1931: How Many

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How many had they killed?

I had rested in the room of the madman. I’d even found a bit of food tucked away and some tepid tea. Neither had been particularly appetizing, but it’d done the trick. I’ve eaten worse, and I suspect I’ll do so again.

When I left the madman’s room, I passed through one nearly as large as a football field and found a flight of stairs that led down. The stairs were wider, and the stairwell itself was well-lit.

At the landing, I paused and listened, knife in hand. There was a bit of talk, and a quick glance around the corner showed a trio of soldiers walking away from me, chuckling and passing a small, brown paper bag back and forth. A door to the right clicked shut. On the center of the door was a single word.

Delicacies.

That sure as hell didn’t sound like barracks.

Once the soldiers turned a corner, I crossed the hall and let myself in.

I found myself in a brightly lit room with shelves lining the walls. Some of the shelves were occupied by large jars, others by much smaller containers. A counter, much like one might find in a candy shop, stood across the room and was manned by a gentleman with a white uniform. He wore a neatly trimmed mustache, and sweat broke out upon his forehead when he caught sight of me.

There was a lock on the door, so I made good use of it.

He remained still and silent as I walked to him.

I went to speak, but my eyes caught the lettering on some of the larger containers.

H. Daily, 10/1/1889.

L. Bartleby, 9/3/1856.

My gaze went to the smaller jars.

Carried three months, uterine explosion.

Carried six months and two days, collapse of both lungs.

“Take one down,” I whispered.

The man nodded, took hold of a container marked A. Boone, 2/27/1901, and removed the lid.

“Dump it.”

He winced and did as I commanded.

White hard candy with black swirls tumbled and clattered across the counter.

“You should try one,” he said, voice shaking. “They’re quite good.”

I stared at him, the hatred rising.

“Every girl tastes different,” he continued. “No two are alike. I make sure of that.”

I broke every bone in my hands, beating him to death.

It was worth it.

#paranormal #mystery

1931: In the Chamber

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I wonder how many he’s killed.

He never heard me enter the room, which was fine with me. I was tired and in no mood for any sort of conversation. Still, the apparatus and the equipment caught my eye, and I wondered whose skulls he’d decorated his laboratory with.

I didn’t know what any of the material might have been used for or if he was particularly attached to those skulls. Perhaps they were patients he had been fond of. Perhaps he had simply enjoyed watching them die.

As I stood in silence, the machinery of the room rattling and thrumming around me, I watched the man putter around the lab. Every so often, as the noise of the machines sank for a moment, I would catch a bit of a classical piece. I knew it, somehow, but couldn’t quite place it.

That, too, I found to be irksome.

I glanced about the room as the man went about his business, and off in one corner, I saw several notebooks. Whether they contained any information which might be useful, I didn’t know. But I planned on finding out.

Just as soon as I was done with the scientist.

I took a quiet step forward and paused as he lifted up a skull. He sang to it, kissed its brow and stated, “You were nearly there, my dear. Another month and you would have given birth to a live one.”

He returned the skull to its place and lifted another. “And you, sweet Gillian, you died in childbirth, as did your unnatural offspring. Its lungs collapsed even as yours exploded.”

The man placed Gillian’s skull down and clasped his hands behind his back. He lowered his chin to his chest.

“My dear ladies,” he whispered. “It is a sad sacrifice you make but a necessary one. I wish you could have understood this fact while still alive, but I hope, through the clarifying lens of death, that you know it now. I will continue. I will use your sacrifice to guide me to our salvation.”

The man was mad, not cruel.

A lunatic, not a sadist.

I stepped up behind him, clapped one hand over his nose and mouth, and pulled back as I cut his throat.

His blood spilled out and splattered on the floor, and I laid him on it. I waited with him while he died.

He was mad and deserved that kindness.

#paranormal #mystery

1931: The Nurse

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Goddamn, but that was a fight.

I’ve had little rest in the past few days, but that’s not a reason for the difficulty of this past fight. Not at all. She would have been a challenge if I’d had a solid night’s sleep and plug of whiskey.

When I left the doctor’s room, I found a set of stairs leading up to the second floor. These were just as narrow as the hallway to his laboratory had been, and again, I didn’t mind. I’d been in tighter places in Europe and with more to fear.

Reaching the second floor, I slid a pocket door back and found myself in an operating theater occupied by a single nurse. She looked at me as I opened my mouth to speak, and she snatched up a scalpel from a tray.

Without any hesitation, she threw herself at me.

And not wildly, mind you but with skill and determination.

In a heartbeat, I was in a knife fight with a woman who knew how to wield a blade.

She didn’t waste any words, didn’t threaten or berate me. The nurse knew who I was and the danger I represented.

Damn, but she was a fine fighter.

I couldn’t draw my Colts, and she knew it. The fact that I wanted secrecy was a given to this woman, and she slashed and jabbed at me with a skill and dexterity bordering on the supernatural. She cut my coat to ribbons and kept me off balance as I drew my pruning knife and did what I could to stop her scalpel from finding something more substantial than cloth.

Within minutes I was sweating, and she pressed her advantage.

Had she not stumbled over a bit of raised flooring, the fight would have gone on a helluva lot longer.

Still, stumble, she did.

Her blow went wide, and as she corrected herself, the opening I’d been looking for presented itself.

I brought the pruning knife in an upward strike, and the curved blade punched into her underarm, causing her to drop the scalpel.

She clawed at my face and nearly gouged out an eye as I jerked my knife down and through her ribs, shattering them as I went.

The nurse fell to her knees, guts spilled out on the floor and hatred in her eyes.

I tapped her throat with the side of my blade, an offer of a quick death.

“Go to Hell, Blood,” she snarled.

I nodded. “Give it time.”

#paranormal #mystery

1931: First Floor

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I went hunting.

There was no time to waste. I’d seen what awaited the women among the scholars of the university, and it did not please me.

The anger filling me demanded I race from room to room to butcher each and every member of that organization. But the rational part of me won out. Rage and butchery would do nothing but forewarn my adversaries and allow them to possibly move her as well as any victims who might yet survive.

Before leaving the room, I locked the door and covered the remains of the patient whose head had imploded. Then, stepping over the nurse’s corpse, I exited the room through another door off in the corner.

It opened to a narrow passage lit by bare bulbs and stank of old blood and fear.

The passage opened into a laboratory where a man bent over a microscope, focused on the slide before him.

As I stepped into the room, knife in hand, he looked up. A quizzical expression flitted across his face as he asked, “And who might you be, sir?”

I shook my head. “Where are the girls?”

He raised an eyebrow, glanced at my knife and snorted with derision before he returned his attention to the microscope. “I’ve no time for some country bumpkin. Be on your way, sir, and make sure my coffee is sent up to me post haste. I’ve waited long enough for it.”

I don’t know if he was brave, cocky, or just stupid. Either way, his response to me didn’t bode well for his future.

I moved towards him, and he stood up, anger plain on his face.

“I will not have my work disturbed,” he snapped, and I punched him in the mouth.

The blow caught him flatfooted, and he went down on his ass. An ‘oomph’ of surprise escaped his lips and then a whimper as I took hold of him by an ear and twisted.

“Where are the girls?”

He swallowed and looked to the ceiling. “Fifth floor. Barracks are on the fourth.”

“How many are still alive?”

“Twenty-two.”

“How many have a chance to live?”

He looked away, and I scooped his eye out with the tip of my knife.

As he shrieked, I held the eye in front of him.

“Tell me, or you’ll eat this and your other eye too.”

“Three,” he moaned.

“They’ll all live longer than you.”

He choked to death on his eye.

#paranormal #mystery

1931: Inside

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They died quiet.

Moving from the gunners, through the gates and into the open yard around the building, I stopped and hid as a patrol passed by. The two soldiers grumbled as they went, complaining about the maggoty bread they’d been given with a meager supper of chicken soup.

One was stating that the breeders were fed better than the soldiers were when he died with my knife buried in his throat.

His comrade had never fought before, a fact evidenced by his immobilization at the sight of his companion’s death.

The man started muttering and clearing his throat as I snapped the blade out of his comrade and buried it in his own. Hot blood splashed my face, stained my clothes and reminded me of my youth.

When I reached the doors, I found them unlocked, and they opened on blessedly silent hinges.

There were neither guards nor staff at the door, and I didn’t mind that one bit, either. Less killing meant more time searching, although I’ll admit I was just as keen to kill as I was to take a breath.

All these sonsofbitches deserved to die.

That was a fact.

Standing in a large hallway, I turned left and kept to the edge, unsure as to what I might find in the place. The first pair of rooms were empty of people, though the remnants of the same could be seen.

What appeared to be afterbirth lay on the floor near a pool of drying blood. Bits of skin and flesh, along with tufts of hair, could be seen. Medical equipment, splattered with gore and filth, stood in no particular order around the edges of the room.

The third room, however, well, that helped a great deal.

In the room, a nurse stood over a patient whose tired face was partially hidden beneath a sheet as she gazed down into a bowl. As I watched, a long and dark tentacle reached up, hook her through her nose, and the creature screamed.

Without waiting, I sprang into the room and cut the nurse down. The patient remained where she was, eyes pleading as I turned on my heel and slashed the tentacle. The bowl dropped from the patient’s hands as the young woman’s head imploded.

In a heartbeat, I was left with a steaming pile of human flesh and a near-blinding hatred for Miskatonic.

#paranormal #mystery

1931: Word Spreads

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Someone talked.

I had to dump Calvin’s official vehicle not long after I’d taken it. I found a safe spot to hole up for the rest of the day and cleaned my Colts.

Once night had settled, I slipped free of my hiding place and made my way toward the edge of town. According to the young man I’d scalped back at Miskatonic, the breeders (as he had called them) were being held in a building off Northfield Road. In my Cross, there wasn’t a damned thing there, which is how I liked it. Northfield Road was a tad too close to the Hollow for my comfort.

I skirted along the edges of roads and cut through yards, climbed fences and greeted dogs with a kind word. When I got to Northfield Road, I saw the scalped man hadn’t been lying.

The building was tall and new. Lights blazed down from the fifth-story roof, and guards patrolled in pairs around the property. A trio of tall iron fences, each topped with concertina wire, surrounded the place. After a quick scout around the building, I saw there were only two entrances.

Each was guarded by a trio of guards on a Vickers machine gun.

The men seemed particularly attentive to their duties, and I could only assume it was due to me.

From what I counted, there were six men on two machine guns. Eight men patrolling the grounds in groups of two. If they were running three shifts, that meant there were 24 more men inside, plus an officer or two as well as a sergeant or corporal of the guard.

Too many for the Colts alone.

I watched until the shift changed, and men came out dressed for the chill in the air. I heard them complain bitterly to the men they were relieving, and good-natured ribbing was the general response.

For another hour, I waited. The men yawned, complained some more, and then fell about the subject of attractive women.

I drew my pruning knife and crept down to the front gate after one of the wandering patrols had passed.

The men on the gun, men who only knew the machine-like thrum of modern war, died in silence. My first wars were fought in shadows and darkness, hand to hand and with brutal finesse.

These men were the first in this place, but they wouldn’t be the last.

#paranormal #mystery

1931: Around Town

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They were kept across town.

This was a Cross where I was known and, as all evidence showed, not particularly well-liked. I didn’t know if the sentiment was restricted to the staff and residents of Miskatonic or if it was shared by the town at large.

I was keen to know the answer as it would make retrieving Genevieve either harder or easier.

I left the campus by a side gate, cut across a field that wasn’t in my own Cross, and came out on a new street. I turned left and kept up a steady pace, conscious of the few people I saw and their reactions to me.

None of them looked pleased.

I wasn’t surprised when a police auto pulled up beside me as I stepped out onto Blood Road.

Calvin Black exited the vehicle and looked at me with a smile lacking any sort of pleasure.

“Duncan Blood,” Calvin greeted, opening his jacket to reveal his badge and the pistol slung under his shoulder. “I know I’ve told you to stay out of town before.”

For a moment, I wondered how this version of myself reacted. Then I recalled the length of time it had taken me to regrow my hand in this place.

The townsfolk must have hurt him and hurt him badly.

I kept my hands away from the Colts. “You’ve said no such thing to me.”

He frowned, squinted, and then chuckled. “Well, I can see that I haven’t. You’re not my Duncan. He’s bright enough to keep to the damn farm. You look like you’re dumber than a box of hammers.”

“Could be,” I replied.

He slipped his hands into his pockets, spat on the ground and said, “I can have twenty men here in less than five minutes and a man with a flamethrower in ten. What do you say to that?”

“I think that a man with a shoulder holster shouldn’t run his mouth.”

I drew a Colt as he fumbled to get his hands out of his pockets, and I shot him in his right arm.

Calvin was game, though, and he tried to get his weapon with his left arm.

Until I shot him in that arm, too.

He stared at me with disbelief right until I walked up, put the barrel of the Colt against the center of his forehead and smiled.

“Your men and flamethrower don’t mean a thing,” I told him, and I pulled the trigger.

I drove over his body as I went in search of Genevieve.

#paranormal #mystery

1931: Gunfight

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It was a helluva fight.

The guards died when they opened the doors.

The heavy slugs of the Colts slammed the two men back, tearing into their chests and sending them spinning out of the way. I stepped over twitching legs, and met another pair of guards as they raced into the room, long, metal batons in their hands.

Long or not, my Colts have a better reach.

They died just as quickly and just as badly as their compatriots.

More men and a few women came racing downstairs and out of rooms toward me.

I killed the first man on the stairs, and others stumbled over him, crashing onto the floor. I shot women in one doorway and men in another, bottlenecking the entrances.

Kicking the front door closed, I reloaded the Colts and was ready when the others scrambled over their fallen comrades.

And they died too.

For nearly five minutes, I stood my ground, and the Colts thundered in the confines of the hall. When it was over, the wounded and the dying cried out for mercy.

I had none for them.

I reloaded the Colts once more and finished off the wounded with my pruning knife. It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t out of mercy.

I didn’t want anyone coming after me.

I cleaned the blade off on the shirt of an orderly before putting the weapon away. With the Colts in my hands, I went looking for the head of the building, and I found him soon enough.

He was in a small office, busy writing down some notes. He didn’t bother to look up when I entered the room.

“They’re gone,” he told me.

“That a fact?”

He nodded and wrote something else down before closing the notebook and looking up at me. There was a hint of fear in his eyes but little else. “I’m going to die.”

I nodded.

“Which one are you looking for, Blood?” he asked.

“Genevieve.”

He frowned, tapped his fingers on the desk for a moment, and then nodded. “Yes. She was one of the new ones. They’re across town in a separate facility now. She might be one of the few to carry the creature full-term.”

I cocked the hammers back on the Colts.

He tapped his inkwell. “Poison, Blood. I took it a moment before you walked in.”

“Pity,” I said and shot him through the mouth.

I could only hope to find her in time.

#paranormal #mystery

1931: Surprised

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Surprisingly, Caleb Withers managed to speak a name.

“Philip’s Hall.”

It took me a bit of time to get the blood and filth off my hands once I was done with him, but I managed to clean up nicely. My anger with Caleb and his school remained unsated. I would need gallons of blood to cool my temper, and even then, it might not do a whole helluva lot.

Still, Philip’s Hall sounded promising. I doubt the school kept its test products here on campus. Even if this particular version of Cross was fine with the experiments – which I doubted – no one would want to accidentally expose the tests to the general public.

As for Philip’s Hall, the Miskatonic in my version of Cross was lacking such a building, and so without a map or any indication as to where the building might be, I went out in search of it.

Fortunately, I didn’t see any others. That didn’t mean they weren’t watching from some safe location, but at least I wasn’t waiting for an attack.

I preferred being on the move.

As I followed the cobblestone paths of the campus, I caught a few students and faculty eying me. I knew some of them recognized me.

I didn’t worry too much about it. Instead, I made sure the Colts were loose in their holsters and ready to go.

After about half an hour of wandering, I found Philip’s Hall and knew it wouldn’t be easy to get into. I could see a pair of guards through the sidelights of the door, and as I made my way around the building, I could see others were watching from the higher floors.

These men were leaving nothing to chance.

Of course, they couldn’t have reckoned on me, the idiocy of their own, and my willingness to destroy them.

Yes, they had a version of me, but in my travels, I’ve discovered that few have lived up to my reputation of violence.

And I’m fine with that.

Finally, I returned to the front of the building and looked at it for a few moments.

With a sigh, I made my decision.

Walking up the front path, I climbed the steps, took out one of the Colts and struck the door hard in its center with the butt of a Colt. Drawing the other revolver, I waited.

As the door opened, I cocked the hammers back and greeted the guards.

#paranormal #mystery

1931: Worth the Wait

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I found her beau.

My hand had finally grown in about midnight, and I gave it another hour, just to be sure. I didn’t need it to go through any growing pains as I tried to pull a trigger.

With a Colt in each hand, I climbed a circular stairwell toward the top of the building. About a third of the way up, I heard a pair of voices. Young men were chatting in good humor.

That changed when I rounded the stairs and stepped onto a small landing.

The men had just finished locking a round door, and one was in the act of putting the key away.

“Hello,” I greeted, and the men panicked.

The one holding the key died with a slug from one of my Colts in his brain. The second man, his face splattered with the blood and the brains of his friend as the dead man slid boneless to the floor of the hall.

“And who are you?” I asked.

“Caleb,” he whispered. “Caleb Withers.”

Anger surged within me, but I kept it locked down.

“Caleb?” I asked, my voice tight. “You’d be Genevieve’s beau, then?”

The cords on his neck stood out, and he started to shake his head.

“Think about your answer, boy,” I spat. “If you’ve a Blood in this place, then you know what I can do. What I’d be happy to do.”

He whispered, “Yes, I’m her beau. I’m a beau to each and every one. Forty-five, to be exact.”

I heard a hint of pride in his comment, and I pointed a Colt at his groin. “I’d watch your mouth.”

His entire body shook, and he soiled himself.

“How many of them are still alive?” I asked.

He licked his lips and answered, “Um, let’s see. Two, maybe three. I can’t remember. Most die in different ways. I don’t do much after I fetch them for the school.”

“So you’re bait?”

He nodded. “No one is as good as me.”

“You’re using the wrong tense.”

Caleb frowned. “What do you mean?”

I fired both Colts, and the slugs tore through his groin and his abdomen. Excrement tumbled out of the wound as easily as fresh linen from a basket.

He tried to stuff his guts back, but they wouldn’t go.

As he stood there, confused as to what had happened, I stepped forward and helped.

I drew my pruning knife and grabbed a handful of intestines.

With his screams filling the stairwell, I began to cut.

#paranormal #mystery