Blog

November 26, 1920

No satisfactory answer was ever given for the madness which struck Norwich Street on the night of November 25, 1920.

Norwich Street, which was home to nine families in small, well-built houses, was one of the newer neighborhoods of Cross. The homes were less than 30 years old, and the residents there were mild and peaceable. Between the nine families, there were 47 men, women, and children of varying ages.

On the night of November 25, a young man walking home to his room on Main Street overheard raucous laughter from each house that he passed.

By 4 AM, on the 26th, when the milk was to be delivered to the De Groots, the first house on Norwich, the bodies were discovered.

All 47 people were hung by the neck in the graceful elm trees that lined the street. Each person was dressed in their Sunday best, and later it was discovered that the length of every rope was cut exactly to 72 inches.

Fearing some sort of contagion, members of the local chapter of the Red Cross were called out with protective gear to help with the removal and disposal of the bodies.

As the police went through the homes, searching for any sort of clue that would explain what had occurred, they found a single letter at the home of Jeremy and Helen Whiting.

The note was written on the couple’s stationery, but those who knew the Whitings did not recognize the penmanship. Each letter and word was beautifully formed, and the contents were brief and to the point.

“I’ve taken them in their Sunday finest, for there is nothing quite so funny as death.”

Help Support Cross, Massachusetts!

Hello! I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please consider putting a dollar in the pot. 🙂 Every little bit helps, and each dollar allows me to spend more time creating posts and stories for you to read. Thank you for your support!

$1.00

Experiences and Characters

I am an angry man.

Please don’t read that as boastful, or prideful. It’s merely a statement of fact. It is, in fact, something I am not particularly proud of. I have let my past experiences interfere with my own personal growth, and that has, more than once, negatively affected my relationship with my wife and children.

I struggle on a regular basis to keep my anger under control and to examine what about a situation makes me angry. My wife’s support, the various therapists I’ve had over the years, and my writing all contribute to the small steps forward I make.

I have read that the first thousand or so pages of writing tends to be autobiographical whether you mean it to be or not. In my case, I think it was a lot more than the first thousand.

That being said, I see my anger and my past when I create my characters. Some of the men reflect the man I want to be: kind and caring, considerate and emotional.

Others reflect the man who I was for so long: furious and full of hate.

Being able to see my own faults, to understand them and to acknowledge the role they’ve played in my life, helps me as a writer. I reveal traits and memories of a character that helps the reader understand why the protagonist – or antagonist – commits a certain act.

I believe that the writing of my own experiences, albeit through a fictional character, lends a degree of believability to the characters. And, more importantly (as my wife has helped me to understand) that by broaching important issues for the character, I can give both readers and characters something substantive to consider.

My characters are not moralistic, dashing heroes.

And that’s because I am not a moralistic dashing hero.

I don’t know many of them out there, and I don’t think I would want to know them if I found them.

Would you?

Keep writing!

Nicholas

Help Support Cross, Massachusetts!

Hello! I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please consider putting a dollar in the pot. 🙂 Every little bit helps, and each dollar allows me to spend more time creating posts and stories for you to read. Thank you for your support!

$1.00

 

 

November 25, 1939

     Ms. Delilah Buckshaw was born in Cross in 1909, and she spent her first 10 years in town. Her family moved in 1919, and Delilah did not return to Cross until 1937. She was a stunningly beautiful woman, regardless of the fact that at first, she never smiled.

     There was anger in her, and some said it was because her husband died in Alabama in 1935.

     Whether there was any truth to the reason behind her bitter mien no one knew. Delilah did not speak of it. She did wear black, and she refused to accept the calling cards of any suitors. The only man she spoke with on a regular basis was Duncan Blood, but all could see there was no romantic interest.

     In 1938, Duncan Blood accepted delivery of a large piece of furniture on behalf of Delilah and helped to have it installed properly in her home. After that, Delilah was rarely seen. When she was, people noticed how she smiled. It was not an expression of joy, but one of satisfaction.

     On November 25, 1939, members of the FBI arrived in Cross and raided Delilah’s home in an effort to arrest her on suspicion of multiple acts of murder.

     She eluded them, people learned, by stepping into her hall mirror and vanishing.

     According to rumor, the FBI had become aware that someone matching Delilah’s description was seen strangling men to death in Decatur, Alabama. These men had been accused of lynching Delilah’s husband, although none were prosecuted for the crime.

     While the FBI agents did not leave with Delilah, they did exit Cross with her mirror.

Help Support Cross, Massachusetts!

Hello! I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please consider putting a dollar in the pot. 🙂 Every little bit helps, and each dollar allows me to spend more time creating posts and stories for you to read. Thank you for your support!

$1.00

The Revival, 1932

     The canvas tent looked large enough to swallow half of Cross, and part of Christopher Ryan wished it would. Thursday had been his fourteenth birthday, and there were far better places for him to be than a revival on a bright and beautiful Sunday.

     “Christopher,” his mother said, taking him by the arm and turning him to face her. “Today will bring us closer to God. It will serve as a reminder of His love for us. You need to lose your sour attitude and remember that, young man.”

     “Yes, Ma’am,” Christopher replied, keeping his voice neutral. His mother’s tongue could be harsh as the back of her hand, and he had no interest in receiving the brunt of either one.

     “I shouldn’t have to remind you,” his mother continued, straightening his tie, “how hard your father worked to bring this revival to Cross. Nor how great our struggle has been here. The town has never shown any affection for our ministry, or your father’s efforts to create a Christian community.”

     “I know, Ma’am,” he said.

     “Excellent,” his mother said, smiling at him. “Now, let us go be an example to others and help lead them to the light of the Lord.”

     “Yes, Ma’am,” Christopher said, forcing a smile.

     “That’s my good son,” his mother said, and she smiled and gave his cheek an affectionate pat.

     Together, they left their small home and followed the street up to the farm road that led to the grounds of the revival. They passed parked cars and joined a thin, but steady stream of people. Christopher recognized several from Sunday service, and he offered them his false smile.

     His mother wore a long, dark gray and modest dress, and she moved easily amongst the people. She greeted them and fawned over children as she played the role of the pastor’s wife to perfection. Her small form was in constant motion, her slight build filled with boundless energy. Christopher had never seen her slow down, or even rest.

     His mother, as far as Christopher Ryan knew, never slept.

     When they entered the massive tent, Christopher was reminded of the time his parents had taken him to a circus outside of Boston. It hadn’t been to attend the performance, but to witness for their community. Between handing out pamphlets, Christopher had snuck glances at the various acts.

     Until his father had seen him.

     Christopher shoved the unpleasant memory aside and followed his mother to the first row of fold-out wooden chairs. The passage from entrance to seat took longer than the walk from their home to the tent as his mother saw and greeted more people she knew.

     Finally, they arrived at their seats, and once his mother was situated, Christopher joined her. He managed to suppress a groan at the sight of the empty seat beside him.

     His father would join them later, it seemed.

     Christopher’s attention was drawn to the front of the tent where large, wide steps led up to a long, low stage that had been constructed. Three chairs were arranged behind a podium, and he knew that his father would soon be on the stage.

     Christopher had attended revivals before, both as a participant with his parents and as an assistant for small events his father had organized in the western portion of Massachusetts. The memories of which reminded Christopher of how little enthusiasm there was in Cross for his family’s faith.

     They had overcome such difficulties before, but those had been encountered in towns where Catholicism dominated the spiritual landscape.

     Cross was different.

     Few people attended the Catholic Church, and there was only slightly more attendance at the First Congregationalist Church. There were other churches, but there were even fewer members of the town who patronized them.

     It was as though Cross didn’t care for God.

     Christopher had never experienced a lack of faith in a community, and in his heart, he knew his father’s efforts in Cross would fail.

     His mother leaned closer and said in a soft voice, “It’s nice to see you smiling.”

     “I am excited, Ma’am,” Christopher said. But not for the reason you think.

     “Good,” his mother said, “your father will be pleased.”

     Movement distracted Christopher, and he looked at the raised platform. His father and a trio of men climbed the few steps, each man dressed in a black suit, the creases as severe and stark as the features of the men. While his father approached the podium, the other men sat down. Yet before his father could speak, someone else stepped close to the stage.

     A girl, perhaps the same age as Christopher, came in from the rear of the tent. On her head she wore a black hat, the brim curled up around its entire length. Her light brown hair had been put into a braid that hung down to rest against the white sweater she wore. An equally white border collie stood at her side, the dog’s intelligent eyes peering out at the gathered crowd. The girl’s black skirt ended below the knees, and her white socks had fallen down around her ankles. And while all of her clothes looked fairly new, her shoes, by contrast, did not.

     Christopher had the unsettling image of the girl and the dog walking thousands of miles together, her feet always clad in the worn leather of the shoes, and he tried to shake that idea away. When he was able to focus his thoughts again, he saw his father motion to one of the ushers.

     The man, one of the newer members of the church, walked toward the girl and reached out for her arm. As his hand touched her, the usher screamed. Flames burst into life, raced up his arm and enveloped him. After a moment of stunned hesitation, people leaped from their seats and attempted to put out the flames.

     The girl, in turn, reached out and touched the platform. Like the usher, it too exploded into flames.

     Christopher’s father and the other men tried to flee, but the fire followed them, and the flames overwhelmed each of the men as they tried to leap to safety. Within moments their dying shrieks filled the air.

     His mother rose up and hurried towards the girl, and later in life, Christopher often wondered what she had been thinking. For like the usher, when Christopher’s mother grabbed the girl, fire consumed the woman.

     Sitting numbly in the wooden folding chair, Christopher watched the flames spread. They swept over people and raced up the sides of the tent. The ground burned, and the girl and her dog watched it all.

     Finally, her attention fell on Christopher, who had been unable to force himself out of the seat.

     She smiled at him, her eyes reflecting the bright flames, and she uttered a single word he heard clearly above the chaos around him.

     “Run.”

     And he did, the screams of the dying following him for the rest of his life.

Help Support Cross, Massachusetts!

Hello! I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please consider putting a dollar in the pot. 🙂 Every little bit helps, and each dollar allows me to spend more time creating posts and stories for you to read. Thank you for your support!

$1.00

November 24, 1946

     Captain Henry Abbott, his wife Mirabelle, and their four-year-old son, Thomas, moved to Cross in 1854. Captain Abbott was semi-retired from the military and worked for a local granary, so when war broke out with the secessionist states, he was recalled to the Federal Army. He left his wife and son in 1861 and was reported missing at the first battle of Bull Run.

     Mirabelle held out hope that Henry would return, but her hope was for naught. She passed away at the age of 72 in 1901, a widow in all but name.

     Thomas remained in Cross. He married, sired children, and saw them grow and leave to carry on lives of their own. His own wife, Anne, died in 1915, three years before their oldest son would die in France during the First World War. Thomas buried them both beside his mother in Cross Cemetery.

     On November 24, 1946, witnesses observed Thomas walk into the cemetery, still a strong and virile man at the age of 96. As he drew closer to the graves of his family, he saw a young man standing before his mother’s headstone.

     Duncan Blood, attending a funeral at the cemetery, stated that he saw Thomas draw a folding knife from his back pocket. With surprising stealth, Thomas stepped up behind the stranger and slammed the blade deep into the man’s back repeatedly.

     When Thomas was pulled away, he was screaming that the man was his father.

     The stranger collapsed to the ground, and as Duncan bent over him to see what could be done, the stranger smiled and whispered, “I am always amazed at what a child can remember.”

#CrossMassachusetts #fear #horror #instahorror #horrorfan #longevity #life #murder #death #newengland #writersofinstagram

Help Support Cross, Massachusetts!

Hello! I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please consider putting a dollar in the pot. 🙂 Every little bit helps, and each dollar allows me to spend more time creating posts and stories for you to read. Thank you for your support!

$1.00

The Old Elm

     Henry Platt walked his dog Sharon down Edgewood Avenue, following the curve of the road around Edgewood Cemetery. Street lights tried to burn through the thick fog and Henry was pleased he’d worn his knit cap for the walk. The chill in the air was harsher than usual.

     Sharon pulled on the leash, nose to the pavement, head swinging back and forth. When she reached the granite curbing of the sidewalk she paused, then continued on. Henry glanced through the wrought iron fence and saw eternal flames, the memorials disturbing in their red containers and reflecting in the fog dampened headstones and markers. He couldn’t understand his wife’s fascination with cemeteries, in general, but Ellen seemed particularly obsessed with Edgewood. Lately, she’d even begun making a photo book about the cemetery on the computer.

     Henry shook his head and let Sharon lead him along the sidewalk’s edge. The dog walked on towards her favorite spot, a giant elm which had grown over and around the iron fencing, pushing some of the iron tops down and out towards the road.

     The tree, twisted by years of harsh New England weather, had thick roots which spread out and split the concrete sidewalk before it burrowed under the street. Henry hated the tree.  Ellen loved it.

     Sharon climbed the granite curbing onto the cracked concrete, nosing about the roots. She never ‘went’ on the tree, she just sniffed the hell out of it for some reason. Henry usually had to drag the dog away. Otherwise, she’d stay there all day. Henry stood on the broken sidewalk, his breath curling around him in the cold air. Henry looked at the tree, trying to figure out why Ellen liked it so much.

     The damned thing looks like it came out of a ‘B’ horror movie, he thought.

     The October wind had stripped the elm of its bright leaves and left the bare branches smothered by the fog. He looked at the gnarled stubs of severed limbs, amputations sealed with tar. The fog clung to the tree’s bark and twisted around the outstretched branches.

     Ellen had a picture of the cemetery when it was first set aside as a public burial ground in 1876. The tree could be seen in it. It was a hundred years younger, yet still ugly. The elm had grown for decades, its roots spreading out and feeding upon generations of New Englanders buried within the iron boundaries of the cemetery.

     He wondered how old the tree really was.

     Henry stepped closer to it. He looked at the old headstones nearby, that portion of Edgewood having had no new occupants for decades.

     “Bet it’s been a long time since you’ve had anything fresh, huh?” he asked.

     Sharon whined, brushing against his legs.

     “Ready?” Henry asked, surprised. In the dark, predawn of the morning he turned away from the tree, stumbling over Sharon’s leash and letting go of it.

     “God damn it!” he swore. He landed hard, cracking his knees and slapping his palms on the concrete. “Sharon!”

     Henry looked up and saw the dog. She stared at him, her leash trailing behind her.

     “What’ve I said before?” he asked her. “Don’t wrap that God damned leash around me.”

     Standing up painfully, Henry brushed his hands off on his khakis.  Droplets of blood smeared the fabric and had splashed against the ridged bark of the ancient tree. He shook his head at Sharon.

     “Christ, dog,” he muttered. He picked up the leash and turned to leave, tripping again.

     His head bounced off of an exposed root and Henry let out a groan. He tried to roll and get his feet under him but found he couldn’t. Bright white stars exploded in his vision as he sat up, head throbbing, spinning in the early fog. The pain in his head caused his stomach to churn, and he hunched over, vomiting his morning toast and coffee between his legs and onto the concrete. Henry closed his eyes as he retched again.

     He to spit the foul taste of bile out of his mouth as opened his eyes. Henry blinked away tears as he focused on what had tripped him the second time.

     A pair of thick roots constricted around each ankle. The bark pressed against his athletic socks and slowly cut off the circulation to his feet. Another root snaked out, wrapping around his left wrist. As the bark touched the exposed flesh images slammed into Henry’s mind.

     He was the tree as a sapling while Indians butchered one another by it, giving the elm its first taste of blood.

     Other scenes flashed by, each one agonized as it arrived, searing his thoughts before vanishing. Henry saw Puritans butchering Indians. Puritans murdering Puritans. Colonists killing redcoats. Redcoats slaying colonists.  Murder after murder, the tree calling the killers near, feeding upon the spilt blood.

     A son stabbed his father to death, burying the man near the tree, and laying the first marker in what would become Edgewood’s forest of headstones.

     All the while the tree grew, aged, and slept longer after each feeding.

     Yet Henry’s blood had awakened the tree.

     And the dark fluid had reminded the tree what it was to be hungry.

     A scream ripped out of Henry’s mouth as the tree dragged his right foot into a thin crack in the sidewalk. The leather and fabric of his sneaker ripped and Henry felt his flesh tear as well, bones crunching. He threw up again, the vomit drowning another scream. Sharon snapped and growled at the tree, scratching at the roots.  The tree ignored her as it pulled Henry’s hand in after his foot.

     Henry, his mind burning and shattering with the pain, struggled against the tree. He flailed with his right hand at the roots, the sidewalk. His thoughts became frenzied, the bones in his hand breaking with each powerful, yet futile blow. As his blood flowed into the earth and spilled onto the thirsty roots, Henry could sense the tree’s deep satisfaction.

     Blackness swarmed across Henry’s vision, and he collapsed against the sidewalk.

     Sharon watched for a moment as more and more of her master disappeared into the earth. With a last whine she fled for home, tail tucked, the purple leash is dragging through blood.

     The tree continued to feed, the fog still heavy as the last of its meal was pulled down. A few feet further down the sidewalk, beneath the concrete and a yellow fire hydrant, the tree wrapped a strong root around the hydrant’s automatic shut off valve and crushed it.

     Water exploded out of the ground, roaring across the asphalt of the road and the concrete of the sidewalk.  The headstones of the cemetery were sprayed, and the last remnants of Henry Platt were washed away.

     In the distance, police cruisers wailed in response to Ellen Platt’s frantic 911 call after the return of her blood splattered dog and the absence of her husband.

     The tree ate greedily, the old hunger awakened.

Help Support Cross, Massachusetts!

Hello! I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please consider putting a dollar in the pot. 🙂 Every little bit helps, and each dollar allows me to spend more time creating posts and stories for you to read. Thank you for your support!

$1.00

November 23, 1891

     Li Mao worked as a waiter for the Boston & Maine Railroad, serving at the company’s leisure from his arrival in Cross, in 1857, until his death in 1891. Little was known about the man, other than that he was from China. He spoke enough English to work his job, and enough to collect his pay and to make regular trips into Boston and down to New York City, courtesy of his employer.

     Li Mao lived in a low basement beneath what would one day be Van Epp’s Bookstore in Cross, and he kept his own company. The only person he was known to speak with on a regular basis was Duncan Blood, and that was because Duncan – somehow – could converse in Cantonese.

     When Li Mao died in 1891, ostensibly while during a stop in Worcester, his landlord was informed via telegraph. The landlord reached out to Duncan in the hope that there might be something within the dead man’s belongings that might identify a relative in China, one to whom they could mail Li Mao’s effects.

     Duncan agreed, and when they entered the dead man’s room, they were surprised to discover a ready-made family – five skeletons seated around a table. Four children and one adult female were dressed in traditional Chinese clothing, but they were not Chinese. Nor were they even from the same bodies. According to the journal discovered by Duncan, Li Mao had spent nearly 25 years harvesting the bones he needed to create the family he had lost in China. Who the hundreds of bones came from, no one knew.

     Li Mao hadn’t been concerned with those he slew, only that the bones would fit into the family he was building.

#CrossMassachusetts #fear #horror #instahorror #horrorfan #China #Chinese #Boston #railroad #newengland #writersofinstagram

Help Support Cross, Massachusetts!

Hello! I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please consider putting a dollar in the pot. 🙂 Every little bit helps, and each dollar allows me to spend more time creating posts and stories for you to read. Thank you for your support!

$1.00