In Gods’ Hollow: May 23, 1912

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 20, 1912

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

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

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

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.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

In Gods’ Hollow: May 16, 1912

The marionettes turned and faced me when I entered the room.

I finished the last of the whiskey, set the empty bottle on a chair, and sat down. The raven left my shoulder and perched on the back of a chair. I waited, hands on the butts of the Colts.

The marionettes, seven in all, consisted of a queen, a king, and five nights.

It was the queen who spoke to me.

“You are Duncan Blood,” she stated, her voice young and tinny, as though spoken from deep within the marionette.

“I am.”

“You’ve come to rescue a boy,” she continued, “and to tear this world down?”

I tightened my hold on the Colts.

“I have,” I answered.

All seven marionettes bowed.

“We wish you the best of luck,” the queen told me. “We have been here, overlong.”

“How long?” I asked.

“Before the Gallows god had come to this part of the world,” she replied. “We were from Boston town, the seven of us, and we were taken by a raiding party of Frenchmen. They were turned around and ended up in the Hollow. They took shelter in what they believed was an empty house, and down we went.”

“Why are you marionettes?” I asked, my voice hoarse.

The king laughed. “We were entertaining. So the Keeper told us. She watched as we slew our captors, and so she took us to keep her entertained.”

“And do you?” I inquired.

All seven shook their heads in unison.

“We have not entertained her in decades,” the queen stated. “We speak to one another, but even that can be difficult at times. We have been trapped here, like this, for as long as you have been alive, Duncan Blood.”

“What will happen to you once I destroy this place?”

“That,” the queen answered, “is something we will never know. We ask that you free us now.”

“How?”

“Cut our strings.”

I sighed and nodded. Getting to my feet, I drew my knife, and I cut each set of strings. The marionettes collapsed to the floor of their theater, and they were silent.

Without a word, I sheathed my knife and the raven, and I went in search of an exit, and the one called ‘Keeper.’

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

In Gods’ Hollow: May 13, 1912

The sound of hammers upon stone echoed down the tunnel.

I paused when I heard them, listening for any other noises which might accompany them.

There was nothing, nothing save the strike of metal upon rock.

I approached cautiously, the Colts in my hands. My wounds from the night before had healed, yet the anger I felt toward this place remained. I had still not found any sign of Johnny Coffin, and there was a deepening sense of hopelessness within me. I wanted nothing more than to find the boy, to find him whole and healthy. The more I traveled in this abysmal place, the less I believed that I would find him alive.

The dim light of the tunnel brightened, and soon I was standing near a large scaffolding, a pair of men upon it and gazing down at me.

“Duncan Blood,” they called to me Danish, “and the Gallows god. What brings you here to us?”

Grimnir let out his croak of a laugh, and I answered the question. “I seek Jack Coffin’s boy.”

“He passed this way some time ago,” one of the two replied. “He was with a group of others. Perhaps five in all.”

“No more than ten, at the most,” his compatriot added.

“How do you know me?” I asked them.

“You were here not too long ago,” the first stated.

“Perhaps a decade,” the second chimed in. Then, looking at his partner, he asked, “Was it a decade?”

The first shrugged. “It could well have been a century. Time is fluid here.”

“What are you building?” Grimnir asked them.

The two men laughed. “A crypt! War is coming, Grimnir, war. We will fill this with the souls of millions, and then all here will eat well.”

My hands tightened on the Colts, but the raven’s talons dug into my shoulder, and I held my tongue.

“Who bids you do this?” the bird asked.

“Hela,” the men responded in unison. “Who else?”

“Who else indeed,” I murmured.

Grimnir nodded. “Straight on?” he asked.

“Straight on,” they answered.

We left the men to their work, and I wondered what war was coming.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

In Gods’ Hollow: May 12, 1912

The fight began as I walked through the door.

Knives were hurled at me, whistling past and thudding into the door and the frame. The raven sprang to the air and I had both Colts drawn before I finished crouching down. More knives were thrown even as the pistols thundered in the confines of the room.

One of the men staggered back, twin holes in his chest. The second man stepped forward and threw a cleaver with enough speed and accuracy to lodge it in my left shoulder. A smirk of satisfaction spread across his mustachioed face.

But it was an expression that transformed into one of shock as I tore the blade free and cast it aside. He reached for another blade, but my arm was already healing, and the raven descended upon him. The sharp beak of the Gallows god tore out the man’s eyes and left him screaming at the counter. His colleague sat propped up behind it, his eyes glazed as he struggled for breath. Blood foamed and bubbled in his chest, and the all too familiar death rattle made itself known.

Grimnir left his meal and perched upon the counter as I approached. The blinded man continued his howling, blood, and flecks of eye covering his face. When I reached him, I plucked a boning knife from a collection of them, grabbed the blinded man by the nape of his neck and dragged him to the marbled top of a nearby counter. I swept aside meat I knew to be human and put the butcher atop it.

He struggled for a moment, but I’ve done my share of knifework in my life.

His screams increased, and while I sorely wished to remove his tongue, I needed answers. I settled for his fingers instead and told him I was going to work on his toes next.

The promise of pain loosened his tongue.

He told me that he and his brother were butchers, preparing the meat of those boys who were sent back up by the lower levels.

When I asked if he knew their names, he let out a croak and told me they were nothing more than meat.

I confess, his response angered me.

He did not die well.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

In Gods’ Hollow: May 11, 1912

Beneath the surgical theater, I found them, mute and filthy.

Their tongues were gone, and I knew who had taken them.

There were dozens of boys, some as young as four, others nearly sixteen. All watched me, unsure as to what I might do. When I spoke to them, they did not understand me. I tried every language I knew, and nothing was familiar to them.

In that dim and foul place, I sat down and offered what little food I had to them. They nodded their thanks and broke bread with me.

Grimnir remained on my shoulder, the raven preening upon occasion, but offering nothing in the way of conversation. Occasionally, the boys would look to the bird, and he would let out a croak. Each child would laugh in their strange, muted way, and continued with their meal.

The food, I discovered, did not run out. This, I attributed to the raven. The Gallows god, it seemed, had a soft spot for the boys in that room.

We ate for hours, the closeness of the bodies muffling the sounds of their eating.

When they finished, the raven let out a sharp cry and as one, the boys got to their feet. Starting with the youngest, they approached Grimnir in single file. He touched his beak to the forehead of each, and the child would move on, following the stairwell up and out of the small room.

Soon, we were alone, and there, on the floor, a trapdoor was revealed. The children had been seated upon it.

“They have been here a long time, Duncan Blood,” the raven informed me.

“Hm?”

“Nearly as long as you have been alive.”

The thought chilled my bones, and when I looked at the raven, he nodded.

“This place,” he said, “it is an abomination. What will you do to those who run it?”

“I’m going to kill them,” I replied, getting to my feet.

“Fast or slow?” Grimnir inquired.

“Slow,” I answered. “I’ll hang each one, and it won’t be quick.”

The raven chuckled his satisfaction, and I opened the trapdoor.

It was time for the next level of this hell.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

In Gods’ Hollow: May 10, 1912

The screams were faint at first, nothing more than shrill whispers in the cold air of the tunnel.

When I realized what they were, I broke into a run.

Grimnir sprang from my shoulder, the raven’s great wings nearly touching the walls of the tunnel as he raced ahead of me. Within moments, he returned, and the screaming stopped.

“There is a door, Duncan Blood,” he told me. “Push through it.”

In moments, the door he had spoken of was before me. I did not slow down to grasp the latch and open it. Instead, I put my shoulder down and drove into it. I let out a grunt of pain as my shoulder popped out of its socket, and I paused only to slam it back into place. Bright lights filled the air, as did the painful scent of chemicals.

I found myself in an operating room, the likes of which I had not seen before. Everyone stopped what they were doing, the man holding the patient’s head staring at me.

The patient, I saw, was too tall and too old to be Johnny Coffin, and for that, I was glad. The doctors and nurses had opened the young man’s head, and I had interrupted them in the process of removing sections of his brain.

One of them started to speak, to break the silence, but I did it for them, drawing both Colts and opening fire.

The heavy slugs tore through them, ripping open stomachs and spilling guts across the sterile floor. Their blood mingled with that of their victim, and their shrieks of agony filled the room.

The door slammed shut behind me as I stepped fully into the room, and I kicked a doctor aside as I stepped up to the patient. I watched as the young man’s eyes darted about the room, finally settling on my face. He mouthed the word, ‘Please,’ and I nodded. A single round through the temple ended his suffering.

Those who had tortured him received no kindness. No reprieve.

When I finished with them, my back ached, and my arms were red to the elbows with their blood.

They were nailed to the walls with scalpels, their intestines draped around their necks.

I sat and listened as each of them begged for death.

I refused them that mercy.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death