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Bones for Bob
Bad luck. You’ve had it. I’ve had it. But no one’s had as much of it as Bob. Bob’s case is unique, you see. A worse life than his is unimaginable. He’s had a bad case of bad luck since the day he was born, since his parents were murdered within an hour of his birth. Being picked on, underfed, and uncared for at the orphanage is definitely considered bad luck, as is being kicked out onto the streets at the age of six after being diagnosed with ADHD. Having to scrounge for scraps of food and having to sleep in the gutter every night may as well be the definition of bad luck, but in my opinion the unluckiest thing to happen to Bob is what happened on one rainy night in the rainiest month of the year. On that fateful night, Bob got a job. You might think that this is a great fortune for one so unfortunate, but you fail to realize that this offer was one he couldn’t refuse. For his new employer is one whom no one refuses.
He goes by the alias Dr. Franklin Strained, and he is one of the two Graveyard Overseers in town. He is a large, well built, often hooded man who instills fear in all those in his presence. He approached Bob on an empty street and informed him in his strangely inhuman voice that he was his new errand boy. Bob went of his own will with the thought that he had nothing to lose, which was sadly true. And of course, the prospect of any roof over his head and any sort of food at regular intervals was welcome. And thus started a new page in Bob’s life.
Eight years passed. In this time Bob became an expert in the various dealings of the Graveyard Overseer. As an errand boy Bob had many tasks. Sometimes he had to go pick up mysterious packages from even more mysterious houses that seemed to disappear when he went back for a closer look. Sometimes he had to copy down word for word the conversations Dr. Strained often had with shady strangers. But Bob’s most frequently occurring assignment was to dig up the graves of recently buried people and to somehow package them up and take to either his master or his master’s brother, the other Graveyard Overseer in town. It sounds like a gruesome job, and it is. But Bob got used to it. Thus is the fate of Bob.
Now Bob wasn’t stupid. He didn’t go blind whenever his master stored the remains Bob brought back. And how could anyone miss the strange man that came every month to pick up the packages and ship them away in a delivery truck? Bob knew the word. He’d heard his master use it countless times, and it wasn’t long before the pieces of the puzzle fit together. Cannibals. His master was in league with cannibals. Man devouring uncivilized monsters. After all this time Bob wondered what exactly he’d gotten himself into 8 years earlier. He now considered whether it would not have been a better idea to run away as quickly as possible when the figure of Dr. Franklin Strained came into view. Whatever would have happened is of no matter. It is too late now. Thus is the fate of Bob.
Main Street. The busiest street in town. The street that Bob must cross each time he wants to get to the other graveyard, the graveyard Dr. Strained’s brother oversaw, the graveyard that he had been assigned to that fateful evening. Bob crossed the street as usual, with people staring at his worn clothes and avoiding him with a distasteful expression when they caught a whiff of his unbathed stench. Bob defiantly kept his gaze low and occasionally looked up to stare through the windows of some random thrift or electronic store. As he passed the hardware store, he saw a display of televisions. From what he could determine, the “Top Teen Supermodel of the Month” was on a talk show with Oprah. Bob knew Oprah. It was his master’s favorite show. He stopped wasting time and hurried along to his destination. Thus is the fate of Bob.
He had to pass the house of his master’s brother to get to the gate through which the graveyard was located. On this particular day, a girl was sitting on the front porch of the house. Bob knew this girl. She was the errand girl for his master’s brother. He had deduced long ago that they must have had similar lives, for he knew of no one else that had such bad luck. Bob had also noticed long ago that underneath the layer of dirt, the girl was very pretty. As he passed, she waved. He hurried along without so much as glancing up. Bob had for a very long time wanted to speak with the girl, the one who was so much like him. But he didn’t dare. He knew the extent of his vocabulary wasn’t vast enough to carry on a conversation. Thus is the fate of Bob.
He stood in front of the grave with his shovel in hand. He knew the drill. He had done it countless times. Dig, open coffin, loot, push back dirt, run back home. Bob had become quite good at it, but the time it took him depended on a few things. These included the hardness of the dirt through which he was digging and the weight of the person who was being defiled. This particular night was no different than any other. The first part of it went smooth. Too smooth. Bob didn’t realize anything was wrong until he opened the coffin. It was empty. It took a few moments for this to process, but when it did a murderous shriek filled the air. A dead, withered hand had shot up from the ground beside Bob and grabbed a hold of his ankle. Bob struggled to break free, but slowly and steadily he was pulled under. His vision went blurry. Was that blood he smelled? The last thing he remembered seeing was the words on the gravestone. Six letters. R.I.P. BOB.
Bob woke up. He was lying on his back in a large, underground cavernous room. The air felt compressed and it smelled like death. Here is a sign of Bob’s ADHD, for he noticed all of this before the leering, dead face that was four inches away from his own processed. Then he noticed there was murder in the face. Then he noticed the six foot tall axe the living corpse was wielding. Bob jumped up. His heart was beating so loud that he was sure that it would soon wake up all the other still corpses that were lying around on the ground. The full impact of his dilemma hit him like a train. One huge room. One small exit. One large army of the weapon wielding living dead. One Bob. The corpse nearest him swung. Bob dodged the blow. The rest of the monsters attacked. This is where Bob’s ADHD finally came into play. He was aware of all of his surroundings. He noticed every single detail. He saw the blade swinging a split second before, giving him enough time to evade. He was able to grab a mace from the ground to use as a weapon. His ADHD was keeping him alive. Bob didn’t waste the gift. He did the only sensible thing; he made his way toward the exit. This was no easy feat. It was the living dead. They couldn’t die again. It seemed like hours. All he knew was the fear of death and the swish and thud of a deadly weapon narrowly missing the chance to take his life. He didn’t know how he did it. But somehow he found himself on the other side of the doorway. A barrier automatically shut the opening. All sound was lost. No matter how crazy it seems, he had bested an army of the living dead. Perhaps Bob did have some luck in him after all.
He was in another cavern. Much smaller this time. Bob was much relieved to see that the floor inclined steadily toward another exit, this one through which he could see the welcoming night air of the living. He started quickly toward it. When he was halfway across the cavern something caught his eye. Someone was in the cavern with him. He wasn’t alone. He turned quickly. Leaning against the wall was a figure that he had seen earlier that day. His jaw dropped. Alone in this dark, underground cavern with him was the Top Teen Supermodel of the Month. Some part of him screamed that this was a trick, an illusion, to get out while he still had the chance. He was too busy smiling and waving like an idiot. The girl smiled back. As he looked on, she changed. Her blonde hair grew black and gray. Her fingernails grew and became chipped and yellow. Her lips took on a dark tint while her skin grew wrinkled and withered. Her stance grew much more dead looking as her eyes melted back into her sockets, leaving two big gaping holes in her distorted face. I donned an expression of horror. Where the “Top Teen Supermodel of the Month” had stood moments before was now a hellish old lady demon from the most terrifying of nightmares. Thus is the fate of Bob.
He didn’t realize what had happened until to late. It was a trap. Bob swiftly ran for the exit, but he was blocked by yet another of the living dead. Bob gave up. He had no hope. The axe made contact this time. His body was of no more. It was a limp mass that lay on the ground. His splintered bones reflected all the red brightly in the darkness of the underground realm of the dead. Thus is the fate of Bob.
Dr. Franklin Strained sat quietly in his attic, watching all of these going-ons via a large crystal ball. He was at the moment a very disappointed man. Also a tired one. He yawned and stretched in a weary manner. He was getting old. Too old. His brother and he had both taken errand children so that the day that they retired there would still be two individuals that knew the workings of the Graveyard Overseer. It was a more important job than everyone thought. Who’s to keep the dead happy, to keep them from marching into the living’s side of the world and slaughtering every human on the planet? Bob was his third errand child, and the one on whom he had been counting on most. He had even taken the measures of murdering his sister and her husband on the day their baby was born, so that baby might have the makings of the perfect Graveyard Overseer when he grew up. The first two were also orphans with a similar past, but they had also both died during the test. He had taken more time on Bob, trained him for eight years instead of the normal four. He was so sure it paid off when Bob was the first to make it past the first room, the physical part of the test. But Bob had failed the mental part, so the journey continues. Another orphan. Another four years. Probably another death, but that’s just how it goes. Dr. Franklin Strained was feeling a new emotion. He realized that he was completely responsible for the death of his nephew. He shrugged it off, and went downstairs to prepare a pot of tea. “No use in crying over wasted blood”, he thought out loud. Thus is the fate of Bob.