In 1803, Thomas Jefferson asked Meriwether Lewis to explore the unknown parts of America. Lewis agreed and asked if he could bring someone else with him, Thomas Jefferson complied and Lewis asked William Clark to come with him and so the Lewis and Clark expedition began. Days before their departure, a man by the name of Peter Blood came to Thomas Jefferson and asked to accompany him on the expedition. Jefferson declined; he already had 32 men and there just wasn’t enough room. Peter left the office and began to devise a plan to secretly follow the expedition. He was selfish and wanted to be known for discovering the new land as well. Peter banded three men together, collected some food and supplies, and followed Lewis and Clark on their travels. He called the group “The Blood Collection.”
After a month of traveling, there was a great and terrible storm. It flooded the grounds, Lewis and Clark set up camp to wait out the storm. Instead of waiting out the storm with them, The Blood Collection continued onward. Not even realizing it, the small band veered from the direction of the original path; from this point on, the two groups were on different expeditions. Peter only realized the mistake after the storm had passed. He didn’t mind though; they were discovering some new land that Lewis and Clark weren’t.
After another two months, they stumbled upon a beautiful patch of land, known today as Montana. Instead of continuing, Peter fell in love with the land and ended his travels. The Blood Collection then created a little village for the four of them. Blood decided he wanted other people to live here as well, so he told the men to travel back and bring other people. The men went on the journey back and asked everyone they could find to come with them to the new place. Many people found it suspicious and didn’t go, while others found it as an opportunity to start a new life and went along. During the ten months of traveling to and from, the men had gathered five thousand women, men, and children to the new land.
Later, Peter realized that the town needed a name and decided to name it after himself: Blood. He knew that the new town name was not really beloved by the townspeople, so he held the town’s very first town meeting on a Thursday night to vote on a new name. The meeting went on for hours until they finally came to a conclusion: the town would be named Blood, but would be pronounced blo-awd as to not scare the children. It was a pointless decision, but it created peace in the early years of the towns.
Forty years later, Peter Blood’s grandson, Lucius Blood, went traveling in the woods outside of the village. He found another town just couple days away from his town. He then began to make trades and agreements with the other nearby towns. If Lucius had not done this, the town would most likely have died off. To this day, the town still stands.
Maya Johns lived in Astoria, OR for five years after graduating college. She had a well-paying job, lots of friends, and lots of attractive guys who wanted to date her. Though she felt something was missing, like she was missing an opportunity of a lifetime. She still enjoyed her job, the company of her friends, and all the fun and creative dates the men came up with, so she decided not to complain.
After a few months, it was almost Christmas. Maya decided to take a break from Astoria. She took two weeks off of work, packed her things, and got her car ready for the long drive to North Dakota to visit her family. She couldn’t wait to see them and celebrate her favorite holiday. She felt that if she took time away from her normal life, she could figure out what was missing. Even if she couldn’t though, she would still enjoy baking cookies with her young nieces and nephews. She smiled as she finished packing her car.
She was just about to leave when her phone rang. She lifted it to her ear.
She got a series of different voices for her reply, “Hey Maya! We just wanted to say good bye and have a safe trip!”
Maya smiled, “Thanks so much guys! I’ll be back in two weeks!”
After they all said goodbye, nearly puncturing Maya’s eardrums, she hung up and started her drive. She estimated that it would be about two or three days of travel. She took as many shortcuts through small towns to shorten the trip. Though one shortcut made her suspicious: the town, Blood, in Montana. Maya had heard a lot of rumors about this small town, which had all started with the town’s name. She couldn’t believe the rumors, they were just so out there and impossible. Even though they were impossible, it still made Maya’s skin crawl at the thought of them.
After a few hours of driving, she took a break and enjoyed the scenic views of the edge of Oregon. She continued, and stayed at a hotel in Idaho for the night, then continued to Montana in the morning. She had also planned on staying in a hotel on the edge of Montana, but the closest one was in Blood. She chastised herself for believing the rumors and feigned confidence as she exited the highway to Blood.
She parked in front of an innocent looking gift shop and called her parents.
One ring. Two…
“Hello, Maya! Where are you? Are you close?”
Maya smiled and rolled her eyes. “Hey mom, I just stopped at a town in Montana. I’m gonna to stay here for the night and leave early tomorrow morning. I should be at home by lunchtime.”
“That’s great honey! We can’t wait to see you! By the way, which town are you staying in?”
Maya hesitated, “Blood.”
“Blood? There’s a town called that?”
“Yes, but it’s pronounced differently. It’s spelled the same but it’s pronounced blo-awd.”
“So it’s spelled like “blood” but pronounced blo-awd?” Mom huffed. “Seems really pointless and confusing.”
“Tell me about it. Well, I need to go and get a room. I’ll let you know when I start driving again tomorrow.”
“Thanks, Maya! Also, be careful in that town.”
“I will be careful, bye mom.”
“See you soon, sweetheart.”
Maya knew her mother meant well, but it bugged her that her mother never trusted her to be careful. She was an adult for goodness sakes!
Maya exited the car and looked around. It looks safe enough, she thought as she walked towards a gift shop. When she deemed it secure, she walked in. She was met with a wave of warmth and a hint of cinnamon. The gift shop was decorated for the Christmas season with red and green. Cards, wreaths, trees, and every other thing was Christmas themed. It made the whole building feel like home. Maya looked around and saw a man just a few feet away giving out free hot chocolates. Oh, I could definitely use one of those. She hadn’t noticed how cold it was outside until she was in the warmth of the building.
She walked over to the old man, he looked to be a very cheerful fellow. He would make the best Santa in this small town: everything about this man screamed Christmas. As she came closer, he noticed her and happily passed the hot chocolate to her.
“Thank you, sir.”
He continued to smile. “You’re most welcome. If you don’t mind me asking, are you new here?”
“Yeah, I’m just staying here for the night.”
“Such a pity, not enough time to examine the beauty of Blood.”
“This place seems very beautiful, this gift shop is quite lovely as well. Is it yours or?”
“I would be lying if I said it was. It’s such a nice place to explore and escape the cold. It actually belongs to that young man over there,” He pointed to a man at the cashier with his back towards them. “That man has dreamed of owning his own place and look where he is now! I’m so proud of him.”
Maya thought it was so heartwarming to see the old man talk about the cashier like he was his own son, but then the man started to ramble so she quietly excused herself and went to the other side of the shop, hot chocolate in hand. She wanted to be nice and buy something from the young man’s store but she didn’t know what to buy. That’s when she noticed a rack of beautiful Christmas cards. She walked over and continued to look at all the breathtaking designs on each of them. After a few minutes of studying each one, she found the perfect card for herself. It was a picture of a cabin covered in snow, with the warmth of candles lighting the inside. On the outside, it showed a forest of trees also covered in the white beauty. The card was truly magical and she knew this was what she was going to buy.
She reached the cashier with no trouble and put the card down for him to scan. That was when she was able to fully look at the cashier’s face. He was around her age, maybe a couple years older. He had caramel colored hair and had the most intense emerald green eyes. He looked on the slim side, but very much fit. He took my card and scanned it.
“That will be two dollars, miss. Who’s this card for?” he asked.
“It’s a little souvenir for me; I want to remember this beautiful little town.”
He smiled at her, staring at her for just a second too long.
He quickly grabbed a pen and was writing something in her card. Before she could say something, he put the card in a plastic bag and gave it to her.
“Thanks for shopping at the Blood Gift Shop.”
She smiled and left the store, but not before waving at the old man by the hot chocolate. Entering the hotel, she got her key card at the front and entered her room. This room was better than many hotels Maya had stayed at, and she was ready for bed. She leapt into her bed and pulled out the Christmas card from the plastic bag, opening it up to find a phone number.
She smiled at how forward this man was, but she hardly knew him. She didn’t even ask for his name! She put the card away and fell asleep on the comfy cloud of a bed.