Gods’ Hollow Journal, January 18, 1890: Surprise


The attack came without warning, and from a place I had inspected myself only a few minutes prior.

From behind me, I heard the cry of some of my comrades and the firing of rifles. There was no screaming. Nothing more than the rattle of gunfire.

Marcus and I raced back to find a man seated on the ground, the bodies of six men and two women in front of him. As the wind blew his scent toward us, several around us vomited and fell back, unable to stand the stench. Even I, who had lived through the charnel houses of the war of secession, balked at that odor.

It was death at its worst. Death when a thousand bodies swelled and rotted in the evening twilight of a summer’s day.

And this stranger stank of it.

From his belt hung skulls and desiccated body parts. He paid us no mind as he looked upon the dead gathered around him.

As I drew my pistols, he raised his head, and I stiffened for a moment, then slid my Colts back into their holsters. He nodded and got to his feet.

“It was their time,” he said, his voice rolling out over us and pressing home the stench. “None can argue with that.”

Marcus started to raise his rifle, and I shook my head.

The man smiled at us. “Listen to your father, Marcus Blood, he has met my siblings before. He shall meet them again.”

The man’s smile faded as he looked upon my son. “Duncan, I would speak with you.”

Fear grew in my belly as I walked the short distance to the man.

“I have seen him in the Hollow for many years.” The man said gently. “His time has almost come. This is a warning I do not give to many. Make your peace.”

The man turned and left me, the bones rattling against him, and as I turned to face them, I found all their eyes on me, the same unspoken question in their minds.

“He is the reaper of the Hollow,” I told them. “All we can do is bury our dead.”

And so, with the terrible knowledge in my heart, we dug the graves and buried our dead.

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Gods’ Hollow Journal, January 8, 1890: The Wolf


We came upon the house near sundown, and as the wind shifted, a fetid odor swept over us. The skies darkened, sinking us into gloom, and the hairs on the back of my neck stood as I listened for the sound of my mother’s voice. My thoughts had been occupied with the news of a sister I had never known, and I confess that I was a trifle slower than I should have been.

It is the distraction, I believe, which saved my life.

Had I been paying close attention to the dwelling we approached, I might have been blinded by the sudden flash of light that erupted from its few windows and its single, low door. As it was, I had glanced to the earth to see if I could discover some clue as to the origin of the stench, and my thoughts had lingered for a moment on freshly turned earth, a reminder of my sister’s hovel and her warning.

My comrades fell back, and I drew my pistols, dropping into a crouch as I brought the Colts up to bear. In the sharply fading light, a giant creature came loping towards us, a hideous howl tearing through the air.

The Akatuyians prepared to fire, but my fingers were already squeezing the triggers. I emptied all twelve chambers into the creature, each bullet striking the thing in its massive chest.

Only on the last round did it finally come to a halt, tumbling forward in a paroxysm of painful death. When the creature fell to the earth, the Akatuyians raced past me, their weapons at the ready as I stood up and joined them.

What we found was perhaps one of the most hideous creatures I have had the misfortune to look that.

It was a man, at one time, and whether by its own design or another’s, the head of a large wolf had been placed over the man’s and stitched to his bare chest and back. The man’s skin was filthy, calloused, and the most wretched I have seen.

When we entered his house, we found the remains of various animals, including humans, and a single photograph showed what he had been.

The wolf’s head, I’ll admit, was an improvement.

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Reapers’ Portraits: May 1875


Victor Aldrich had been photographing reapers for 25 years when he stumbled onto my porch on May 28, 1875. I was recently returned from an excursion into the Hollow, and to say I was tired would have been an understatement. Nonetheless, I let him in and brought him into the parlor. He was exceptionally pallid, his eyes wild, his hair a mess and his clothes disheveled.

When I asked him what was wrong, he handed me the morning’s paper. I sat down and read of a church fire in Holyoke, Massachusetts and the deaths of 78 people.

“Why me?” he asked, his voice barely more than a whisper.

I set the paper down beside me. “I have no answer for that. I doubt anyone does, other than the reapers themselves.”

He shuddered and looked away. “I am no Papist, Duncan, but no one deserved to die the way they did.”

“Few people deserve any death they receive,” I told him softly. “Remember that, my friend.”

He nodded. “She told me that was going to pray with a congregation, and that before they died, they would suffer what they imagined Hell to be.”

“I suppose she was fairly on the mark there.”

Victor winced. “There is something else, she said.”

“What’s that?”

“She’ll be back tonight.”

I eyed him warily. “For whom?”

He didn’t answer.

“For you?”

Victor nodded.

“Thomas will take over the business when I pass away,” Victor whispered. “They know this. It is my time, she said.”

“I cannot do anything to stop death, Victor.”

My friend smiled at me. “I have not come here to ask you that.”

“What then?”

“I have come to ask you not to try.”

That, unfortunately, I could do.

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Disaster and Calamity: Nor’easter


The Army brought in an airship in 1922.

I watched as the process from beginning to end, fully expecting to see some sort of foolishness that would result in calamity. I had served in enough armies through the years to know full well the bad choices a bureaucracy can make. In this case, the Army did everything right.

They chose a well-placed parcel of land which had no bad history attached to it. Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20, and so I should have given the parcel a bit of thought. There aren’t many places in Cross where nothing untoward has happened over the centuries.

Well, the Army came in, they cleared what needed to be cleared, built a few barracks, and prepared a station where airships could dock and hangars for their repairs. Technicians were moved in as were other elements of a semi-permanent garrison, and again, these should have been warning signs to me.

I admit I was rather taken in by the thought of having something so modern as an airship in the vicinity of Cross. Granted, I doubted that the airships would make much of a go of it – I had seen what happened to the German airships during the Great War and nothing leaves an impression like a man who has fallen several hundred feet to his death – but I thought it would be an interesting time.

It was, unfortunately, far more interesting than anyone desired.

When the first airship came in, the wind was wrong.

It was too cold and fast. What compelled the wind is something I still don’t have an answer to.

As we watched, powerless to help, thirty of the forty-seven soldiers there were killed.

The bones of the airship are still there, a mute testimony to some unseen creature’s fury.

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July 10, 1920


Claire Genest was a chemist. A brilliant young woman with a knack for weights, measurements, and the knowledge of how to combine common chemicals to produce an explosive. She was the one who had designed the bomb, assembled it, and taught the others how to install it. Claire was, by all reports, a woman worthy of both fear and respect.

Unfortunately, she suffered from a tremendous amount of confidence.

I spent the majority of the night of the ninth into the morning of the tenth traveling to New Hampshire and searching out where I might find Claire. She moved about frequently within the confines of the town of Hudson, New Hampshire, and its neighboring city, Nashua.

Early in the morning, I found her in Nashua and spent a productive morning following her and deciding where it would be best to intercept the young woman and begin a rather vigorous round of questioning.

Around noon, I stopped at a small diner up the street from her place of employment, and I watched while I ate and had a bottle of beer.

At exactly 12:13, according to my watch, Claire Genest made a mistake. A mistake which cost her not only her own life but that of three co-workers and two patrons. In addition to this, it destroyed the small apartment she lived in behind her workplace.

While I was not particularly saddened to see the death of the bomb-maker, I was slightly put out at having to find a different source of information for the next in the chain of command.

While going over information previously gathered, I discovered there was a man by the name of Ian Toll in Nashua.

In the morning, barring any further explosions, I would be able to speak with Mr. Toll and see where the next step might lie.

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Duncan Blood, Journal for 1911: Bodach agus Cailleach


Not all the fairy folk in Cross contain themselves to my lands, or even to Gods’ Hollow. Occasionally, one or two will settle outside what might be considered safe borders.

In August, I found not one, but three of the Irish hidden in a stretch of land off Gordon’s Way. I’m not sure when they had moved there, but when I discovered them, it seemed as though they had been there for at least thirty years, if not longer.

They were a pair of Cailleach and a Bodach, old women and a man of the forest. None of them were pleased to see me, and, I confess, the feeling was mutual. The Irish have a tendency to stake out what they believe to be theirs and to defend it violently. These three were particularly frustrating. One of the women fired at me as soon as I stepped out of the tree-line. The other set their dog upon me.

The dog, I am pleased to say, had far more sense than its mistress. He ran at me, caught my scent, and high-tailed it into the woods.

When the three yelled at me in Irish, I returned the favor, adding a few invectives which were old before my father was born. That took them by surprise, and it was only then that I managed to move close enough to have a decent conversation with them. They were miserable, miserly old codgers, and had I been anyone other than myself, I would have ended up in their pot as meals for the next two days.

As it was, we passed a fair amount of time complaining about the state of affairs in Ireland, and then I went on my way.

They’re dangerous, and eventually, they’ll need killing.

But not yet.

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Duncan Blood, Journal for 1911: Forest Mother


All four of the Chambers’ children vanished on October 1st. Their parents were frantic, and it was the paternal grandfather who came to me on the third, asking if I would help.

I did, of course, and I gathered as much information from the parents as I could. The children, I learned, were going to walk along the North Road and make their way into town to purchase candy. Shortly after they left, the father realized the eldest boy had left without his money. The father, being a good man, saddled his horse and rode out to catch up with his children. He did not find them, but he did find signs of a struggle. The children had been dragged off into Gods’ Hollow.

Shortly after my arrival, the father brought me to the site of their disappearance, and I entered the Hollow by myself. It took me nearly half the day to find the children. When I did, it was another three hours before I could negotiate their release.

The children had been taken by a Muma Pădurii, a Romanian Forest Mother. She needed them, she informed me, to serve her. I argued against it and was thankfully successful. I promised to assist her when needed, and she freed the children.

The Chambers’ family was ecstatic to have their children safely returned, and I was as pleased as well. In all honesty, I would not have killed the Forest Mother to save the children.

Her life is worth far too much. Even more than my own.

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Duncan Blood, Journal for 1911: Werewolves (2)


I was too late to save them.

When the news came of the attack, I was deep in Gods’ Hollow, and I raced back to the Cross Hospital. All three of the Murray brothers were there, cared for by their sister, Elaine. When I questioned them about the attack, they described a large, vicious she-wolf which came at them. Sometimes it ran on all fours, at other times raced forward on two legs. Each time it attacked, the she-wolf drew blood, with Richard Murray taking the worst of the blows. As the eldest brother, he had thrown himself in front of his brothers, but in the end, it hadn’t mattered.

Finally, after ten of the most harrowing minutes of their lives, the brothers drove the she-wolf off and managed to drag themselves to safety.

It was as the brothers told their story, and Elaine sat by Richard’s side, that I saw what no others would. Knew, what no one else did.

The brothers would turn at the next rising of the full moon, and that the she-wolf would lead their pack.

I called Elaine into the hall and spoke with her, confirming the damage done to her brothers. She told me how Richard had received the brunt of it all, and his injuries needn’t have been so terrible if he had only stepped aside.

She smiled sadly at me, and I put a bullet through her forehead. I did the same for each of her brothers. It was bad enough they were infected. I did not have the heart to tell them it was Elaine who had done it.

#horror #CrossMassachusetts #monsters #supernatural #skulls #death #fear #evil #horrorobsessed #scary #wolves

Duncan Blood, Journal for 1911: The Panther


On June 15, I noticed the two dogs at 11 Elroy Road were missing. The younger son was out and about, calling for them, obviously distressed at their absence. Three days later, at 7 North Road, half a mile from Elroy, all four of the dogs there had vanished.

The process was repeated three more times until a total of twenty-one dogs in all were missing. As with the initial two incidents, there were three days between each. The rhythm struck a chord within me and sent me down into my library to research. When I found what I was looking for, it was already too late for a young man named Eli Watts. He had lived alone at 22 Elroy Road, and there were no more dogs in the area.

I found his remains, and those of all the dogs, in the root cellar of a home last used in 1824. There were two living occupants in the cellar, a cat and a young woman I had recently seen about town. She had gone in and had her portrait done with her cat. A strange thing, to be sure, but Cross is well familiar with the strange and the odd.

The lore I had read told me what she was and why she was dangerous. She was a Panther, and she would sleep for three days, awaken, and call out for her food to come to her.

It always did.

I killed her and her cat, and I locked the door behind me. There was no reason to bring Eli’s half-eaten body home.

The root cellar was as good a grave as any.

#horror #CrossMassachusetts #monsters #supernatural #skulls #death #fear #evil #horrorobsessed #scary #cats

Duncan Blood, Journal for 1911: Tatzelwurm


It struck on the morning of June 9. The MacGregor family was transporting a large shipment of rum along North Road, trying to cut down on time by running close to Gods’ Hollow, despite the known and unknown dangers.

According to Liam MacGregor, the head of the family, the creature attacked shortly after dawn, and it was like nothing they had seen before. The creature was nearly twenty feet in length, perhaps longer, propelling itself forward with a powerful, scaled tail and massive arms. Liam told me the beast looked almost like a snake, except for the fact that it had arms, and instead of a snake’s head, it had a cat’s.

Three of the MacGregor cousins were killed and devoured, as were most of the horses.

It took me the better part of a day, researching the old works in my library, to discover that the only creature which matched the description given was a Tatzelwurm. The beast is native to Sweden, though this counts for little when the Hollow is involved.

Even in the oldest of books, I was unable to find a way to kill it. Either no one had ever tried, or no one had ever succeeded.

I took with me everything I considered practical: my Colts, a silver dagger, and a boar hunting spear on the off chance that such an item might be my last resort.

For a week, I hunted it, without any luck. The Tatzelwurm had vanished. It has yet to reappear, and for that, I am grateful. I still don’t know how to kill it.

#horror #CrossMassachusetts #monsters #supernatural #skulls #death #fear #evil #horrorobsessed #scary #Swiss