Flash Fiction: Human at the Graveyard

"Human at the Graveyard" (flash fiction by author Brenna Pierson)

The zombies sat at their usual meeting for the week, some resting their backs on headstones, making themselves comfortable, despite lacking one eye (or both). Others had limbs missing, facial features missing, and so on; for the parts of their bodies that led them to their ultimate deaths had been ripped from their spirits. The midnight sky, black and starless, enshrouded them, and headstones of all shapes, loomed up from the soft grasses of the cemetery.

Their dismembered state was part of the trade-off—they could “survive” past death but not as a complete being. Many sat with their chests ripped open, mere veins and arteries dangling in the wake of their hearts being torn away. This was the case for those who died of heart attacks or heartaches alike. True Limbo was the other choice; these zombies chose an earthly Limbo.

"Their dismembered state was part of the trade-off...." (from "Human at the Graveyard" by Brenna Pierson) | BrennaPierson.com

One of the zombies, missing a huge chunk of his brain, stood at a flat tomb toward the middle that he was using for a desk.

“Now,” he announced, in a rattling voice. “Whose lucky turn is it to clear the missed flowers from graves? They left more flowers rotting away in section ‘Beautiful Life’ again.”

“Did they, eh?” crooned another zombie. “Are they on old Marcus’ grave? That one….He went straight to Hell, I hear. Let’s leave ’em all rotten and stinky!”

The zombie at the tomb clanked his nearly skinless fist down on the tomb lid. “No judging, Zroy! You ain’t so virtuous yourself if you’re still here, are you?”

At this, Zroy stopped his teeth-chattering laughter and leaned back on a cross headstone. The other zombies cackled with laughter, sounding more like a bunch of fake Halloween witches than the doomed, earthbound souls they truly were.

“He took a long time to e’en leave his old body,” Zroy said, defensively. “Didn’t have no one or no spirits praying for ‘im, remember?”

Suddenly, an incredible clanking and scurrying of feet—small feet—rung through the darkness. A chihuahua with a light chain collar, complete with a bunch of cemetery keyrings in place of an ID, rushed past the zombie circle to the leader standing at the the tomb desk.

“Oh, drat,” said the head zombie. He bent down and took a small note stuck underneath the dog’s collar, glanced at it and sighed, the dog running away immediately the way it came, back to the lookout. “Human at the graveyard,” said the leader, with a sigh.

“Whaaat?” a high-pitched zombie wailed, popping up and straightening out what she had left for a tattered dress. “Another one?”

The zombies all stood up unceremoniously, though some began to grumble lowly, and they all scuttled back behind a small building standing nearby on the grounds.  They stood still, a few leaning against the wall like rebellious teenagers, while a few peeked around the corner of the building.

There, plodding in the darkness—remarkably close to where the zombies had just been standing—was a teenage boy. Dressed appropriately in pajamas for this time of night, he ambled over some of the graves, heading straight for a new site that had yet to receive its headstone. Even in the darkness, the sadness in his eyes was apparent—but he was not dreaming, not sleepwalking. He had a very intent stare. He knew exactly where he was going. And on his hands, he carried a bouquet of flowers, darkened by the midnight still looming over the graveyard.

“Should I get rid of him?” whispered one of the zombies.

“Shh!” said another.

The boy reached the new grave site and softly laid the flowers down right in the center. He stared for a moment at the grass that had been newly laid, at one of the only graves bereft of a headstone at the moment. And he just stood there staring with empty eyes. It was impossible to see if any tears fell from them in the dark. But the sadness was both warm enough and cold enough to put a damper on the zombies’ spirits.

Then the boy bent down by the grave. And then he kneeled. He bent his head down and clasped his hands casually. And he prayed, very informally, but even the zombies missing their hearts clutched their chests and looked on softly.

One of the zombies dared to whisper, “That one will move on right away. Right away.”

 

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