December 12, 1870

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The horse stood alone.

I came upon the barn close to midday and found a horse standing alone. As I approached it, dragging my sleigh behind me, the horse looked from me to the barn and then back again. It shook its head and freed itself of the snow slowly building upon its brow, though a few clumps clung to its mane.

I tethered the sled to one of the posts, and the horse came to me. It was a mare, and she pushed her nose against my hand.

“Hey, girl,” I murmured. “You need to eat.”

I glanced over to the barn and saw a slim door was open. “If there’s no food in there for you, I’ll set you loose and let you forage a bit before I put you to bed for the night. Weather’s looking like it’ll turn for the worse.”

The horse snorted, and I walked to the barn. I climbed over the fence and pushed the door open the rest of the way. In the dim light of the interior, I saw saddle brass and tackle, hay and oats, and something suspended from the middle of the ceiling.

A man hung from the rafters, neck broken and hands dangling at his sides. It seemed as though he’d jumped from the loft and killed himself.

The sight of it saddened me.

I had no idea who the man was or if he was deserving of my pity, but it didn’t matter. He couldn’t hang there.

I found where he’d tied the rope off and cut him down. In a few minutes, I had him outside on the other side of the barn and did my best to cover him. The scavengers would find his body soon enough, but at least they’d have to work for it.

When I returned to the barn, I found the horse inside, eating some hay.

“You’re welcome to stay the night,” the horse said, and her voice took me aback for a moment. It wasn’t often I conversed with animals who could speak.

I cleared my throat and nodded my thanks. “I appreciate that.”

“Thank you for cutting him down,” she responded. “He was a good man, though terribly sad. I couldn’t bring myself to come in. Not with him there.”

“No,” I said. “I don’t suppose you could.”

Sitting down across from her, I took out my pipe, filled it and asked, “Will you tell me about him?”

She began to speak, and I listened.

It was all I could do.

#paranormal #christmas

October 17, 1976

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I caught them in the open.

I’d heard a bit of a ruckus while working in the western orchard, and word of intruders soon came to me through the trees.

After a short conversation with one of the elder apple trees, they agreed to help me funnel the intruders into a kill box. The dryads, who weren’t feeling especially helpful, finally decided to assist me as well, and they were able to coax saplings and brush to line the edges of the kill box.

As the trees and the dryads worked together, I scouted out the source of the sound to see how many Killed Soldiers – if any – had come up out of the lake.

Half a dozen of them had.

I recognized the uniforms.

Hell. I recognized the men.

In the War of the Rebellion, I’d fought alongside all six of them and buried them all too.

It was bad enough that my mother was raising the dead and sending them back. It was worse that she was choosing those I’d bled for.

“John William!” I called out.

The men stopped and dropped down, Spencers up and ready.

“What say you, Duncan?” John William asked from the center of the small column.

“That you’d best find another way to get at me,” I warned. “I’m set to kill all six of you. I doubt dying a second time is going to be any better than the first.”

I worked my way back a bit, making sure they could hear me and follow easily if they chose to.

They did.

“We’ve our orders, Duncan,” John William replied. “Your mother wants to put an end to your bad behavior. We were going to set fire to the Coffins’ house, but your refusal to obey your mother has caused her to change her mind.”

“I’d be surprised if it didn’t.”

John William and the troops followed me at a steady pace, weapons always ready. I’d eased the Colts out of their holsters and thumbed the hammers back.

When we reached the kill box, I called out again.

“As a friend, John William, I’m telling you to leave.”

John merely cocked his rifle and waited.

With a sigh, I nodded to the trees.

In moments, the men were trapped, their rifles wrenched from their hands by the living trees.

I stepped out into the kill box, brought out the Colts, and butchered the men.

#paranormal #Halloween

An Accord

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The speaking dog is a rarity now.

I’ve brought a few out of the Hollow over the decades, but the ability to speak doesn’t last more than a generation or so. When I do meet them on my lands, they tend to be transplants, much like Octavius, or double-edged blessings like Edgar and some of his raven kin.

Octavius was sleeping in the front parlor, Jim Elroy was still abed in the study, and the raven dozed on the back of a chair when a soft barking caught my attention. When I followed the sound outside, I saw a small mixed-breed pup, no older than three or four months, dart away along the trail leading to Blood Lake.

With my Colts, I took off after the dog.

I made good time down the trail and soon caught sight of the dog as it was joined by a littermate. Within moments, they met with a third, and then a fourth and fifth. They trotted along the trail, tails wagging as they playfully nipped at one another. In a short time, we were at the shore, and the pups raced off into the brush on either side of the trail, leaving me with their mother, who was looking out over the lake.

She turned and glanced over her shoulder at me, nodded, and then stepped down from the stone she’d been on.

“Duncan Blood,” she said, sitting down.

“Aye. We’ve not met.”

“No. I’m Miriam.”

“A pleasure.”

She eyed me for a moment. “Something’s come to Cross.”

I nodded. “I was set to look for you today; see if you mightn’t help.”

“Do you know what these are?”

I shook my head.

“No, I suppose not. You are not from my when, nor are you even from my world. My Duncan Blood is well familiar with these creatures.” She paused, scratched an ear, and then resumed the conversation. “They are Kinderzähne, and they’ve eaten my mate and two of our pups. Will you help me kill them?”

“Aye.”

“May I keep my pups with you?”

“Aye,” I smiled. “I’ve a boy at the house who’s in need of good company, and I think your pups will be just that.”

“They need the same,” Miriam stated. “Once they’re safe, I’ll call the pack.”

“You’ve a pack?” I asked, surprised.

“If I could open the Hollow, Duncan Blood, I’d have an army.”

And that would be something to see.

#supernatural #paranormal

February 3

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She was dangerous and half-mad.

Her name was Patience Blood, and she was a woman I loved dearly.

Patience was the product of a father poisoned by lead and a mother to whom the fey spoke. 

She was my cousin, the elder by ten years, and the universe revolved around her as far as I was concerned. My Uncle Nathaniel would come and stay for months on an island, and he would bring both Patience and his wife with him. He would run ‘round the island, naked as the day is long, screaming at God to try and strike him down. My Aunt Elizabeth would sit at the water’s edge, lean close to it, and listen as the merfolk broke the surface and whispered secrets no human should ever hear.

Patience would run wild on our land. My father, when he was still in Cross, would shake his head at the madness of the family, but he let them each do as they would.

As for me, when my chores were finished, I followed Patience like a lovesick puppy. She taught me how to move through the woods, how to speak with the fey, and how to listen to the damned as they marched from one place in Hell to another. 

Her father vanished in 1901, and her mother slipped into the water and joined the merfolk a year after. Patience drifted from place to place, often journeying deep into Gods’ Hollow, the same place where my father vanished.

I last saw her in 1930, when she walked out of the Hollow. There was a strangeness to her then. The way she spoke was frightening, almost devoid of emotion as she related her tales. Her smile was true, though, and when she asked me to walk with her to the family burial ground, I felt an old and almost forgotten thrill. 

At the graves of our ancestors, I helped open a small crypt half-buried in a hill. Once there, she gave me a kiss goodbye and this photograph. Patience disappeared into the crypt’s darkness without a word. I sealed the door closed behind her the same way. 

Sitting here and holding her image, I can recall the hours I spent outside the crypt, hoping she would change her mind. Hoping she would come home to me.

She never did.

Sometimes, late at night, as I lay sleepless in my bed, I can hear her walking with the damned. 

#love #horrorstories

February 2

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She was hungry, mad, and beautiful.

Sitting in the Child’s house, with pipe lit and the smoke curling up around me, I look at the box upon the table in front of me. The wood is old, inlaid with silver, and no larger than my hand. My fingers tremble as I slip the locks up and take the long lock of deep black hair from it.

The hair is sleek, warm, and delicate upon my skin, and I think of her and the door.

The door I’ve not opened since 1784 when last I closed it.  

The door is in the oldest barn, a relic of centuries past. Rarely do I venture there, for the creature behind the door still lives. Still hungers. 

And I cannot bring myself to kill her. 

I found her when I was sixteen, long before the nation existed. She was on the edge of Gods’ Hollow, bathing in the waters of a small, vernal pool. Her skin glowed in the sunlight, shined upon her bright, sharp teeth, and drowned in her pure black eyes. 

I watched as she washed blood off her mouth and bare chest, her long black hair hanging in damp locks. She saw me, laughed, and licked her full lips with a forked tongue which would later speak the greatest of lies in the sweetest of whispers. 

I can remember her embrace, the graceful terror of her teeth upon my throat, and the way she shuddered within my arms. We spent long hours and nights that passed too quickly by that pool.

And then, one day, we left the pool together.

I brought her home with me, snuck her to my room and hardly slept for days. None knew she was there, not until she slew my uncle Obadiah and ate him.

My father was out, and I was alone with a half-eaten corpse.

Heartbroken, I bound her in iron and dragged her screaming to the barn. With my own knife, I carve the sigils into the wood, and with my own blood, I sealed them. 

I placed her in the unlit room and freed her of the chains. On my back, I bear the scars of her teeth and nails. My ears bled from the rage which spewed from her mouth. 

Occasionally, I return to the barn, and I listen and speak with her. Always she asks to be freed. Always I deny her. 

She tells me she loves me still, and I say the same. 

It is a painful truth we both speak in darkness.  

#love #horrorstories

Lost Loves

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I’ve lived with a broken heart.

Despite my age, or perhaps because of it, I’ve fallen in love more than once. Too many times, as far as I’m concerned.

Only once did I take a wife, though, and of all those I miss, it is my sweet Adelaide I miss the most.

By the mid-1600s, I’d reached the appearance of a young man of fifteen years. Not exactly appealing to a woman, though I turned the head of more than a few girls who appeared to be my own age. They never understood why I turned my attention and focus to work rather than more amorous activities.

How could I, when I was fifty years old and looked as though I’d yet to breach the walls of puberty?

By the mid-1700s, I’d aged physically enough to be noticed by young women, most of whom did not live in Cross. Those few young ladies in Cross knew to stay away from the Bloods and the Coffins, and with good reason. Wherever we were, trouble followed.

Over the decades and centuries, there would be the occasional woman from Cross who would look beyond this warning. More often than not, my partners came from other towns and countries. Occasionally, they came from Gods’ Hollow itself.

I have buried more than a few of my partners, been forced to imprison others, and several I’ve had to put down.

It gets harder each time, and I’ve no desire to let anyone into this world of mine.

Blood Farm is a place of horror, and I am in the company of monsters. I feed corpses to my trees, give sanctuary to giants and trolls, and fight with creatures that straddle the worlds.

I am old, and I am tired, and there’s a lifetime of killing left ahead of me.

What kind of world is that to bring someone into?

Besides, I’m set in my ways. Decades alone will do that, I suppose.

In the morning, I’ll travel out to the island where Child had kept his home. After he passed, I brought the mementos of my dead loves to the house, and I smoke the pipe Child carved for me all those years ago.

In the solitude of the island, I’ll think about my dead and perhaps find a measure of peace.

If peace is what I’m meant to have.

#love #horrorstories

6:30 AM January 1, 1931

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Mary Stewart vanished in 1862.

I’d been away, of course, fighting the secesh during the war of the rebellion. When I returned, I learned of her disappearance. Mary had always been a quiet and reserved woman. She’d been widowed when her husband, Anthony, had been killed in a bad fall from a horse. She had sought comfort in books, and most days, she could be found reading in her front parlor, the sun shining upon her. Most evenings, one could see her, lamp lit and still with book in hand.

She and I would speak of the merits of some books, and the poor qualities of others, on those rare occasions when she ventured out of her home.

I found it strange that she should have vanished and went to investigate.

Upon entering her home, I was dismayed to see that none had cared for it. Dust had settled on every surface, and it was most noticeable in her parlor. Everything looked as it should, except for one item.

A single book lay on the floor, a corner of fabric protruded from its gilded pages.

I picked the volume up and read the title.

Laqueus et Lector.

The Snare and the Reader.

The leather of the volume was curiously warm in my hands, and I opened the book as I set it down upon the table.

A rush of hot air and a gasp followed, and Mary Stewart screamed for help.

Reaching into the book, I grasped her hands and dragged her out. She tumbled to the floor, and I snapped the volume closed.

She lay there, panting as I took a dusty shawl off the back of her chair and bound the book within it.

With that done, I turned and looked upon her.

She was thinner, paler. Her eyes were wide, and there were scars upon her bare arms. Her clothes were in tatters, and there was a rank, violent odor about her.

Shaking, Mary got to her feet, swept her long and ragged hair out of her eyes and cleared her throat.

“Thank you, Duncan,” she whispered hoarsely. “I seem to have to have read a little too much.”

I nodded. “Would you like me to draw you a bath?”

“Yes, but the book,” she shivered.

I set the book on the floor, drew a Colt, and put a single round through it.

The house shook, the book bled, and then Mary had her bath.

#books #horrorstories #supernatural

1:00 AM January 1, 1931

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The book still stinks of chemicals.

When she arrived in Cross during the winter of 1718, she proclaimed herself a master of science.

Few people paid her any mind, but still, there were a few foolish enough to listen to the drivel coming from her mouth.

She called herself Wisdom, and I wished mightily that she kept her mouth closed. Instead, the madwoman set up shop on the edge of town and sold her wares to those who believed she had any sort of power.

Wisdom claimed her abilities originated from a large volume on alchemy and that she could read the hidden messages buried in the dull and dry Latin of the text.

I don’t know if she could read it or if it possessed her, but regardless, she did create some curious powders and draughts. The effects of which were never pleasant to behold.

In the first week of January, she mixed a potion for a traveler who needed luck. We found him dead the next morning. An old and rotten tree had fallen and crushed him beneath it.

February, a young woman desperate for a child, took a fertility charm, and less than a week later, a rotten beast exploded from her stomach and slew her husband at the table as the woman died.

In March, a boy wanted his dead dog to return, and return the dog did. It was mad with hunger and obscene to behold. The dog took the boy’s foot and tore it off.

It was the attack upon the boy and the abomination that had once been a dog that finally spurred me into action.

I went to the woman’s house and told her I needed a draught to help with cramps. She told me she had just the thing, and as she gathered her cure-alls and her potions, I slipped the garrote out of my pocket and waited for her to walk by.

A few minutes passed, and she stepped in front of me.

In a heartbeat, the rope was looped ‘round her neck, and despite my small size, I was able to bring her to her knees.

She died on the dirt floor of her shack, and I took the book home for me.

One more volume to add to my growing collection.

#books #horrorstories

November 27, 1891

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He was quick.

I found him in the middle of the forest, standing astride the narrow road that cut ‘round the western side of my lands. How long he’d been there, or how he’d even gotten there, I didn’t know.

Regardless as to the length of time, though, the bastard looked fine.

He was dressed in a reverend’s black frock with a white collar to match, and as I stepped close, he opened that damned. On his hips hung a pair of Webley Longspur revolvers.

“Mr. Blood,” he called to me when I was still a fair distance from him. He pronounced my name in precise Queen’s English.

“Aye.”

He let his gloved hands fall to the butts of the Webleys. “I’m here to dispatch you.”

“Hm.”

A smile spread across his face. “It seems, sir, you are not upset by this statement.”

“I’ve heard a few like it.”

He chuckled. “I’m sure you have. You’ve not heard it from me before.”

I waited.

“Do you know who I am?” he asked.

I shook my head. When I didn’t inquire as to his name, he let out an exaggerated sigh.

“I am Pastor Thomas. You’ve heard of me?”

I spat into the snow. “I’m not a member of your congregation. I’ve no need to listen to you blather on.”

A bit of anger flitted across his face, and he shifted his stance slightly. “You’ve not a civil tongue in your head.”

I let my hands rest on the Colts and eased the hammers back.

The anger returned and settled onto the man’s features. The muscles on the left side of his face tightened, and he pulled iron.

My Colts cleared their holsters a fraction of a second before his Webleys, but it made no difference.

He was as good as he was fast, and the first three shots slammed into my chest, sending me staggering back. But my own guns were roaring, the slugs of the Colts hammering into him.

Blood sprayed from the both of us, and in a matter of moments, his Webleys were dry. Five shots each, ten shots fired.

But my Colts hold six apiece, and I had a pair of rounds left.

I was sucking air through holes in my chest as I plodded forward, the pastor on his knees in the snow.

“Good guns,” I hissed, bringing the Colts up to his forehead. “Too bad they don’t reload worth a damn.”

He tried to pray, and I gunned him down.

#fear #horrorstories

November 26, 1891

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They didn’t know what they were doing.

I was still suffering from the aftereffects of Horatio’s gift when I went out this morning. I had hoped the cold air and fresh snow would help clear my head, but neither did.

Instead, I ended up trudging through a foot of snow over a good portion of my land that runs along Blood Road. It was there that I saw the tracks and that whoever was searching for me had no idea as to what they were about.

They passed by a string of maples where the sap buckets were hung, a subtle sign from the dryads who lived upon my land. They were a warning that armed strangers were afoot.

The sight of the buckets chased the cobwebs from my thoughts, and I drew my Colts. Pausing for a moment, I examined the tracks and saw the boots were hobnailed and heavy. And there was more than one pair.

Moving along the path they left, I listened for any sound they might make. As I moved along, bird song faded, and soon I was left alone with the wind as it hissed across the land, driving loose snow before it.

I found the strangers not five minutes later.

Ten men were frozen where they stood, and as I approached them, I watched the eyes of the men follow me.

There was hatred and fear in their eyes, and if those men could have willed themselves free, they would have.

I kept my distance as I circled them, not only to make sure I wasn’t within easy striking range should one of them regain his freedom, but I didn’t want to end up in the same predicament. Just because my land is mine doesn’t mean it always listens to me.

When I’d satisfied myself about their inability to move, I stopped.

There is no doubt that I am, at times, a cruel man. I’ve done a great many things of which I’m not proud, and I’ve no doubt I’ll do a great many more before I’m done with this life and Death comes to reap me.

But there’s a time and a place for mercy, and this was such a time.

In the stillness of the snow-covered landscape, I gunned the men down, blowing out their brains.

It was as quick and as painless as I could make it.

#fear #horrorstories