Chasing Them Down: Day 8

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Killing is the easy part.

This phrase, spoken to me many times by my father, comes to mind upon occasion, and I had plenty of time to reflect upon it as I emptied the pockets of the Martin cousins.

Damned few of them knew how to do more than sign for their wages, and even then, I discovered, it was little more than an ‘X.’

It wasn’t until well after midnight that I found a hint as to where Luke might be hiding. There was, according to the information kept by Bill Martin, a hunting camp a little further north. It was there that family tended to cool their heels when there was a bit of trouble. This place seemed as good a place as any to start my search.

I was in a sour mood when I left the lumber camp, and I was downright foul by the time I was approaching the hunting cabin. My mind, I confess, was not where it should have been, and had their rifles not been so blessedly loud when they chambered their rounds, well, it would have made an unpleasant situation worse.

As it was, I heard them, and no sooner than I did, than I was on the ground. Their shots tore through the forest, and they tried to figure out where I’d disappeared to.

They might have been hunters, but I’ve been killing men since I was ten.

The fact that they had tried to bushwhack me made me a bit perturbed, and I decided they needed to suffer for it.

I left my Colts holstered and drew my Bowie knife, and I listened as I worked my way around to the right. They spoke to one another in loud, confident tones, and I don’t think they understood the mistake they had made.

They learned soon enough.

I listened as they agreed to move forward, chatting as though they were at a Sunday dinner. They walked with only a few feet between them, but still, I was able to take them both down.

Soon, I had them both trussed up and over a large fire, the flames of which I steadily fed.

As their clothing began to smolder, they told me what I wanted to know about Luke Martin, where he most likely was, and why he would go there.

Unfortunately for them, I don’t let bushwhackers die easy.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

Chasing Them Down: Day 7

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I have a growing dislike for the entire Martin family.

Jolene Nesbith had spoken the truth when she told me the whereabouts of Danny. She failed to mention he was with his cousins.

Seventeen of them, to be precise.

It turns out the Martins were a French-Canadian family. Their name, prior to emigrating to the US, had been Sainte de Martin.

I found Danny exactly where she said I would, with his cousin Bill. Bill and the other sixteen cousins who ran a small lumber camp a full day’s ride from Jolene’s house in South Berwick.

When I walked into the camp, it was a little past noon, and the men were all seated around a large fire that had a few pots of coffee brewing over it on iron swing-arms. Danny was there, seated directly across the fire, and his face went white as a sheet when he saw me. He let out a hoarse cry of alarm even as I drew both my Colts.

Yet no sooner had the barrels cleared leather than some of Danny’s cousins were reaching for shotguns.

Danny would have to wait.

Gunfights are a hell of a thing on a man. The world slows down, and everything leaps into focus. You can see a man blink and his finger tense on the trigger; you can hear the chambering of a round and the harsh clack of a weapon being broken open to be reloaded. You can smell their breath over the smoke of the fire, the sharp tang of coffee rising from the spouts of the pots.

And beneath your own fingers, you can feel the cool, beautiful steel.

There’s no need to aim because you know you’re going to hit every one of them.

The fight didn’t last more than a few minutes. I killed eleven straight off, and sent the last round into the small of Danny’s back, knocking him down.

The others I finished with my knife.

Danny was still trying to get away when I caught up with him.

We sat for a bit and chewed the fat, me poking my fingers in his wound whenever he stopped talking.

Finally, he swore he didn’t know where Luke had gotten off to, so I opened Danny up from stem to stern.

I wasn’t happy, but the day wasn’t a complete loss.

The coffee was still hot.

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Chasing Them Down: Day 5

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Poison is disagreeable to the system.

I found the Martin boys’ aunt in South Berwick, more by chance than anything else. It was early morning, and I stopped in a store for a bit of tobacco and to see if anyone knew of the Martins.

A large woman who introduced herself as Jolene Nesbith said she knew the boys. Said she knew the whole Martin family from top to bottom and inquired as to why I was asking after them. I told her a bit of the truth when I said I had questions of the brothers concerning an incident in Cross, Massachusetts.

She nodded and said her maiden name was Martin and the Martin boys I was asking after were her good-for-nothing nephews on her brother’s side.

The vehemence with which she spoke made her suspect, but when she offered a cup of coffee and to draw me a map of where I might be able to find the boys, I nodded and agreed. I had no doubt she would attempt to throw me off the trail, but I hoped to get some sort of information from her.

She lived in a white, clapboard house not far from the store. Jolene Nesbith was a widow, whose husband had left her well off after having died several years earlier. She fixed me a pot of coffee while she drank a cup of weak tea, explaining that she had a weak stomach.

By the size of her, I doubted it was true, but I kept my peace.

I sipped her coffee and tasted the poison instantly, though I did not reveal it. I’ve had my share of poison over the years, and my system is quite used to processing it. As I steadily drank, she took out a piece of paper and sketched a rough map of the area, always watching me with one eye. By the time I finished the coffee, she was staring at me, horrified.

I didn’t explain why her poison failed. Nor did I ask her any questions until after I had nailed both hands to the table with steak knives.

By the time I was done, she told me where Danny Martin was, though she did not know where Luke was hiding.

I believed her, and she was glad until I made her drink the rest of the coffee.

She died slow, and that was fine by me.

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Chasing Them Down: Day 4

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Long Beach in York, Maine is a beautiful place, but Redd Martin wasn’t happy about dying there.

I’d found him walking alone in an ill-fitting suit and trying to blend in with folk he didn’t know the first thing about. He stuck out, and that was a plain and simple fact.

In the few days since the death of Emily Anne, Redd had managed to get up to York and find a job with a cousin at the Hall Estate, which was at the end of Long Beach and had the finest view of the Atlantic one could expect from York. I had to admit; it was a damned pretty sight.

Redd didn’t try and run from me when I approached him, although he did attempt to pull a small pistol.

It was an act he regretted almost instantly.

I broke his index finger and his thumb taking the pistol from him, and then I bent the barrel beating him with it.

As the sun started to set, I dragged him over to a set of rocks I’d seen him walk past earlier in the day, and I hauled him into a spot where we could have a little privacy. Once we were there, Redd became anxious. He knew as I did that, the tide would be coming in soon, and the little spot I had selected would be underwater.

I don’t doubt he knew what I had planned.

He tried to get away, and I was forced to break both his arms to keep him in place. I told him I’d move on to his legs if he kept it up, and I think he took that warning as a sign that I might not kill him.

Redd knew me, though, so I’m still not quite certain why he didn’t think he’d get what he was owed.

As we sat there, waiting for the tide, I asked him where I might find his other two brothers. He kept his mouth closed in response.

I asked him again, and when he didn’t answer, I scalped him.

He fainted from the pain, but he woke up when I splashed some saltwater on his head.

Redd refrained from telling me the destination of his siblings, which meant more work for me.

Still, he died with his scalp stuffed in his mouth while the moon rose over the Atlantic.

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Chasing Them Down: Day 3

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White Island stood off the coast of Maine, and it was as good a place as any for killing.

I’d tracked Redd Martin to the island, and it’d taken me the better part of the day to get across the water to it. There wasn’t anyone who wanted to take me to the keeper. It seems that the man, a cousin on Redd’s mother’s side, was less than amicable.

In the end, I had to purchase a boat and row myself across.

I was not in a pleasant mood by the time I tied up to the dock.

When I reached the keeper’s house, I was met by a man in his late fifties and who stank of lard. I’m not sure if he bathed in it, and I’m not sure he didn’t.

I asked him, politely, if I might speak to Redd.

The speaker spat a stream of tobacco juice down near my feet, grinned, and told me his cousin had only stayed long enough to collect on a debt.

When I asked him where Redd had gone to, the man spat again and slammed the door in my face.

It doesn’t take much to be courteous, and a discourteous person sets my teeth on edge.

I knocked again, and when the cousin started to open the door, I kicked it the rest of the way in.

The wood slammed into his face, broke his nose, and chipped some teeth. I watched as he staggered back, stumbled, fell, and reached for a shotgun propped against a hall table.

I kicked his hand away, snatched up the gun, and put a round of buckshot into his groin.

The wound took all the fight out of him. He was left squirming on the floor, leaving a trail of blood as he screamed and wept. I considered putting the second shot in his belly, but I held off.

Instead, I took the butt of the shotgun and broke his left ankle, and then his right, just to be sure he knew I wasn’t in an especially forgiving mood.

I asked him again where his cousin had gone to, and he shook his head.

I blew his right hand off with the second shot, and the man shrieked as he held up the mangled limb.

When I asked him a third time where his cousin was headed, he told me.

York, Maine.

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Chasing Them Down: Day 2

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If you run, you best run far.

This was something Bowen Martin should have taken to heart.

But Bowen had never been the smartest of the Martin clan.

I found him less than thirty miles away, hunkered down on a lake, and going by the name of Martin Bowen.

For a short time, I watched him. He chatted with some folks at a local store, then, after an unsuccessful attempt to find work at a farm, he left for the lakefront.

The man whistled while he went, and I wondered if he had whistled when he helped kill Emily Anne.

I suspect he did. The damned idiot whistled at all hours of the day and night.

He didn’t hear me walk up behind him as he struggled to get his boat into the water, and his surprise was almost comical when he straightened up and saw me standing just a foot away. His face paled as he forced a smile and tried on the worst Southern accent I’ve ever heard as he asked, “What can I do for you?”

I answered by punching him in the mouth and knocking out both of his front teeth.

As he staggered back and fell into the boat, I climbed in behind him and used an oar to shove off. When he tried to sit up, I struck him over the head with the oar and sent him senseless to the bottom of the boat.

By the time I had brought us out to the center of the lake and dropped a light anchor, Bowen recovered some of his wits and sat up again. He saw, without any doubt, that I knew who he was and what he had done.

“Where are they?” I asked.

He shook his head.

“Bowen,” I sighed, “you best answer me.”

Again, he shook his head.

I used my knife to pry out his kneecap, which happened to loosen his tongue. His brothers, he told me, were headed to see family in Maine. He didn’t know about the pastor.

I thanked him for the information; then, I pushed him over the side of the boat. I had a good grip on his hair and kept him under the water despite his best efforts to get away.

I held him there until he didn’t fight anymore. Then, I held him for a bit longer. Just to be sure.

I was whistling as I rowed back to shore.

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Chasing Them Down: Day 1

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Of all the things they could have done, running was the worst of them.

Accidents happen. I know this, and – if the circumstances warrant it – I can forgive.

But they ran, which meant it wasn’t an accident.

I found her dead on the east side of Old Cross Cemetery. Her name was Emily Anne Warren, and I had known her for a fair amount of time. She was a widow, her husband having been killed at sea by a rogue whale in 1858, and her son had died of fever in 1865, shortly before my return from the War of the Rebellion.

She was a pleasant woman, and while she was not wealthy, she was comfortable, and I made it a point to check on her. There were, I well knew, those without scruples, those who would seek to take her wealth for their own.

I had several conversations with would-be suitors. None of them ended well for those seeking Widow Warren’s hand.

On Saturday, I heard Pastor Davies was hounding Emily Anne for marriage, and so I decided it was time to go and speak with him.

When I arrived at his home, his housekeeper informed me that he had gone out for a walk with his son and had yet to return. The housekeeper told me she suspected he was on his way to speak with the widow.

I left the pastor’s home in a bit of a temper, and I doubt the conversation would have gone well had I gotten hold of him.

As it was, I did not.

I had to pass by Old Cross Cemetery to reach Emily Anne’s home, and when I neared the burial ground, I noticed the gate was open, and the tools of the gravediggers were scattered around. There was no sign of the Martin brothers, the men who dug the graves and kept the cemetery free and clear of overgrowth.

It was unlike them to abandon their tools.

I went into the cemetery, and behind a plinth, I found the crumpled corpse of Emily Anne. Her head was caved in.

I sat for a short time and read the sign on the ground around her. From what I saw, Davies, with the Martins for muscle, had pressed her for a proper response to his proposal.

Evidently, he hadn’t liked the answer.

When I found them, none were going to like what I had to say.

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In Gods’ Hollow: May 31, 1956

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The last boy is gone, and the world is worse for it.

For the past forty-four years, I referred to him as ‘Child.’ Only once, a few days after I had rescued the boys from the chapel in Gods’ Hollow, did I ask him for his name, and he told me it no longer mattered. The boy he had been was gone and dead, left behind in the charred remnants of his old hell.

I did not argue with him, nor did I press the issue. If he did not wish to be named, so be it.

Child took up residence on an island in Blood Lake. Unlike others, he preferred to be alone. I would check on him weekly, but the boy was entirely self-sufficient. He could hunt and fish, he knew what plants he could eat, and those which he could not. The boy even grew vegetables in the one decent spot.

Over the years, he grew to be a man, and he built his own home. It was a single-room structure, with windows all the way around. He could look out across the Lake and know if anyone was coming to his island.

There was a small pier, where I would tie up my boat, and before I had gotten halfway up the dock, he would emerge from the woods with a rifle and a smile.

We spent more than a few nights seated in his house, Child alert to the sounds and smells of his home. He would carve while I spoke or read to him. He never wanted to know of the world. Whenever I was to leave for any length of time, I would inform him, and he would nod.

Always, I found him waiting for me when I returned.

This morning, when I tied up at the dock, he did not come and greet me.

When I reached the path that led to his home, he was not there.

The island was silent. Not a bird sang, nor did ay animal call. Even the insects were mute.

I entered his home with trepidation and found Child dead on his bed. His eyes were open, his hands folded over his breast. In his hands, he held a pipe, and on it was carved a single word.

Blood.

It was his gift to me, and I smoke it as I write these words.

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In Gods’ Hollow: May 30, 1912

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She was sweet, pretty, and thirsty, and she nearly took an eye.

The young woman knocked on my door shortly after noon, her face flushed with the warmth of the day and a tired, apologetic smile on her face. She asked if she could trouble me for a glass of water, and I told her she could have one of milk if she was so inclined.

She flashed me a bright, easy smile, and told me she would very much appreciate one.

I led her into the study and bade her sit, and then I retreated to the kitchen for the promised glass of milk.

As attractive as she was, there was something strange about her. She had an accent I couldn’t quite place, and the pin on her label represented an organization I knew nothing of. A rarity for me.

On the floor above me, some of the boys were racing through the halls. They knew to stay away from certain rooms and to keep to only those places I had marked as safe. My home was dangerous. Perhaps not as dangerous as the hell from which I had rescued them, but it was a challenging place, nonetheless.

Pouring a beer for myself, I brought the drinks into the study and handed the milk to her. She waited until I took a seat to sip her beverage, and after I had taken a rather large drink of my beer, she smiled and asked, “Is your wife home?”

I shook my head. “I’m not married, Miss.”

“I thought I heard children,” she remarked, glancing at the ceiling.

I nodded. “You did. Some nephews are staying a bit.”

Her smile broadened, and she placed her glass on the table beside her. She smoothed out the pleats of her skirt, and then sprang from the chair.

I saw the knife in her hand at the last moment and was able to turn it aside.

The smile on her face remained fixed in place, even as she brought the knife slashing back toward me.

I caught her arm, twisted her wrist before she could switch the knife to her free hand, and drove the blade up under her chin and into her brain. She collapsed onto me and slid lifeless to the floor.

I sat still for a moment and stared at the glass in my hand.

She’d made me spill my beer.

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In Gods’ Hollow: May 29, 1912

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I found the man sitting on the edge of Gods’ Hollow, a look of perplexity on his face.

For the past few weeks, there had been rumors in town of a strange man asking questions that no one was able to make any sense of. Those who had spoken with him could not seem to remember what he looked like, nor could they truly recall what he had asked about. All they knew was that they had been left with feelings of uncertainty and discomfort.

I had searched on an off for the better part of a week, all the while making sure my new charges were safe on their islands or in my home.

The stranger’s expression, combined with the fact that he was well-armed, caught my attention.

When I stopped a short distance from him, I called out and asked what the problem was.

“I’m looking for some boys,” he replied. “They are vandals.”

“Vandals?” I asked.

He nodded.

“What happened?” I let my hands rest on the Colts. He was distracted and didn’t notice.

“They worked for my mistress,” he informed me. “They killed her and set fire to our home.”

“Ah, vandals is an appropriate name then,” I nodded. “Are you alone in your searching?”

He shook his head. “No, there are a few of us. We are searching…towns such as yours.”

“What’s your name, friend?” I asked.

“Jeremiah,” he smiled. “And yours?”

“My name?” I asked, tilting my head towards him as though I hadn’t quite heard him.

He chuckled and leaned forward. “Yes, friend, what’s your name?”

“Duncan,” I grinned. “Duncan Blood.”

The man’s eyes widened, and he jerked back as he tried to get to his feet and aim his pistol with his left hand.

By the time he brought the pistol up, both my Colts had cleared leather, and the hammers were falling on the first of twelve rounds, all of which ended up in his chest.

I was surprised to find he was still breathing when I reached him, but I took his knife from his hand and kicked the pistol out of the other.

Lifting his ax up from the ground, I tested the weight and found it to my liking.

“Now,” I told him, “let’s see if your heart is as black as my mother’s.”

It wasn’t.

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