Deadlands The Weird West
Little Slaughter House on the Prairie
18 June 1879
Location: Iron Dragon Train Depot in Mankato MN
I have arrived in Mankato. From what I have been told, the stage will leave out for Walnut Grove in 20 minutes. I have arranged passage on the stage and should be in the hotel there later this evening. It is highly unusual for an Agent to be in the field like this, but this is an extremely different case. Will report what I find this evening.
The city, if it could be called that, was alive with activity. Mankato was a bustling frontier city, filled with the types of businesses one would find in such a local. Hotels for travelers; supply depots for hunters and miners, saloons for spending money, and for men to find companionship if they needed. An oasis of civilization in the savage frontier.
None of this mattered to James Williamson. He was in Minnesota looking for a killer. There wasn't much in the world that could shake his faith or make him sick with revulsion. He served in the Union Army early in the war, but after his experience at Gettysburg, he was reassigned to something a little more dangerous. Alan Pinkerton had tapped him to join the fledgling Agency. No one knew that the Agency existed, despite report in the Tombstone Epitaph to the contrary. It was James' job to make sure the supernatural creatures of legend stayed that way, legends.
It was the Agency's job to find and dispose of things that go bump in the night. And right now, there was something that qualified as an Agency job in the small town of Walnut Grove.
The incident started roughly two months ago. A local girl by the name of Laura was swimming with friends at a local swimming hole, when she slipped on a rock and fell in, hitting her head and causing her death. A couple of day's later; people began to see Laura walking around the town, usually near places that she had frequented during her life. The "apparition" even talked to people and seemed relatively normal. Then the messages and killings started. The messages started appearing in blood near the Olson's Mercantile, usually telling people that the daughter of the owner, Nellie Olson, was hiding something. The blood was from an animal that was found on the front porch, usually a pig.
Then the bodies started showing up.
The bodies were usually some drifter or a passing miner. They were usually soaking wet when found and the chest was usually cut open and gutted. Now some of the children are being killed, some of them knew Laura. One of the Agency members in the area has requested help in stopping this crime from continuing. James is expecting to meet the agent when he arrived in town.
Journal Entry 2:
I have arrived in town. The small town looks a lot like those springing up all over the country. I made my way over to the location where the contact set up for the meeting. What I found out is nothing out of the ordinary for me.
James walked off the stage into the small town. There was only one main road into the town that ran north and south. A bridge crossed a small stream as the road continued on. Next to the bridge was a building called Larsen's Mill. People seemed to be working on lumber in there, filling orders for new buildings or larger communities. There was a hotel called Nellie's and the Olson Mercantile across the road from the stage stop. There was a small building serving as the post office and telegraph office next to Nellie's. A smaller building a few feet from the store marked it as the office of Hiram Baker, the local doctor. Further down the road was the school house/church where James was to meet his contact in the area. In the countryside, he saw many farms and a huge house that the driver pointed out as a school for the blind.
'Progress,' James thought as he made his way over to the school house. It was late in the day when he arrived and many of the children would be home with their families. There should be no one else near the building.
James had walked up the steps leading to the door and went in. The small one room building had two rows of desks in the middle of the room, while two walls contained the black boards for the school teacher to write on. They were the typical two seats, roughly ten seats for the children to sit in, while the desk in the front was raised for the teacher to teach from. Currently, there was a small podium on the desk as the local pastor was setting up for Sunday services to take place.
The pastor looked to be in his early 50's. The years had been kind to him and you could feel the power of some higher being in him. His simple black outfit denoted him as a pastor, but it was his kind eyes that made you trust him even more. But to members of the Agency, Reverend Robert Alden was classified as a "Blessed". He did have powers from the Lord, but he used them in service of the Agency and for protecting those who needed it. It was Alden who called in James to help investigate this bizarre case.
James took a moment before he spoke. "I got your message Reverend," he said.
Reverend Alden turned to see the man. James stood just less than six foot tall, but he was stronger than he looked. His blue eyes never betrayed what he thought, but had seen more carnage that any man should have borne witness too. He wasn't dressed in the typical black outfit that many thought of for an Agency member. He was dressed in a nice travelling suit, light blue with a brown duster covering the clothes. He appeared more as a travelling gambler than a government agent. It was all a part of his disguise, blending in and not drawing attention to himself.
Alden smiled. "I am glad Alan sent you out. I know you will do what's right in this case."
James smiled. "Thanks. What seems to be the problem around here? I know I read the preliminary reports, but there seems to be more going on."
"Have a seat," Alden motioned as he took one. "Roughly two months ago, Laura and a bunch of the local kids were out at the local swimming hole. Now, from what we were told, Laura had slipped on a rock and fell in, smashing her head on a rock and drowned."
"All the kids confirm this?"
"Yes. Some seemed a little nervous, but it was summed up to be seeing Laura drown. I presided over the service and buried her. A couple of days later, Isaiah Edwards came to me in a state of shock. He took me out to the grave and the ground had been dug up."
"Dug up as in going down or coming up?"
"Up. I told Isaiah that it was probably a coyote and he believed me. He is an old mountain man and bought the story. But after closer examination, I knew what came out of that grave."
"Sounds like a Harrowed to me."
"Those were my thoughts exactly. Then the killings started. Nothing at first, just some hogs, but now a body has turned up. It was one of the school children, a little lame girl. Along with the bodies, messages appeared at Olson's."
"What are the messages saying?"
"'Tell the Truth,' was one. But mainly they are directed towards Nellie."
"You think she's behind the drowning?"
"Nellie is a bit of a bully, but I highly doubt that she is capable of murder. But in these times, it is hard to tell anymore."
James sat back and took it all in. "I will begin investigating in the morning. Right now my cover is a U.S. Marshal. Alan worked it to where I am looking for a killer with the same message in blood from back east. It should make people easier to deal with."
Alden nodded. "I wish you luck in this James. God bless you and please bring safety to this town."