January 20, 1942

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Cross, like fate, has no favorites.

Strange deaths and disappearances strike down the good as well as the bad, and while those who are good are lamented far more than those who are not, it does not mean that those who are kind and generous have suffered any more than their opposites.

Mr. David Leder is a prime example of such a case.

As a young boy, David fled the dangers faced by those of the Jewish faith in Eastern Europe in the late 19th century. He made his way across Europe, then found work aboard a ship that brought him to the United States. By the time he was in his late sixties, David was well to do, and he had moved to Cross and established himself in the community.

He was an active participant in his synagogue in Boston, and he kept the Jewish faith alive and well in his home. During the Great Depression, David sold off large parcels of land that he owned in various townships, thus ensuring that the poorest of his synagogue could eat and weather the terrible financial times.

David also cared for those in Cross as well, and he could often be seen in the company of Duncan Blood and the young Ezekiel Coffin. The three of them would often meet at Duncan’s home where they would discuss how best to serve the community.

During January of 1942, when the country was still reeling from the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by Imperial Japan, David set out in his large black Ford for Duncan’s.

He never arrived.

David’s vehicle was found the following morning, all four doors open and frozen blood coating the inside of the car. His clothes were neatly folded on top of his shoes beneath the car. David’s wallet and watch were with his clothes, and his gold fillings were there as well.

Everything but the man.

#CrossMassachusetts #horror #scary #death #killer #fear #writerofinstagram #murder #secrets

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January 17, 1923

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In all the years he has visited Cross, this man has only been photographed once.

He is a Reaper and one with whom Duncan Blood is well-familiar.

Each January, for as long as anyone can remember, this Reaper has walked out of Blood Farm and into Cross.

He has a smile for all he meets, and he smokes contently on his pipe. It is not unusual for him to stop and sit and smoke a spell, nor is it unusual for him to vanish into houses and streets as if searching for someone who needs him.

This man is a quiet Death.

There is nothing horrendous about his coming, and more often than not, he comes for the aged or the ill. Rarely does he leave with more than the single person he came for, although there have been times where he has left with two or three souls in tow.

Only once did he walk back to Duncan Blood’s home with more than what most would consider the Reaper’s fair share, and that was on January 17, 1923.

On that particular day, a group of young men and women raced into Cross in a pair of 1921, Ferris sedans. As the citizens of the town watched in fascinated horror, the first of the cars struck the Reaper, and the second ran over him.

Yet the Reaper was unharmed, and when he stood up, there was a look of disgust on his face.

Calmly, the Reaper relit his pipe, and as the flames touched the tobacco, the cars came to a sudden and quiet stop.

As the Reaper turned around and continued on his way, residents approached the cars, curious as to why they had stopped.

The answer, they discovered, was that all eight people were dead.

And each person’s body was mangled, as if they had been run over.

#CrossMassachusetts #horror #scary #death #flashfiction #shortshort #writerofinstagram #unsolvedmystery #secrets

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January 12, 1925

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Sometimes, killing a person simply isn’t enough.

Such was the case with Deborah Walch.

Deborah died at the age of 32, killed by a single bullet to the right temple. The round carried away most of the left side of her head. Her husband, along with their two children (ages 12 and 10), then proceeded to dismember Deborah. Neighbors and family friends purchased a specialty casket equipped with locks and a bell system which would connect to the headstone. The bell would serve as an alert to the cemetery’s caretaker, who would then fetch Duncan Blood.

To many, the murder of Deborah Walch, as well as her subsequent disposal and burial, would seem horrendous.

To those who knew her, however, it was the bare minimum.

No one knows what happened to Deborah in the weeks leading up to her death on January 12, 1925. Prior to January 1, 1925, she was a loving and generous person.

At exactly midnight, with the coming of the new year, she became a monster.

By the time dawn arose on that morning, Deborah had murdered the family’s pet dog and eaten the barn cat raw. She attacked anyone who came near her, burying a knife to its hilt in her 12-year-old son’s left forearm.

The doctor was brought in, then a priest, and finally Duncan Blood. None of them could determine what had happened to Deborah or cure her.

On January 12, she fired five rounds of a six-shot revolver at her family. Her daughter, age 10, seized the weapon from Deborah and fired the killing shot.

94 years have passed since Deborah Walch’s death, and still, the town wonders if her bell will ring.

#CrossMassachusetts #horror #scary #death #flashfiction #shortshort #writerofinstagram #unsolvedmystery #casket #madness #secrets

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January 11, 1933

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The private study of the head librarian for the Cross Branch of Miskatonic University has been closed since 1934.

Dr. Enoch Millenia was a small, industrious man who excelled at the study of the various Germanic languages and was considered by many to be an expert in the field of Nordic mythologies. His private study was his crowning jewel, a place where he could show close friends the wonderful objects and books, he had collected over 30 years in academia.

On the night of January 11, 1933, Enoch retired to his rooms in a small house on the university’s grounds. Once there, his housekeeper heard him retire to his library. She distinctly remembered him turning the key in the lock, thus ensuring he would not be disturbed.

A short time after 10 pm, the housekeeper heard a horrendous noise from the second floor, and the entire house shook.

According to the housekeeper, Enoch laughed, said something in a language she did not understand, and then his laughter turned into a pain-filled shriek. A voice, “painful to hear,” bellowed, and the glass in the windows on the first floor broke.

When she managed to reach the study and unlock it with the spare key, she found exactly what is seen in the photograph.

The room was stripped bare, and there was no sign of Dr. Enoch Millenia.

After an extensive investigation, the school secured the room, and the university keeps the room locked. Enoch remains listed as missing.

#CrossMassachusetts #horror #scary #death #flashfiction #shortshort #writerofinstagram #unsolvedmystery #Miskatonic #norse #German #secrets

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January 9, 1924

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During the Spanish Influenza Epidemic of 1919, Cross isolated itself from the rest of New England. This was done to stop the disease from laying waste to the town, and in this Cross was successful.

One resident saw the epidemic as an opportunity to sate masochistic tendencies.

Mrs. Lucille Racine was a quiet, polite woman who enjoyed the being a member of the ladies’ auxiliary and sitting with the sick and dying.

Little did her neighbors know how much she enjoyed sitting with the ill.

After the worst of the epidemic passed in 1920, Lucille was seen to have numerous transients working on the old barn on her property. She was, according to Lucille, offering the men viable employment opportunities, which they gladly accepted.

On January 7, 1924, Lucille died suddenly at the library, and it was left to the town to go to her home and see what could be done about the property and the two cats she owned.

On the morning of January 9, several men traveled to Lucille’s property and inspected the home. The structure was sound, but no sign of a will could be found. The men recalled the repairs to the barn and went to search it for paperwork.

When the men entered the barn, they were surprised to find a small antechamber equipped with a nurse’s uniform and a gasmask. A sliding panel was set in the chamber’s interior door, and before anyone stepped in, the panel was moved to reveal a glass pane, and the men saw what Lucille Racine had hidden from the world.

Ten beds were arranged in the room beyond the glass, and there were two men in each bed, set head to foot, and chained in place. Later examination would show all men were sick with influenza.

None of them survived.

#CrossMassachusetts #horror #scary #death #flashfiction #shortshort #writerofinstagram #unsolvedmystery #illness #imprisoned #secrets

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January 8, 1931

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The Great Depression began with the crash of the New York Times Stock Exchange in October of 1929, and no place in the western world was left untouched by the occurrence.

This included the town of Cross, Massachusetts.

While the pain of the financial collapse was not felt as keenly in Cross as in other places, it was nonetheless felt.

Mr. Otto Jones, formerly of Idaho, moved to Cross in 1930 to live with his sister on her small farm. Otto was a kind and generous man, and an avid hunter. His ability find game kept not only himself and his sister supplied with meat, but some of their neighbors as well.

Like his sister, Otto was a stranger to the town, its customs, and the places one should not tread.

While he knew that Gods’ Hollow was not a place to trespass in, he did not consider hunting to be trespassing.

In January of 1931, Otto realized great flocks of Canadian geese would spend days in Gods’ Hollow. He knew that he could fire rounds quickly enough to bring down a fair few and that the meat from those birds would go a long way to helping some of the poorer families stretch out their dinners.

On January 7, Otto went to Gods’ Hollow and shot dozens of birds. That evening, he and his sister plucked and dressed them, then on January 8, they delivered them to their Church in Pepperell. The fresh meat was gratefully received, and the birds were distributed to those families in need.

The first person who ate of the flesh was the local pastor in Pepperell when he had a bit of it for his afternoon lunch.

He was dead by four o’clock.

By the time the church realized the meat was poisonous, 19 people had died.

Remorse claimed Otto, and he blew his brains out in Gods’ Hollow that same evening.

#CrossMassachusetts #horror #scary #death #flashfiction #shortshort #writerofinstagram #unsolvedmystery #hunting #depression #secrets

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Resolutions

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So, did you make any resolutions for 2019?

I have to confess. Usually, I don’t make any sort of resolutions. The main reason is, of course, because I don’t ever stick to my resolutions, and if that’s the case, then what’s the point to begin with? I’m not especially masochistic, so there’s no need to torment myself with daily reminders of what I have failed to do.

I have enough of those without adding to my burden.

This year, however, I did make a resolution, and it’s fairly simple: I resolved to write more of my own material.

And so far, I have done just that.

Whether it’s only 300 words a day, I still write it.

I didn’t set a minimum, and I didn’t set a maximum. It’s straightforward: just write.

I know I’ve said that before to other writers when they ask how to get going with their writing, how to increase their strength and endurance when it comes to getting their thoughts down on paper. Well, I’ve taken my own advice.

It’s been working out well.

I have a new idea for a short novel, and possibly a photo album/history book of my mythical town, Cross. In addition to that, I’m going to revisit a few short stories that were pushed by the wayside when I was working more than sleeping.

But I’m in a good place with my writing. I average 80K to 100K a month, and I work one full-time job and one part-time job, which is pretty decent. Life has slowed down a bit, and I appreciate that.

I’m using this new rhythm to put some structure into my writing schedule and making sure that I’m creating the best material I can.

If you’ve got the writing bug, remember, it is never too late to start your own schedule. For me, it’s a few hundred words a day and editing that much as well.

And for right now, that’s all I need.

 

#writing #writingresolution #resolution #succeed #success #drive #focus #determination #writer

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January 1, 1870

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     Scarlet Templesmith was, by all accounts, one of the finest young women to ever grace the streets of Cross. Born in August of 1849, she was a young woman of regal posture and manners by the age of 16. She commanded respect and gave the same, and when she was 20, her marriage prospects were excellent.

     Scarlet was not an individual given to airs, nor was she especially fond of those who were. And while some of the other young ladies in Cross might have their heads turned by a young man in uniform, Scarlet required a bit more substance in any man who might wish to gain her permission to marry.

     Joseph Dower believed he was such a man. Invalided out of the Federal service to a due to a wound received in battle, Joseph felt as though Scarlet should marry him, and he made no effort to hide his belief.

     Scarlet rejected his advances, and Joseph assured all he met that she would change her mind.

     She did not, and her parents found her dead in their garden the next day. Scarlett had been strangled, and the main suspect was Joseph Dower, yet the Templesmiths did not have him questioned.

     Instead, the Templesmiths built a small mausoleum for their daughter, and when it was finished, Mr. Templesmith and several other gentlemen kidnapped Joseph.

     On January 1, 1870, they brought him to the mausoleum, where he was chained and wed to Scarlet’s corpse. Despite his begging, screaming, and pleading, Joseph was locked inside with his bride.

     His new in-laws brought him food three times a day, for 292 days, when he finally managed to kill himself.

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December 29, 1865

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     1865 was a difficult year for Cross. More than a few of the town’s men and boys had gone off to fight against secession, and some had not returned.

     While what would be known as the American Civil War (also conversely as the War of Rebellion and the War against Northern Aggression) ended in 1865, war itself had not ended. Sporadic fighting continued to take place out in the West between Federal troops and occasional units of secessionist fighters. In addition to this, the Indian Wars, which had necessarily slowed due to the fighting in the East, renewed themselves with a frenzy, as if the wars were making up for lost time.

     On December 29, 1865, a train with only one car pulled into the Cross station. And as if to match the single car, there was only one person waiting on the platform.

     Mr. Duncan Blood, recently returned from the southern battlefields, greeted an elegant and beautiful Chinese woman as she stepped from the train. He bowed low, then joined her for tea in the station master’s office and together he and the lady spoke softly in Chinese for a short time. As they conversed, a crowd of veterans gathered in the station. Men who had fought the British in 1812, the Mexicans in 1848, as well as the Indians in the West.

     When Duncan and the Lady finished, he walked her to the train, saw that she got on, and watched as the train pulled out of the station.

     As the men turned to leave, a young boy who had come with his father, asked Duncan who the woman was.

     “Jiutian Xuannü,” Duncan replied. “And she leads us all to war.”

 

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Where do you write?

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     This isn’t a metaphysical question.

     Take this as literal, because that’s what it is.

     We should all have a special place we can call our own when it comes to writing. It doesn’t matter if that place is your local coffee shop, or your dining table, or just the breakroom at work. So long as you have a refuge, you can retreat to for your writing.

     My own place is in the basement of my house.

     My youngest son and I share this space. We have our Lego bricks (in dozens of well-organized containers) on shelves and in drawers. My writing area, however, is not nearly as organized.

     I have my desktop and monitor crammed onto the desk. On top of the desk, behind the monitor, is a small bookshelf, onto which I have placed all my Steinbecks and some of my history books. Other books, graphic novels, militaria, and paperwork are scattered around. From where I sit right now, as I write this, I can reach out and grab a cold cup of tea, a cold mug of coffee, some bills, a fossil of a fish, and a statue of the Buddha. I can also turn off my portable heater, grab a book on the German army during the Weimar Republic, or turn on my shredder.

     All this is comfortable.

     All this is familiar.

     And it allows me to sink into my writing.

     I know where everything is for when I need it.

     If I feel like listening to music while I write or edit, the headphones are there. If I need names for characters, the names of authors leap out at me.

     This is what helps me write. This familiarity, this ritualistic pattern I follow when I make my way to my battered Victorian chair, sit down and prepare to shiver in the chill of the basement, my heater valiantly doing battle with the New England winter.

     Find your place, that safe place where you can create and forget everything but the passion you have for writing.

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