by Adam Armstrong
Here I sit dead and rotting, approximately
six feet below the ground. It’s possible that I’m on the hill that I always wanted to be buried on, but I doubt
it. I’m in my best suit. I have some strange make-up spackled on. I feel like a drag queen trying to dress as a vampire.
My hair is combed to perfection. I’m all dressed up and have no place to go. That’s not true; I have plenty of
places I’d rather be. Like anywhere except under all this dirt. I’d like to be at home with my wife and daughter,
or in the arms of a good hooker. That’s how I ended up here.
I think karma is real. If you do enough
bad deeds (or hell, have enough bad thoughts), bad things happen to you. I’m the poster boy for this.
I went to a massage parlor
with regularity over the past few years. It was the kind of place where for a few hundred you could get your itch scratched.
I had my itch scratched over and over. I had money being a real estate broker and investor. My wife was too lazy to notice
that I came home extraordinarily happy a few times a week. Yep, you heard that right a few times a week. I always buy in bulk,
it saves money. Lying down ten-thousand dollars or so in advance can get you plenty of rides at a lower price.
Christine was a new girl (all the girls
go by a first name). By new I mean that she had only worked there for a day or two and she couldn’t have been older
than eighteen—not that I complained.
She worked me over. Right as
I was ready to come something else climaxed: my life. A lightning bolt erupted from my chest and shot down my left arm and
leg. This little gem was quickly followed by the feeling of thousands of tiny icicles being jammed into both body parts. My
heart thudded in my chest trying to beat its way out. I could feel it stretching out the muscles and skin. It lurched hard
bounding off my rib cage.
I groaned; she didn’t take notice.
My face twisted into mask of agony, the pain was unbearable, I had no idea what could be bared. Christine finally opened her
eyes and began to scream. Lucky for her that I was still alive when she hopped off me (or she could have ended up in therapy
for the rest of her life, she might’ve anyway) and took off running down the hall wearing her birthday suit screaming
at the top of her lungs. That didn’t last long
When the Madame came in I was
a slightly cooling slab of rock. The whores took to work right away, this must have happened before. Judging by the speed
and synchronization in which they worked, it happened a whole lot. They dressed me (not before robbing me). As they dragged
me out to the street I felt touched. It was as if they were trying to save me from embarrassment. It took a minute for it
to dawn on me that they were trying to protect their business. Fucking whores.
So I laid there on the sidewalk.
I’m not sure how long—I had trouble looking at my watch. I kept thinking that I must be in some type of shocked
paralysis, so shocked I couldn’t even hear myself breathing. The mind can concoct some silly shit in times of extreme
stress I suppose. After some time I began to grow cold—in the beginning of November in Kentucky, it became cold quickly.
Any minute I should have started to quiver involuntarily, my body’s automated response to cold: a way to warm myself.
I laid there like road kill. In a strange way I guess I was.
A kid talking on his cell phone
absentmindedly going down the sidewalk (that was the thing I always noticed with cell phones. People who were on them never
seemed to notice the world around them. Like you’re so fucking important that nothing else matters except for that call,
it is probably your friend on his cell phone wondering what you’re doing) tripped and fell on top of me. Recognition
of what I was stole over his face. He hung up and called 911. Finally, I was scrapped up off of the road and put somewhere
warm: a body bag.
The rest is a jumbled mess.
The only senses I had, with my sight taken away when they shut my eyes, were hearing and (something no one every wants to
find out when they die) the sense of touch. They say that the brain can function for weeks after death. The senses are supposed
to fade off one at a time. If that’s true it hasn’t started to happen to me yet. My brain feels like it is as
lively as ever. I can hear the sounds of people walking across my grave. If I listen really close I think I can hear worms
and maggots burrowing down to me, down to the main course. At least that’s what I think it is, I’m no expert on
this type of thing.
Where was I…
That’s right the autopsy.
This is the worst thing you’ll ever have to go through in life—correction death. The big Y cut on the chest you
can feel ever last rip and tear of the scalpel blade. The bone saw cutting through your ribs, the strange hands rifling through
your innards. It all happens in high definition touch and surround sound. The only thing is you can only scream inside your
head. No matter how much I commanded, my larynx refused to respond.
Lying there I heard them bring
in another body. A girl no more than eighteen. For a second my mind jumped to Christine, had she killed herself over what
happened? No, this girl’s name was Virginia, drug overdose. Of what I couldn’t say the coroner turned his head
as he spoke. Then I heard grunting, moaning sounds of sex. Fear coursed through my mind. What if he had an appetite for recently
deceased middle age men as well? What about the girl could she feel what was happening to her? Do all that die go through
what I am? Apparently I didn’t meet his standards; when he was finished with the girl he took off.
The funeral parlor was worse.
I could feel everything they were doing to me but I couldn’t see. The, not sure what they are called, beautician for
the dead? opened my eyes monetarily for some reason. He was a tall thin cadaverous man. His skin was waxy. Something was horribly
wrong with him I just couldn’t put my finger on it. He could have had some kind of wasting disease maybe?
All that he did for the embalming was inject
me with this huge syringe. It felt like an arrow going into my arm. I could feel the chemical swimming within my dead veins.
I wondered how it traveled with the pump, my heart, no longer working. I waited for the draining process that I had seen in
movies. It never came. Maybe there is a new method. Could it be that the one shot was all it took to preserve me over the
next few days? Maybe. Technology is a wonderful thing to a corpse.
I could hear all my loved ones
at the funeral. Some were crying (my guess would be my wife and daughter, if they only knew how I died…) others were
laughing. This is a strange custom to tell jokes or funny stories within a room that contained the dead. I’ve done so
myself numerous times, then again, I’ve never heard them from this perspective.
As they lowered my coffin into the earth
I began to scream within my head again. I hoped beyond hope to send a telepathic message to my wife that I was still alive
in some form inside my head. I pleaded, not be covered with dirt. I didn’t want to be down here in the dark, in the
cold. The coffin bumped into the wall of the grave and one of my eyes popped open. Great, now I could stare off into the darkness
until my eyes rotted out.
How long have I been here? I
couldn’t say. Weeks, months, years, who knew? It couldn’t have been very long. My god, what if it had only been
a few minutes. No that’s impossible. My internal clock is shot but a good amount of time had to have passed.
To occupy my mind, in other
words to stave off insanity, I began to reflect over my life. I searched back over the good things. Good things like bringing
home an A on an art project I did as a child. I must have been no more than eight. It was a little clay statue of a elephant
that I hand molded in art class. In hindsight it wasn’t much to look at, but it was better than an ashtray. I thought
of my first friendship with a little girl named Jennifer Talesmen. I remember when I first laid eyes on her with her freckles
and dark red hair pulled back into pigtails. Years later she and I would explore sex together for the first time. I thought
of the birth of my daughter. My wife and I hadn’t been getting along but we thought that surely a child would bring
us closer together. I remember her first word: dada. When she began to crawl and later walk. How happy she had been to accomplish
things that I took for granted. It is odd how your own happy memories take a back seat to your children’s.
I also had time to think about
the bad things that I’ve done over the last thirty-six years. The stray cat I had stabbed when I was eleven. I was so
curious to know what it was like to kill something. I crying all the way back to my house clutching the dead cat to my chest.
I thought of the only time my anger got the better of me and I hit Jennifer. It was after we had a fight in the movie
theater parking lot. That smack ended the best relationship of my life. I thought of meeting my wife Linda. She served to
fill the void that Jennifer left. Instead she just took and took. I remember finding my first hooker in Cincinnati a few months
after we were married. And I remember thinking how hurt my wife would be if she knew that I went to the massage parlor that
I had found on the day that I died. I felt good thinking that.
Maybe there was a point to being
left in the body after death? Maybe this was the point? To not only look back on the good and bad but to really confront and
come to terms with the things you have done or should have done. If I can find some sort of peace and closure to all this,
I could finally be at rest.
A noise, someone walking onto the grave.
I wonder if it is Linda? She might be standing there with her new boy toy she no doubt already had.
That sharp scratching noise.
It is so familiar. Think, think, what is that? It’s the sound of a shovel scraping rocks. My god have they realized
that there is still something present and they are coming to retrieve me? Or worse, what if it is grave robbers? There really
isn’t anything to take. They could become angry at this and hit me. I could see them running their shovel through my
chest in their anger.
The digging picked up pace.
Whoever was up there is a pro at doing this. It must be someone my family has hired to dig me out!
The shovel had hit the concrete
barrier, whatever it was called! They were almost through. I heard the sound of the concrete shifting and sliding, the hollow
grinding noise of cement on cement. Moments to freedom!
Moonlight burst through as my
coffin lid opened. If I could’ve shut my eyes in pain I would’ve. Through my one eye I made out a figure in the
darkness. No one I recognized, still there is something about them that seemed familiar. Someone that handled me since my
A large hand reached in and
grasped the front of my suit (watch the threads buddy). The large hand was attached to a twig of an arm. Good luck getting
me out of here with those little pea shooters. He yanked me out through the open upper coffin lid as if I only weighed an
ounce or two. My head lolled around on my neck like one of those bobble-head things only broken to where the head spun around
in circles instead of bouncing up and down. In one of my turns I glanced at his face. It was the man from the funeral parlor;
his skin shined in the moonlight. He was smiling a hideously large smile as he looked me over. I must look like thanksgiving
With the same little effort
he used to pull me out of the ground and hold me face to face with one arm, he pitched me into the back of an open van idling
in the path of the graveyard. I came crashing down on something that was like pillows wrapped around rocks. In the moonlight
I could make out other bodies. What the fuck was he doing? Stealing bodies for parts, my mind screamed. Of course, that is
why he didn’t embalm me. He’s a body part thief. And I thought grave robbers just took valuables from the body
not off of it. Wait a minute, aren’t all my organs bad now that they haven’t moved in days? Maybe they could still
use them? I should have paid more attention to the Discovery Channel when I was alive.
The drive was a bumpy one. The
van stopped and moonlight spilled over me once more as the rear doors opened up. The large hand wrapped around my leg and
dragged me out of the back of the van. I thudded to the ground feeling pain rush through my body though I was unable to do
anything about it. Watch it buddy. If he wanted my body parts he may be souring the deal by beating them all to hell.
He tossed me up in the air.
For a moment I felt totally free. I hung to the air, arms and legs flailing. Then I came crashing down on a large table top
face first. The oddly large and strong hands dug into my left shoulder and flipped me over on to my back to where I could
see the ceiling above me. The tall man was staring down at me. I noticed that his pupils took up his entire eyeball; I couldn’t
make out any other color at all.
“I know you can still hear me,”
he said looking down at me. “The senses take weeks before they fade. First sight, then hearing, and finally touch. Taste
and smell are strange. They depart with the rest of the workings of the body.”
I sat incredulous. Had he brought
me down here to resurrect me? If only, how great that would be?
“I’m supposed to prepare all
of you together before the rest arrive,” he went on. “However there is just something about you. Maybe the way
you smell? It could be the way you went. Less poisons in the body.”
What in the world was he getting
He walked off to where I could
no longer see him. I could hear a ripping and tearing sound. It was the sound that pulling the hide off of an animal makes.
What he was up to?
He came back and peered down at me in his
true form. If I wasn’t dead already I would have died right then. His nose was halfway gone. It seemed like a normal
nose but stopped halfway to the bridge. To enormous nostril holes were bored out under it. His eyes were huge. Most of his
face that surrounded them had been…I’m not sure, removed? They were like giant onyx stones sticking out of an
almost skeletal wall. His mouth stretched and stretched. Within it I could see row upon row of teeth. Some sharp like a cat’s,
others, broken off and rotten.
His mouth closed around the meaty part off
my arm and began to shred the flesh.
My mind just kept repeating:
and finally touch.
and finally touch!
Copyright Adam Armstrong 2004
Adam Armstrong is a life long native to Northern Kentucky. He lives with his dog, Staples. He has suffered
from chronic Insomnia for the last twenty years.
back to Contents