What lurks in the wilderness?
When we live in the safety of our towns and cities, the tightknit quarters of urban and suburban America, we believe that there is nothing in our nearby wilderness that can harm us.
The residents of Cross know better.
Whether they profess ignorance or acceptance, those of Cross know there are creatures that lurk in both shadow and light who would do harm.
Paul Hawkins learned the painful truth of that statement on March 3, 1938.
Paul worked for the Coffin family as a hired hand, and it was his task to bring animals in to the butcher when they were needed. The job never bothered Paul because he never thought much of it. On the morning of March 3, he loaded to hogs onto the sled, and bidding farewell to his employer; Paul started the long, cold trek through the snow and into town.
His route was simple and straightforward: down the North Road, left onto Ridge, and a two-mile path to Main Street. The butcher could be found on Walnut Street, where the shop was always open to Paul Hawkins.
Neither Paul nor the hogs ever made it to the butcher.
The Coffins’ horse didn’t either, and when Paul failed to return by noon, the Coffins set out to see if the man was all right.
What they found told them that more than likely, he was not.
The sled was on its side, the cages the hogs had been in were burst open, and the snow around it stained red and melted from the heat of the animals’ blood. The horse was dead in its traces, neck, and back broken.
While Paul’s hat and coat, both stained with blood, were found beside the horse, that was all.
Few were surprised that only the horse remained.
Man, after all, tastes much like pork.
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