Lost in Cross: Nov. 1904

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Captain Parr had little patience for idiocy.

I had met him once before, on a cold and bitter morning in the Hollow. We had exchanged pleasantries, assisted one another with a rather difficult killing, and kept in touch as much as one can when the Hollow is involved.

In November of this year, I received a letter by raven informing me of the captain’s need to come into my version of Cross and asked if I would be able to help him.

I sent back the message that I would, of course, be more than happy to do so.

He arrived on Thursday evening and he presented me with a photograph his daughter had recently taken of him. He was rather proud of it, and I was more than happy to place it in my library, where it sits as I write this down.  

The two of us enjoyed a fine dinner of roast chicken and some excellent conversation. Afterward, with brandy in hand and pipes at the ready, we retired to the front porch. There was a definite nip to the air and an undertone of rage to the captain’s story.

There was a man who had taken refuge in Cross, it seemed, and he had offended the captain’s honor.

The offense could only be responded to with blood, and so Captain Parr was here for satisfaction.

I confessed to him that I did not know the man, but that I would send word into town that I was in need of him at the farm. If the man was wise, he would run.

He was not.

When the sun was still climbing above the horizon, the morning rays burning the frost from the blades of grass, the man strolled down the center of my drive. He was whistling, his hands in his pockets, and his hat tilted back at a jaunty angle.

Had he been wearing the damned thing like a proper gentleman, he would have seen the captain.

As it was, he did not.

It took the man a long time to die, and that’s mostly because Captain Parr, it turns out, is an expert garroter, and he took his time.

I understood.

I’m a fair hand with a garrote as well.

In Gods’ Hollow: May 21, 1912

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Every man I saw died from my guns.

The Colts hammered away at the men standing among the boys, splashing blood and brains and bones out over the gathered children, all of whom cheered as it occurred.

More men came in through the doors on either side of the balcony and drew long-knives from sheathes and fell upon the boys.

I’ve never experienced such rage before in my life.

While some of the boys who had come with me descended to the gymnasium floor to help defend their brethren, I attacked the cowards killing the boys on the balcony. Grimnir took wing and attacked the nearest man, tearing out eyes and throat. Someone called out my name, and for a moment, there was a lull in the battle.

The men knew who I was, as did the boys. My name gave the children hope and caused fear to spring up in the eyes of the men.

My guns started up the battle once more, and I killed every man I saw. Others tried to come through the doors, but the boys had learned that hard lesson. They threw their weight against the doors, keeping them closed as best they could, and every door that opened more than an inch got a bullet sent into the darkness.

Soon, the doors were all sealed, and we paused to catch our breath. The boys clambered down to the main floor, and I followed a moment later. The bodies of the slain children burned in my eyes and caused my face to flush with rage. In silence, I reloaded my Colts.

There was one man left alive, pale, and bleeding to death on the parquet floor. I crouched down beside him and he tried to turn his head. I caught his hair, jerked his face toward me and smiled.

“How far am I from finding Johnny Coffin?” I asked.

He snarled at me, and I shattered his teeth with the butt of a Colt. His shrill scream filled the air. I let him suffer for a moment longer; then I strangled him to death.

The boys, bloodied, battered, and victorious, peered at me.

“Are you ready?” I asked them in a low voice.

They nodded.

“Then let’s get to killing,” I told them.

The boys were eager for blood, and so was I.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

In Gods’ Hollow: May 20, 1912

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Stunned silence greeted us as we broke into the next room.

An infirmary stretched out before us, nurses clad in white and blue, and a young doctor standing there as well. Boys were in the beds and standing about the ward’s floor. The door closed and latched itself behind us, and no one moved.

The boys behind me, still smelling of coal, waited, unsure of what to do. The raven tightened his grip on my shoulder, the bird’s talons once more piercing my clothes to bite deep into my flesh.

I was about to demand the release of the patients when two events occurred simultaneously.

First, the doctor reached into his jacket, his eyes narrowing as his gaze settled on me.

Second, a young patient, standing at the nearest bed, called out, “Morgan!”

Another boy rushed past me from behind, the two boys slamming into one another and weeping tears of joy.

As this incident registered in my mind, so too did the fact that the doctor had succeeded in pulling an astonishingly long pistol from his jacket.

I blew his brains out the back of his head.

All the boys in the ward cheered and joined the fray.

They swarmed over the nurses, dragging them down and beating them to death. The women’s screams were quickly silenced, and as others of their ilk poured in from doors at the far end, I cut them down, the Colts thunderous in the confines of the infirmary.

More boys joined us, and as I walked towards the far end of the ward, other doors were thrown open.

Every adult I saw, I killed.

I did not need to speak with them. I had only to rescue the boys and to keep moving.

When we reached the exit, I paused and reloaded my Colts. Turning to face the children, I realized I had close to fifty boys with me. Some were filthy with coal dust; others were pallid from being kept in the hospital.

All of them had expressions of eager rage.

“Are you ready?” I asked them.

They howled, and with their cries ringing in my ears, I opened the next door.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

 

Duncan Blood – Free Kindle

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Hello everyone!

Well, I’m getting close to 1000 posts, and the other day I reached 700 followers. Now, normally I would be sitting here, in front of my computer and thinking about what to write (and, yes, I admit, I’m still doing that), but I thought I’d like to celebrate those two milestones.

So, starting May 22, 12:00 AM (PST since Amazon is set in CA), “Blood’s Journals,” will be available as a free download on Amazon. I’m not sure how many of you own Kindles or have the app on your phone or laptop, but from May 22 to May 26, the book will be free.

Some of you may have read all the entries in Duncan’s journals up to this point; others may be less familiar with his work. Whatever your situation may be, at least you’ll have three complete journals to peruse at your leisure.

I hope you all get a chance to download and read it, and I look forward to hearing what you have to say about it.

Thank you, all of you, for your phenomenal support!

 

Nick Efstathiou

In Gods’ Hollow: May 18, 1912

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The air was thick with coal dust and the distant thrum of machines.

The boys sat with their backs to me, none of them raising their heads or turning to look at me as I stepped into the room. They continued with their business of sorting, neither speaking nor looking at one another. Their labored breathing added a soft, rasping undercurrent to the machines, and I hated the Keeper all the more.

For a short time, I stood where I was, saying nothing, and doing the same. Finally, I walked up to the front of the room, turned around, and faced them.

Not a one of them looked at me, and I wondered how much abuse they had suffered to crush the curiosity within them.

“Boys,” I whispered.

The sound of my voice stilled their hands and stiffened their backs. Grimnir called to them in his own voice, and the boys looked up.

Their faces were filthy, their eyes wide. Chunks of coal fell from their hands, and they stared at me in disbelief. Lips moved, and at first, no sound came from them. Then, one small boy, his voice broke the stillness.

“Blood.”

I nodded.

The others took up my name, first as a whisper, then as a chant. Their voices joined together, shook coal dust from the rafters.

“You cannot send them back,” Grimnir informed me. “They can only go forward as we do.”

“So long as they are not left behind,” I responded.

“No, that is not their fate,” the raven stated.

“Good.” I focused on the boys. “Rise up. You’re leaving with me.”

There was no hesitation, and they leaped to their feet.

“Show me the door, boys,” I told them, “it’s time for killing.”

The boys raced past me, and I followed, my name reverberating in the halls of Hell.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

In Gods’ Hollow: May 17, 1912

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The creature lived long enough to tell me what was in the casks.

I found the thing skulking by the door when I entered the cavernous room, and it ran when it saw me. Two quick shots from my Colt blew out its knees and sent it sprawling across the concrete floor.

As it tried to crawl away from me, I gazed at the casks and saw each bore a name.

Timothy Waite aged 8 years.

Marcus Hendrickson aged 12 years.

The casks were huge, reminding me of those used in France and Germany in the vineyards.

“What do you store in these?” I asked it.

The creature, which was gray with filmy white eyes, leered at me. “I store nothing.”

Squatting down beside it, I took out my Bowie knife and removed a finger.

“What do you store in these?” I asked again.

It swore at me, so I stuffed its finger into its mouth. Once it had choked its own digit down, it felt the need to speak.

“This is the Keeper’s wine,” it hissed at me.

“Tell me why there are names upon them.”

It tried to distance itself from me, but I hooked a finger into its mouth, caught hold of its cheek and tugged it back to me. “I’ll tear your damned cheek from your face if you don’t speak.”

It nodded in understanding, and I let it go.

“We put a boy in the cask,” the creature explained, “and we drown him in wine. He ferments. The wine gets sweeter. When we break open a cask, the Keeper, she feeds upon the wine-soaked flesh and drinks the wine. Her hunger is great. Her thirst is mighty.”

“How many have you put in here?” I asked, my voice shaking with rage.

The creature seemed not to notice my fury. “After one hundred, I stopped counting. Too boring. The screams too much the same. And the Keeper never gives me the slights morsel. I must scrape them from the casks.”

The raven on my shoulder shifted his weight. “This one,” Grimnir told me, “should not die quickly.”

I agreed and made certain it did not.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

In Gods’ Hollow: May 16, 1912

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The marionettes turned and faced me when I entered the room.

I finished the last of the whiskey, set the empty bottle on a chair, and sat down. The raven left my shoulder and perched on the back of a chair. I waited, hands on the butts of the Colts.

The marionettes, seven in all, consisted of a queen, a king, and five nights.

It was the queen who spoke to me.

“You are Duncan Blood,” she stated, her voice young and tinny, as though spoken from deep within the marionette.

“I am.”

“You’ve come to rescue a boy,” she continued, “and to tear this world down?”

I tightened my hold on the Colts.

“I have,” I answered.

All seven marionettes bowed.

“We wish you the best of luck,” the queen told me. “We have been here, overlong.”

“How long?” I asked.

“Before the Gallows god had come to this part of the world,” she replied. “We were from Boston town, the seven of us, and we were taken by a raiding party of Frenchmen. They were turned around and ended up in the Hollow. They took shelter in what they believed was an empty house, and down we went.”

“Why are you marionettes?” I asked, my voice hoarse.

The king laughed. “We were entertaining. So the Keeper told us. She watched as we slew our captors, and so she took us to keep her entertained.”

“And do you?” I inquired.

All seven shook their heads in unison.

“We have not entertained her in decades,” the queen stated. “We speak to one another, but even that can be difficult at times. We have been trapped here, like this, for as long as you have been alive, Duncan Blood.”

“What will happen to you once I destroy this place?”

“That,” the queen answered, “is something we will never know. We ask that you free us now.”

“How?”

“Cut our strings.”

I sighed and nodded. Getting to my feet, I drew my knife, and I cut each set of strings. The marionettes collapsed to the floor of their theater, and they were silent.

Without a word, I sheathed my knife and the raven, and I went in search of an exit, and the one called ‘Keeper.’

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

In Gods’ Hollow: May 15, 1912

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They weren’t pleased to see me.

The mustachioed bartender started to speak as soon as the door closed behind me, and I put a slug through his open mouth, blowing his brains out over the liquor bottles and the nearest man.

Pistols were drawn, as were knives, and the men charged toward me.

The cold fury within my heart exploded, and I emptied both Colts into them. My shots were sloppy, killing far more of them than I intended. Their rounds went wild, fear throwing off their aim. They had heard of me, it seemed, for they were calling my name out to one another and one of them raced for the back door.

The raven shot after him, slamming into the back of the man’s head and driving him to the floor as I waded into the survivors with my knife drawn.

The fighting was hard and brutal, and I was soaked in blood and brains by the time I finished.

There were only three men, still alive and conscious. Others were still clinging to life, but they would provide little information. As the survivors watched, I gutted the unconscious men.

While I reloaded my Colts, Grimnir moved from corpse to corpse, plucking out eyes and nipping at tongues.

When I had regained my composure, I walked around the back of the bar, found a bottle of whiskey, and wiped the brains of the bartender off it. As I took a drink, I walked back around to where the three living men sat, watching me.

I asked the first man where the Coffin boy was, and he spat in my face.

I suspect he believed he was showing me how strong and fearless he was.

He was screaming by the time I finished sawing the nose off his face. He fainted when I poured some of the whiskey on the open wound.

The second man didn’t respond when I asked the same question. He stared straight ahead, his teeth clenched.

I cut a hole in his belly and stuck my hand in. When I found his liver, I squeezed. The shock of it killed him.

The third man told me that the Coffin boy was three levels down, and would reach the sorting room within a week, if not sooner.

I blew the man’s brains out.

I killed the others and left with the whiskey.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

In Gods’ Hollow: May 14, 1912

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The silence was oppressive.

When I stepped into the room, and the door sealed itself behind me, there was nothing to hear. Even the sound of my own heartbeat was muted.

I was standing in what could only have been a museum. The raven remained perched on my shoulder, and I could tell by his stillness that he was displeased with what was gathered around us.

Set in glass display cases was a large array of anthropological materials. Clothes, utensils, artwork, and everything else that one might attribute to humans. Before each one was a bronze plate, bearing an inscription which – had I been able to read the strange language – would undoubtedly tell me from where and when the items came.

I moved along the main aisle, searching through the collection for a way out.

My boots were muffled, despite the wooden floor upon which I trod.

The aisle turned to the left, and I came to a stop, looking with growing hate upon the foulest of displays.

In the glass case, seated before a small teepee, was a pair of Indian girls. They were poised in the act of play, dolls in hand. Someone had slain the children, prepared them, and set them up as taxidermied specimens. Beyond them was another display case with another set of children.

As my eyes scanned the other cases, I realized that on either side of the aisle, and spreading as far as I could see, were children.

Hundreds, if not thousands of them, put forever on display.

I had to walk past them all in my quest for the door out, and when I found it, my eyes swam with tears of rage.

For a moment, I stood in front of the door, made certain the Colts were ready in their holsters, and checked the edge on my knife.

“What are you thinking, Duncan Blood?” the raven asked.

“I’m thinking I’m going to kill everyone who had a hand in this,” I answered.

“Good. Open the door.”

I nodded, pushed open the door, and sought my vengeance.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

In Gods’ Hollow: May 13, 1912

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The sound of hammers upon stone echoed down the tunnel.

I paused when I heard them, listening for any other noises which might accompany them.

There was nothing, nothing save the strike of metal upon rock.

I approached cautiously, the Colts in my hands. My wounds from the night before had healed, yet the anger I felt toward this place remained. I had still not found any sign of Johnny Coffin, and there was a deepening sense of hopelessness within me. I wanted nothing more than to find the boy, to find him whole and healthy. The more I traveled in this abysmal place, the less I believed that I would find him alive.

The dim light of the tunnel brightened, and soon I was standing near a large scaffolding, a pair of men upon it and gazing down at me.

“Duncan Blood,” they called to me Danish, “and the Gallows god. What brings you here to us?”

Grimnir let out his croak of a laugh, and I answered the question. “I seek Jack Coffin’s boy.”

“He passed this way some time ago,” one of the two replied. “He was with a group of others. Perhaps five in all.”

“No more than ten, at the most,” his compatriot added.

“How do you know me?” I asked them.

“You were here not too long ago,” the first stated.

“Perhaps a decade,” the second chimed in. Then, looking at his partner, he asked, “Was it a decade?”

The first shrugged. “It could well have been a century. Time is fluid here.”

“What are you building?” Grimnir asked them.

The two men laughed. “A crypt! War is coming, Grimnir, war. We will fill this with the souls of millions, and then all here will eat well.”

My hands tightened on the Colts, but the raven’s talons dug into my shoulder, and I held my tongue.

“Who bids you do this?” the bird asked.

“Hela,” the men responded in unison. “Who else?”

“Who else indeed,” I murmured.

Grimnir nodded. “Straight on?” he asked.

“Straight on,” they answered.

We left the men to their work, and I wondered what war was coming.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death