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.