Strange Sights

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The Hollow is filled with horrors and curiosities.

More often than not, they are one and the same.

This point was brought home to my father in an entry he titled, ‘The Waterfall.’

‘I know not where or when I am. The men I saw this morning looked strange yet almost familiar. I was not close enough to hear them, though I observed their actions and their fate.

‘It was difficult not to.

‘I had taken a seat beneath a fir tree, and I was well hidden and warm despite the weather. The sound of the waterfall was pleasant, and it offered a small bit of respite from the incessant marching that I found myself doing.

‘As I sat and considered the strange situation I am currently in, movement caught my eye, and I saw three men stride onto a narrow bridge over the falls. Two took up a position off to the left, and the third stationed himself on the right. They were dressed for the weather and were focused solely upon their task.

‘The two men chanted in tones that were indecipherable, and the third watched them. The water in the pond appeared to boil. Bubbles rose to the surface, popped, and hissed, releasing a noxious odor that I could smell from my place. Had I not been concerned about missing whatever performance was about to occur, I would have taken my leave of the place.

‘As it was, I stayed.

‘Within less than a minute, great black tentacles rose up from the depths of the pond and lashed out. They took hold of the pair of men and dragged them into the water, and neither man said a word. As they vanished beneath the surface, the remaining man tilted his head back, opened his mouth, and waited all of a heartbeat before another tentacle snaked out and burrowed into his mouth.

‘The tentacle disappeared into the man completely, and he stiffened as though frozen. Then, as I blinked, he burst apart, leaving nothing more than steaming meat and blood splattered about the bridge.

‘After a short time, I got to my feet and found a better place to rest. One a bit farther from the pond.

‘I had no desire to learn how far of a reach the tentacles had.’

Hunting Mother Day 9

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It frightened me.

Cain and I stumbled upon it as I was looking for a place to bed down for the night. We’d had an uneventful day, and I was fine with that. I’d neither seen nor heard from any version of my mother or those foolish enough to do her bidding.

The day had been, without a doubt, a long and pleasant walk.

We’d seen a fair amount of animals I’d never laid eyes on before, and Cain had raced after more than a few of them. He always returned, tail straight and head up, a bit of a swagger to his walk, as though he’d shown the offending animal that he was in charge.

And who knows, perhaps he was.

What frightened me about the falls and the stream was the utter silence around them.

They made no sound, not until Cain and I were upon stones lining the stream’s banks.

There was animal sign. Tracks leading up to the water and then leading away. No sign of violence.

No sign of man.

We stood there for a short time, and then Cain promptly laid down on his belly, crossed his forepaws and then rested his chin upon them.

The pup had made the decision for me.

I set about the business of making camp, and when I had a fire going and coffee brewing, I sat down beside the dog. He wagged his tail once, closed his eyes and went to sleep with a small snort of content.

The peace of the place frightened me.

There was no violence. No danger. I could not sense any beast creeping up, nor could I hear the jingle of harness or weaponry.

Cain and I were alone.

The peace was unlike the Hollow, and I waited to see if some god was watching me and seeking to converse.

But I was in a strange safe haven, and nothing sought to disturb us. I took out my Colts and my kit, and I began the soothing ritual of cleaning the Colts.

Soon, the smell of coffee and gun oil filled the air, and the dog snored beside me.

And for a short time, the Hollow was good.

#horrorstories #mother

Hunting Mother Day 8

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They were lazy.

We came upon them before noon, the sun beating down and cooking the Hollow, the men’s rifles stacked off to the right. The scrape of their shovels and their bitter complaints were muffled by the heat, but only a little.

“She told us we could eat them,” one of the men muttered.

“No, she didn’t,” the other snapped. “She said we couldn’t eat them. We’s to stay hungry for her boy.”

The first man snorted his disgust, coughed, then turned his head to one side and pressed a finger against his nostril. He blew a long, yellowish stream of mucus onto the ground and then turned back to his work.

“I’m hungry,” he stated, wiping his nose with the back of his hand.

The second man sighed. “I’s hungry too, dummy. Ain’t gonna eat ‘til we kill ‘im, so, let’s get to goin’.”

“This was to be him,” the first man complained, slapping one of the corpses with the flat of his shovel.

“And the moon’s supposed to be the sun,” the second drawled. “Don’t mean a damned thing ‘til it does. We get her boy killed, well, we can eat like kings. Heard he’s from outside the Hollow. They’s always got lots of fat on ‘em, even when they look like they don’t.”

The first chuckled. “’Mm, you speakin’ gospel truth there, Hank. Preachin’ it.”

“To the choir, John,” Hank laughed.

Cain and I watched a little longer as the men scraped dirt over the corpses of the two men. As the pup took a seat, I did the same, sliding a Colt out of its holster. The dog and I waited as the men hummed a few hymns, and then, they turned around.

They had their shovels on their backs, and they were about to step off toward the rifles when they spotted Cain and myself.

The men came to a stop.

“How long you been there?” Hank asked.

“Long enough,” I answered.

John cleared his throat. “How long’s that, friend?”

“Long enough to know it’s my mother keepin’ your stomachs empty.”

The men dropped their shovels and sprinted for the rifles.

I shot each through the lower back, sending them tumbling to the earth and squealing in pain.

“Finish it,” Hank snarled.

“No. Get your rifles and finish it yourselves.”

With the dying men’s curses heavy in the air, Cain and I left them to die.

#horrorstories #mother

Hunting Mother Day 5

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I awoke to whispers.

I’d bedded down in a small cave with my new puppy for company. When I opened my eyes, the dog was pressed against my chest, and my shirt was wet. Whatever was whispering had scattered my new pup badly. For a moment, I considered putting him in my rucksack, where he’d weathered the fight between myself and the rat-folk, but this was worse.

Leaving him in my shirt and ignoring the rapidly cooling fabric, I drew my guns and went deeper into the cave, following the whispers.

The voice soon took on a distinct tone, but the language was undecipherable. I’d not heard it’s like before.

At the far end of the cave, I found a wall of draperies, and I cautiously pushed my way through them.

I was glad I left the puppy in my shirt.

The room I entered was neat and tidy. A selection of knives and edged weapons hung in a pleasant array upon the walls, and across the room, posed upon an overturned bucket, was a head.

The eyes opened and peered at me. A dull green tongue flicked out, moistened the lips, and then the severed head spoke.

“She set me as a warning,” the head told me.

“My mother?”

“Our mother,” the head laughed. “She was displeased with me. Said my tone reminded her of you. It does not go well for those who remind her of you, Duncan Blood.”

“Evidently not.”

The dog whimpered, and the head licked its lips again.

“I’m hungry,” it said pointedly.

“I’ll feed you your own eyes before you touch my dog.”

The head scowled at me. “Selfish.”

I cocked the Colt, and the head rolled its eyes.

“You’re a warning?” I asked.

It nodded. “Go home, or one of our mothers will slay you. Leave your head as a warning for some other kith or kin.”

“She killed a friend.”

“They’ve all killed friends,” the head laughed. “Too many to count. What does it matter in the end?”

“Nothing and to no one,” I answered. “And what about you?”

The head frowned. “What do you mean?”

“How long can you live like that?”

“For as long as I can speak,” it answered, and I pulled the trigger.

The puppy shook against my chest as brains dripped down the wall.

I soothed the dog, and we left the cave.

Sometimes, the messenger needs to die.

#horrorstories #mother

Hunting Mother Day 3

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They tried to bushwhack me.

I’ve never taken kindly to being bushwhacked. Nor have I suffered any long-term ill effects from it either.

The shot clipped me in the back of the head and sent me tumbling to the ground.

I’d been on the move for about half the morning, and the bastards had hidden themselves well. I don’t think they were hunting for me specifically. No, I think they were just out looking for prey, but they got a tad more than they bargained for.

I heard them calling to one another in Spanish, and as the blood dried on the back of my head, I took cover.

Laughter rolled down the hill, reverberated off the rocks, and gave me one hell of a headache. As I tried to ignore the discomfort, a voice I’d not heard in some time called out to the bushwhackers.

It was my mother, and she was asking if they knew who they’d shot.

The men confessed they did not, and so she told them.

By the time my name left her lips, I was up and moving, keeping rocks and trees between myself and the shooters.

A silence fell over everything, and only a rising wind hid the sound of my feet from the men who’d shot me.

I was halfway to the hill when I heard my mother order the men to go after me.

A quick look revealed ten men moving in a wide line down the hill. Above them, I caught sight of four more, one armed with a rifle and waiting to see if I would pop back up.

I would. Just not where they expected.

As the men moved down the hill, I went up. It didn’t take them long to realize I wasn’t dead, but by then, I was at the top, and both Colts were drawn.

The men didn’t ask for quarter.

I killed the rifleman first as his compatriots drew their pistols. But they were slow, and I was angry.

The Colts roared, and the men died.

I stood my ground at the top of the hill and gunned down the others as they tried to flank me. Death hung heavy in the hot air, and my mother screamed at me from the heavens.

Soon, my mother went silent, and only the cries of the wounded remained.

I took the rifle, and the ammunition from the dead rifleman reloaded my Colts again and made my way down the hill.

I wasn’t interested in prisoners.

#horrorstories #mother

Hunting Mother Day 2

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I found them on the edge of town.

I’d spent the night in one of the houses, getting a few hours of sleep and making sure I was ready for whatever the day might bring.

Or, rather, as ready as I could be.

The Hollow rarely made things easy.

The sun had risen in the south for some ungodly reason, and I found seven men standing by an open box as the morning light illuminated the town.

They had rifles with them, but they’d stacked the weapons off to one side as they peered down into the box. A few of them chuckled, but their good humor vanished as they caught sight of me approaching them. I don’t know if any of them had helped to butcher Emma, but they were suspect all the same.

I stopped a fair distance from the men, rested hands on the butts of the Colts, and nodded good morning to the strangers.

“Can we help you?” the man in the center asked.

“Depends,” I answered. “I’m looking for the fellow who murdered my friend, and my mother, too.”

The men shifted uneasily where they stood, eyes flickering from the box to me.

“Well,” the center man began, stroking his chin. “Don’t know as we killed anyone lately. And as for your mother, who might she be?”

“Mistress Blood.”

Smiles crept across their faces.

“Ah,” the center man nodded. “No, we didn’t kill anyone, though we drained a pig yesterday. She did squeal a bit, I’ll give you that. And as for your mother, well, she’s the one what sent us the pig. Your mother, she said you’d come and that we were to give you a welcome.”

The men sprinted for their rifles, but my Colts were already clearing leather.

The revolvers roared, and each man went down.

None of them were dead, though.

I didn’t want them dead. Not yet.

They were game as hell, though. Each was trying to get to their weapons, but I took my time going from one to the other, breaking fingers before gathering up the rifles. I took the weapons to the box and found myself looking down at a puppy. The sight of the dog irked me some, and I suspect they meant it harm.

With the dog tucked into my coat, I went back to the wounded men and asked where my mother was.

I confess I asked hard.

None of them lived long enough to tell me.

#horrorstories #mother

February 27

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I knew her, but she didn’t know me.

It was the spring of 1960. Thirty years since I’d seen Charlotte Caisson, or at least since I saw a version of her.

The last vestiges of snow had melted, and mud was creeping up along North Road. I kept to the edge of the road and saw her when I peered into the Hollow.

Her hair was different, and she wore a rough uniform of sorts. A medal hung ‘round her neck, and I wondered, for a moment, what she did to win it.

On her hips, she wore a pair of pistols I recognized.

Colt .44s, the butts worn smooth from decades of use.

They were my guns.

When she saw me, her eyes narrowed, and her hands dropped to the revolvers with a speed I admired. Her gaze flicked from my face to the pistols and back again.

But there was no recognition there.

I took a chance and kept my hands away from my Colts. I folded my arms across my chest and nodded to her.

“Charlotte.” Her name rolled across the Hollow, and she stiffened when she heard it.

“Who are you?” She spoke in high German, and it was flawless.

“Duncan Blood.”

She took a step back, and even from my place by the wall, I saw her knuckles tighten on the pistols.

I smiled at her. “You’re not the Charlotte I knew.”

Some of the tension eased from her shoulders, but she kept her hands tight upon the guns. “Nor are you the Duncan I knew. You’re older.”

“Did you take the guns from him?”

She let out a snort of laughter. “From Duncan Blood? No. He left them in my care. He said he wouldn’t need them. Not where he was going.”

A note of sadness slipped into her words, and pain tinged her eyes.

“Where was he going?”

“To Hell,” she answered.

I raised an eyebrow.

“His cousin. Your cousin, too, I suppose. She called to him.”

“Patience?”

“You know of another who could get you to travel willingly to Hell?”

I shook my head.

“Neither do I,” she sighed. Charlotte let go of her guns, ran her fingers through her hair and asked, “Do you still live alone?”

“Let’s just say there’s no human company. None living at least.” I hesitated, then smiled. “Would you care for dinner?”

“I would,” she said. “If there’s breakfast to follow.”

I promised her there would be.

#love #horrorstories

February 24

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Vengeance and hunger. 

I’d known the Mason family since the first of them arrived in 1740 and settled down in Cross. Most of them weren’t worth much, but Dot, she was as fine a person as could be.

Dot Mason learned how to operate an arc welder during the Second World War. From 1942 to 1945, she worked at a plant in Boston, helping to manufacture parts for various ships. 

When the war ended in August of 1945, Dot eventually returned home to Cross, where she picked up part-time work at several local garages.  

It was at the Olive Street Garage that she met her future husband, Adam Pogan.  

The two were wed in 1946, and by 1947, she had given birth to a pair of sons. On May 14, 1948, Adam was taken arrested for drunk and disorderly after beating Dot severely. Less than a week later, Adam and the boys vanished. The bank foreclosed on the house, and Dot was forced to return to part-time work while living in a rooming house. 

There was a sadness to Dot, and she never remarried. On more than one occasion, I offered to give her a hand, but she never accepted it. Now and again, we met for coffee, but nothing more. We were friends, and I watched her age, as I do everyone.

She remained in Cross, and most people assumed it was in the hopes of her boys returning to her. Eventually, she passed and was buried in Cross Cemetery in 1997. 

On March 18, 2004, her former property was sold again, and the new owners cleared away the brush and debris that had been there since Dot had lived in the home. 

Beneath the debris, a door was discovered. One that I’d helped her build.

It was made of steel and set into concrete, and not only was it padlocked, but it was also welded shut. 

Eventually, the door was removed, and the new owners descended into a small bomb shelter. 

Inside, they found the mummified remains of Adam Pogan and the twin sons.  

Autopsies revealed that the boys had died of blunt force trauma to the head, while Adam had starved to death.  

The bones of the children were broken and gnawed upon. 

A sealed envelope was found tacked above the far wall, and in it was a note. 

He killed my sons because they cried when they were hungry. 

#love #horrorstories

February 17

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Miskatonic asked for help.

It’s not often that the university asks for assistance. Rarer still is when I agree to lend a hand.

The university had sent a pair of students to my home. They were young men, fear-filled and bandaged. According to them, they had been in the theology department when a carved stone box had arrived from Palestine.

One of their friends managed to finagle the box open and suffered for their curiosity. When it was opened, a woman climbed out.

In a heartbeat, she was devouring one student’s face. The others tried to intervene, but she’d beaten them back easily. As she had all others who were sent against her.

When they’d fled, she had laughed and promised to eat her way through town.

It was more the threat to my town than anything else that moved me. In a short time, I gathered extra ammunition and my Bowie knife before going out to climb into their automobile.

When we arrived at the school, the theology building had been cordoned off, and there were a few townsfolk with bird guns and hunting rifles. They were men who had served in the Great War and others who had fought the Spanish.

I greeted them with a nod, loosened the Colts in their holsters and cocked the hammers back.

I entered the building with the knife drawn and held down to my side. In a few moments, I passed by a corpse stripped down to bare bones, the innards cast off to one side. Soon after that, another pair of bodies lay against the wall, and bloody footprints turned into a nearby room.

The woman was in there, scooping the eyes out of a skull and popping them into her mouth.

She grinned at me, set the head down, and walked to me. The moment her hands touched my shoulders, I drove the knife up at an angle into her chest. The blade slid beneath the sternum, and she tried to pull back, a look of horrified shock on her face.

I twisted the knife, jerked it hard to the right, and then pushed it down, opening up her whole belly.

She lasted about a heartbeat longer and then collapsed. Unrecognizable organs spilled out, stinking and wet on the floor.

I didn’t worry about that, though.

Killing was my work, and my work was done.

#love #horrorstories

February 13

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It’s been decades since I spoke with her.

Sitting here, in the Child’s house and looking out at a storm creeping over the horizon, I recall that time with perfect clarity. Grimnir, in his massive Raven form, had fixed his one-eye upon me and spoke a single word.

“Hollow.” 

There was no urgency behind the name, but the fact that Grimnir spoke was enough to move me out of my chair and back into the house. By the time I finished strapping on the Colts and returned to the porch, he was already gone.  

I didn’t bother with my truck or with saddling one of the horses.  

The walk would help me brace myself for whatever I would find. 

I was wrong. 

When I caught sight of Gods’ Hollow, a second wall stood a short distance from the stonewall, and my heart thundered against my chest.  

I recognized the new wall, though it was far longer than the last time I had seen it.  

Some of the bricked openings had fresh mortar; others were single, solid slabs of marble.  

There was a name inscribed on each, faint and only visible when the light of the sun struck it full on. There were no dates, and there didn’t need to be.  

I could remember each one, and why wouldn’t I? 

I was looking at the wall of my dead. 

These were not the graves of random folk or monsters, criminals or neighbors.  

No, these were the graves of my loved ones. Relations and friends. Some I had put down myself, out of need and nothing more.  

Some had been taken from me by others. A few had been claimed by old age. 

But only a few. 

I climbed over the stonewall and walked to the one grave more important than all the others.  

Adelaide’s. 

I sat down beside my wife’s grave and rested my forehead against the cool marble. 

Time passed, and soon, I heard her sweet voice come from the depths.  

“Duncan,” she sighed. “Why didn’t you wake me?” 

My own voice was raw and broken when I spoke. “I did not wish to disturb you.” 

“You never do,” Adelaide laughed. “I met your son.” 

I could not speak. 

“He is well,” she continued. 

“Is he?” I whispered. 

“We all are, Duncan,” she told me. “The dead have no more worries.” 

And here, in the gathering darkness, I remember her words and weep.

#love #horrorstories