the original crew were left alive. Those that had commandeered the ship, well, I knew a fair few of them were still hiding in the confines of Cross.

I went back to the top deck, found a good supply of kerosene, and doused the planks with it. Finally, I poured the last of the liquid onto a pile of sail left in a corner and set the whole thing ablaze.

I clambered down to the canoe, rowed out a way, shipped the oars, and in the setting sun, I watched the flames creep up the rigging and down towards the waterline.

The ship stank of roasting flesh, and there was a sigh of content as the wind shifted, carrying the smoke up towards the darkening sky.

Smiling, I lit my pipe and watched the ship burn.

#fear #horrorstories #paranormal

October 14, 1937

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The attack failed.

I was walking along North Road this morning when I was ambushed.

They were rough men, scarred and missing teeth. They smelled of whiskey and the ocean.

The fight was hard, and it was brutal, and they were smart enough to keep my hands occupied and away from the Colts.

But I wasn’t worried about getting hold of the revolvers, just staying away from the edge of the Hollow.

As we fought, I saw the Hollow shift and transform. The cool, mid-October scene was replaced by that of tall, red rocks and bitterly dry air. The air shimmered with heat, and as I slammed my fist into one man’s nose, smashing it across his face, the red rocks opened with the sound of a tear. A noise loud enough to catch the attention of every man there.

While my assailants turned to look at the source of the sound, I took several cautious steps back.

The gods appeared a moment later, and I showed them my open palms.

I had met the trio once before, in 1847, and I knew they were not to be taken lightly.

My assailants, however, didn’t know any such thing, and I wasn’t of a mind to tell them.

The gods came to a stop at the edge of the Hollow and peered with their strange, cold eyes at the gathered men. I averted my eyes and kept my hands up and open. It had saved me once before, and I could only hope it would do so again.

One of the assailants called out a challenge, swearing at the gods in a thick Boston accent. His compatriots laughed, and then the gods struck.

Their movements were fluid, graceful, and devoid of sound. Each touch of their hands caused great wounds to appear on their victims. Intestines spilled out onto the ground, and heads collapsed. Limbs tumbled off and twitched in the dirt.

Some men tried to run, but with the crook of their fingers, the gods tore out spines and tendons.

Screams filled the air, for most of the men were still alive.

Without a glance toward me, the gods gathered up the assailants and deftly plucked out the hearts. They stacked them in a pulsing pile and then left the way they’d come.

As the red rocks vanished, the New England trees returned, and the hearts continued to beat.

#fear #horrorstories #paranormal

October 13, 1937

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He didn’t have a civil tongue, and it cost him.

I was sitting in my parlor, enjoying some brandy, when the phone rang.

It’s a god-awful sound, one that is, unfortunately, a necessary evil at times. Still, it soured my mood some as I stood up, crossed the room and plucked the handset up none too gently.

“Mr. Blood.” The voice belonged to the chef at the Cross Diner.

“Aye.”

“One of them’s here at the Diner,” the caller stated. “He’s talkin’ ‘bout the Hollow.”

The call ended before I could take the handset away from my ear.

I finished my drink, went out of the house and to the barn. My eyes fell on the ’35 Harley Davidson I’d acquired the year prior. I didn’t ride the thing too often – I’d broken my share of bones on the miserable machine – but I didn’t want to risk one of my horses by riding hard in the dark, and the Ketch brothers were working on my truck.

The motorcycle would have to do.

I tied down the holsters of the Colts, dug around in the saddlebags for the riding goggles, and then pulled them on.

In a moment, I kicked the machine over and left the yard as the engine roared.

With the lamp illuminating the way, I soon arrived at the Diner and pulled into the parking lot, swearing and spitting out dirt and bugs.

As soon as I dismounted the machine, the door to the Diner opened, and the staff and customers exited. The chef nodded, wiped his hands on his apron and said, “He’s still in there, Mr. Blood.”

I muttered my thanks, pulled the goggles off and entered the building, drawing one of my Colts.

I found the man sitting in a booth near the back. His dinner, a fine-looking steak and sundries, was on the table in front of him.

The man smiled at me, blinked, and then the smile faded.

“Who are you?” I asked.

“Professor Roth. I’m a visiting lecturer.”

“I know,” I said and brought the Colt up.

The shot took him cleanly between the eyes and passed through his skull and into the back of the booth. As he slumped forward, leaving brains and blood and bone embedded in the wood, I sat down and pulled his plate to me.

I’d take his heart after I ate.

I was hungry and still had to ride the damned machine home.

#fear #horrorstories #paranormal

October 12, 1937

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They ran into the wrong building.

I was tracking a pair of students from Miskatonic, and the sun had yet to burn off the morning fog.

I could hear their whispers reverberating against the trees, reaching my ears in snippets of disjointed conversation.

It didn’t matter what they were saying.

Or that they thought there was someplace to hide.

There wasn’t.

Not from me. Not in Cross.

I kept a steady pace, knowing the young men would tire sooner rather than later. I wondered what they had been told. What was used to convince them to join with their professors and peers to bring my mother back?

It might not have been anything more than the chance to do something extraordinary, which is what I’m sure it was phrased as.

Perhaps they were told they didn’t have a choice.

But if that was what they were told, it was a lie.

We all have choices to make, and then we live with those choices whether we want to or not.

I’ve killed men, women, and children in my long decades of life. Some of those deaths I carry with me still.

Others, well, they’re nothing more than water off a duck’s back.

I suspected killing the young men I was chasing would be much like the latter.

The fog burned off slowly, and I unslung the Garand I had taken from Bradley. It was a good, solid rifle, and I had plundered Bradley’s supply of ammunition. I stood off to one side of the road, loaded a clip into the rifle, took up a firing position, and waited.

As the last of the fog vanished beneath the sun, I saw the pair of students.

They were almost 400 yards away and close to a building on the Hollow side of North Road.

I pulled the trigger, and the student I was aiming at stumbled at the same time. The round that would have knocked him down struck him in the left shoulder, sending him spiraling into his friend.

They fell into the building together, and a horrific shriek pierced the air.

A heartbeat later, the god stepped out of the barn’s open door. In either hand, she held a heart.

Wordlessly, she turned around and disappeared once more into the building.

I slung the rifle and headed back the way I’d come, leaving the god to her meal.

#fear #horrorstories #paranormal

October 11, 1937

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The M1 Garand packs a hell of a kick.

Doctor Jared Bradley was holed up in his house, on the top floor, and waiting for me.

Where he managed to get his hands on a Garand, I don’t know.

I do know that he used it well and that the first round he fired passed through the bedroom door and into my shoulder, taking most of the muscle with it.

I don’t like to lose my temper, but this time, well, I surely did lose it.

I have a dim memory of kicking the door in and storming into the room as he put a shot close enough to take my left ear clean off my head.

It was too late for him by then.

Perhaps he hoped to injure me enough to affect an escape. Perhaps it was nothing more than an attempt to quicken his own passing.

Neither of these occurred.

I tore the Garand out of his hands with my good arm and threw it across the room. As he struggled to rise from his chair, I punched him hard enough to break bones in my hand and collapse the left side of his face.

Blood and teeth splattered onto the floor, and as he fell, I stomped on his chest, shattering ribs. His sense of self-preservation kicked in, and he tried to crawl away from me, moaning and whimpering as he did so.

But the man had ordered the killing of children, and there was no mercy in me.

As he tried to move to safety, a cold and bitter calm settled over me. I walked around him, alternately kicking and driving the heel of my boots into him.

By the time I was finished, he lay on the floor, barely breathing.

The bones in my hand had healed, the injured shoulder had stitched itself back together, and my ear had returned.

Squatting down beside him, I drew my knife, flipped him onto his back and cut his suit and vest and shirt away from his shattered chest.

Despite the damage he had suffered, he still managed a squeal of pain as I made the first cut beneath the sternum.

I took my time digging his heart out.

As I said, I’d lost my temper.

#fear #horrorstories #paranormal

October 10, 1937

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They were alone in the building.

I made my way to the Cross campus of Miskatonic University this evening. It is where I’m going to find most, if not all, of those I’m hunting.

According to the list of persons I obtained from the assassin who had ambushed me outside of the First National Stores, the conspirators could be found in the Department of Music. He had given me a list of 15 names, although I suspect there were more he could have told me had he not bled out too soon.

I never had an issue with trimming the student population down either. There were few kind-hearted souls who sought an education from Miskatonic.

The Department of Music is located at the top of a building it shared with the Department of Foreign Languages, and as such, there was always a great deal of traffic.

I slipped in through the back stairs and crept up to the top floor, which was brightly lit and smelled faintly of fresh roses. I could hear voices from behind several of the doors, but I was looking for one office in particular.

That of Doctor Jared Bradley.

When I came to it, I took hold of the doorknob, drew a Colt, and let myself into the room.

A pair of women sat behind a large table and looked at me in surprise. The doctor, I saw, was not in the room.

“Where is he?” I asked.

There was no hesitation from the women, and I admire them for that.

Their hands came up from below the desk, each of them holding a revolver.

But my Colt was already in my hand, and it roared in the small room.

The first slug caught the woman on the right square in the temple, passing through her skull and blowing bones and brains out the other side as the bullet crashed through the glass, shattering it.

The dead woman’s compatriot flinched at the noise and the blood splatter, and her shot went wild.

My second shot took her beneath the right eye, the pressure sending the orb exploding out and leaving it dangling on her cheek as she slid down.

As the building erupted in panic, I holstered the Colt, went forward, and cut out their hearts.

The butcher’s bill was due, and I needed to pay it down.

#fear #horrorstories #paranormal

October 9, 1937

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She was waiting at the end of the path.

I walked for the better part of the day until the stones came to a stop at a circle of rough grass. As I came to a stop, the branches of the weeping willow intertwined behind me and sealed us in.

She looked younger than I remembered, and that worried me.

“Sit, Duncan.”

I did so, focusing not only on her youthful face but on keeping my hands calm as well.

I’ve never been sure as to what she is, only that she could kill me with a breath, and I made a habit of avoiding her as much as possible.

“Have you seen your father of late?”

I stiffened and shook my head.

She frowned. “How long has it been?”

“Right around two centuries.”

“When your father gave me this place,” she said, “he told me I would be undisturbed.”

There was a gentle note of reproach in her voice, and I nodded. “I know it. I would not have bothered you if I did not think it was necessary.”

She raised an eyebrow, and a smirk appeared. She shifted her position, and her jewelry clicked and clacked in the stillness. “What you think is necessary, Duncan, may not seem so to me.”

“Aye.”

She used her fingers to comb her braids, first one and then the other. “Tell me what this necessity is.”

“There are some trying to bring my mother back into Cross.”

Her fingers stopped, and she looked at me with cold, brutal eyes. “How?”

“Blood and music.”

The ground beneath me vibrated.

“Do you know who they are?” she demanded.

I nodded.

“Find them and bring their hearts to me,” she stated. I broke into a sweat as her anger heated the air.

“I will.”

“And I will seal your mother into the Hollow,” she muttered. “At least whatever damnable version they are trying to bring in.”

I heard the branches whisper as they opened behind me.

“Go,” she commanded. “I will eat their hearts, Duncan, and that is all the payment I require.”

I got to my feet, bowed, and took my leave.

I’d gone no more than half a dozen steps before I was back in the yard. The sky vibrated, and a long, high wail of rage drifted on the wind.

The god my father had given refuge to had sealed the Hollow.

Now it was time to gather the hearts.

#fear #horrorstories #paranormal