Duncan Blood’s Journal: 1891

His name was Singing Bear.

He was an Apache, though he did not say from what tribe.

When I met him, he was singing his name as he wandered out from the Gods’ Hollow, and I waited for him on North Road. As he reached the stonewall, he paused.

“Is there a man named Ward Stark here?” he asked.

“There is,” I answered. “On Gordon Road.”

Singing Bear leaned against the wall. “And this is Cross?”

“Yes.”

“Which one?” he inquired with a grin.

I laughed and asked, “Where are you from?”

“Far away,” he responded.

“What brings you to Cross?”

“Which Cross?” he asked.

“This one,” I replied.

“Better to say all of them,” Singing Bear confided. “I will tell you, Duncan Blood, for in each Cross I visit, you are always helpful. I am here for the scalp of Ward Stark.”

I frowned. “Ward’s a good man. Quiet. Works hard.”

Singing Bear sighed. “So he is in a great many places. A family man at times. It makes no difference. I promised him in my place what would happen to him if he killed my son.”

“And what is that?” I asked.

“I promised I would kill him in every world I found him in,” Singing Bear answered, his voice hard. “It is a promise I keep.”

“Is your Ward still alive?” I asked.

He shook his head. “No. He died first, and slow.”

“How many have you killed?”

Singing Bear shrugged. “Do you keep track of the times you have killed your mother?”

“No,” I confessed.

“Will you kill her wherever and whenever you find her?”

I nodded.

Singing Bear smiled. “So, even should you find a sweet and loving version of your mother, what would you do?”

“Blow her brains out the back of her skull,” I told him.

His smile broadened, and I shook my head, laughing.

“Climb over, Singing Bear,” I said, “and I will show you where Ward Stark lives.”

The Apache climbed over the stonewall, and we sang together as we went to Gordon Road, and to usher Ward Stark to his death.

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Duncan Blood’s Journal: 1877

I have never been overly fond of any who come to Cross in an effort to establish a church. From my experiences, which span two centuries now, these people tend to be the worst of the lot.

The Reverend Timothy Sweet was no exception to this rule.

He arrived early on a train from Boston, carrying a small satchel and holding a walking stick. There was a raw stench about the man that brought a frown to my face and caused my fingers to itch for the triggers of my Colt.

As he passed by me on the street, I turned around and followed him for a short distance. I overheard him ask directions to town hall, and then I followed him there as well.

Once inside, he requested the necessary paperwork for the establishment of a church and then exited quickly. I held the door for him and struck up a conversation as we left town hall.

He was a Baptist, he informed me and suggested that I might wish to attend his church when he found a place to put it.

I confessed to him that I knew of an excellent place for a church, especially one which might grow under the guidance of a learned man. I offered to show it to him, and he agreed.

We walked along North Road and came to the stonewall separating Gods’ Hollow from Cross proper. I informed the Reverend of the place’s name and his eyes became wide.

He misheard me.

“God’s Hollow?” he asked. “Why, it’s as though this is a sign from heaven!”

I nodded. “You ought to take a walk out to the tree-line, Reverend.”

“No, thank you.” The smile on his face faded when he saw the Colts in my hands, their hammers back.

He tried to argue with me, but a single round at his feet helped him understand that I was not interested in conversation. A look of righteous indignation settled over him, and he scrambled over the stonewall. He walked briskly to the tree-line, and when he reached it, he turned around and glared at me.

A moment later, something reached out and snatched him into the forest.

His horrified scream was cut short, and I went back to my business.

Somedays, the only killer in Cross is me.

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Duncan Blood’s Journal: 1871

Not all the killers who come to Cross are human, though I wish they were.

I was riding home on a pleasant April evening when I noticed Doug McClure leaning against a tree on the edge of his tree. In the forty years I had known the man, never had I seen him rest. It wasn’t in his nature.

I brought my horse up short and called out to Doug, concerned that there might be something amiss. When he didn’t respond, I was certain there was.

Getting out of the saddle, I approached the man from the side, and as I drew nearer, I saw Doug wasn’t leaning against the tree. Half his body had been flayed, and it was nailed to the young oak with shards of bone. It took me a moment to understand that he’d been pinned there with his own ribs.

Thankfully, Doug was dead, though, by the amount of blood on the ground, I could tell he had taken quite some time to die.

As I was examining the field to see who had done this to him, I found four sets of small shoeprints. Concerned that his children had witnessed his demise, I set off on the trail.

Within a short time, I found four children seated in Doug’s field, and they were all quite pleased to see me. When they spoke, it was not in English. Instead, they spoke in Russian and the curious manner with which they inflected their words told me what they were before they did.

They were Dvorovoi, and they had arrived in Cross by way of Gods’ Hollow.

“We know of you, Duncan Blood,” the tallest of the four told me. “Your mother waits for you.”

“Does she?” I asked.

The female Dvorovoi nodded, winked, and added, “She told us to kill you if we saw you.”

“But we won’t,” another informed me.

“We don’t like her,” the female laughed.

Before I could take them to task for killing Doug, the four took off running for the Hollow.

I didn’t bother shooting them.

Lead wouldn’t do a damned thing to them.

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Duncan Blood’s Journal: 1866

Some men get a taste for killing.

Major Roberts Mahone was possibly the finest sharpshooter I had ever had the pleasure of working alongside during the War of the Rebellion. He had a steady hand, and his men always fought well. I suspect that had he not been wounded near the end of the war, he would have continued on into the Territories and fought there as well.

As it was, the Major was wounded.

I almost didn’t recognize the man when he stepped out of the Cross Train Station, a long bag in hand and his cane in the other. He walked as though he had a purpose, but I could not recall the Major ever having mentioned relatives in town.

Curious, I followed him as he made his way along Main Street, pausing every so often to take out a small piece of paper from his pocket and consult it. I soon gathered that he was headed toward Hollis Road, one of the higher points of land in town.

A cold understanding crept over me, and I took a shorter route to the Hollis Road, and Hollis Hill.

I reached it only a few minutes before the Major did, and I stood off behind an elm as he squatted down and opened his long bag. From it, he removed a Sharpe’s rifle, whistling as he inspected his weapon. He next withdrew a blanket, which he rolled out before laying down upon it and sighting down the barrel. With a nod of satisfaction, he reached into his bag and took out a single round.

It was then that I stepped forward and put the barrel of my Colt against the base of his skull.

The Major became perfectly still, one hand on his weapon and the other holding the round.

“You seem to have the better of me, sir,” he said without attempting to move. “I assure you, this is not what it seems to be.”

“I know what this is, and it is exactly what it seems to be,” I replied.

His shoulders twitched, and his tone was remarkably composed.

“Duncan Blood,” he stated.

“Aye.”

“Do I have time to pray?”

My Colt answered for me.

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Duncan Blood’s Journal: 1859

The advertisement rang false.

“Mature woman seeks the companionship of a young, unattached female.”

Such advertisements might be found in Boston and New York City, but to find one in the Cross Sentinel made little sense.

Additional information regarding where to apply was included, and this, too, seemed odd. According to the advertisement, the mature woman had taken up residence on Gordon Road.

There are only a handful of homes on Gordon Road, and they are all too close to Gods’ Hollow to make it desirable for any but the strongest of Cross natives. Whomever this mature woman was, she was not someone I knew.

With this in mind, I decided it was best to pay her a visit.

I had no sooner left my home and was traveling across country towards Gordon Road than I ran into Caleb Moor. He was distressed and distraught. His eldest daughter, Elsbeth, had left the night before after a fight with her mother. Caleb had suspected Elsbeth to have gone to a cousin who resided with the Coffins.

But the Coffins had seen neither hide nor hair of the girl, and Caleb had been on his way to meet me to see if I had heard anything.

I had not, but I told him I would let him know when I did.

Leaving Caleb to continue his search, I hurried to Gordon Road.

I found the house, which had been abandoned for several years. There were a horse and buggy on one side, and there was a mature woman climbing into it, a look of joy and satisfaction on her face.

It wasn’t there for long.

Ms. Charlotte Alcott of Concord had a taste for the blood of young girls. A taste she had sated with Elsbeth Moor’s death.

I brought Ms. Alcott back into the house, and in the kitchen, I found Elsbeth’s pale and naked corpse.

Under my less than gentle hand, Ms. Alcott dressed Elsbeth and carried her to the buggy. Once this was done, I forced Ms. Alcott to strip down, and then I bound her legs at the ankles and tied a length of rope to the buggy.

I put the horse at a good trot and brought Elsbeth home.

I’m afraid there wasn’t much left of Ms. Alcott when we arrived.

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Duncan Blood’s Journal: 1851

They came into town on a crank handcar, checking the lines and, as I was to learn later that evening, looking for some ‘sport.’

For most men, looking for sport meant finding an agreeable female.

Not for these men. Their tastes ran to something a little viler.

They found me sitting at the train station, smoking and waiting for the summer sun to set. There was a fair chance of a lycanthrope in the area, and I was anxious to get my hunt underway. My pensive attitude, youthful appearance, and distant expression must have made these men think that I was a simpleton and that as such, I might be fine to speak with regarding the satisfying of their base desires.

They introduced themselves to me, and they inquired as to whether there might not be any Irishmen about.

When I responded no, not of late, that most of them resided in Lowell and Boston, they then asked if there were any men of African descent, though they did not use such a politick term.

I confess, I feigned idiocy at that point and asked in a none too bright manner what they might want such men for.

“To hunt,” was the answer I received.

I nodded with a simpering smile and told them yes, there were several on my father’s farm.

The men were all too eager to follow me home.

They chatted amongst themselves as we went, and when we arrived, I invited them inside. I sat them down in the parlor and told them I would inform my father that we had guests.

My father was missing, and presumed dead, and had been for some time.

While they helped themselves to some bourbon, I found my garrote and brought it back with me. I waited until they were well in their cups, and then I called them one at a time into the kitchen, ostensibly to speak with my father.

Instead, I garroted each in turn.

In the morning, after I dined with the corpses, I brought them out to the center of my land and left the bodies to rot.

Not a one of them deserved a burial.

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Duncan Blood’s Journal: Hunting

Over the centuries, hunters have come to Cross.

These are not hunters in what we might consider the conventional sense or even those who hunt the supernatural or paranormal.

No, these are hunters who have come under the false belief that the people in my town are fair game. They come to satisfy a base instinct that needs to be crushed rather than fed, and on most occasions, it is up to me to show them the error of their ways.

Samuel Worthington, late of Hartford, Connecticut, arrived in town on the first of April 1845. He took up lodgings in the Black Inn and, according to Mr. Black, the keeper, was due to press on to Boston in the morning.

At some point after his evening meal, Mr. Worthington vanished from the inn. His belongings were held for him until 1846, but he never claimed them or sent anyone to claim them.

The reason for this is simple and straightforward: Mr. Samuel Worthington trespassed on my land.

It was not an innocent mistake. He had passed by Blood Road and decided he liked the name. After eating, he had slipped out of the inn and made his way back to my farm. According to Mr. Worthington, he believed he would find some easy prey. Either a farmhand or some maid, someone foolish enough to speak with him.

I had, in fact, caught him prowling around the kitchen, as though hoping to see a scullery maid or some such finishing up the preparations for my evening meal.

He found me instead, and I learned that Mr. Worthington had a penchant for killing.

Several times a year, he confessed, he traveled to Boston, always taking a different route and invariably finding someone to murder.

He told all this to me as we stood outside my home, his hands raised in the air, and my Colt Paterson carbine aimed as his belly. Mr. Worthington assured me that he would leave Cross without molesting any of the residents.

I thanked him for his assurance, and then I shot him twice in the stomach.

My damned supper was cold before he was.

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The War of the Rebellion: Georgia, 1865

Hell can be found in the strangest of places.

The cabin was small and tucked away off a long, narrow country road. From what I could see, the home was well kept and well cared for. Smoke rose from the fieldstone chimney, and there was a good supply of wood off to one side. A summer kitchen was set up to the left of the home, but unlike the rest of the property, it looked unused.

The windows on the building’s front were closed, as were the draperies, and the front door as well.

There was a fine breeze blowing, and Georgians, by and large, rarely kept their doors and windows closed on such an occasion. The smoke from the chimney confused me as well. It was too early for a mid-day meal and too late for breakfast.

I’d heard no rumors and word of any sort of beast operating in the area, no vanishing bodies or missing pickets. Still, stranger things had happened and were bound to happen again.

I approached the cabin with caution, the Spencer in my hands as I walked in the grass along the edge of the road. At less than thirty feet from the cabin, I heard a woman’s laughter, joined a moment later by a second, then a third. What followed next caused me to grit my teeth and move quicker.

I heard a man beg, in a voice near breaking, for them to leave him be.

A part of me hoped I was coming upon some reckless scene of young love, but I doubted it.

When I reached the door, I heard a long, low groan, and there was no pleasure associated with it.

I kicked the door in and shocked the inhabitants, three old women crouched over the emaciated form of a Federal soldier. The eyes of the women were wild, their gray and white hair lashing about their faces as they launched themselves at me. I killed two with shots from the Spencer, and I beat the third to death with the stock.

With her brains splashed across my face, I stepped over to the Federal, lay on his back, eyes wide and filled with tears.

“Three months,” he whispered. “They’ve been feeding on me for three months.”

I bashed in the brains of the other two as well.

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The War of the Rebellion: South Carolina, 1865

I had sat down to my evening meal, deep in some Secesh forest, when I heard the unmistakable call to rally on the battalion.

There was a sense of urgency and fear to the beat that I had heard upon battlefields, yet there was no gunfire or accompanying musketry. No yelling or haranguing by officers and sergeants.

Only the drumming.

Leaving my food and kit behind, I raced towards the sound of the drum, and when I reached it, I came to a halt, Spencer in hand and surprise on my face.

A lone drummer boy stood among a field of corpses. The bodies, clad in Federal blue, were the remnants of a colored troop, their white officers dead alongside them.

Across the field, a group of Secesh approached, their rifles shouldered and their laughter ringing out. I heard them calling out to the drummer, asking him who he thought he was calling. I brought the Spencer up to my shoulder and I was about to answer for him when the dead stirred.

Slowly, as though the boy and his drum were pulling each and every one of them back from the grave, the bodies of his dead comrades shook and trembled. Those that could got to their feet, and those that could not, rolled to face their enemy.

As I lowered my rifle, the Secesh raised theirs. They took aim not at the living dead shambling towards them, but at the drummer.

Yet the white officers gathered in front of him, protecting shielding him from the bullets that Johnny Reb sent screaming towards him.

The enlisted men, led by their sergeants, continued their advance upon the Secesh, and it was only then that the living focused on the dead.

A few of the Secesh stood their ground, reloading and firing upon the corpses.

I picked off those that tried to run.

The battle was over in a few moments, and when the last of the Secesh had fallen, the drummer boy ceased his rallying beat. With the silence, the corpses of his comrades collapsed, and only the boy and I remained.

When I walked to him, he looked at me with sad and tired eyes, then down at his colonel, saying softly, “Colonel always said I could raise the dead.”

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The War of the Rebellion: North Carolina, 1865

The need to eat nearly cost me my life.

I had stopped at an abandoned encampment this morning, and once I checked the buildings and any other place I could think of, I felt reasonably certain that I was alone.

With a spot picked out, I built a small fire and cooked the rations I had left. I was tired and worn, and my mind was not where it should have been.

The first inkling I had that something might be out of place was the sudden lack of birdsong. I have known for nearly two centuries that when the animals no longer wish to be heard, then there is something wrong.

I was reaching for my Colts when he struck, leaping out of a pile of stones as though he was made of them, and for a short time, my hands were convinced he was.

Our fight raged back and forth across a small open area, and it had none of the finesse or gentlemanly qualities of a dual. It was a true fight, a bitter fight, one where the only goal is to win by any means necessary.

I broke fingers punching him in the face, injured my knee driving it into his groin, and nearly lost an eye when he tried to bite my nose off. It was then, I confess that I lost what little composure I had.

Digging a thumb into his left eye, I screamed as loud as he did at the pain. It felt as though shards of glass were driven beneath my nail, and when I scooped the eye from the socket, I discovered it was indeed glass. Still, mingled with it was not only my blood, but the creature’s as well.

Howling with a manic joy, I smashed his head against the earth and heard it crack. As he spun to free himself, I saw the hole in his head and the strange, pulsing stones within. Without hesitation, I thrust my fingers into his skull and tore out as much as I could.

The creature bucked several times before he died with my hand still in his head.

I sat in silence for a moment, then turned my attention back to my fire, angry the damned thing had gone out.

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