Disaster and Calamity: Secrecy


I often mention the Cross Militia and the valuable service they provide the town. The Militia is called upon more times than I care to think about, and they have made more sacrifices than can be mentioned.

I have been with them when they faced down creatures that escaped from Gods’ Hollow, and when things dark and fierce have arrived in Cross from doors opened by the learned professors at the Cross branch of Miskatonic University.

The men and women of the Cross Militia face these challenges with remarkable courage. Remarkable because what they see is horrific and frightening, each incident representing a disaster in the making.

Each member of the militia must be vetted, and they must be sponsored by at least four previous members and one current. As the times have progressed, so too have the tests the prospective member must face. There are stress tests and those which measure the amount of psychological pressure someone can withstand. Finally, before they can begin their training, new members must sign a series of waivers, including a promise to never speak about what they see outside of the confines of the Cross Historical Society.

When these waivers are signed, there is a last test which I alone administer. I bring them into the basement of the Cross Historical Society, and I lead them to a door which, in turn, opens upon a set of stairs. We descend these side by side, and in a disturbingly large room, I show them artifacts of the creatures we have fought.

I am proud to say that the citizens of Cross are made of stern stuff. Few are those who cannot bear the thought of facing such enemies.

Those few, I might add, never leave that room.

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Disaster and Calamity: Fools


If you don’t think fools constitute a disaster, then you may wish to reconsider your stance on the matter.

Daniel and Eliza Bliss owned a large and spacious home on the edge of the Cross River, close to the southwestern border of the town. They were adamant that they had wrested the building from a large and ugly man, who, they assured everyone, had been squatting on the property. Most of the town thought that the Bliss couple were nothing more than foolish braggarts.

Unfortunately, they were simply fools.

Daniel and Eliza had indeed taken the home away from an ugly man, but it had been his by rights. Although they were not any rights with which the happy couple was familiar. He was a troll and a rather angry one at that. After his eviction, which was done with a copious amount of Christianity and sunlight, he came to me to complain.

After three nights of arguments, I managed to convince him not to devour downtown in his anger. I told him that the rest of Cross shouldn’t be held accountable for the bad acts of Daniel and Eliza. In the end, he agreed and decided upon a different method of revenge.

Shortly after sundown on a beautiful Wednesday evening, the ground beneath the center of the Bliss homestead collapsed. Daniel and Eliza were buried beneath several floors of rubble and earth. All attempts to recover the bodies were discouraged. The ground was unstable that close to the river.

The following Friday, I was invited to the troll’s new home in a large and beautiful cave on one of my islands. There I enjoyed his home-brewed beer and chatted with him as he roasted Daniel and Eliza, basting them with his magnificent beer.

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Disaster and Calamity: Fever


Heroes arise from the strangest of places.

Near the end of the 19th century, a fever tore through Cross and most of the eastern seaboard. It was reminiscent of the Yellow Fever that decimated New England in 1778, and I was fearful of the damage that might occur in a larger, more closely packed community.

The fever seemed to be straight forward enough at first. Those stricken with it fell ill, and their temperatures rose.

But the temperatures didn’t stop rising.

Boils formed on the skin, rising to almost an inch in height and twice that in diameter. The black liquid which exploded from them when they were lanced stank of decay and scorched the flesh of both the sick and those who were treating them.

Melvin James, owner of the Standard Ice company, was the first to strike upon the treatment which saved so many lives in Cross. When he was delivering ice to the Howard family on East Street, he heard young May Howard weeping and begging for relief from the fire in her body. Without fear of the disease, Melvin struck off a chunk of ice, knelt beside the six-year-old girl, and placed the ice on the closest boil.

It sank almost instantly, as did the dozens of others that he used the ice on.

Word was sent to his sons and nephews, and suddenly ice was being delivered to every house in Cross where a sick person lay. All day and night, horses raced to and from the Standard icehouse.

Within two days, every victim was on their way to recovery.

Cross had not lost a single resident to the strange disease.

The James’ are remembered to this day, and they are the reason why ‘James’ is such a popular name amongst the families of Cross.

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Disaster and Calamity: Locomotive


The train that derailed on the outskirts of town was not from Boston or Worcester, or any other town or city that we were familiar with. Even the locomotive was different, the engine powered not by coal, but by a thick, viscous fluid that scorched flesh.

When we arrived at the train, we had to battle the few survivors we found. They were bloodied and strange in both dress and appearance. Taller than we were, and thinner, they were clad in dark robes and armed with blades.

We, on the other hand, were armed only with the tools we had brought with us to try and free any who might be trapped, and so we used them against our new enemies.

The battle was fierce, and it lasted close to an hour. During this time, we came to realize the strangers were fighting a rear-action while others of their kind collected the dead and wounded. Finally, at close to midnight, the strangers retreated into one of the cars and did not emerge.

Armed only with a pitchfork, I entered the car alone, unwilling to have any of my friends and neighbors injured in a continuation of the fray in such a confined space.

I found nothing except a door propped up against a seat. The doorknob was missing, but by the blood on the floor I could see that the wounded had been carried to it.

We gathered what we could from the train and destroyed everything else.

The battle and the pitchfork reminded me that it was foolish to leave my house without a weapon.

It is a lesson I need to remember.

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Disaster and Calamity: Disasters


Disasters that occur in Cross originate from three basic categories: natural, supernatural, and man-made.

Occasionally, these combine in unique and interesting ways. All are deadly.

The finest, or perhaps worst, example of this is the fight that took place after one of the ethereal doors in the Cross Branch of the Miskatonic University was opened. No one ever admitted to having opened the door, and considering what occurred, I don’t blame them. Anyone with their head on their shoulders would have kept their mouth closed.

Of course, they probably wouldn’t have opened the door, to begin with.

Well, I digress.

The door was opened on a warm, Sunday in October, and soon, someone slipped out from another reality. The man was a Marine, and he went running hell-bent for election down the center of Main Street and straight for the far reaches. It was clear that he knew his way around a version of Cross similar to ours.

Word reached us that he was seen on North Road, and it was then that I gathered up the Cross Militia, and we sped on toward Gods’ Hollow.

We were too late.

The Marine had returned with a dozen of his brethren, each fitted out with a kit the likes of which I had never seen before. While they only had a few firearms among them, they were equipped with a variety of throwing weapons with which they proved to be ably trained.

The fight was short, and it was brutal, and the strange electrical storm which erupted above us didn’t help matters. For hours after the fight, the storm continued to rage, wreaking havoc on the town in general and the University in particular.

In the end, we won, although we lost two of our militia to a lightning strike. The foreign Marines were slaughtered to a man, and they were brought out to the Atlantic to be buried at sea, as a Marine should be.

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Disaster and Calamity: Unnatural


The machines came alive one morning in Laurence Simmons’ junkyard.

All the machines.

Laurence was nowhere to be found, which was probably best for Laurence though not for the rest of Cross.

The machines went on a tear, so to speak. Those that could went racing out of the yard, chasing down people and animals. Three people were killed, including a pair of siblings, as well as six cats and eight dogs.

Houses, vehicles, and businesses were rammed. The damage was considerable, especially given the condition of the old machines. More than a few parts were left lying about the roads, and I wish more of them had fallen apart before they had caused any damage.

For three days, we hunted the machines throughout Cross. Roadblocks were placed wherever a vehicle might escape, and our fire department was kept on its toes as we destroyed vehicles or drove them back toward the yard.

By the end of the third day, every mechanized item which had escaped from the yard had been driven back into it, and I gathered up as many of the militia as I could to help me with the final burn.

When the last of the machines had ceased to move, and great, dark gray clouds of smoke billowed into the air, I found Laurence Simmons dead in his small work shack. He had a book of mechanical spells open in front of him, and he had opened his wrists into a bucket of oil and mixed gears.

The spell was a rough one, but it had been more than sufficient.

I threw his corpse and the bucket into an old Model T. The book is at home, in my private library, and the damned thing still smells of motor oil.

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Disaster and Calamity: Ice Storm


The fact that no one was killed when Emma Haight set fire to her husband’s place of employment never ceases to amaze me.

Emma was a bright woman and an individual who was certifiably insane. Her husband, Jacob, knew this when he married her, and tried his best to do right by her. He loved her, and he had since they were both five years old.

Emma loved him to be certain. That was underlined by the fact that she waited to set fire to his workplace when he was at lunch. She wanted everyone to die except for Jacob.

What Emma didn’t know, and what I had quite honestly forgotten, was that the upper floor of the building was occupied by a frost giant.

Kaempe Stor had arrived from Denmark sometime in the early 18th century, and he had traveled the United States, finally settling down in Cross in 1798. He had been tucked away on my farm for several decades, then secreted over to the Coffins. After that, he sort of wandered to and fro, depending upon his whim. At the close of the 19th century, he had been given the top floor of the Coffin Building, and he was such a quiet sleeper that we all forgot he was there.

Evidently, the fire and the noise of the engines had awakened him, and when everyone went running hellbent for leather from the building, Kaempe Stor put the fire out.

He also coated the majority of downtown in a fine layer of ice.

Emma is now confined to home and has a pair of nurses who look after her while Jacob is at work. Kaempe Stor is sleeping again, and I’m wondering how in the hell I can forget about a frost giant.

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Disaster and Calamity: Sacrifice


They were the first to volunteer in every disaster which struck the town, and there were many. The children of the Red Cross were indefatigable. They bandaged wounds, served food, and comforted the injured and the sick. I was always proud to work alongside of them.

Shortly before the Great War, there was a horrific flood in Cross, and the children were there, helping as they always did. I was in some of the rougher areas, pulling both the living and the dead from the waters. The flood had originated from the Cross marina, pushing up and over the low houses, past the higher ones, and finally drowning everything it came into contact with.

Near noon of the first day, I went to see if there was any soup left, and it was then that I discovered the Red Cross was missing. Not just out and about, but actually missing. All their gear was gone save for a large box.

Eight children missing.

I spent the next three days searching for them and finding nothing.

Nothing until a year later, when the disturbingly fresh, but unaged corpse of Thomas Ray was found hanging from a lamp post on Main Street. A year after that, we discovered the second.

For eight years, this happened, and never did I catch the creature responsible. I cannot even fathom what type of beast could. The only clue I ever had was the impression made by a bootheel, one with the letter ‘C’ spelled out in tacks on the sole.

I haven’t seen that track since the last body was found, but I still look, and I hope like hell that I find the killer.

I’ve got eight years of hell waiting.

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Disaster and Calamity: A Raging Sea


The Atlantic is an unforgiving entity. It is, in truth, a wrathful God who seeks to destroy those who love it best.

Cross has been witness to this harsh truth for centuries. Early into the twentieth century, a group of sailors on leave from Boston decided to take a pleasure cruise along the coast near the mouth of the Cross River.

It was a poor decision.

The sea had been rough for the better part of three days, and it had tossed larger, more seaworthy vessels onto the shore. Our life-saving station had been busy, and only a handful were still able to man their posts. I was there as a favor to a cousin, hoping that we would not be called out. I have no great love for the sea, nor does it have any for me.

My hopes were dashed, of course, as easily as the sailors against the rocks beneath the waves.

What hellish creature upended their small craft, I do not know. Considering the wounds I saw on the survivors and the bodies we were able to recover, I count myself lucky in not having seen it.

Of the nine sailors who took their little trip that day, only four survived, and each of them was wounded. We recovered the bodies of two others, and some of the parts for three more.

When I asked if anything had predicated the attack, the answer was a unanimous ‘no.’ They had been sailing, and then they were fighting for their lives.

I went down to the beach a short time later and stood there, trying to determine what happened. As I pondered the situation, a head tumbled out of the waves. The eyes had been torn out, and I understood the message perfectly well.

It was time to go home while I still could.

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Disaster and Calamity: Vengeful


Some people, I suppose, still might consider the destruction of the Good Fellowship Church a disaster of some sort.

Personally, I don’t know why.

Cross has been the home to many churches over its existence. Few have survived intact for the duration. Many end up like the Good Fellowship Church, which is for the best. There is no dominant theology in Cross. Instead, there is a pantheon which ranges from negligent to horrific, with more in the latter than the former.

I don’t know what the congregation of the Good Fellowship did to annoy their particular God. I don’t know if it was the result of one parishioner’s actions, or anyone’s. What I do know is that on a bright and sunny morning in October, their God came calling.

There were reports of a little girl walking into the building after most of the congregation had gathered for their Sunday worship. A few minutes later, the building exploded from within. Within an hour, the entire structure was destroyed.

There were no survivors.

I was there when the dead were hauled out. What struck me as unusual was the fact that the tongue had been torn out of every person. I found them gathered in a pair of large chalices on the altar. Pristine and untouched by the flames.

I suppose the God had tired of listening to them talk.

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