Only a handful of times in Cross’ long history has Death sent his hearse into the town to gather up those who have missed their appointment, either through happenstance or machinations.
But, as the citizens of Cross know, there is no escaping Death, not even when you have hidden yourself away in your home.
The last time Death’s hearse made an appearance in Cross it was December 28, 1913, and the horses drawing the hearse were clad in the black finery of a Romanian funeral procession.
The residents of Norwich Street could hear the hooves long before they saw the hearse. Each iron horseshoe rang out on the street, and every home that recognized the sound closed its windows and bolted the doors. The families within the buildings squirreled themselves away in basements and cellars, and they waited for the horses to stop.
The hearse finally stopped at the home of Milton Surrey, a man who had bragged for years about his ability to remain hidden from Death’s long and piercing gaze. Death, though, had finally gone through the back accounts, and realized some folk, such as Milton, were missing.
Within minutes of the hearse’s arrival at Milton’s home, his neighbors could heard him scream and beg as he was dragged from his cellar, out his front door, and down to the street. They heard him placed in the coffin, and the ringing of the casket-maker’s hammer filled the late December air.
And as the horses’ hooves took up their steady, methodical beat upon the road, Milton’s former neighbors and friends continued to hear his muffled screams.
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