In Gods’ Hollow: May 26, 1912

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I carried the blind boy on my back and sought an exit from my mother’s warren.

The cat had fled with the death of its mistress, and the raven had led the other boys into the room. No one spared a glance at the corpse of the Keeper.

“She was young here,” the raven observed as we found a narrow passage.

“Younger than she was when she gave birth to me,” I replied.

We walked on in silence, the boys behind us marching in single file.

“Do you think there are others of her here?” I asked.

“No,” the bird replied. “You are far too dangerous, Duncan Blood. They cannot risk having you kill more than one at a time. It throws off the balance.”

“The balance of what?” I inquired.

“Of everything,” the raven stated, blinking his good eye at me. “This is nexus, as surely as the Hollow is a nexus. You will close this when we leave?”

“Of course,” I answered. I glanced over my shoulder at the boys behind us. “How many?”

“Thirty-seven,” Grimnir answered preening. “They will stay with you.”

“Me?”

The raven nodded. “Until it is time for them to move on.”

“When will that be?” I asked, trying to think as to where I might put thirty-six boys, some of whom I doubted spoke any language I knew.

“Some tomorrow, others the day after,” the bird stated. “Quite a few will drift out to your islands on Blood Lake. They will remain there, living out their days in solitude and reflection. Such is the way of our world.”

I shifted Johnny’s weight, and the boy sighed.

“He is asleep,” the raven observed.

“Good. She took his eyes.”

“Ate them, to be precise,” Grimnir informed me. “Then made him sew his own lids closed.”

I swore, and the bird nodded. “Yes. It is good she is dead, Duncan Blood. Tell me, what will you do when we leave this place?”

“I’ll burn it to the ground.”

“Good.”

For hours, we walked in silence. When we finally climbed out of a tunnel and into the Hollow, with the sun shining upon us, I set fire to my mother’s warren.

Then, as the day ended, the boys gathered around me, and we watched her world burn.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

In Gods’ Hollow: May 25, 1912

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From beyond the door, I heard laughter and the mewling of a cat.

“He is there,” Grimnir said, “in that room, with the Keeper.”

The raven dropped to the floor and peered at me with his one eye. “I will watch over the children, Duncan Blood. Do what must be done.”

I nodded, and without a look back, I opened the door and entered the room.

I was in a narrow breezeway, paneled with dark wood and lit by flames contained within brass lanterns. I heard a violin as I slipped my Bowie knife out of its sheath. The light of the lanterns danced along the edge of the blade, and I advanced quietly.

At the end of the breezeway, I found a heavy, maroon curtain, and I pushed it aside to enter a large room.

The violin stopped as I looked about me.

Johnny Coffin stood by a fireplace, his eyelids sunken and stitched together. Dried blood was caked on his face, and in his hands, he held a violin. He was thin and ragged, and he shivered where he stood.

A few feet away from him, the Keeper sat.

She peered at me with disdain, a cat on her lap. Her lips twitched and then curled up into a wicked grin.

“There is no recognition in your eyes,” she told me, and her voice struck me like a blow. She laughed. “There it is. I was beginning to fear you would never make it.”

“I made it,” I told her, taking a step closer.

“So, you most certainly did,” she smiled. “Few of you come this far. None of you have left this room. Will you not draw your pistols and shoot me down?”

I shook my head and edged closer.

The smile on her face faltered for a moment. “You think a knife enough for me?”

Without a word, I threw myself at her. The cat sprang away, and the young woman tried to launch herself out of the chair.

My knife caught her beneath the sternum, and I drove the blade to the hilt. Slamming her against the wall, she vomited blood over me, laughing as she did so. Twisting the knife, I heard bone break. With blood-stained lips, she smiled.

“What,” she whispered, “no kiss for your mother?”

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In Gods’ Hollow: May 24, 1912

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Death greeted us.

When I opened the door into the next chamber, I found a set of stairs leading up and the body of a child.

As I walked towards the small corpse, the boys filed in behind me. They formed a protective wall around the dead boy on the stairs and me as I crouched down beside him.

Gently, I turned the body over and looked upon a face that had known far too much sorrow and pain in his young life. There was no sense of ease, no sense of peace upon his fine features. Only the stamp of sadness was there.

I don’t know what if anything killed him. He may simply have died. He may have given up and refused to awaken.

I returned his body to the position in which I had found it and settled down on my haunches. Around me, the living boys remained silent, waiting.

It was the raven who broke the silence.

“There is nothing to be done for him,” the Gallows god informed me.

“I know it.”

“We are nearing the end.”

I looked at Grimnir in surprise, and the old raven nodded his head.

“Soon,” he continued, “we will come upon the domain of the Keeper. You will face the Keeper alone, Duncan Blood, and I will stay with the children.”

“And what of them?” I asked, motioning toward the boys.

“Worry about your fate and no one else’s,” the raven informed me. “It is all you can do at this time.”

It was a statement I disliked, but I accepted it for what it was – a gentle reminder that death comes for us all, as the body on the stairs showed us.

I stood up and nodded to the boys around me.

Without a word, we left the corpse on the stairs.

My hands found the hilts of my Colts and touched the cool wood. After a moment, I shook my head.

“What is it?” the raven asked.

“I’ll not use my guns to kill the Keeper.”

“What then?”

“My knife,” I told him. “This killing’s personal.”

The laughter of the Gallows god filled the air as we made our way up.

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In Gods’ Hollow: May 23, 1912

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It felt as though the silence would crush the life from me.

We had killed the last few of those who had escaped us in the banquet hall and found ourselves in a massive mausoleum. The boys sat down and took care of those among their number who were wounded.

I walked among the graves set within the walls of the mausoleum, the raven on my shoulder. He would preen, occasionally, but for the most part, his one good eye scanned over the graves as well.

Like the menus in the banquet hall, there were photographs set within the sealed doors. Unlike the menus, however, there was more than one image per door. There were dozens of them.

The graves did not appear large enough to hold the bodies of so many children, and after a moment, I realized that not all of each body was interned. I understood that most of them had ended up on the tables we had just passed by.

Turning away from the graves, I returned to my young charges. As one, they looked to me, and in the stillness of that room, I heard a sudden, sharp gasp.

One of the men was still alive.

The boys turned to fall upon him, to flay his flesh from his bones, but I stopped them.

They moved aside as I walked toward the wounded man. He was fat, a bloated slug crammed into his suit. His face was pale, his eyes jaundiced, and his jowls shivered as he tried to push himself back toward a wall.

I crouched down beside him, drew my Bowie knife, and placed the tip of it beneath an eye.

“How many have you eaten?” I asked him.

“I don’t know,” he hissed, his eyes shifting from me to the boys and back again.

“I think you do. Tell me,” I demanded.

He shook his head, and I removed his eye. As he shrieked in pain, I popped it into his mouth, jammed his jaw closed and forced him to swallow it.

“How many?” I asked again, and a moment later, I was forced to feed him his other eye.

The boys gathered around me, watching.

I ended feeding him one of his testicles before he decided to talk, and I had to cut out his tongue to get him to stop.

I fed him that, too.

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In Gods’ Hollow: May 22, 1912

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The conversations didn’t stop until I killed the man closest to me.

When that happened, silence swept over the hall, and they all looked upon the boys and me with disdain.

One man stood up, wiped his mouth with a napkin, and asked, “What do you want here, Duncan Blood?”

A single shot through his left eye answered his question, and as the body collapsed, I stated, “There are knives on the tables, boys.”

My guns roared, the men died, and the battle was joined.

Unlike those in the previous rooms, these men tried to escape, and I saw why.

The centerpiece of each table was a menu. Each menu had a different photograph of a boy upon it, and below that photo was a list of the different meals prepared with the remains of the child.

The cannibals fled the room, and we followed.

None of them tried to fight, and dozens fell beneath my guns and the flashing knives of the children. We left a swath of carnage behind us, and when we reached the far door, we were bespattered with blood and screaming with a lust for the same.

Those on the other side of the door sought to lock us out, but my Colts took care of that, and within moments we were through the door. The men raced down a long and narrow hallway, and I gunned them down as fast as I could pull the trigger.

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#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

In Gods’ Hollow: May 21, 1912

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Every man I saw died from my guns.

The Colts hammered away at the men standing among the boys, splashing blood and brains and bones out over the gathered children, all of whom cheered as it occurred.

More men came in through the doors on either side of the balcony and drew long-knives from sheathes and fell upon the boys.

I’ve never experienced such rage before in my life.

While some of the boys who had come with me descended to the gymnasium floor to help defend their brethren, I attacked the cowards killing the boys on the balcony. Grimnir took wing and attacked the nearest man, tearing out eyes and throat. Someone called out my name, and for a moment, there was a lull in the battle.

The men knew who I was, as did the boys. My name gave the children hope and caused fear to spring up in the eyes of the men.

My guns started up the battle once more, and I killed every man I saw. Others tried to come through the doors, but the boys had learned that hard lesson. They threw their weight against the doors, keeping them closed as best they could, and every door that opened more than an inch got a bullet sent into the darkness.

Soon, the doors were all sealed, and we paused to catch our breath. The boys clambered down to the main floor, and I followed a moment later. The bodies of the slain children burned in my eyes and caused my face to flush with rage. In silence, I reloaded my Colts.

There was one man left alive, pale, and bleeding to death on the parquet floor. I crouched down beside him and he tried to turn his head. I caught his hair, jerked his face toward me and smiled.

“How far am I from finding Johnny Coffin?” I asked.

He snarled at me, and I shattered his teeth with the butt of a Colt. His shrill scream filled the air. I let him suffer for a moment longer; then I strangled him to death.

The boys, bloodied, battered, and victorious, peered at me.

“Are you ready?” I asked them in a low voice.

They nodded.

“Then let’s get to killing,” I told them.

The boys were eager for blood, and so was I.

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In Gods’ Hollow: May 20, 1912

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Stunned silence greeted us as we broke into the next room.

An infirmary stretched out before us, nurses clad in white and blue, and a young doctor standing there as well. Boys were in the beds and standing about the ward’s floor. The door closed and latched itself behind us, and no one moved.

The boys behind me, still smelling of coal, waited, unsure of what to do. The raven tightened his grip on my shoulder, the bird’s talons once more piercing my clothes to bite deep into my flesh.

I was about to demand the release of the patients when two events occurred simultaneously.

First, the doctor reached into his jacket, his eyes narrowing as his gaze settled on me.

Second, a young patient, standing at the nearest bed, called out, “Morgan!”

Another boy rushed past me from behind, the two boys slamming into one another and weeping tears of joy.

As this incident registered in my mind, so too did the fact that the doctor had succeeded in pulling an astonishingly long pistol from his jacket.

I blew his brains out the back of his head.

All the boys in the ward cheered and joined the fray.

They swarmed over the nurses, dragging them down and beating them to death. The women’s screams were quickly silenced, and as others of their ilk poured in from doors at the far end, I cut them down, the Colts thunderous in the confines of the infirmary.

More boys joined us, and as I walked towards the far end of the ward, other doors were thrown open.

Every adult I saw, I killed.

I did not need to speak with them. I had only to rescue the boys and to keep moving.

When we reached the exit, I paused and reloaded my Colts. Turning to face the children, I realized I had close to fifty boys with me. Some were filthy with coal dust; others were pallid from being kept in the hospital.

All of them had expressions of eager rage.

“Are you ready?” I asked them.

They howled, and with their cries ringing in my ears, I opened the next door.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

 

Duncan Blood – Free Kindle

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Hello everyone!

Well, I’m getting close to 1000 posts, and the other day I reached 700 followers. Now, normally I would be sitting here, in front of my computer and thinking about what to write (and, yes, I admit, I’m still doing that), but I thought I’d like to celebrate those two milestones.

So, starting May 22, 12:00 AM (PST since Amazon is set in CA), “Blood’s Journals,” will be available as a free download on Amazon. I’m not sure how many of you own Kindles or have the app on your phone or laptop, but from May 22 to May 26, the book will be free.

Some of you may have read all the entries in Duncan’s journals up to this point; others may be less familiar with his work. Whatever your situation may be, at least you’ll have three complete journals to peruse at your leisure.

I hope you all get a chance to download and read it, and I look forward to hearing what you have to say about it.

Thank you, all of you, for your phenomenal support!

 

Nick Efstathiou

In Gods’ Hollow: May 18, 1912

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The air was thick with coal dust and the distant thrum of machines.

The boys sat with their backs to me, none of them raising their heads or turning to look at me as I stepped into the room. They continued with their business of sorting, neither speaking nor looking at one another. Their labored breathing added a soft, rasping undercurrent to the machines, and I hated the Keeper all the more.

For a short time, I stood where I was, saying nothing, and doing the same. Finally, I walked up to the front of the room, turned around, and faced them.

Not a one of them looked at me, and I wondered how much abuse they had suffered to crush the curiosity within them.

“Boys,” I whispered.

The sound of my voice stilled their hands and stiffened their backs. Grimnir called to them in his own voice, and the boys looked up.

Their faces were filthy, their eyes wide. Chunks of coal fell from their hands, and they stared at me in disbelief. Lips moved, and at first, no sound came from them. Then, one small boy, his voice broke the stillness.

“Blood.”

I nodded.

The others took up my name, first as a whisper, then as a chant. Their voices joined together, shook coal dust from the rafters.

“You cannot send them back,” Grimnir informed me. “They can only go forward as we do.”

“So long as they are not left behind,” I responded.

“No, that is not their fate,” the raven stated.

“Good.” I focused on the boys. “Rise up. You’re leaving with me.”

There was no hesitation, and they leaped to their feet.

“Show me the door, boys,” I told them, “it’s time for killing.”

The boys raced past me, and I followed, my name reverberating in the halls of Hell.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

In Gods’ Hollow: May 17, 1912

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The creature lived long enough to tell me what was in the casks.

I found the thing skulking by the door when I entered the cavernous room, and it ran when it saw me. Two quick shots from my Colt blew out its knees and sent it sprawling across the concrete floor.

As it tried to crawl away from me, I gazed at the casks and saw each bore a name.

Timothy Waite aged 8 years.

Marcus Hendrickson aged 12 years.

The casks were huge, reminding me of those used in France and Germany in the vineyards.

“What do you store in these?” I asked it.

The creature, which was gray with filmy white eyes, leered at me. “I store nothing.”

Squatting down beside it, I took out my Bowie knife and removed a finger.

“What do you store in these?” I asked again.

It swore at me, so I stuffed its finger into its mouth. Once it had choked its own digit down, it felt the need to speak.

“This is the Keeper’s wine,” it hissed at me.

“Tell me why there are names upon them.”

It tried to distance itself from me, but I hooked a finger into its mouth, caught hold of its cheek and tugged it back to me. “I’ll tear your damned cheek from your face if you don’t speak.”

It nodded in understanding, and I let it go.

“We put a boy in the cask,” the creature explained, “and we drown him in wine. He ferments. The wine gets sweeter. When we break open a cask, the Keeper, she feeds upon the wine-soaked flesh and drinks the wine. Her hunger is great. Her thirst is mighty.”

“How many have you put in here?” I asked, my voice shaking with rage.

The creature seemed not to notice my fury. “After one hundred, I stopped counting. Too boring. The screams too much the same. And the Keeper never gives me the slights morsel. I must scrape them from the casks.”

The raven on my shoulder shifted his weight. “This one,” Grimnir told me, “should not die quickly.”

I agreed and made certain it did not.

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