Lake Oneida, NY


Helforth University stands a few miles north of Lake Oneida.

I visited the university once, in 1844, and had to cut my way out of the office I was in. Three men had decided that the Blood family was worthy of study, and they intended to keep me there for exactly that purpose. I was well over a hundred at the time, but I looked to be no older than fourteen or so. I suppose it was my appearance and what I did to one of the men that made a lasting impression.

I’d dragged one of the men, Professor Clyde Young, out in front of the building. There were students and faculty watching, and those who couldn’t see sure as hell heard what happened next.

I told them all how I’d been invited by Young to visit. Told them what he wanted to do. Then I put a hole in his belly and skinned him alive.

While Helforth University never invited me back, I gave the place a wide berth. Over the years, the school has grown, and I’ve heard more than a few rumors about the place. But, seeing as how it’s a fair distance from Cross, I didn’t worry myself. I’ve enough of a time caring for one small town. I can’t add an entire state to my burden.

I caught a train to Syracuse, a ride to Lake Oneida, and then a ferry across the lake. From the northern shore, I walked until I came upon the university. Students wandered the grounds in groups of two and three, and I could see they were armed. Each one had a side arm, and there were guards at each building.

From my haversack, I retrieved my Colts, strapped them on and tied them down. I slipped my pruning knife into a sheath in the small of my back and took out something new; a pair of brass knuckles. I eased them on, flexed my fingers, and then made my way toward the main entrance of the school.

The university had grown exponentially since my last visit. The grounds and the buildings spoke of wealth and power, darkness and exploitation.

Helforth University was made of sterner stuff than the faculty and staff of Miskatonic. And they’d put up a better fight.

And that suited me fine.

There was a child to rescue, and I planned on killing anyone who tried to stop me.

Professor Jackson


Fear is an exceptional motivator.

I arrived outside of the Cross branch of Miskatonic University at 7:30 this morning. The guards at the front entrance to the school’s grounds saw my Colts and stood aside.

The two men knew I meant business and wisely let me go about my task.

Professor Jackson had originally taught at the main branch of the school and recently moved to Cross to head the Department of Curiosities, under which the study of the Hollow fell.

As I approached his building, he stepped out of the front door and froze when he caught sight of me. His mouth moved, but no words escaped his lips. At his sides, his fingers twitched, and a heartbeat later, a dark stain appeared on the front of his trousers, spreading as I moved closer.

I kept my hands close to the Colts.

Professor Jackson was wise to fear me.

He’d come to Cross because I’d killed his predecessor. Had, in fact, drowned the sonofabitch in his toilet.

I stopped a half-dozen feet away from Professor Jackson and nodded good morning to him.

The man cleared his throat and managed to speak in a hoarse voice. “Mr. Blood, what brings you here?”

“You do,” I answered.

He took a half step back toward the door, and I shook my head, dropping my hands onto the butts of the revolvers.

A whimper slipped out of his lips. He coughed and whispered, “I’m sure I don’t know what you mean.”

“And I’m sure you do,” I replied. “The Hollow, yesterday. Someone butchered a nurse, some maids and stole a child.”

His skin paled, and he shook violently. “No.”

“I want the child, Jackson.”

He licked his lips, eyes darting from left to right as panic took him.

“No lies,” I snapped. “I’ll know, and you’ll suffer.”

He winced at the statement and nodded. “The child is not here.”

“Where is he then?”

“I have sent him along with several students,” Jackson explained. “They are traveling to another university. One which is better equipped to question the child than we are here. Or even at the main branch.”


“Helforth University.”

I stiffened, drew a Colt and shot him in both knees.

“That’s for sending the boy to Hell,” I snarled and left the man screaming to suffer.

Helforth University, 1931


She stood before me in the study.

I’d not let her in.

Hell, I hadn’t had any visitors in close to a week, what with the weather being what it was.

I finished my brandy, wished my guns were closer and nodded my head in greeting.


“It is,” she replied. In silence, she sat on the floor a short distance from me. Her eyes, a deep blue, searched my face. Her own was hidden beneath fabric, her rich, olive skin speaking of the sun and the Mediterranean. She smelled of sand and cinnamon, and power pulsated from her.

“I am in need of your assistance,” she stated after a moment.

“With what?”

“The return of something precious.”

I raised an eyebrow. “What might that be?”

“My child.”

I straightened up in my chair. “Your child?”

She nodded. “He was taken from me this morning. I had gone to prayers, and when I returned, his nurse and my maids were slain. My child gone.”

“Do you know who took him?” I asked.

“I suspect, but I do not know.” Cold anger had entered her words. “I tracked them out of the Hollow and into your Cross, but I lost the trail there. I was fortunate to make the acquaintance of someone from The Sentinel. He said I should speak with you. And so, Duncan Blood, I have come to ask your assistance.”

She shifted into a kneeling position and prostrated herself before me.

I cannot say why, but the sight of it not only moved me, it also terrified me.

A bolt of pure fear raced through my flesh and caused my heart to skip a beat.

“Save my child, Duncan Blood,” she whispered, her voice strangely reverberating in the room. “Do what I cannot.”

“What is your name?” I asked.


“Hulm,” I replied. “I will save your son.”

She raised herself back up, her eyes wet with angry tears. “I do not wish for those who took him to live.”

“They won’t.”

“If my boy is dead,” she said, choking on the words.

“We will discuss what sort of vengeance to seek,” I responded, keeping my voice low. “Tell me, Hulm, where did the trail end for you?”

“In front of a large building,” she answered. “The man said told me the name of it. Miskatonic.”

Standing up, I slid my gunbelts on and strapped the holsters down.


The Woods, 1918


The land had gotten a taste for blood.

He stood alone in the shattered woods.

Some of the unit I was with called out to the man, despite my advice to leave him be.

A few of my new squad remained silent beside me.

The others, though, shouted and waved their arms, but he remained still.

I bade them stay where they were, to not approach, but like my admonition to keep their mouths closed, they ignored me.

A group of six headed off towards the stranger, picking their way through the shattered wood that had so recently been held by the Germans. There were three men left with me, and when I sat down, they did the same.

None of us spoke. We didn’t have to. The men walking through the destruction were making enough noise for the entire battalion. There was no joviality in their calls to the stranger, no concern for his well-being. They were only angered at being ignored.

When they were only twenty or so feet away from the man, he turned to face them. His face was immobile, stone-like. Not a flicker of emotion passed over his features, and an uneasy feeling stole across me.

One of the men beside me felt the same and asked if we should call our comrades back.

I was about to do just that when the situation changed.

The broken trees groaned and shifted.

Shattered edges and splintered branches turned to face us, creating a rough barrier that we would have been hard-pressed to cross without serious injury.

None of the men who had not listened to me heard the forest move. They were focused entirely upon the stranger.

The stranger who had done nothing more than turn since we had spotted him.

One of the men yelled out in pain and came to a stop, looking down at the earth. A heartbeat later, and the others did the same. Their shouts of pain transformed into shrieks as roots shot up and dragged the men down.

The shrieks were silenced as great gouts of blood exploded into the air.

As the blood rained down, the barrier around us eased away and I got to my feet.

My surviving squadmates did the same, and we left the woods.

I would mark the area as heavy with exploded ordnance and hope that no others would be foolish enough to enter.

Thanks for reading! If you’re interested, here’s my latest book on Cross, MA.

Gas, 1918


There are too many ways for a soldier to die.

Earlier in this war, the Germans introduced gas. I got myself a good taste of it once, and once was more than enough. It laid me low for nearly a day, and had I not been alone, someone might have mistaken me for being dead.

The gas alarm is a terrible sound. All along the front, men will bang metal upon metal, a cacophony that alerts all who can hear about the horror of what is rolling forth with the wind.

There is always a mad scramble for our masks to get them on and sealed. There is always one man who fails, and it is a terrible death to watch.

This morning, gas came rolling across No-Man’s-Land, and the alarm went up.

There was something wrong, though.

Something untoward about this gas.

While the others prepared to repel an attack, I crept up over the wall and out into the desolation which lay between the lines. It took me only a few moments to realize what was wrong.

The gas was moving against the wind.

As it did so, I caught sight of a pair of American soldiers crouched down beside a pair of field telephone lines.

That was wrong.

There were no Americans in our sector. Not anywhere close to it.

The soldiers looked up and stared at me, their eyepieces empty save for swirling gas.

I drew my Luger, and the men got clumsily to their feet. With awkward movements, they tried to escape, and I shot them both in the back.

The bodies sagged, smoke pouring out of the holes left by the passage of the bullets.

A heartbeat later, only a pile of clothing and equipment lay to mark where the creatures had been.

I scanned the area around me, but there was nothing else to see.

What the creatures wanted, and why they were so intent upon the telephone lines, I’ll never know. The gas dissipated, and I ran back to the lines as the first of the German snipers caught sight of me.

I took a bullet through the back of the leg and went tumbling down into a trench, where a group of Highlanders laughed at me and asked if I enjoyed my trip.

I told them all where to put their questions, even as one of them offered up some scotch.

By the time I finished the drink, my leg was healed, and it was time to go.

If you’re interested, here’s my newest book that takes place in Cross, MA. Thanks for reading!

Nothing Left, 1918


The staccato burst of machinegun fire was a comforting sound.

There is something undeniably personal in war, even in this war with its massive machines and unheard of slaughter.

The men I am with, they are my brothers, kin born of battle. There is a shared experience here that few others will know. It is among these men that I am most comfortable. Even when we take prisoners, there is a bond between soldiers, regardless of sides. We have suffered together.

Today, I was tasked with scouting the German lines. There had been a break in one section of the trenches, and I was able to slip through, easing my way as far back as I dared. I had no desire to spend the remainder of the conflict in a prisoner of war camp.

When I had reached the end of my tether, as it were, I heard the chattering of a machinegun. I made my way toward it and soon came upon the bodies of freshly slain men.

They had been torn asunder, from the inside out, judging by the way their ribs and sternums were exposed.

I followed the sound of the machinegun and made my way to it. When I arrived at the site, I saw a German gunner in a camouflaged hide. His face was a mask of determination as he traversed the weapon from left to right and back again, pausing occasionally to lay down heavier fire on one area or another.

When I looked for his targets, I was taken aback.

I’m not quite sure what they were, but they were not human. I suspect they were some form of fairy folk, crafted from gray flesh and jagged teeth.

There were dozens of them, perhaps half a hundred or more. They tried to charge his position, but the gunner was too skilled, effortlessly adding a new belt to his weapon.

I settled in to watch, chambering a round into my Enfield and waiting to see if I would need to help the man.

I did not.

By the time he finished, the fairy folk were dead in front of his position, and his gun was glowing orange.

When I stood up, the man caught sight of me, and before he could draw his sidearm, I saluted him.

The German laughed, nodded, and returned the salute.

I took my time getting back to my own lines. There was, after all, nothing to report.

Spoilt, 1918


They were dead when I found them.

I spent the better part of a week tracking down the Germans who had ambushed my unit, only to find a trench full of corpses.

The destruction was meant to appear as part of the normal course of war, but a quick examination of the dead told me otherwise.

There were great gouges in their backs, ribs broken, and the marrow sucked out. Bits of men were scattered about, but it was nothing more than camouflage. Eyewash, as it were, to hide the fact that something else had slain these soldiers and feasted upon them.

I’ve no qualms about killing. None at all about revenge. But I do take issue with something hunting men.

I poked around until I found a half-collapsed dugout, one marked with dried blood and a flat, foul-smelling scat. A closer look showed bone fragments in the scat, and I took out my trench knife. It was a cut-down butcher’s bayonet, and it fit my hand nicely.

With a good hold upon it, I entered the dugout and waited for my eyes to adjust to the dim light. As they did so, a whisper caught my ear. I did not recognize the language, but I didn’t need to. There was a darkness to it that I would know anywhere. It was of the Hollow, and I had heard it there before.

From the corner of my eye, I saw them. A trio of tall, lanky creatures who each had an extra arm and small, malicious eyes. Their mouths were too long, the lips cracked and bleeding. None of them were clothed, and I could see their fingers twitching eagerly.

Why they didn’t rush me became apparent a heartbeat later.

There was a fourth creature, and it sprang at me from my right.

I drove my knife into its mouth and out the back of its neck, killing it instantly and causing the creature to sag to the uneven floor. A twist and a pull brought my weapon clear even as the remaining beasts attacked.

The fight was brutal and vicious, and I spared them no mercy.

I unleashed upon the creatures the rage I had kept reserved for those who had killed my friends.

The beasts suffered, for the only one who died quickly was the first.

When I finished, my arms ached, and my blade was dull.

Broken, 1918


I alone survived.

Coming up through the second line, we were ambushed.

The Germans struck quickly, professionally. There was no hatred in them, only the necessary amount of violence to collapse our front and destroy our rear. They pushed at us from either end, dropped down from the sides, and were – by far – the most skillful adversaries we’d yet faced.

It does not lessen the pain in my heart. Nor will it ever.

I took several blows to the head from a warclub, the steel spikes collapsing my helmet and splitting open my skull. I was aware, vaguely, of the Germans as they made their way among the wounded, administering the coup de grace.

I was proud of the Germans, for the killings were merciful. I was prouder of my boys, for they did not beg.

By the time a French patrol found us, I had managed to peel my helmet off, and my skull was knitting itself back together. The pain was horrific, and I could not resist as a pair of Frenchmen bound my head and lifted me off the ground. The walls of the trench raced past as they gasped with the effort, apologizing all the while.

The Germans had scrambled my brain more than I had thought.

I spent a week in a hospital behind the lines in Oise, and when I was released, I learned my entire battalion had been destroyed. It was, in the parlance of armies, combat ineffective. There were not enough men to form a platoon, let alone a battalion.

I was offered the chance to go to a different Canadian unit, but that would require me to be sent back and await their arrival.

The other offer was to be seconded to a British unit, to be their eyes and ears on the lines.

I chose the latter.

The Germans who had killed my friends were still across the lines at Oise.

I went to the graveyard where my platoon lay buried, and I was pleased to see that they were all together, as they had been in life. There was a sharp agony then, a cleaving of my heart.

I should, by rights, be in the ground with them, but my blood forbids such a thing.

It’s time now for me to slip across No-Man’s-Land and find those who ambushed us. I’ve a debt to pay and a thing or two to teach the Germans about killing.

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Hubris, 1917


Some things are best left alone.

We were detached from our battalion and raced to the rear of the lines, where we were loaded onto a train that paused only to switch engines. Not once were we allowed to disembark and stretch our legs. Not until we reached the end of the line, which happened to be a small city that looked as though it had been lifted from the front and dropped back several hundred miles.

As far as I knew, though, there hadn’t been any fighting this far back.

We were hurried off the train, issued ammunition for our weapons, and told that we would be hunting a monstrosity. A beast so terrible that few men believed it could even exist.

The men in my unit were hard. Foresters and lumberjacks, stevedores, and longshoremen. They had seen a great many things in their lives, and after three years of war, there was little they believed could surprise them.

This town did.

The war had not come to this place, but the French army had attempted to build a weapon here. Or, rather, to awaken a weapon.

They had drawn the creature out of its slumber, and it had not been pleased.

We were told the monster was in the center of the city, sitting in a park and waiting to destroy all who came too close. We were given light machine guns, a few pieces of field artillery, and told to destroy the beast.

There was a good deal of chuckling among my comrades until we came upon the park and found a male giant sitting there. Beside him was a massive pile of bloodied and torn uniforms, all that remained of dozens of French soldiers.

My comrades came to a stop and then fanned out as the giant took notice of us. He sneered, coughed, and then swore in ancient Gaelic. The giant complained of his wounds, which were many, and of the wretched men who had awakened him.

Clearing my throat, I asked in Gaelic if he was going to eat anyone else.

He replied in the negative. He only wanted to go back to bed.

I told my Captain what the giant said, and we were told to lower our weapons.

The ground shook beneath our feet as the giant got to his, and buildings shivered as he left the park.

Sometimes, it’s better not to fight at all.

Nicholas Efstathiou

Nicholas works as a teacher in New England and has been writing for thirty years. You can find his newest work here:

Gunned Down, 1917


They took the trench and regretted it.

I’ve neither love nor hate for the enemy. There is no place for either, not in war.

So, this morning, when a group of Sturmtruppen took the trench we had abandoned a month ago, I went to warn them.

I was too late.

I saw a score of them securing the position as I slid down into the trench, my hands raised to show I was unarmed, the creatures attacked.

These creatures wore the uniforms of soldiers in both armies, but their faces were gone. Instead of features, there were pulsating colors – deep blues and purples – mesmerizing many of the Sturmtruppen and allowing the creatures to seize them.

When the monsters did so, they stripped the flesh from the bones, the meat snaking into the empty faces until the men were nothing more than piles of soiled clothing and equipment.

Some of the Germans fought back, but there were too many of the creatures. I snatched up a rifle from a dead man and killed the monster closest to me even as a machine-gunner swung his weapon around and sprayed the trench.

I fired over his shoulder as he attempted to reload, but the machine gun jammed, and he drew his pistol instead as the creatures advanced upon us.

“Come on!” I snarled in German, and the gunner laughed as he shook his head.

“Stormtroopers don’t retreat,” he remarked, firing into the onslaught. “Not even from the likes of these.”

He tossed his pistol aside when he ran out of ammunition, and he drew a long knife. He glanced at me and asked, “Will I see you in Hell?”

I nodded. “More than likely.”

“Then safe travels until we meet again,” he said and raced toward the creatures.

Every man has the right to choose when he dies, and I waited until he had met his fate.

As his remnants collapsed to the trench floor, the creatures hesitated and looked toward me.

“I’ve got all day,” I told them. “I don’t mind a little more killing.”

They sank back into the shadows and let me be.

I slung the rifle over my shoulder and slipped up and out of the trench.

There was still a war to fight.

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