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Give Honor to Your Dead

----------Give Honor to Your Dead


Seth stirred awake, blinking open his deep brown eyes to see the moonbeams illuminating the forest. It’s time. He thought to himself, rising sleepily. Ever since he found himself here, he’d gone to the graveyard every night. This night was no different. Seth shot a glance up at the new girl, Cassie, who was sleeping peacefully in the crook of a tree. She hadn’t wanted him to stay, but after Vince had tried to suck her blood, he didn’t want him to come after her again.

“Don’t worry,” he remembered telling her before he went to sleep, “Vince will stop persecuting you and move on to someone else. It’s kind of like an orientation, really.”

Seth remembered that and smiled. But he really did hope that Vince would leave Cassie alone. She was too pretty to die. Now, he looked back up at the moon and remembered his mission. He walked lightly across the grass, trying not to wake Cassie up. He kept his eyes focused on the small gap in the trees ahead of him, the passageway to the long field of craters the meteors had created. Pausing a couple times to flip his streaked bangs out of his face, Seth hypnotically walked towards the passage, the path as familiar to him as the back of his hand, though he’d only walked it seven times now. But he felt like he knew Mary Jane, little David, and the others like they were family.

Suddenly, Seth heard a little exhale behind him, and saw that Cassie had woken. He felt bad for waking her up, and knew she wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep. He’d slept in a tree once; it was the most uncomfortable place he’d ever slept in his life.

“Seth?” Cassie called out in a sleepy, soft alto voice. “Where are you?”

Seth sighed. Cassie had probably found that he wasn’t sleeping under her tree like she thought he was. He turned around and walked up to the tree as a scraping noise filled his ears. He saw her trying to climb down the tree, holding on for dear life as if she’d fall. She finally spotted him as she slid down the last couple of feet. “Seth,” She began, her brow furrowed in slight irritation and her face still sleepy. Her long, dark hair was slightly tousled and her dark blue eyes only half open. “You scared the crap out of me! Where were you?”

He smiled, “Well, I’m here now.” He started walking, willing her to follow him. Surely she was curious to find where he was going.

Cassie yawned and ran after him, her hair swinging behind her. “Where are you going?” she asked sleepily. Seth listened to her soft footsteps behind him.

“If you follow me, you’ll find out,” Seth said, then walked through the gap in the trees to face the many craters in the ground where the dead lay, quiet and eerie in the light of the moon. “Prepare yourself. It’s pretty bad.”

He embraced the silence that clung to the field like a fog, giving it the feel of a graveyard without the graves. He heard Cassie pause behind him, taking it all in. He knew it would be a shock for her system; the bodies were everywhere. Most of them were concealed by fallen trees or rocks, but some were still in plain sight, waiting for someone to walk in and experience the morbidity.

Seth remembered the first time he’d come across the field. It was worse back then compared to now. The blood had pooled around his feet, some people still bleeding themselves pale. Bodies littered the grass like trash thrown out a car window, posed just as haphazardly. He remembered that he almost threw up, seeing the bloody effects of the disaster. Now, Cassie probably felt like doing the same.

“Why are we here?” she asked in horror, catching sight of the small, bloody body of a child near her feet. He thanked whatever gods were still out there that she hadn’t caught sight of the poor little boy when he had still been bleeding.
Seth looked at Cassie. In the moonlight, her skin looked white, her hair lighter, and her eyes beautiful and alluring, but also frightening. “To pay our respects to the dead,” he answered simply, gesturing to the vampire-pale bodies.

Cassie was silent. Seth walked slowly toward a ragged crater in the middle of the valley, stepping over bodies as he went as though they were nothing out of the ordinary, to the place where Mary Jane rested. He heard Cassie’s light footsteps as she followed him, warily stepping over the people that were alive a few weeks back. Mary Jane was Indian; tall, with tan skin and hair as black as a raven’s feathers. She had a small dream catcher on a chain around her neck, her eyes hazel and permanently scared. She couldn’t have been older than twenty five when she died.

“Mary Jane,” Seth murmured, half to himself. He sat cross-legged at her grave, a shallow crater the size of a trampoline.

Cassie sat down next to him, a curious but wary expression on her face. Her black hoodie was wrinkled from where she slept on it, he noticed. “How do you know their names?” She asked, looking at Mary Jane as if she’d never seen another human before. He could tell that she was trying to keep calm; an abundance of dead people in one small space wasn’t something you saw every day.

Seth shrugged, shoving his hands in his jacket pocket. “Most of them, I don’t,” he said. Cassie shot an incredulous gaze at him. “Some have driver’s licenses or credit cards, but generally, I just guess.”

Cassie looked down at Mary Jane’s permanently still face. “Isn’t that a little strange?” she asked. Seth looked at her skeptically. “I mean,” she added, looking at him. “You don’t know their names, so you make them up.”

Seth rose from Mary Jane’s grave. “Well, I guess it is weird,” he decided after some pondering. “But she looks like a Mary Jane to me, and they’re dead anyway, so they probably don’t care.” He closed his eyes and folded his hands, looking as if he was praying.

“What are you doing?” Cassie asked. She stood beside him. “Are you praying?”

“I was getting ready to pay my respects to Mary Jane.” he answered, eyes closed. “Would you like to help?”

He could tell that she was caught off guard by this question. So surprised, he figured, that she replied by saying “Is this what Goth people do? Celebrate the dead?” Seth almost laughed out loud. Yes, he was wearing his usual black and yes, he was visiting a grave site, but did she really have to assume he was Goth?

Seth chuckled, “I don’t know. This is just what I do.” He didn’t really care that Cassie was surprised. He’d been getting strange looks ever since he decided that black was his favorite color.

Cassie stood there in silence. “Well,” she finally said, slightly exasperated, but more curious. “Go ahead.”

Seth smiled, took in the smell of the grassy meadow mixed with Cassie’s clean scent, and then began his nightly ritual. “We are gathered here today to celebrate the life and death of Mary Jane,” He conducted it like a funeral, slow and deliberate. “She was enjoyable company for many people, and lived life to the fullest.”

“How do you know that?” Cassie whispered in his ear, as if some divine force was watching them, and she would endanger their lives had she said it loudly.

“I don’t know, now shush,” Seth replied. “Mary Jane parted this world because a meteor unfortunately crushed her to death. And now she lay here, uninterrupted, to pass on to the next world.” He finished. He didn’t have to think about the words flowing from his lips, for he had said them many times.

Cassie was so quiet; Seth opened his eyes to make sure she hadn’t died. Her eyes were open, thankfully, but her body was still. She was staring down at Mary Jane, right in the dead woman’s eyes, seemingly trying to bore holes in them. It bothered Seth so much, that he had to ask, “What are you doing?”

“She’s so beautiful,” Cassie said softly, in a tone that made Seth believe she was talking to herself.

Seth shrugged, beginning to move on to the next dead one. “I suppose so,” he said. He bent down next to Cynthia LaMoore, whose body was partially concealed by a fallen tree. The only easily seen part of her was her face, framed by branches and green leaves. He softly exhaled, always sad to see another pretty, pale face after death. He heard gentle footsteps behind him, and looked back to see Cassie behind him. She was looking at Cynthia’s slightly scratched face with a stoic expression.

“Don’t look at her body,” Seth warned her. “She was crushed by a meteor. There’s blood everywhere.”

Cassie nodded, and Seth resumed his gaze on Cynthia. She was his age, though shorter, and with shiny blond hair. Her eyes were closed, unlike Mary Jane’s, so he didn’t know what color her eyes were. This bothered him: all the others had died with their eyes open, so Seth knew their eye color. Since Cynthia’s were closed, he didn’t. Without this information, he felt like he didn’t know Cynthia as personally as Mary Jane and Jacob Marriot.

“I don’t know her eye color,” he voiced aloud to Cassie. She didn’t respond, so he looked back again to make sure she hadn’t run away. It was a bad idea, considering Vince never slept.

Though Seth knew she hadn’t looked at Cynthia’s bloody body, she was wearing a horrified expression. “What?” He cried, alarmed and concerned. Her dark blue eyes were wide in terror, and she looked at Cynthia’s face as if it were a grotesque monster.

“I know her,” Cassie’s voice shook, though Seth was surprised that she wasn’t crying. “I can’t believe she’s dead.”

Seth felt sorry for her. So far, he hadn’t encountered anyone he’d known before the disaster, and couldn’t imagine how awful it would be to come across someone who, up until a couple weeks ago, was a regular part of your life. “This is Cynthia,” He told her softly. “Cynthia-“

“-LaMoore, I know,” Cassie’s voice shook. “It’s not her real name.” She bent down by the dead girl’s face, looking in at her eyelids.

Seth was surprised. “It’s not?” He timidly put a hand on Cassie’s shoulder. “Cynthia LaMoore” was one of the few names he hadn’t made up; he’d found it on a piece of paper in the girl’s pocket.

Cassie sat on the ground, gazing at Cynthia. “Her real name is Lauren Owens, but she thought it was so plain, that she changed it,” she laughed dryly. “I can’t believe she’s dead. She was the most- excuse the irony -alive of all of us.”

Seth chuckled softly, “She seems the type.” He remembered when he first saw Cynthia’s face. It was ghost-pale, but smiling as if enjoying death. Her face had drooped a little since then, but a slight smile still remained on her lips.

Cassie sighed, took one last look at the dead Cynthia LaMoore, and looked away. Seth stood up and offered a hand to pull her to her feet. As they walked away from the graveyard, Cassie tapped Seth’s shoulder from behind. Smiling, Seth looked at her. Her eyes were tired, her face was pale in the night’s cold, and her hair glowed silver in the moonbeams. Her mouth was set in a way that made him think she had something to say.

“What is it?” he asked, stopping to listen.

“It’s about Cynthia. You said you didn’t know what color her eyes were?”

“That’s right,” Seth said, smiling. She knows. It really wasn’t a big deal, but in Seth’s mind, it was one mystery solved. One dead person he would know a little bit better.

Cassie looked into his deep brown eyes with her dark blue ones. The slight yellow rings surrounding her pupils made her a bit intimidating, Seth found, but all the more beautiful.

“Seth?” she said. “They’re blue.”




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