Duncan Blood’s Journal: 1893

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All mail for Henry Ellingsworth Junior was directed to my address from the Cross Post Office.

There was blessedly little of it until the fall of 1893. Sometime at the beginning of September, his father wrote to him. When there was no response, the man persisted. By October, Mr. Henry Ellingsworth Senior, and his wife Madeline, informed their unresponsive son they were on their way to visit and would be arriving via the morning train.

This was not news I wished to read.

Henry Ellingsworth Junior had been a son of a bitch, and I had put him in the ground in July of 1892. I confess it had been a spur of the moment decision, but I dislike a man who beats a horse. In the months prior to his demise, Henry and I had gotten to know each other, though I did not want to. He bragged long and often about his prowess in the bedroom and his skill with a gun. He delighted in discussions about Indian fighting, and how he had learned to scalp a man from his father.

His parents, Henry often told any who would listen, had raised him to be the man he was.

Nothing they should have been proud of as far as I was concerned.

Henry had taken up residence in Cross in 1890, and he had worn out his welcome within a year, yet he refused to accept the social shunning for what it was. No woman wanted his attentions, and only a man in need of a drink would sit with him.

On October 5th, however, his parents arrived in Cross to speak with their son and demand an answer as to why he wasn’t writing back.

I alone was in the station when they entered it, and it was from me that they demanded to know the whereabouts of their son.

They were as obnoxious and as arrogant as he had been, and they irritated the hell out of me.

I suppose that’s why I overreacted.

With a little bit of encouragement, both Mr. and Mrs. Ellingsworth discovered they could fit into a steamer trunk. With a great deal of swearing on my part, I managed to get them aboard the train that was starting its run toward Florida.

I doubt either of them lived past Virginia.

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Duncan Blood’s Journal: 1891

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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: 1881

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I found the bodies at a little past sunrise.

They were splayed out on the side of the road, stripped bare and gutshot. The two men were strangers, and by the callouses on their hands and feet, they were working men looking for just that: work.

I spent a short time by the bodies, examining the ground and looking for sign. Soon, I discovered there had been three of them, walking together. The third man had backtracked, following North Road out of Cross.

Judging by the state of the bodies, he had killed them the night before.

Leaving the bodies where they lay, I tracked their passage, catching glimpses of sign that showed me the killer was moving along at a slow and casual pace.

And why shouldn’t he? It wasn’t likely anyone other than myself would find the bodies. There were few people who wandered out towards Gods’ Hollow on the best of days.

I wasn’t more than a mile from the murders when I heard the unmistakable sound of someone snoring. Loosening my Colts in their holsters, I followed the noise off the road and along a narrow game trail that led dangerously close to the stonewall that surrounds a fair portion of the Hollow.

Soon, I came upon a rough camp. The remains of a fire lay in the center, and a pile of clothing stood off to one side. There were two pairs of ill-repaired boots and a single, small derringer pistol atop them. Beside it was a half-eaten rabbit, the animal’s hide and offal cast off to one side.

Directly across from me lay the snorer. He was wrapped in a large leather bag, a curious sleeper I’d seen a few men use during the war when it got cold.

It looked exceptionally comfortable, and I could see why the man was undisturbed by my presence.

He hadn’t even noticed.

For a moment, I considered waking him and questioning him regarding the reason for his attack on his traveling companions. Then, I decided I didn’t care.

I put a round in his belly, which woke him up in a hurry, and as he screamed, I set fire to the sleeping bag.

I suspect he died quicker than the men he murdered, much to my chagrin.

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Duncan Blood’s Journal: 1877

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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

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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: 1869

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She staggered out into the street, covered in blood as she screamed for help.

Help was there in a matter of moments, several ladies hurrying around the young woman and guiding her away as one of the boys went racing to the doctor. A few minutes later, one of our patrolmen came up from the station at a run, and he dashed into the alley from which the young woman had so recently appeared.

The patrolman stumbled out, turned, and vomited onto the road, and I took his place, entering the alley with my hands on my Colts.

Within a moment, I let them rest easy.

Donald Hoffman sat with his back against a wall and a knife buried in his belly. Most of his innards were in his hands, and there was a look of shock on his face. I stood there, attempted to understand what I was looking at, and decided it would be best if I spoke with the young woman.

The patrolman had recovered by the time I stepped out, and he told me the young woman had been taken to the station where she was to be met by the doctor.

I found her sitting and sobbing in the office of Captain Thomas Doyle. There was a look of despair on his face, and he motioned for me to close the door after I entered. I passed the sobbing young woman, leaned close and listened to what the captain had to say.

“Will you help me?” he asked.

“Yes,” I answered. “I will.”

“Thank you, Duncan.” He shook my hand and left his office.

Taking his chair, I moved it in front of her, and I smiled.

“What happened?” I asked gently.

“He tried to assault me.”

“Ah,” I said. I leaned forward slightly. “There’s one issue with that, Miss.”

She blinked away her tears and looked at me, confused.

“Donald had his genitals blown off at Bull Run,” I whispered.

Hate flickered across her face. “I’ll scream, and the Captain will have your head too.”

I shook my head. “No. He was there when Donald was wounded. He knows you’re a liar and a killer.”

Fear replaced the hate, and her scream died in her throat as I choked the life out of her.

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Duncan Blood’s Journal: 1866

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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

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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

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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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The War of the Rebellion: Virginia, 1865

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Sometimes, the only monsters I find are men.

I came upon the encampment shortly after noon and found no enlisted men, only officers, a lady, and a dog.

When I had first entered the encampment, I had heard laughter and raised conversation. As I passed along the center road, glancing at the various structures, I had seen a great deal of fresh supplies. Meat, fruit, casks of wine, and a healthy selection of liquors. There were even barrels of beer and kegs of tobacco.

Yet there were no soldiers that I could see.

I suppose that is why the officers and their guest fell silent when they saw me approach. When I reached them, I came to a stop. When I did not salute, an officer in a ridiculous hat demanded to know my business.

“I’m passing through,” I explained.

“Then you best continue, sergeant,” the man ordered.

“Where are the men?” I asked.

The officers snickered, and the lady let out a pleasant laugh.

I didn’t smile.

“There are no men here,” the man replied, patting his dog. “We are the only ones.”

“You’ve enough supplies for a brigade, at least,” I remarked.

“For the right buyer, yes,” the man stated. “However, no one has been willing to meet our price yet, so the food will sit where it is and rot.”

“There’s an artillery unit back a ways that needs fresh food,” I told him, lowering my hands to my Colts.

None of them noticed my movements, and the woman pointedly yawned.

“Yes, we’re well aware of that,” the officer in charge replied. “Their colonel refuses to pay the price, so his men and his horses will starve.”

“No. They won’t,” I told him and drew both Colts.

The group burst out laughing and only stopped when I blew the woman’s brains out. The men went for their weapons, and I put them all down as their dog ran away. When the echoes of my Colts faded, only the officer in charge was still breathing. I had shot him in the groin and he knew he was dying.

“Do you me to end it?” I asked.

He nodded, sweat standing out on his forehead from the pain.

“Hm. Those boys wanted to eat, too.”

I cleaned my Colts and watched him bleed out.

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