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The Mourning
by Michael S. Collins

In the beginning, there was sadness. This was because the Lord, who had been kind and gentle and loved, had died. His death wasn’t unexpected, for he was eighty-three, but his younger wife mourned him like she would someone she had known longer than two years. The funeral was attended by the great and the good, and the official sadness of it all extended all the way down the line, in good taste. Yet, when the burial was done and dusted – no crematoriums in matters of regality – the mourning continued.

The Lord’s widow was the one who ordered it. “Until a suitable time has passed” she said. And signed the declaration in her own blood, or so the myth went. So the people had to remain in their mournful best until such time as she took away her own order. Only issue was, she died of a heart attack a few months later, before she could. And so now the town remains in mourning, because it was never officially brought out of it. At least, that’s how the story goes.

Wilson didn’t believe in such stories. They were told to explain away why local customs were so, without leading to more questions as to why they were continuing to be so. It was a simple story to scare off children’s curiosity, he figured, and nothing much more than that. So he walked into town, without any mourning wear on. He was struck dead at the first shop. These things happen when you ignore local customs.