Foot In The Grave

May 1, 2017
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 Crawford Jones had always been regarded as a plagued weirdo at his school, regardless of any actual experience people had with him. Those who knew him thought of him as an average, dependable senior, like any other guy in his class. Although, It didn’t help that he drove a hearse to school, or that he came from a grim family of undertakers, the black sheep in a family of black sheep. Nonetheless, he was avoided by the majority of the student body, and he liked it that way. Even if they were wrong, he was content with the few friends he had.
Life for Crawford was all but uncomfortable. Centuries of family practice allowed for his family to incur vast amounts of wealth, despite their parsimonious use of it. He was normal, he was well-off, and he was happy, no matter how odd the exterior of his life may have looked.
Of course, nothing can be perfect, and Crawford’s life was far from it. He had started to plying the trade of embalming at a young age, begrudgingly at the demand of his father. Was it illegal? Without a doubt. His father always said, “Don’t screw up and no one will ask questions.” Besides a few mishaps (like forgetting to glue a corpse’s eyes closed, and causing several distraught grandmothers to faint) he quickly became adept at the practice.
He had just finished wiring the jaws closed of their newest client’s sister, who’s bad breath somehow survived her fatal car crash, and began heading upstairs, preparing to finish the rest tomorrow. Stripping down to his skivvies and flipping off the light, he was ready to flop into bed when the most treacherous of crashes came from the basement. In no hurry to find a drunk dad stumbling home from a night of shameless indulgence, he walked down the stairs into the embalming room to find an empty table, drunkard and corpse nowhere to be found.
He’d heard of necrophiles sneaking in to steal corpses from other funeral homes, but he’d never expected some random neighborhood creep to be able to best their needlessly exorbitant security system. He stole up the stairs, grabbing his trusty wooden slugger on the way. Down the hall, around the corner, he raised the bat, expecting to see some deranged drifter dragging a body out the foyer. Cold air chilled Crawford’s bare legs, no one to be found. He crept towards the door, which had swung open and was letting the night air flow into the house. He peered down the winding driveway, a baffling display in his own front yard. No one had stolen Little Miss Bad Breath; she walked away. She was simply a husk of skin and cotton, all her organs donated.
“Hey! Stop!” Crawford called out to the corpse, disoriented and confused. She spun around, collapsing at the sight of him. He wasted no time. The last thing the Joneses needed was a partially embalmed body on their lawn. He scooped her up and rushed her inside, checking to see if any nosy neighbors had peeped out their doors. He laid the body on the table and grabbed a scalpel from the corner of the room. He cut through the stitches in her chest, revealing an empty cavity, a scrap of paper tucked behind her ribs.
Crawford paused. Did he want to read the note? He could just sew her back up and pretend this never happened, dismiss it as a dream. It would be undoubtedly easier than whatever this note would do to his ordinary life. Temptation got the best of him, and he slipped the note from her chest. A few words were sprawled out in ink, the paper thick and rigid like parchment. Written in longhand, the note read;
She’s among the first, certainly not the last. Be prepared. - T.G.

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