Walking through a graveyard at night, you start to wonder whether or not you chose the right profession. You may have been a little hasty dropping out of school all those years ago, but in your defense, you were drawing a good amount of attention with your… obsession with the dead. Shifting the shaft of the shovel on your shoulder, you lift your lantern higher to get a good look around you; this is a new graveyard that you’ve yet to venture to, so you’re not very familiar with the layout.
“Where oh where is that fresh grave…?” You mutter aloud, looking around to try and discern where the fresh body could be. “I know I read that obituary right, today should be the day that she was buried.”
Old Lady Webster died a horrid death, with a long period of suffering that had only been made worse by her lack of family and friends. Cancer had eaten away at her bit by bit over the years, slowly cannibalizing her flesh until all that was left was a withered husk full of bitter words and even fouler deeds. She’d spent her years buying and selling companies, liquidating them for the assets and then embezzling the remnants into her own personal coffers. Thousands of people had cursed her name over the years… it would seem as if all of that cursing had done the trick!
Now, though, she was buried. Dead and gone. But her jewelry… now that was a true waste to just leave with her rotting bones. Rings and baubles made of gold and platinum… you remember seeing them hanging from her emaciated frame during the wake. You were one of the few people outside of her business partners that actually attended the damn thing, so you should know. Sadly, her actual burial had been done in secret.
Well, a poorly kept secret; you paid one of the mortuary assistants twenty bucks to know where her grave was. He was only glad to help you, seeing as his father had been a worker at one of the factories Webster had bought.
Digging out the crumpled bit of notebook paper from your jeans, you glance over your shoulder as the wind blows over you, leaves fluttering up and around you as you slump onward. The cold night air is hardly what you want to feel right now, and the dampness that seems to be hanging about is leaving you clammy and bitter. Coughing, you set the lantern down and prop yourself atop a nearby tombstone.
“Alright… according to this, she should be buried around the fountain, near the mausoleum by the west wall. No tombstone yet, as the ground hasn’t settled.” You say, reading the crudely drawn map as best you can.
Grabbing the lantern and holding it high you catch sight of the fountain in the distance, though no sign of the mausoleum. Pushing yourself from the tombstone, you walk down the paved path towards the fountain, smiling as the edge of a white marble structure emerges from the darkness. The glaring white light of the lantern casts dark shadows along the twin marble busts of angels emerging from the mausoleum walls. Walking around the fountain slowly, your smile widens as you catch sight of four wooden stakes with red ties wrapped around them, marking off a freshly dug grave.
Moving the shovel off your shoulder and into your other hand, you smile. “About time… that must be it.”
It takes you a few minutes to get into the digging, especially when you encounter a layer of grainy white rocks. Confused, you chisel through the minuscule pebbles and keep churning up the earth, the fresh smell of salty dirt wafting up to your nose as you shovel out a narrow trench over the grave, some two feet wide. After an hour, your shovel finally connects with something significantly harder than dirt: the tip of your iron shovel chips the rich mahogany of a casket.
Crowing with excitement, you climb out of the hole just enough to grab the length of rope that you brought with you. Hopping back into the hole, a shadowy slit into the earthen womb of the graveyard, you take the shovel in both hands and begin hammering into the top of the casket, further splintering the wood with each blow. Finally, with one solid strike, the wood caves into the darkened canister holding the body of the miserable old bitch.
Reaching up to take hold of the lantern, you bring it down to shine into the hole, smiling when you catch sight of her stringy hair… and the back of her head.
“Huh?” You’ve dug up a good deal of bodies over the years, but you’ve never dug one up that is placed in their casket like this! “Why on earth… why is she upside down?”
Your only answer comes from the cold wind blowing high above. Shrugging, you take the rope and reach into the hole bearing the rope, wrapping it around the old woman’s throat. Reaching with another hand inside, you take a moment and tie the noose tightly around her neck before straightening up and grabbing your shovel. You spend a few minutes widening the hole in the coffin with the shovel before climbing out of the trench, holding the end of the rope tightly in your hands.
“Alright, Webster, time for you to finally help the poor…” You say, slinging the rope over your shoulder, grunting as you begin to haul the body up out of the dark hole. She seems to be stuck for a moment, probably caught on one of the broken pieces of wood that make up her coffin, but a final yank rips her free and pulls her over the grainy lip of the grave, a mass of blackened limbs and jutting bones.
Turning, you regard the feeble looking crone for a moment. She’s dressed in a gown two sizes too large for her, with a large silver cross stuck between her folded hands, a chain wrapped around her wrists keeping it in place. A ring adorns each finger, and earrings dangle from her ears while several necklaces clink in the passing wind… jackpot!
Walking over to her, you quickly yank the earrings from her, stuffing them into a plastic sack, before pulling off the thick golden necklaces. Admiring the large stones set in the filigree of one necklace, you could swear that her eyes, wide and vacant, seemed to have rolled to where she is looking at you.
Kneeling closer to her, you smile. “Remember me bitch? I’m the foreman of the silver mine that you laid off ten years ago.” You whisper gleefully at the corpse, patting her cold cheek roughly. “You never did give me a severance package, so I guess after this we can call it even. No how about you hand over that cross of yours, hmmm?”
Reaching down to unwind the chains from around her bony wrists, you tug the cross from her surprisingly firm grip, pulling it up to look at the engraved markings over it. A low moan carries on the wind, causing you to look over your shoulder, just to make sure you’re alone.
Looking back at the cross, you see Miss Webster’s face poised next to it, her mouth wide and her eyes bright. You let out an undignified yelp as you leap backward, landing hard on your ass, as you stare at the now moving body of a dead woman. Poised like a spider on her four limbs, she stares at you with silver eyes gleaming, a line of drool hanging from her maw.
Swallowing the lump in your throat, you slowly try and edge away from her, only to find that the noose around her neck, coiled haphazardly about, has somehow been tied in a crude knot around your ankle. You look down at the knot just as she does. She looks up at you for a moment, pausing to stare into your soul, before leaping back into her earthen tomb, the rope going taut as it drags you bodily down with her.
Author's Note: Another day another blog, so let;s meet up at John's page! John Linwood Grant is an author of the strange and unusual, which is great because I'm pretty damn odd to begin with. Check out his most recent work and peruse his blog at your leisure!