#1 Carter Andrews – Gravedigger by Trade

| November 1, 2011 | 0 Comments

The city was nearly empty now. I’d moved the emptied out the last hospital a few months. All that was left were a few places near the edge of town, which shouldn’t take more than five or six weeks.

I really hated the places near the countryside. All of those houses had three dozen rooms and a backyard big enough for God’s own. It’d take me hours to do a block. They were worse than amusement parks, and I really hated amusement parks, too. Fucking clowns!

And I never failed to be surprised where they’d actually turn up. One man shoved himself into his washing machine. He couldn’t turn it on of course. There hasn’t been power for months by then. But it still is an odd idea for a place of last repose. I mean really that’s where you want to be found, a washing machine. Maybe he didn’t expect to be around to find him, I guess. Don’t fault him for thinking that. I hope he wanted people to look at him and think, “Well at least he died clean,” because that’s honestly the only thought that was going through my head. Gave me a bit of a chuckle, which I sorely needed.

Laughing became a rare luxury after the first three months. That was when people began to realize this wasn’t just the normal flu, or even a run of the mill super-flu. Doctors had stopped giving medicine and started directing people to the chapels. People stopped using bedsheets for sleeping, just for covering the bodies.

I’d had an inkling something was really rotten a little sooner than everybody else. The grave business pick-ups a little bit every winter. But that year, it’d been something else. I was working double shifts just to keep ahead of demand, and the so had all the other companies. Hell, Reynolds and Sons could have added “and Wives and Daughters and Two Guys We Met At The Corner” to the name to keep truth in advertising.

As things got worse, my business just picked up more and more, especially as the others got sick.  I wasn’t making any money, of course. By that point, people were paying with loaves of bread and cans of potted meat. And I took it anything and everything. It didn’t matter to me.

Oh sure, some people grumbled that I was trying to profit off the sickness, but I’d done it for nothing, more than once I did. I really I only took what they gave me so that they knew they’d paid for it. I mean how much SPAM does one man. Now it’s a small thing to give a few tins away, but for a man who watched his wife die and has felt helpless before all, it’s still something to be able to do one last thing for her. And if I could help them a bit, I would.

I had so much work, that I was in the field morning, noon and night. Slept at the shovel, I did. So it was three days before I noticed. Three days before I noticed I hadn’t seen another living being in all that time. Hadn’t heard a car honk, or a radio blare or even one of those announcements the CCD people been putting out for the last weeks. That shook me.

When it hit me, I dropped the shovel and took off running, scrambling through the streets and screaming like a banshee. But there wasn’t no one there. Every house and street was quiet and empty. It was like that old Vincent Price movie. I was the last man alive.

I’m not ashamed to say that I sat right down and cried, bawled my eyes out like a little boy. I thought about all those things I’d meant to do. Settle down and get a wife, do some traveling, actually make something of myself, not be a gravedigger all my life. That wasn’t going to happen now.

Wandering through the streets, I saw a cop sitting in his car. He’d stuck his pistol in his mouth and blew his brains all over the car. And you know what? That seemed to be the right idea. I pried the gun out his hand, wiped off the muzzle, don’t want germs y’know, and put it right up against my head. But every time my finger touched that trigger, I just saw that grave back at the cemetery, sitting there half-dug.  I couldn’t leave it like that.

So I stuck the gun in my belt and headed back. Finished that grave lickety-split, laid out with fresh sod and a fancy new tombstone and all the trimmings. Edgar Rogers was the man’s name, and at least he’d have that piece of land. Then I took the gun out and was getting back to business.

But as I sat there, fiddling with the gun, I knew that there was a whole city of people like Roger. People that’d want to be buried proper like. Could I really give up just like that? If I was still here, then it must have been for a reason.

That was three years and 26,798 graves ago, every one marked and mapped. Not as neat as I’d like, but they’ll do.

It’s been a lot of work, but I was almost done. Just these last few little places to check. And then… then…Williamsburg’s only a couple miles up the road. They’re only twelve thousand and a bit. It shouldn’t take more than a year or two to finish them.

(Hopefully people will be more satisfied with my writing than they would be with my drawing. My stick figures are an insult to stick figures everywhere)


Category: 2011, Drama, Horror

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