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The Night Shift
A graveyard worker in a small Maine town might the be the very last job most people want, but for Stan, he was a middle aged man and needed money, but a job brings money, so he took it.
It was Stan’s second day at work, Tuesday, October 26th, 1989, and it was already set out to be a boring one. Just like any other day, it started with watering the hundreds and hundreds of flowers.
“I’ll do the left, you do the right,” Stan said to Doug, his only coworker.
“Yup,” he replied with only a slight nod back to Stan. Doug was the epitome of dull. He was in his early 60’s and came to work with the same exhausted look on his face, the same dirt-stained, grey t-shirt, the same brown paper bag lunch containing the same ham and cheese sandwich and apple, which was always on the verge of being rotten.
But, they headed out of the old church and arrived at the neighboring cemetery. Just as they planned, Stan thoroughly watered all the flowers on the left, while Doug sprinkled some water here and there on the right.
“Doug, are you gonna finish watering the flowers?” Stan asked, already confused by his low commitment. “Why are you sitting?”
“Eh, I’ll do it later,” Doug replied as he waved it off like he was swatting away pesky flies. Stan was starting to notice that Doug didn’t particularly enjoy his job. Who would? Well, besides Stan, of course.
With a sigh and an exaggerated eye roll, Stan took over the right side, even though he just finished the left by himself. It was only Stan’s second day, and he already thought as if he did more work than Doug. Then again, he did but he wasn’t the type of person who would bring that up. That got him thinking, though. Who else worked here? It couldn’t have been just Doug, right?
“Uh, hey Doug?”
“Hmm?” Doug replied with little attention.
“Um, I was wondering,” Stan started, with a strange feeling of a little uncertainty in the depths of his stomach. “What ever happened to your last coworker? Why isn’t he here?”
“Oh...he di-” Doug stopped himself and carefully thought about what he was going to say next. “He di...dn’t want to work here anymore. Um, he got bored. I mean, it’s a boring job, you know?” Doug quickly lowered his head and concentrated on picking off the petals of a fallen flower head.
“...Oh. Ok, well, you’re stuck with me now, am I right?” Stan said, gaining his optimism back.
Doug eyed him carefully and replied with his trademark, “Mhmm.” But then he continued, acting a little nicer than before and said, “Oh, Stan. I need a favor. I can’t take the night shift tonight. I have… I just can’t do it. You ought to know how to handle this place on your own, anyway. You could enjoy the silence or maybe, um, listen to the radio.”
“Only if you’re positive you can’t do it,” Stan replied, hands on his hips.
A look of relief flashed across Doug’s face, but gloom quickly returned to its regular place. He sighed and replied with his usual, “Mhmm.”
So, the day went on, Stan doing most of the work, and Doug doing most of the sitting. Then, it was time for Doug to go home, and Stan to stay overnight.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Doug!” Stan called out to him as Doug got in his grey truck.
“Mhmm,” Doug mumbled, slamming the door and speeding away.
It was already eleven o’clock and he had so much to do. But, Stan being Stan, he found a way to get it done.
He was finishing up cleaning around the little church when he remembered the radio Doug had mentioned. He plugged it in and turned it on just in time for his favorite song, “Twilight Zone.” He started singing along, but it just so happened that the grandfather clock announced it was two a.m. right when the lyrics, “It’s two a.m.” came on. Then, the lights flickered, and died.
“Hmm, that’s weird. The light went out, but why is the radio still on? Oh, maybe I bumped into the lights or something,” Stan told himself. He didn’t necessarily believe it, but he needed something to keep his thoughts from wandering.
He tried to find the lights, but that’s when he heard the noise.
“H-hello? Is anyone there?” Stan yelled, not knowing what to expect. “I will call the police!” A sudden smell of rotten flesh filled Stan’s lungs and he gagged.
Stan heard it again. This time it sounded like someone jumping out of bed. The first, and only, thing that came to Stan’s mind was the corpse prepared for the next week’s funeral.
A cold arm suddenly wrapped around Stan’s neck from behind. All Stan could manage to get out was a weak, “What th-” Then he felt the hard punch to the back of his neck and passed out. The zombie pulled Stan, who was limp but still alive, outside and to an empty grave that was already dug out, even though it wasn’t just a couple hours before.
It tossed Stan in the grave, and started piling mounds of dirt on top, burying him alive. Just as the last shovelful was added, the final lyrics of the song came on, ending the event.
With a grunt, the zombie trudged back inside, and climbed back in the casket.
Only an hour later, Doug’s grey truck pulled in, and he climbed out, talikng to someone on the phone.
“Mhmm… I know… Only two days… Yep shortest time yet… Ok… Yes, I’ll need a new one… It’s what the boss wants…”
Doug continued his conversation while walking to the cemetery to see the newest addition. The gravestone read, “In memory of Stan. A good worker.”
He finished up talking, ending with another, “Yes, I need new one.”
The next morning, Ted woke up, and turned off his alarm that was playing his favorite song, “Thriller.” He was so excited for his first day of work at the town cemetery.