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February 19, 1937

When the dead speak, do we listen?

Professor Lee Russell of the Cross Branch of Miskatonic University offered this question to the University’s board in early 1936. After some consideration, the school decided that it was a valid concern, and they offered him a position as an instructor/researcher with a focus on calls from the dead.

Over the course of nearly a year, Professor Russell designed, adapted, and built a large telephone switchboard in the hopes of hearing the dead. This was not done out of some starry-eyed naivete, but out of genuine concern that the dead might wish to impart some information to the living.

On February 19, 1937, Professor Russell connected his switchboard to the University’s and waited.

Within less than an hour, he received his first phone call, one that was documented and recorded. It was a call from Malcolm Berkley, who killed himself in Gods’ Hollow in 1936. He beseeched Professor Russell to tear down the tower.

The second call came from Kimberly Bierce, who vanished along with her friends in 1898. She begged for directions home.

After that, the calls came in, far too fast for the Professor to answer, although he did his best.

Later that day, Professor Russell brought in three students to assist with the calls.

To this day, there are four people who man the phone lines. After a group suicide of operators in 1988, no one is allowed to work for more than one week at a time at the switchboard. Those who go back for a second rotation carry themselves with pride.

It is not easy to listen to the dead, or to hear what waits in the darkness of death.

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February 18, 1927

Books are doorways to new worlds.

But what if they’re doors which should never be opened?

Mary Sebastian was a precocious and intelligent child of 9 when she received a book titled, A Child’s History of Cross from her Aunt Fiona. Mary’s father found the book to be a strange gift since there wasn’t any sort of book written about Cross.

His sister, with whom he had a poor relationship, had included a note to Mary. Simply put, the note told Mary not to share her book with anyone. Especially not her father or mother.

Mary was devoted to her aunt, and always cherished the presents the woman sent. So, when Aunt Fiona said not to do something, Mary’s parents knew better than to attempt to countermand the woman’s statement.

The following morning, Mary packed the book to share with her class at Cross Elementary, despite her father’s wish that she didn’t.

When Mary arrived at school that morning, February 18, 1927, she called her classmates over and showed them the book. Several of the children let out pleased screams, and one little boy burst into tears before running away.

Concerned, Mary’s teacher went to see what the issue was, and she saw that Mary held a pair of snakes in her hands.

According to Mary, the snakes had come from the interior of the book, where they lived.

When her doubting teacher demanded that she show her, Mary opened the book and placed the two snakes upon a page titled, The Snakes of Cross.

The two reptiles curled around one another to form a ring, and Mary closed the book as though there was nothing in the way.

Shocked, her teacher took hold of the book, opened it to the same page, and saw the snakes printed upon there.

A moment later the teacher screamed as the snakes crawled up and out of the book, curling around Mary’s small hands.

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February 17, 1910

What music moves the Devil?

On February 17, 1910, the citizens of Cross found out.

At 3:03 in the afternoon, the Boston to Cross train rolled into the station 66 minutes late. Only one person stepped off the train; all the other cars were empty. There were no ticket collectors or valets. Nor was there a brakeman or engineer.

The one rider was an older gentleman, with ragged clothes and a hurdy-gurdy held in his large, violent looking hands. He seemed to smile benevolently and leer all at the same time beneath his mustache. His eyes darted around, never fixing themselves on anyone or thing for more than a moment or two, but for those who remembered him, the look was too long and too much.

When he walked out of the station, the birds stopped singing, and the animals went silent.

According to witnesses, the man grinned lecherously at all who laid eyes upon them, and in a large, penetrating voice, he asked in Latin, “Does anyone here have sympathy for me?”

Before a reply could be given, he began to play.

No one can say what the song was, or what it meant, nor can they agree as to what the tune was. Each person remembered the rhythm differently.

They all could agree, however, that it was the most horrific sound they had ever heard.

Men and women collapsed to the street, clutching their hands to their ears, screaming. Mr. Danforth Waterly rammed his head into a brick wall until he split his skull open. Inspector Miles Welch fired five shots at the musician, and when nothing happened, he turned and killed Margaret Ann, Miles’ wife of 30 years.

Pleased, the musician followed the road out of Cross, leaving death and madness trailing in his wake.

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February 16, 1888

No trespassing.

It is a simple statement and one which generally should be followed.

Duncan Blood has been posting signs bearing those two words around his property for decades.

Yet so many people ignore them.

Or, worse still, they believe that they do not have to follow them. This is the case with the surveyors from the Boston and Maine Railroad, who – despite Duncan’s refusal to allow them access to his land – breached his border regardless of his warnings.

On February 16, 1888, ten men of various ages rode up to Duncan’s property where it abuts Gods’ Hollow. With them, they brought their dog, Rex, and they set about the business of planning a new line to pass through Duncan’s land.

Robert Bly, a photographer, accompanied them for a short distance, and when they reached a curious outcropping of rock, he took their picture. Feeling unwell, Robert returned to his horse and rode to his home in nearby Pepperell.

Several days later, members of the police department called upon Robert to ask him if he knew where the men had gone to following their examination of Duncan Blood’s land. He learned, much to his surprise, that none of the men had returned. The dog had shown up at the Cross police department, his paws soaked with blood. Yet the dog was uninjured.

While some witnesses stated they had seen a group of ten or so men riding away from Gods’ Hollow, none of them had returned to their homes in Boston and the surrounding towns. Nor had the horses been seen again.

Duncan, according to the police, hadn’t known the men were on his property.

Years later, Robert Bly bumped into Duncan in Cross. Robert brought up the subject of the still missing men and mentioned how it was curious that it was only the dog that had ever been found.

“Not really,” Duncan had answered. “I’ve never had the desire to kill a dog.”

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February 15, 1931

Imelda Mae was a brilliant artist.

She was one of the few female artists invited to teach at the Cross branch of Miskatonic University.

Her use of colors and space on her canvases was a wonder to behold. There were times when viewers felt as though they could reach out and touch her subjects, whether those subjects happened to be still-lifes or – her preferred – the portraits of children.

While Imelda was unmarried and childless, she was able to draw upon a deep, maternal vein within herself. From there she painted with a poignancy few could match.

Imelda’s private studio was in an old barn off Northwood Road, a road often traveled, but one that had only a few homes upon it.

At all hours of the day and night, she could be found working in her studio, one canvas or another in the process of being completed. Imelda never minded an interruption, nor did she ever turn away a hungry guest or inquisitive student. She always showed any who asked how she went about preparing her paints and cleaning her brushes, the best way to use light to draw out the subtle nuances of a piece of still life.

Imelda Mae was one of the university’s finest acquisitions in the art department, and she blended in seamlessly with the other staff members.

It was shocking to all, then, that Imelda vanished on February 15th, 1931.

Concerned that she might have injured herself, several of her students hurried over to her home and never recovered from what they witnessed there.

In a room over her studio, they found where Imelda mixed her paints, and what she mixed them with.

Ground bones were in a small mortar and pestle while blood was carefully gathered into sealed containers.

The half-finished portrait of a child stood by her work table. On the floor was a pile of bloody children’s clothes, which matched those upon her painted subject.

On the counter was a small index card which read, Nathan, age 5, taken in Boston.

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February 14, 1940

Love is a dangerous emotion.

Lincoln Verne could readily testify to that fact.

Born in 1919 on March 3rd, Lincoln was undeniably the most handsome man in Cross. In addition to his good looks, Lincoln was genuinely pleasant and mild-mannered. He had literally given the shirt off his back to a man in need, and he would cheerfully do so again.

It was with some disappointment, then, that the young ladies – and some of the older ones – received the news that Lincoln had found himself a beau. Who the mysterious woman was no one knew, all they did know was that he was completely and utterly enamored with her.

At the end of January 1940, Lincoln began preparations. He intended to propose to his beloved on her birthday, February 14th. He purchased a ring and a gold necklace to celebrate her birthday.

On February 14th, he greeted the early morning train from Boston, where a young woman, clad all in white, walked arm and arm with him to his small apartment above Von Epp’s Books.

Shortly after lunch, the young woman was seen leaving the building and returning to the train station.

Once the train had departed, several customers and one of the clerks in Von Epp’s heard a moaning sound from Lincoln’s rooms. Concerned, they went up the back stairs and found the doorway open.

Lincoln was at his table, the gifts spread out before him, and a look of horror on his face.

Not only had she refused his proposal, but she had stolen his youth.

According to Lincoln, she had said no, and then gave him a conciliatory kiss. When their lips met, he felt his energy drain from him, and within minutes he was left exhausted and defeated.

When Lincoln was later examined by the doctor, that esteemed physician stated that Lincoln was no longer a youth of 20, but an old man of at least 92.

Lincoln lived long enough to see his 22nd birthday, and a beautiful young woman in white attended the burial.

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February 13, 1913

The fog hides many sins.

What particular sin emerged from the depths of Cross on February 13, 1913, is still unknown. The damage it caused is a matter of history.

At 1:13 PM, the Boston & Maine southbound train came in for its final turn towards Cross station. It did so through a long, deep fog that enveloped the entire town. Residents and survivors recalled hearing the train’s whistle as it alerted Cross of its imminent arrival. Several seconds later, an answering whistle pierced the fog, and then the earth shook.

A hideous explosion filled the air, and sudden silence that followed was shattered by the screams and shrieks of the injured.

Three of the train’s cars were knocked off the track, scattering both the living and dead. The train’s engine was stopped on the track, the front of its tank smashed in as if a giant fist had been driven through the iron.

Neither the engineer nor the fireman could be questioned; they were both dead, necks broken by the impact. The brakeman was found a day later, his body shattered and hanging in the topmost branches of a pine tree.

Several children were never found, and while it is the belief of most that their bodies were pulverized in the wreck, there are others who would argue the point.

Around the train were deep impressions, as if some tremendous bull had stalked around it in the fog. Even some of the trees bore gouges, far higher than any bull could reach.

One or two have whispered that it was a minotaur that derailed the train and thus stole away some of the children.

Few people doubt the veracity of the latter statement, but in June of 2018, the bones of three children were discovered in a cave on the edge of Gods’ Hollow. Above the remains, a single word was carved in ancient Greek: Minos.

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