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“Remember, folks,” the professor said. “We put the ‘fun’ back in funeral.”
I found it rather ironic that this particular professor was sharing this information with us as his voice droned on mechanically. I subconsciously refused to submit to the boredom of the lecture, so I thought about the conversation I had just the day before.
In the Benton Leonsky University for Fun Funerals, it was said that 27% of the students had gone missing throughout the last four years. It was common knowledge within the students, but nobody outside of the confines of that fine building had caught wind of such rumours. One of the theories around the reasoning of these disappearances was linked to the fact that the Benton Leonsky Fun Funeral Services had had booming business lately, all starting four years ago after what they called a “masterful advertising strategy”. I believed the explanation. Nobody could get away with mass murder and own a funeral service at the same time. It was just impossible.
I realized that I had gotten lost in my thoughts as the professor seemingly spoke to himself. I glanced around, noticing the students staring at the desks, tapping their pencils, resting their heads as if submitting to the eternity of the lecture, yet\t doing anything but listening. That 27% must’ve died by boredom, I thought, and I was soon going to join them. I didn’t quite know how right I was.
I looked up and saw the professor staring at me, a flare of difficultly contained rage in his eyes. He wasn’t just staring at me, I thought. He was staring through me. Through my physical form and into my soul. I felt my soul shrivel up pathetically by that murderous look. It took a few seconds of scared eye contact with the professor until he looked down, opened a drawer in his desk, and reached in, almost as if to press a hidden button.
It almost happened in slow-motion. The floor under me seemed to disappear. I hopelessly grabbed on to my desk, but my arms slipped off hopelessly, pulling with me my papers and a thick, useless textbook. My chair was no longer under me, it was far below me. I hit my head on the back of the opening and was sent through the new hole facing where the ground should have been. With a thump, I was then on the new ground. I was hardly gripping on to my consciousness until my textbook loyally followed my path, yet disloyally smashed into my head. With a jolt, I drifted away into darkness.
I woke up with a headache. I didn’t know how long I was out. It could’ve been years, months, weeks, days… I checked my watch. About five minutes had passed. I didn’t know where I was, other than in a small area about my size, with about as much light as a cave dug up in the core of the earth would have had. There was about as much heat, too, assuming the mantle was nearby. The realization hit me harder than the textbook, and I vomited all over myself. I couldn’t tell whether it was because of the concussion or what I knew I had ahead of me.
On one of the rare occasions I actually paid attention to one of the useless lectures, I had gathered enough information to know what situation I was in. One of the more festive aspects of the funerals was an occurrence that only happened when the customers wanted to be cremated. They would take the ashes, load them into a confetti cannon, and shoot them out into the crowd. The coffins were also burned to allow for more ashes. I rubbed my hand along the top of what I hoped wasn’t my coffin, and my hand got splintered. That told me that if that was my coffin, which I doubted more hopefully than truthfully, it was made from very cheap wood and should have been easy to break. I realized that I hadn’t thought an actual thought since I woke up, and cleared my empty mind to concentrate on the scenario.
“So,” I heard the professor say, “you just put the coffin on the conveyor belt, and it drops it into the furnace. That tray down there is where all of the ashes are collected. This is just a practice crematorium, so real ones aren’t near this simple.”
Oh, great, I thought. The one day they decide to murder me is during the one class that would have been fun! I continued to think that it didn’t really matter at that moment and that I had to worry about something else a little bit more important. I banged my hands against the roof of the coffin, screaming for help. I stopped after about half a minute to further assess the situation.
“Is there a person in there?” I heard someone say. “Cool!”
“Stay calm everyone,” the professor said. “It’s just a speaker someone put in there to freak us out. It’s okay, nobody’s getting murdered.
“Don’t listen to him!” I screamed. “There’s a dude in here, and it’s me!” I could tell I was being ignored.
I felt sweat dripping down my entire body. If my sweat were pure drinking water, I would have solved world dehydration. I couldn’t feel my bloody, broken knuckles over the burning in my feet. I tried to look at my feet, and a new light was shed on my situation. It was the sickening orange light of the fire that was licking my feet. It seemed to have a foot fetish as it licked my feet thoroughly and completely. I pushed myself toward the flame and kicked with all of my strength. The foot of the coffin crumpled out easily. I then pushed my feet through the hole, then my legs, and shimmied out, ignoring the scalding, burning pain as the fire attempted to eat me. My muscles were getting sore from trying to keep my legs away from the source of the flames. I punched the roof of the coffin from where I was, and it splintered broken. Grabbing on to the top, I flipped myself over and pulled myself up. I miraculously fit between the roof of the furnace and the roof of the coffin as I pulled myself through, onto the conveyor belt. Then I rolled myself to the ground and landed with a thud. Everyone stared in astonishment at my epic escape as I lay feeling the comfortable pain of life all around my body. I was alive. Barely, but I still felt the energy of life deep inside by burnt body.