December 5, 1870

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Curiouser by the minute.

I’d no sooner closed the door behind me than I heard the sound of sled runners on the hardpacked snow.

From the right came a woman, bedecked in furs and thick cloth, dragging a sled piled high with firewood. When she came abreast of me, the woman stopped. She peered at me with dark, questioning eyes, and then, in a low voice, she said, “You wear the watchman’s coat, but you are not he.”

“I’m a stranger, making my way toward town,” I replied.

She lowered her scarf and revealed a bleeding mouth that took up the entirety of her lower jaw. “You are an abomination.”

She dropped the sled’s lead and held her arms out.

The firewood sprang up from the sled and encased her, pushing her up until she stood at least ten feet tall and was armored. In her hands, she clutched long branches as thick as my wrist.

I dove to the right as the branches slashed down, smashing into the place I’d been but a moment before. The glint of steel caught my eye, and as I rolled back to my feet, I snatched a hatchet up from the sled.

She caught me with a backswing, the glancing blow from the branch snapping my femur like a twig.

Pain, intense and nauseating, flooded my senses, and I fought it back as I caught the next blow with my free hand.

The woman let out an undulating victory cry as she sought to stove in my head, but her cry of victory transformed into a shriek of pain as I drove the hatchet into her knee.

She crumpled to the ground, blood spouting from the wound as I delivered two more quick strikes, severing the leg at the knee.

As my femur knit itself back together, I drove the hatchet into the woman’s open mouth, cleaving her head in two. The top bounced on the snow, struck the sled and tumbled away, coming to a rest against a base of a small tree.

I sat for a few minutes in the snow, waiting for my leg to finish healing. I looked from the body to the sled, from the sled to the blood-slick hatchet in my hand. Getting to my feet, I picked up the tether for the sled.

The hatchet had already proved useful.

I had no doubt the sled would as well.

#paranormal #christmas

December 4, 1870

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The wall stretched for as far as I could see.

The only entrance was guarded by a wearing a fair amount of clothing. He looked like a self-righteous bastard, and when he spoke, he confirmed my first impression of him.

“Where goest thou?” he asked, grinning at me. There was no affection in his phrase, and he looked at me with something close to disgust.

I don’t deny that I felt the same.

“I’d hoped to pass through the door and make my way to the next town,” I told the guard.

He shook his head. “This is not for the likes of you. You’re to take the narrow trail three miles to the east. It should bring you to the place you seek. Your kind is not allowed through this entrance.”

I smiled, amused at the man’s words. For a moment, I considered forcing the issue but decided against it. I turned to leave, and the wind shifted ever so slightly, carrying my scent to the guard.

“Stop!” he ordered, and I turned to face him.

“Make up your mind,” I chuckled.

“You are a Blood.”

There was no need to respond to his statement. I knew who I was, and apparently, this man had some sort of inkling as well.

“There is a price on your head,” he told me.

“Worth your life?”

Without a word, he threw off his coat, and I saw a half dozen arms, three on each side. He drew pistols from holsters slung across his broad chest, and I drew my Colts as I dropped to one knee.

His first shots tore through the air where my chest had been a moment before, and the heavy .44 caliber slugs of the Colts slammed into his groin and thighs. The impact of the rounds sent him staggering back and throwing off his aim for the next volley of shots from his pistols.

As he tried to steady himself, I fired off another pair of shots, each one catching him in the center of his chest and sending him another step back. His boots became tangled in his coat, and he went down with a thunderous crash.

He tried to bring his pistols to bear, but my revolvers spoke first. Round after round slammed into his head, the bastard’s blood and brains steaming in the morning air.

I paused long enough to reload the Colts and to take his discarded coat.

It was getting cold.

#paranormal #christmas

December 3, 1870

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This wasn’t Cross.

I stepped out of the woman’s back door into a world not my own. The sun hung in the air wrong.

On my back, I had a bit of meat and bread as well as a container of hot tea. They would last until I found the town I needed.

I’d been on the move for no more than a few hours when I came upon a narrow, well-trod road. I followed it for another half hour or so and spotted a blacksmith’s. Five men stood outside; all work paused as they watched me approach.

There was an unmistakable animosity in their faces.

The man at the bellows spat upon the ground while the smith, with hammer raised above his head, as though frozen in mid-strike, eyed me with growing hate. The other three fixed their gaze upon me and waited.

I came to a stop, slipped my hands behind my back and took hold of my Bowie knife. There was no need to draw the Colts. Not when there were no firearms in sight, and especially not when I couldn’t be sure as to how many men might be in the house behind the smith.

“What do you want, Boy?” the smith asked, lowering his hammer.

“Nothing,” I replied. “I’m headed to a village not far from here. I’m to kill a man and any who stand in my way.”

None of the men found the statement humorous, which was good. I hadn’t meant to be funny.

“And why’s that?” the smith inquired.

“He’s aligned himself with Dame Blood, my mother.”

“Then you’ve more than one man to try and kill!”

The smith and his comrades spread out and came at me from all sides, which was fine with me.

My father had taught me close-quarters fighting, and I’d learned the hard lessons of fighting Abenaki and Mohicans.

Five men at a smith’s forge were far from worrisome.

The men fought well and died fast, the smith lasting longest of all.

In the end, he was on his knees before me, arms hanging useless at his sides. I had him by the hair; his head pulled back to expose his neck.

“You’re Duncan Blood,” he said.

“Aye.”

“I should have known,” the smith mused. “I saw you fight once, twenty-odd years ago. You killed eight men with a pruning knife. There are, I suppose, worse ways to die.”

“There are,” I said and drove my knife into his throat.

#paranormal #christmas

December 2, 1870

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The child slept.

His cradle hung from the ceiling. The boy’s delicate snores filled the calm of the small room the woman had led me into, and burning logs threw a pleasant light and warmth from a fireplace set in the far wall.

Furs and rugs lined the floor of the room, and large, overstuffed pillows were piled along the walls. When we sat again, the woman took a seat by her child, smiling at him before speaking.

“My son’s father attempted to kill us both a short time ago. I used the last of my power to bring us here to hide. It is a place he would not think to look,” she told me. “My people’s fear and hatred of you is come by honestly, Blood. You’ve done a great deal of killing, although you are much younger here than you are in my world.”

I took out my pipe and tobacco, held them up, and she nodded. As I packed the briarwood bowl, she continued.

“Your other self butchered every member of my family save my husband and me.”

I lit my pipe, took several long draws upon it to get the smoke going and then asked, “What stayed my hand?”

“You said I had not listened to your mother, and so there was no need for me to die.” She adjusted the hat upon her head, smiled at her son and then added, “My husband had only just become so, and he had not been foolish enough to raise his hand against you.”

“Why does he want to kill you and his son?” I asked.

Anger darkened her face. “Because he is now your mother’s creature, and she wishes me punished for not serving her. He is to kill his son in front of me and then finish me when I am broken.”

I took the pipe out of my mouth, glanced at the boy and then back to the woman. “You won’t break.”

She gave me a hard, knowing grin. “No. I won’t.”

“You want your husband dead?” I asked.

She nodded. “He remains in our village, trying to think of where I am. He must die if my son is to live.”

I looked from her to the boy and back again. I could feel the truth of her words.

“How many in your village serve my mother?” I asked.

“All. Two hundred, perhaps. Perhaps more have joined them.”

“Any you want me to spare?”

She shook her head.

“How do I get to your village?” I asked, and she told me.

#paranormal #christmas

1931: Alive

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“There are children.”

I looked at her. “More children? Where are they being kept?”

The one-eyed girl child shook her head. “No, not like us. Children birthed from the monsters.”

My mouth went dry.

“There is a small door tucked around the corner,” she continued. “I saw it once, a great trio of machines, each holding a monstrous babe that clings to life.”

This place had succeeded in breeding with creatures best left unmentioned.

Young ones in a hidden room who needed killing, and my father had taught me to put my chores off, not when I could get them done.

“Stay here,” I told the girls. “I’ll be back soon as I’m done.”

They looked at me with eyes robbed of innocence, and then they sat down on a bunk together to wait.

I left them in the room and went to the small door, standing slightly ajar. It was barely tall enough for me to fit through and hardly wide enough for me to do the same.

Still, I fit through, and I found myself in a room occupied by three machines and a single nurse.

She drew a large bore revolver from behind her back and cocked the hammer. “Come no closer, Blood.”

I obliged her and came to a stop.

“These creatures will not be touched,” she continued.

I gauged the weapon in her hand, the steadiness with which she held it and weighed both against my ability to draw a Colt before receiving a wound.

Before I could come to a conclusion, the wall above the strange machines vibrated and opened. The nurse jerked around, fired once into the hole formed in the wall, and then was snatched up by a massive, scaled hand that vanished into the wall with her.

A dark shadow filled the room as dozens of hands and tentacles, arms and grotesque forms spilled out of the hole. They gathered up the children, the machines, and everything they could find.

Yet none touched me.

As the last creature vanished into the hole, a voice escaped from it.

“These children are ours, Blood,” the voice shook my bones with every consonant. “We will raise them and cherish them. When it is time, they will devour this place. Stone by stone.”

It sounded like a fine plan to me, and there were some at Miskatonic who I’d do that to.

But bone by bone instead.

#paranormal #mystery

1931: Survivors

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They stood in silence.

My ears still rang from the thundering roar of my Colts, my fingers singed from swapping out hot brass for fresh rounds.

The room in front of me was small, controlled by a handful of staff. My heart sank, and my anger surged as I saw a trio of young girls, two on the right and one in a bed on the left.

From the looks on their faces, I could see they knew what fate awaited them.

The women in the beds gazed at me; all hope lost.

Genevieve was not among them.

“Where is Genevieve?” I asked.

The doctor stepped forward, his voice high and tight as he lifted his chin imperiously. “We don’t bother with names in the impregnation chamber.”

I shot him in the head, and blood splattered over the white linens and clean walls. While the nurses cried out and shrank back, neither the girls nor the patients abed did so.

I nodded to the closest nurse. “Same question.”

The woman straightened up, her entire body trembling. “I won’t – ”

I shot her before she could finish speaking, the heavy slug ripping through her chest and dropping her to the floor.

The nurse to the far right cringed as I looked at her, and before I could ask my question, she exclaimed, “Genevieve died this morning by her own hand after we impregnated her.”

I tightened my grip on the Colts and asked, “Which of you did it?”

Before either of the nurses could answer, one of the girls – whose right eye was bandaged, whispered, “They all did.”

As the nurses looked at the child in horror, I gunned them down.

None of the shots were clean, and they were squealing in pain as I walked to the nearest adult patient.

I opened my mouth to speak, and the woman shook her head.

“There is no hope for any of us,” she explained. “We are all of us doomed. Even should the beasts within bloom, we will be sacrificed to their foul gods. We can only ask for mercy.”

“That,” I whispered. “Is something I can do.”

The young girls gathered on the far side of the room, and I walked among the impregnated women. Some prayed. Others remained silent. All looked at me with fierce, determined eyes.

I wept with each pull of the trigger.

#paranormal #mystery

1931: Too Late

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The room was empty.

I could smell a faint hint of perfume mingled with the potent odor of fear.

The room, which held a cell in its center, was devoid of sound and hope. From where I stood, I could see the harsh bunk upon which the prisoner had lain. Sweat stains and splotches of blood marred the surface of the bunk and the floor of the cage as well.

Hopelessness and desperation stood before me in the form of iron and steel.

I did not know if Genevieve was kept here, but if she wasn’t, then I’m certain other young women were.

Was it prior to insemination? Were they bound and held until it was time for whatever unholy rite the professors of Miskatonic partook of?

I did not know, and I doubted I would know.

Not because the information would be unavailable to me but rather because I would kill anyone I came in contact with.

I had no doubts about that. What I had seen condemned the staff of this Miskatonic – and possibly those in my own world – to as brutal a death as I could manage. There were a great many ways to put men and women to death, each more painful than its predecessor.

Whether I would have that option, I did not know.

I only wanted to save the women I could and kill those who needed killing.

As I stood looking at the cage, the building shook beneath me, and raucous laughter vibrated through the walls.

The demigods continued wreaking havoc below me.

They might bring the walls down, but I would make it one way or another.

My only concern was finding Genevieve and saving her. Either from this place or from a miserable death.

I double-checked the loads on the Colts and then drew the pruning knife from the small of my back. Snapping open the blade, I checked its edge. It was, without a doubt, in sore need of sharpening, but there was enough of an edge to slit a throat, although it wouldn’t be pretty nor nearly as easy as it might ordinarily be.

But I wasn’t worried about easy or pretty.

So long as the knife cut the throat, I’d be pleased.

The Colts never failed, and I looked forward to hearing the thunder of the guns.

I adjusted the Colts in their holsters and made my way to the door.

This task was nearly done.

#paranormal #mystery

1931: Upward

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I climbed the stairs.

Behind me, the sounds of a massacre faded. The demigods, unnamed and unknown, worked their way through those rooms I had not opened. I could feel the fear in the air, a sensation both unpleasant and fraught with danger.

I enjoyed it immensely.

At the top of the stairs, I found a large tin sign bolding, proclaiming the floor to be ‘Observation and Exploration.’

The stale, bitter scent of antiseptics eased out around a thin door and told me what I could expect beyond its slim boundary.

The doorknob was cold in my hand, but it opened easily enough, and I entered a large room dominated by dissection tables and various other pieces of scientific equipment for which I had no names nor any idea as to what they were for.

Only one person occupied the room, standing beside a small table upon which lay a collection of half-human bodies. He, like so many others in this place, paid me no mind as he went about his business. I watched as he peeled back skin and pierced muscle down to the bone.

At one point, he leaned forward, sniffed one miniature body, and then sliced off a bit of muscle near the rectum. He held it up, turned it from left to right, and then shrugged before he popped it off into his mouth.

The man hummed as he chewed, and I repressed a sudden desire to vomit.

I stepped toward him, and the man did not notice until I stood on the other side of the table from him, partially blocking some light.

He looked up with a frown and asked, “And who might you be, sir?”

My fists answered his question.

The first blow shattered his nose and caused him to drop the scalpel he had been using on the abominations in the tray in front of him. The second and third blows collapsed his orbital bones and dropped him to the floor. My boots shattered his knees, and I cracked his sternum as I crashed knees-first onto his chest.

The air rushed from his mouth, blood bubbled in his nostrils, and I grabbed him by his hair.

Without so much as a word to him, I slammed his head into the tiled floor until it had shattered and his brains were splattered around him.

I wish I could have hurt him more.

#paranormal #mystery

1931: Captives

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The air smelled wrong.

It was the only door I’d found locked, and the damned thing was padlocked from the outside.

A rank odor filled raised the hackles on my neck. I didn’t bother reaching for my knife. Whatever I found behind the door would require the Colts.

I drew both revolvers, cocked the hammers and kicked the door in.

The bolts holding the padlock in place splintered the wood as they tore free, and the door swung in. It bounced off the wall and came back toward me, but I was already moving and inside the room.

A single candle flickered from an iron and glass fixture set in the far left wall, the weak light illuminating a pair of creatures squatting on the floor.

I didn’t know who they were, but I sure as hell knew what.

The demigods turned their heads and gazed at me with wooden eyes that blazed into life. They let out a string of low chirps and whistles to one another, and then the one on the right nodded.

I waited, fingers on the triggers. The slugs would slow the bastards down, but they might not kill them, and in this place, the last thing I needed to try to overcome was a wound from a demigod.

Those took a long time to heal in my own Cross.

I can’t imagine how it’d be here.

But I thought it’d be less than pleasant.

The demigod on the left asked, “Are you a Blood?”

“I am.”

The demigod on the right let out a chirp, and the other nodded.

“You’re searching for the breeders.”

It was my turn to nod, hands tightening on the butts of the Colts.

The demigods laughed, their curious clothing rustling as they did so.

“We came for the breeders, too,” the demigod continued. “But they trapped us here with the iron on the door. Our breeders, they were killed carrying the spawn. We’ve none to rescue, Blood. But there are plenty to kill.”

“Aye,” I agreed, easing the hammers back into place.

The demigods stood, backs bent to keep their heads from striking the ceiling.

“Go save your breeders,” the demigod said. “We will go and avenge ours.”

I holstered the Colts and stepped aside.

The demigods shuffled past me and into the hall.

As I made my way toward another room, I heard a sharp, terrified scream.

It wouldn’t be the last.

#paranormal #mystery

1931: Prep work

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Sonofabitch!

He was quicker than I would have thought, and I paid for it.

I’d entered the room with more confidence than I should have felt. There’d been the steady thwack of a blade into meat and cutting board, but it hadn’t meant the butcher wasn’t paying attention, which was what I’d assumed.

I’d no sooner cleared the doorway than he spun around and charged. My pruning knife was no match for the cleaver he wielded.

And he could handle the tool, too.

He knocked my knife aside, I threw my left arm up to stop the back blow from taking off the lower half of my face, and I sacrificed a fair chunk of my forearm instead.

The blade was as sharp as it should have been, and so it was with little surprise – but a lot of anger – that I watched the lower part of my sleeve and a fair amount of flesh sail across the room.

As my unattached portion of arm slapped wetly upon the wooden wall, he was coming back toward me. I cursed at the lightheadedness sweeping over me and the blood soaking my left side. I managed to avoid another blow and step over my pruning knife.

The bastard handled the cleaver better than most men handled knives, and it took all I had in me to avoid disembowelment.

I snatched up a bit of offal from a table and threw it at him.

His reflexes were as good as I thought, and he ducked easily, a derisive grin on his face as he straightened once more.

The grin faded at the sight of the Colt I’d drawn with my good hand.

He raised the cleaver up to throw it, and I shot him through the hand, blowing his fingers off and shattering the handle of the tool. Fingers and cleaver landed on the floor together, and I watched with growing amusement as he struggled to draw a skinning knife from his belt. As the steel cleared the leather, I shot him in the hip, dropping him like a felled ox.

He bellowed in pain, then shrieked as I stepped down on his wounded hand. The butcher tried again to draw his knife, and I shot him in the groin, ending all resistance.

“I hate you,” he snarled.

“Figured that out,” I told him and drove my knee into his groin.

When his squeal of pain finished, I smiled and whispered, “I hate you, too.”

#paranormal #mystery