March 1, 1859

What do you carry from your past?

Electa and Elsbeth Schell came to America in 1858 from Austria, and they brought with them not only their past but that of their homeland as well.

They carried the dark secrets of their family and those of their neighbors aboard the ship that brought them to Boston. In the deep recesses of their hearts and minds, as well as their luggage, they carried things both fair and foul.

The two sisters lived in Cross and worked as weavers in a small mill located near the border with Pepperell. Both young women were quiet and tended to mind their own business. Their English was halting, but passible, and they did their jobs well, which was all their foreman cared about.

He and others should have cared about what accompanied the sisters on their trip.

Duncan Blood was the first to notice the arrival of the strange guests, and thus he was the first to attempt to find the origin. It did not take him long to locate the sisters, but it did him little good.

The Schell women were unaware as to what had come with them.

Neither Electa nor Elsbeth knew that they had brought a drude from Austria to America.

The drude crept from its place in the folds of the travel chest, and from the minds of the sisters, it picked its shape. It wrapped itself in the cloak of nightmares and settled in to feast upon the dreaming lives of Cross’ citizens.

A few, like Duncan, chased the beast out, but many others were unable to do so.

For nearly a year, Duncan hunted the creature as it literally scared people to death. Finally, he located it in the home of Thomas Nevin, the local schoolmaster.

On the night of March 1, 1859, the drude attempted to hide in the thoughts of Thomas Nevin, who had given it refuge.

Duncan ended the drude’s existence by putting a single bullet through Thomas’ head.

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February 28, 1901

What do we know of madness?

This was a question that Dr. George Merrimac asked himself, and it was a question he valiantly sought to answer.

George was an accomplished psychologist, one whom many of his colleagues went to when dealing with particularly troublesome patients. In a time when hysteria was a common diagnosis for any woman who failed to fall in line with the standards of society, George was an outspoken opponent of such a diagnosis.

Thus, when George, a widower, retired at the age of 68 to Cross, it was unsurprising that he sought to help those who were tucked away in the maddening labyrinth of lunatic asylums and poor houses.

In an effort to determine how imprisonment affected the perception of reality, George purchased an old ‘coffin,’ a device used in Vienna, Austria to restrain lunatics.

He wrote a letter to Dr. Mitchell Anderson, a colleague in Boston, requesting that the man visit him at his home on 1st of March 1899. The letter contained explicit instructions on where to find a key to the home and, more importantly, the key Dr. Merrimac’s private study in the basement.

Dr. Anderson received the letter on the 27th of February 1901.

Curious as to why his friend wanted him to visit, and why he had left such detailed instructions, Dr. Anderson traveled to Cross on February 28, 1901. Once inside his friend’s home, Mitchell was disturbed by the dust on the furniture.

With a rising sense of panic, Mitchell descended the stairs to the private study, let himself in, and found the remains of Dr. Merrimac in the ‘coffin.’

When Mitchell managed to open the device, the remnants of George fell out, and two facts were painfully clear.

The first, Dr. Merrimack’s fingernails were embedded in the wood of the door.

And the second, the corpse’s teeth were ground to nubs.

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February 27, 1905

Vengeance is a bitter draught.

Axel St. Anselm was a man who felt himself wronged.

Life, as far as he was concerned, never did him a kindness. Not a single one. So, he treated the world in a like manner. He was a thief, a murder, and a rapist. What he wanted, he took.

In May of 1902, Axel attempted to take from Ms. Charlene Roi, the librarian at the Cross Social Library. Unfortunately for Axel, the librarian was far stronger than she looked, and the large book with which she struck him knocked him out. When he eventually awoke, he found himself in chains and awaiting transportation to prison.

Axel served three years and was released on February 27th, 1905, and made straight for Cross.

Over the years he had been able to learn where Charlene lived.

He had planned his revenge to the finest detail. Axel knew when he would strike, and how he would strike.

He knew Charlene lived in a small house with a sponsoring family. He understood that she went to bed early, and that on most nights the family she resided with spent their time in the parlor, playing charades.

Axel was a skilled criminal, and since there was little crime in Cross, he was not surprised to find the back door unlocked. The laughter of the family hid his nearly silent steps as he crept up to Charlene’s room.

Her bedroom was small and tucked away in the attic. Far from prying eyes and ears.

Axel was unarmed for he was a man who prided himself on his ability to kill without a weapon.

Charlene was armed, with a large revolver, and she shot him twice, creating a hole large enough for someone to put a fist in.

When her sponsors reached her, she was sitting on her bed, the fire in her small stove burning brightly, the flames devouring the letters she had sent to Axel, inviting him to visit.

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February 26, 1920

What would it be like to meet your double?

While much of the world theorizes and wonders whether the multiverse exists, many in Cross do not.

They know, first hand, that parallel universes, alternate planes of existence, and the maddening structure of the multiverse, all exist.

Few, however, can speak so succinctly upon the idea as Hazel Clay.

Or rather, who most people believe to be Hazel Clay.

On February 26th, 1920, another version of Cross bled through the thin fabric of the universe in front of the Cross Social Library, and it was Hazel Clay who found it.

And it was Hazel Clay who came through.

Both versions of Hazel were holding their dogs, and both women were wearing the same clothes. Their hair was identical, as were the expressions of shock on their faces.

Witnesses state that both women spoke at the same time, yet none of the words were decipherable. It was as if the two versions were so in tune that a new and brilliant language sprang up for those few minutes they were together.

Reports stated that the universes pulsed around the women. Waves of light and darkness, truth and lies, flowed about them, pulling and pushing at reality.

Finally, after nearly five minutes, the ground around the women shuddered and they were hidden by a black shape.

When it cleared, only one Hazel Clay remained. She held her dog in her arms, and smiled and called to those she knew.

Over the years, she has professed to be herself, which she undoubtedly is. But she does not know certain people, and has no memory of events in which she played a key role.

Thus it was that in 1921, Hazel filed for divorce on the grounds that she had never been married, and had never met her alleged husband.

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February 25, 1951

Marion Cass’ middle name should have been ‘Kindness.’

The man was kind and generous. Hardworking and faithful.

When the First World War broke out in August of 1914, Marion traveled to Canada and joined with the Canadian Army to serve abroad. He fought until the armistice of 1918, and then he returned home. Yet when he stepped off the train from Boston, his father died of a heart attack in the station, leaving Marion the task of running the family farm and helping his mother to raise his three younger siblings.

And Marion did just that.

His farm prospered, and he shared his prosperity with his neighbors. No family went hungry, no child lacked for a job if they went to Marion.

He was, in the words of Duncan Blood, “A man I am proud to call a friend.”

On February 25th, 1951, Marion Cass learned that the six-year-old son of the Hawkins family was missing.

Marion packed himself enough food for a day’s search as well as extra for the boy, and blankets too. Then, knowing that no horse could go where the boy was believed to have gone missing, Marion climbed onto his tractor and set off into the dark woods around Gods’ Hollow.

It was Duncan Blood who found the tractor at the edge of the road, and the Hawkins boy was wrapped in Marion’s blankets and coat.

There was no sign of Marion, and Duncan did not search for him.

Later, when the Hawkins boy was reunited with his family, and Duncan sat with Marion’s family, Deborah Cass, Marion’s wife, asked Duncan why.

From his pocket, Duncan drew a folded piece of cloth which she recognized as part of Marion’s shirt. When she opened it, there was a single sentence written in blood.

“His life for mine.”

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February 24, 1935

Peculiar.

It was the one word most citizens of Cross would have used to describe Annabelle Perkins.

She lived alone in the Perkins estate and being an only child, the family home was left to her. She had a modest income from an account established by her father, and she supplemented this by teaching piano to students of varying ages and skill levels.

Annabelle was an accomplished pianist, but she was also an anxious person who disliked any sort of attention.

The only time that Annabelle seemed to come out of her shell was during Halloween. She decorated her home as much as possible, and in the early 1920s, she began to place blank grave-markers in her yard. At the end of each season, she would take them in, afraid that the stones would be stolen from her.

By 1929, however, Annabelle began to leave them out year ‘round. When visitors remarked about the stones, Annabelle would smile shyly, apologize, and admit to being, ‘a tad obsessed with the macabre.’

On February 24th, 1935, Patrolman Robert Kline passed by her home at 5 in the evening and found her outside. At this point in her life, Annabelle was 72 years old and in failing health. Her mind had begun to slip, and she was standing in her front yard with a shovel in hand and wearing nothing more than her nightclothes.

The woman was filthy with dirt, the ground still soft from un-seasonally warm weather and a hard rain. When he exited his cruiser, Robert noticed that the woman had dug several feet into her yard in front of one of her headstones, and it was then that he saw the rough pine casket in the earth.

18 bodies were unearthed over the following days, and they have yet to be identified.

As Annabelle told the police, “I was never interested in their names, just how easily their necks snapped.”

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February 23, 1864

The world is far stranger than we think.

On February 23, 1864, at the First Battle of Dalton in Georgia, Sergeant Niles Angel of Cross, Massachusetts was wounded.

He was in the process of rallying his men when he was struck by numerous bullets, the soft, malleable lead tearing through him. When he was first brought to the field surgeon, it was believed that his left arm was the most grievous of his injuries and that he had lost far too much of it for the limb to be saved.

Still, the surgeon did his best. He cut away as much of the meat as he could, stitched it together when he was done and went in search of further injuries.

The surgeon found them.

More importantly, he found a wound that should have negated the good sergeant’s continued existence.

At least one of the bullets, the surgeon saw, had torn through Sergeant Angel’s heart.

The heart was not merely damaged but destroyed.

Most of that muscle was gone, and what remained was little more than shredded tissue.

Yet Sergeant Angel continued to live.

Lived and thrived.

He was sent home to convalesce, where his grievous injury was kept from everyone except his wife.

Following the conclusion of the war and Sergeant Angel’s mustering out, he worked as a porter for the Boston & Maine Railroad and fathered three children with his wife.

Sergeant Angel died at the age of 57 when a horse stove in the side of his head.

His children only learned of their father’s curious history when their mother died 40 years later, and they read her journal.

When they opened the family mausoleum to intern their mother, the children discovered their father’s tomb was empty and had been for some time.

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