Grave Matters

Being a grave keeper wasn’t all that bad, all things considered. Decent pay, relatively little responsibility… a lazy man’s dream! That’s what Dun had always thought of his chosen line of work. One only really needed to keep one’s head straight and deal well with the long nights and a few teen pranksters now and then. Hell, most such pranksters ended up getting pranked by Dun, their tails between their legs as they ran away, faces white as ghosts. It was all good fun if one knew how to squeeze the drops of joy right out of it.

There had even been one time when some old coot had come rambling on about some fated day or another, something about Dun being the one to do some thingamajig or another. He was too drunk and it was still daylight, too early in his day to give a flying pig’s bladder about anything at all. The geezer had left some tchotchke for Dun, but he’d promptly thrown it away as soon as the old fart had gone. One gets to meet all sorts of types and characters when working the cemetery.

Now, however, the old necropolis wasn’t what it used to be. Funny, odd things began to happen about a week back and Dun wasn’t happy about it at all, no sir. He hadn’t dropped out of high school and run away from his family home so as not to have to deal with taking over the family business to simply end up having to handle responsibility elsewhere.

Will o’ Wisps, gas balls, whatever they called them, the stupid incorporeal things had begun to rise up from the graves. At first it was one here or there, Dun paying them little mind as he had seen some documentary somewhere about it, as he flipped through the television channels like he always did, and understood that the phenomenon was nothing to be spooked about. Well, he sure felt like making a strongly worded call to the folks at whatever channel that had been – if only he had actually paid attention to that detail – because the next night more of the darned balls of gassy light cropped up and, wouldn’t you know, they had begun to follow dun as he made his rounds of the graveyard. Like freaking dogs, they were, gassy light pups that doggedly tailed Dun as he wove through the tombstones. How would anyone explain that?

As if the wisps weren’t enough, cats had started to frequent the yard, lining up side to side to watch the goings-on within the cemetery. This wasn’t just a few strays, no, this was hundreds of cats just sitting there on their haunches, their eyes shimmering in the semi-darkness. It gave Dun the creeps.

Then just last night the dirt on one of the graves began to stir… that’s right, stir. Figuring it was some animal like a gopher or whatnot he used his shovel – no self-respected grave keeper could be without a shovel, he knew that much – to dig a little and help the critter out. To his surprise and horror it was the thoroughly decaying corpse that was, somehow, trying to gain freedom from the grave.

Dun was aware that he was a bit of an oddball and his reactions to things may not be what most folks would call normal, but he was pretty sure the dead were supposed to stay inside the grave. So he proceeded to chop the corpse into small pieces with his shovel until the writhing corpse’s bits were too small to have any effect other than squirming like worms.

No sooner had he begun to bury the jigsaw corpse when the two graves adjacent to the recently profaned began to show activity. The dead, by definition, were not active, so the subdued alarms in Dun’s brain began to make their own activity known to him. He set about treating these two new eventualities as he had with the first.

Familiarity with the phrase like pissing against a stiff breeze is something of a requirement if one is to properly understand the remainder of Dun’s evening and the sequence of events that transpired until dawn. For it was each coterminous grave after the one Dun had dealt with, each ex-living guest that dwelt inert in each such soil abode that summarily decided not to recognize that it was, indeed, no longer one of the living.

Dun wasn’t one known for perseverance, and so he simply said fuck it, and retired to his little hut in the cemetery, a trail of wisps right behind him. Once inside, he took a six pack of beer from the brown old, refurbished fridge and sat down at the small wooden table where he habitually ate his meals. He stared out the window at the necropolis and didn’t think much about the veritable horde of corpses that shambled and lurched out of their respective graves and out into the streets. He just couldn’t be bothered. Fuck it. He hadn’t dropped out of high school to have to deal with this shit.

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