I didn’t have anything particular in mind for tonight’s flash fic piece, so I used a random prompt generator. This is the prompt it gave me: “I stand by the graveside. We are burying Uncle Eric. Again.” I just sort of ran with it. Enjoy!
I stand by the graveside. We are burying Uncle Eric. Again.
Ever since the Upheaval, burials have become such a hassle. I don’t remember much of how things were before. I was only little then, but the others tell me it used to be simpler then – throw the body in a fire or in a hole in the ground, add as much or as little pomp and circumstance as you want, and that was that. Not so, now.
Now you need the right oils spilled into the upturned soil of the grave, the right words said in the right order. You need the sigils drawn on the caskets and on the dead flesh. It all has to work out just right, every piece of it, or before long the dead will have clawed themselves back out of the ground and there you’ll be, just minding your business, going about your work or cooking up some marmalade like my auntie was doing, and suddenly there’s your dead brother in the doorway, staring. Or your dead cousin, or spouse, or neighbor or whoever else didn’t get the full treatment when they were put in the ground. Cremation’s even worse – just the spirit’s left then and wrangling one of those into a second burial takes forever and costs more than most can afford.
I think it was the purification oil that was the problem the last time. I told them that merchant couldn’t be trusted, but they didn’t listen to me because, as they all like to remind me, I’m the baby of the family. They’ll get over it eventually, or else there’ll be more babies to take over the title. This dose is good, though, I know it is. I traded for it myself. I can feel it in the smell too, as it sloshes over the lid of the casket, from which the muffled sounds of Uncle Eric trying to escape can still be heard, and then spills into the spoil. I can’t define what it is exactly, the scent is just… different, when the oil is true. They don’t believe me on that either, but they will eventually. They’re already starting to think it’s strange how I’m always right about these things. Eventually they’ll realize it’s cheaper to just listen to me.
The oil runs out just when it’s supposed to, and two of my cousins lower themselves into the grave with paintbrushes in hand. As the sigils are place one after the other, I feel him quiet down in there, becoming calm, and still, and then gone. Good. Baring a sudden rainstorm to wash away all our meticulous work, he’ll stay that way this time.