Gods’ Hollow Journal, January 20, 1890: Loss

When we passed through the storm, the world was different. Strange. There was a smell to it that reminded me of Boston and New York City, London and Berlin. Odors reminiscent of industrialization and power, neither of which were comforting to me.

There were fences of a sort I had never seen before, boot tracks in the snow that caused the hackles on my neck to stand tall. We spread out, alert, and searching for an enemy we could not see but felt certain was near.

My son found them.

Rather, my son found what was left by them.

He was with several others, moving forward, fearless. In the stillness of the Hollow, I heard it. A soft, delicate click when Marcus stepped down. He raised his foot to see what it was, and the earth beneath his feet exploded with a hidden charge.

My son’s torso landed close to me, half his face missing, brain exposed, and his jaw trying to produce words for which there was no air. His remaining eye fixed on me and then the light of life left it.

I knelt beside the remains of my son, remembering what the reaper had told me.

How could I make peace with my son’s death?

How could any parent?

A fresh storm descended upon us, separating the living from the dead and denying me even the rough salve of burying my child.

#horror #CrossMassachusetts #monsters #supernatural #skulls #death #fear #evil #horrorobsessed #scary #ghosts #DuncanBlood #ghoststories #paranormal

Gods’ Hollow Journal, January 19, 1890: Explanations?

The Hollow offers far more questions than it does answers.

We discovered the ditch shortly after we began our travels for the day.

Steam still rose from the bodies as we drew up on either side of them, and in a vain effort to see if any were still alive, several of us descended into the ditch. We searched for signs of life, but there were none. The steam was produced by the rapid cooling of their flesh.

Whatever had killed them had occurred within moments of our arrival, and we could not fathom what had done the deed. There were no marks on the dead. Not a single one. They were armed and well-equipped, a military unit similar to those put forth by both sides during the war between the states.

Yet there were no gunshot wounds, no bayonet marks. Nothing except limp bodies and faces frozen in terror.

Had they died of fright? I knew it was possible. Anything is possible, as the Hollow so easily proved, but what could have done it?

I was the last to climb out of the ditch, pausing to examine one last corpse. It was a young man, perhaps no older than twenty, and as I leaned close, I saw an image burned into his eyes.

It was of a great beast, its skin a deep red, and its seven eyes a curious silver. From its mouth extended a trio of long appendages, similar in shape and design as an octopus’. As I stared at the image, I felt a rumbling beneath my feet and the bodies writhed around me, as though preparing to rise up and whisper their deaths to me.

I hastened out of the ditch, and all of us scrambled away to a nearby hillock, where we could look down at what was occurring.

The bottom of the ditch deepened, the dirt of its walls first trickled, then cascaded down upon the bodies. Within moments, the corpses vanished as did the ditch. Nothing was left except freshly turned earth.

I don’t know which concerns me more: the fact that some beast slew the men, or that the Hollow decided to swallow the corpses whole.

#horror #CrossMassachusetts #monsters #supernatural #skulls #death #fear #evil #horrorobsessed #scary #ghosts #DuncanBlood #ghoststories #paranormal

Gods’ Hollow Journal, January 18, 1890: Surprise

The attack came without warning, and from a place I had inspected myself only a few minutes prior.

From behind me, I heard the cry of some of my comrades and the firing of rifles. There was no screaming. Nothing more than the rattle of gunfire.

Marcus and I raced back to find a man seated on the ground, the bodies of six men and two women in front of him. As the wind blew his scent toward us, several around us vomited and fell back, unable to stand the stench. Even I, who had lived through the charnel houses of the war of secession, balked at that odor.

It was death at its worst. Death when a thousand bodies swelled and rotted in the evening twilight of a summer’s day.

And this stranger stank of it.

From his belt hung skulls and desiccated body parts. He paid us no mind as he looked upon the dead gathered around him.

As I drew my pistols, he raised his head, and I stiffened for a moment, then slid my Colts back into their holsters. He nodded and got to his feet.

“It was their time,” he said, his voice rolling out over us and pressing home the stench. “None can argue with that.”

Marcus started to raise his rifle, and I shook my head.

The man smiled at us. “Listen to your father, Marcus Blood, he has met my siblings before. He shall meet them again.”

The man’s smile faded as he looked upon my son. “Duncan, I would speak with you.”

Fear grew in my belly as I walked the short distance to the man.

“I have seen him in the Hollow for many years.” The man said gently. “His time has almost come. This is a warning I do not give to many. Make your peace.”

The man turned and left me, the bones rattling against him, and as I turned to face them, I found all their eyes on me, the same unspoken question in their minds.

“He is the reaper of the Hollow,” I told them. “All we can do is bury our dead.”

And so, with the terrible knowledge in my heart, we dug the graves and buried our dead.

#horror #CrossMassachusetts #monsters #supernatural #skulls #death #fear #evil #horrorobsessed #scary #ghosts #DuncanBlood #ghoststories #paranormal

Gods’ Hollow Journal, January 17, 1890: Memory

The day passed painfully for me.

While we did not encounter any storm, I did spend the time immersed in conversation with my son.

Marcus’ mother was Elizaveta Krova, a Russian who had been my intellectual superior in every way. She was as long-lived as me and our meeting had been by chance in early of 1852 when she was visiting relatives in Boston.

Our time was unfortunately brief and, it seemed, productive.

Marcus had been born in Siberia on November 19, 1852, and his aging reflected his parentage. He showed me a photograph he had of her, one taken in 1901.

When I looked at him, the surprise must have been evident upon my face because he nodded and offered up a stark and bitter explanation to me.

In 1917, in the midst of a horrific war that swept over the world, there had been a revolution in Russia. Groups of soldiers and citizens had risen up against the monarchy and waged a civil war that slaughtered thousands. He and his mother had managed to escape via the port of Archangel, and they had made their way to Cross.

When they arrived in town, they traveled by way of the North Road, heading towards my farm. She knew they would be safe there despite the fact that I was not in Cross at the time.

The North Road took them by Gods’ Hollow, and a storm drove them to take refuge within it. They had no sooner done so than they were attacked by a creature with the body of a man and the head of a wolf. While they managed to fend him off, Elizaveta’s throat was torn out at the end, far more than she could heal from. His mother had died in his arms.

He had been searching for a way out of the Hollow for 37 years.

We walked in silence for a short time, and finally, I asked the question which gnawed at my heart.

“Why didn’t she tell me?”

“She didn’t want you to think I was a burden,” my son replied.

“Family is never a burden.” I handed the photograph of his mother back to him. I did not wish to stain it with my tears.

#horror #CrossMassachusetts #monsters #supernatural #skulls #death #fear #evil #horrorobsessed #scary #ghosts #DuncanBlood #ghoststories #paranormal

Gods’ Hollow Journal, January 16, 1890: Gifts

The Hollow gives as much as it takes away, for such is the nature of the place. There is neither rhyme nor reason. It is chaos personified, deified, and – in the end – it is a duality that is too terrifying to ponder for long.

This afternoon is a perfect example of the strangeness of the Hollow.

We were moving slowly through a wooded area, the scent of the ocean unmistakable on the breeze now. Isaiah and I were discussing where we should make camp when one of our scouts cried out in surprise, never a pleasant sound in Gods’ Hollow.

Today it was.

Three men approached us, one who was young, the others were older and heavily bearded. When the two older men saw us, they stopped and let out cries of surprise. In a moment, those around me did the same.

The Akatuyians rushed past me en masse and embraced the two older men, and in a heartbeat, I knew why.

I was looking upon Bram and Aron, the two men who had been slain, buried, and devoured before our eyes.

Yet they were not the same. These men were obviously older, and we had witnessed their deaths only a few days before. When we sat down to break our fast and enjoy our meager meal, they told us their tale after we told them of how recently they had died.

They shook their heads and marveled at the difference between worlds.

For them, it had been nine years since the day of the women in white. And it had been the rest of us, myself included, who had been captured and slain by the women. They had tried to save us, Bram going so far as to strip my Colts from my corpse and firing them – a truth he confirmed when he unwrapped them from his bedroll – and when that did not work, they had fled.

During all this time, the young man remained silent. I had watched him and saw there was a strange familiarity about him.

Bram nodded, and the young man straightened up, offering me his hand.

“I am Marcus Blood,” he informed me as we shook hands, “and I am your son.”

#horror #CrossMassachusetts #monsters #supernatural #skulls #death #fear #evil #horrorobsessed #scary #ghosts #DuncanBlood #ghoststories #paranormal

Gods’ Hollow Journal, January 15, 1890: The Family

This morning I could smell the ocean on the breeze, and it sent a thrill through me. A man named Alexi caught the scent as well, and before any of us could stop him, he took off at a run from our camp.

Several of the others laughed and called for us to leave him be, that he would return soon enough, and, like any of us, he would not wander far.

I was surprised. Had we not already learned that we didn’t have to wander far to find death in the Hollow?

I got to my feet, and as I strapped on my guns, the crack of a rifle rang out through the air, shattering the peace of the morning.

Before any of the others reacted, I raced towards the sound. Unlike my comrades, I was able to heal quickly from injuries, and so I took it upon myself to find Alexi.

It took far longer than it should have to find the source of the rifle shot, but find it I did.

A small home with a thatched roof stood off to one side of a narrow road while fields divided by split-rail fences stretched out around it. I saw a family seated at a table, one man playing a small balalaika while another served tea from a samovar.

The wind shifted, and I smell strong tea and cooking meat, and I knew what had happened to Alexi.

The barrel of a rifle appeared from the window, and I drew my Colts and the fight that followed was short and brutal, and I gut shot the survivors as I passed them by.

I entered the house and found Alexi on his back. He had been gutted, and a section of his haunches was missing while a pot boiled over a fire. I gathered what material I deemed salvageable and then set fire to the home.

As I walked away from the burning building, I realized I would need to reload the brass shells for my Colts.

I paused a short distance away as the wind shifted, bringing me the scent of the ocean once again. Behind me, the house burned, and the wounded screamed.

#horror #CrossMassachusetts #monsters #supernatural #skulls #death #fear #evil #horrorobsessed #scary #ghosts #DuncanBlood #ghoststories #paranormal

Gods’ Hollow Journal, January 14, 1890: Music-Man

When the snow settled, we found ourselves in the midst of an abandoned town. Rocky hills surrounded the buildings and scrub trees grew between them. There was pure silence around us. A silence undisturbed by neither insects nor animals.

Some of my new friends were still shaken by what we had witnessed the day prior when Bram and Aron suffered their obscene fates.

We were not a curious group, not after what we had survived in the Hollow thus far, and so we set up a small camp in the center of the dirt and dust road. Our meager lunch was eaten in the oppressive silence, and we sat in what little shade we could find.

After a short time, I stood up and walked among the Akatuyians, seeing how they fared with the long traveling. I could feel the tug of home deep in my gut, yet I suspected we were some distance away.

It was as I thought of this that the first strains of music reached our ears.

The sound was high pitched, as though it came from some sort of flute, and a moment later, we saw that it was.

A musician walked out a slim alley up and to our left, a flute to what had once been his face. As he strolled towards us, he played a lilting tune, one which belied his ravaged flesh. When he was a short distance away, I drew my Colts and waited to see what horror he would attempt to visit upon us.

He came to a stop and lowered his flute.

“You’re a Duncan.” The man’s voice was as pleasant as the tune he had been playing.

“I am,” I replied. “Have you a message?”

The musician shook his head and laughed. “No. I am music, though your mother would have had it otherwise. She disagreed with my playing and sought to teach me a lesson.”

He gestured to his face.

“Did she?” I asked.

“No.” He raised the flute to his ruined mouth, turned, and left the way he had come, the music filling the air.

The Hollow is a hell of a place and the wreckage left by my mother is the saddest I have seen.

#horror #CrossMassachusetts #monsters #supernatural #skulls #death #fear #evil #horrorobsessed #scary #ghosts #DuncanBlood #ghoststories #paranormal