Stale Mate

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Trial and Terror
Empathy's Cemetery is not at all happy by Sid's presence. What is he doing here anyway?
(For AnarchyBlue's Contest)

Submitted: June 21, 2016

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Submitted: June 21, 2016

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Stale Mate

 

The perpetual fog was white like the maggots that littered the graveyard. Their diner boasted a grand selection of meat well past its sell-by date, the reason most of its customers came and often stayed before morphing into flies and laying hundreds of eggs so that future generations could enjoy the exquisite taste of rotting corpse at Empathy's Cemetery and Crematorium.

Call it family tradition, where uninvited guests – besides the priest-cum-waiter – were not welcome.

Sid Clay was not the priest and was subsequently loathed by the maggots that believed their longevity of this place gave them more of a right to be here than he and writhed in anger at how he waved his beam of light and shone it at the gravestones that collectively constituted their menu. They couldn't do much about his presence, but must he be so picky in deciding his main course?

He stopped at a rose-shaped limestone gravestone, spending only a little time shifting his head to the rustling behind the old birch tree not ten metres away, caused perhaps by a rabbit or a fox.

Sister Sophia Garcia. 1983 – 2011. May in death she still be of use to the Lord.

Well, call him Lord Sid, and thank you very much! He was sure he could think of more uses than the Lord.

The maggots scoffed. Of all the meals on offer, and he had chosen that one. Even they had not the stupidity to choose that grave, there was never anything good in there.

Sid twisted his backpack from his shoulders and pulled out his foldable shovel, snapping it into place. He began to dig up the soft and lumpy earth. The fool.

Thud.

He smiled, and dived beneath the fog and onto the coffin.

Couldn't he tell it was pointless? The smell was a dead giveaway; the freshly-mowed grass, the frankincense that drifted over from the church, and the scent of Jean Paul Gaultier.

He used the blade of the shovel to pry open the lid.

Thud.

He jumped back.

"Fuckin creep! When I get outta here imma go Kill Bill on your ass!” Thud. “Fuck!”

What on earth was he doing? Why was he still trying to open the lid? The food was bad! Send it back to the chef and go to another table!

“Quiet,” he said, and for a moment the maggots thought he was speaking to them. Then the mahogany splintered and the lid sprang open.

The woman inside may very well have gone Kill Bill on his ass, had he not slipped on the mud and fallen on top of her and into the coffin.

“Ow! Shit! Get off me!” Then, “Da fuck are you?”

“What are you doing in here?” Sid asked, leaning back into a kneeling position on the very much alive woman.

“It's where I sleep when my neighbours are playing electro too loud. Da fuck you think I'm doin here?”

“Someone buried you here?”

“Gold-fuckin-star. Gonna get off me or what?”

He climbed off her and scampered out the hole. She followed, spat out a lump of mud and stood on the edge of her grave swiping the mud from her shirt and jeans, though in actuality smearing it all over until she looked much like a mud-monster.

“Sophia?” he asked.

“Who?”

“Why would someone bury you alive?”

“The better question is how you knew I was there.”

Sid couldn't recall when she had snagged the shovel, though it must have been somewhere between her deep breaths, only that she was furious and pointing the thing at his face.

“You in on this?”

“In on what?”

“You and that fuckin priest?”

“I have no idea what you're talking about.”

“Then how did you find me?”

Telling the truth was out of the question. Much likely she'd smack him with the shovel despite the fact he had just saved her life.

“I'm a detective, Mam,” he said, coughing. “We had an anonymous tip about this place, along with the name Sophia. I thought she was a victim or something, and when I found the gravestone with her name on it-”

“Well I'm not Sophia, but I'm certainly a fuckin victim.”

She sighed and lowered the spade.

Sid turned to leave.

“Where are you going? You usually save someone and then leave them in the middle of a graveyard where they've just bin taken to and buried alive? Aren't you gonna ask me some questions?”

He rubbed his forehead. “Urgh, yes, of course, but not here. We'll go somewhere safe.”

“Okay,” she said. She wiped her nose with the back of her hand and stretched it out to shake his hand. “Claire.”

“Nice to meet you Claire, I'm Detective Jackson.”

Then the rustling returned, and out from behind that old birch tree poured not rabbits nor foxes but two dozen human-sized things, sliding through the fog towards them.

Their rancid breath slithered through the air. They looked a lot like relatives of Claire, though they made her temporary mud costume look more like a horrid fashion style. Sid leapt behind the nearest gravestone but one of the things snatched him and dragged him out before his feet had even hit the ground. Claire tightened her grip on the spade and gave the thing her wildest mud-glazed glare.

The thing giggled, and another dozen things gathered behind it.

She swung with her best baseball swing, severing the thing's lower jaw from its face. It fell, squealed, and then climbed back to its feet, grinning with its top lip, licking the blood from its torn face with its protruding tongue.

Then the others swarmed her until there was no space left to swing the shovel and she was eaten up by the mass of bodies that piled her.

 

 

Sid squirmed in his restraints, stretched out on the altar beside Claire. The scent of frankincense could not mask the odour in the air, and he wondered whether it was the things surrounding him in the church or his own fear.

“Some detective,” Claire said. “Real fuckin smooth.”

He groaned. “I was unarmed.”

“Soon to be un-headed now.”

“They wouldn't.”

“Wouldn't they?”

Claire pointed with her chin to the corner of the church, enclosed by a few hundred prayer candles. A couple of the things lay in rest on the floor.

“Harmless,” he said.

“Oh yeah? You think those are cow-hide blankets they're sleepin on?”

Sid looked again, more closely at the blankets: the taut flesh blankets. He swallowed the emerging vomit.

“The priest. He'll come save us.”

“Didn't I tell you, it was the fuckin priest that kidnapped me and threw me in the coffin in the first place.”

“If I could just get over there.”

“To the sleeping hobos? Why?”

Sid was going to tell her when the priest climbed the altar steps and loomed over them.

Claire spat at his face.

“I'll deal with you later,” he said. “But first, I must address this situation.” He looked at Sid. “What are you doing here?”

“Ghost hunting.”

“No no no, I have many eyes in that graveyard, my friends told me what you did. They're here to protect the place, you see, in exchange for” - he shifted his eyes to Claire - “Why are you digging up graves?”

“I heard screaming.”

“I have eyes, remember. They tell me you were snooping, looking at the graves, as if you were choosing. What were you choosing?”

“I – I like the pretty ones.”

The priest chuckled. “Yes, now we're getting somewhere. What about her, you think she's pretty?”

“She's alive.”

He chuckled again. “For now. I could let you have her once my friends are finished, if you like?”

“Why the blankets?”

“They don't have much. Skin is temporal, it's not needed in death, only the spirit. Why let it go to waste? And besides, my friends, they get so attached...”

“You'd let me go?”

“Why not? If you kill her when they're done, you can have her. You'll see, I can be very accommodating.”

Sid nodded. “Okay.”

“You twisted fuck!” Claire shouted.

The priest whistled and a couple of the things shuffled over, cutting off the bindings around Sid's wrists and ankles.

Sid stood up and they guided him to the blankets with their hands tight on his shoulders.

Then another two shuffled towards the altar. One unbuttoned Claire's jeans and pulled them down while the other, the one with no lower jaw, licked the mud from her face.

It was enough for Sid. He was on the blankets, exactly where he wanted to be.

The things shifted on the blankets they lay and sat, distressed, not knowing what was happening as the blankets they were sleeping on began to vibrate. Then they shot up, the layers of skin coming to life. They were not so pretty, and it was kind of distressing to Sid, who had never reanimated anything like it, but they would do for the job at hand.

These skins belonged to bodies wronged by the priest and his minions, and didn't need any persuasion to attack. Not a moment after they had resurrected were they planting their skin onto the things mouths and noses, pressing tight until they collapsed.

The priest looked at Sid.

“What demons are these!”

Sid smiled. “The demons that were wronged, the demons of retaliation and retribution, the demons of what the hell does it matter?”

Then the living skins squirmed their way towards the priest, slimed up his legs and sucked the blood through his skin until he fell dead.

Sid made his way to Claire and unfastened the rope.

She tugged up her jeans and wiped the blood and drool from her face.

“Da fuck are they?” she said.

“You already know I'm not a detective. Well, this is why I'm here.”

She frowned. “Why...how?”

“I don't know how. I've been able to do it since my wife died. As for why, why not? Maybe to make me feel like I'm saving people, I don't know.”

“But...look at them.”

The skins seemed to stare at her through their eyeless flesh.

“Not my best work, I confess. They saved us though, didn't they?”

She walked closer to them.

“Fuckin hell,” she said. “Woah.”

Then one of the skins grabbed her.

“What's it doing?” she shouted.

“I guess it senses the end.”

“Da fuck you mean?”

“I can't let you go, knowing what you do. I'm sorry. Do you want to come back, after? I could use a girl like you.”

 

(1,751 words)



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