Horror and Thriller Fiction posted March 3, 2014


Exceptional
This work has reached the exceptional level
Sometimes, the dead won't rest in pieces...

Grave Circumstances

by Dean Kuch

Best Served Cold Contest Winner 












Grave Circumstances

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The brass sign attached to the weather-beaten post read, Dr. Orlin F. Beaumont, M.D.

“Aye, this is the place,” Lidia whispered into the darkness.

Skeletal branches of large oak and cottonwood trees lined the winding drive, undulating in the breezes. Long tendrils of shadow criss-crossed the pathway, deepened by the illumination of a full moon. Suspended by twin rusty chains, the ornate marker creaked and groaned as it swung, spurred on by the occasional blustery gust.

She stopped her cart out in front of the isolated home, tied off the horses, then set about the task of wrestling the burlap sack from the cargo hold. After managing it to the stoop, she followed up with a brief rap on the door. A gruff, irritated voice boomed from the other side.

“Come inside, then. It's open!”

Lidia took a cursory glance back toward the deserted cobblestone lane, then entered. The orange glow of a solitary oil lamp danced and flitted upon whitewashed walls. Smirking, Lidia dragged the bundle in behind her...

 

~†~

 

“Oh, 'es dead sir, deader 'n a doornail, I'm quite sure of it. I checked 'im me self. 'E's a fresh one too, layin' there in 'is bed not more 'n a few hours, I'd wager.”

The grizzled, gray-headed physician extracted his face momentarily from the journal he was immersed in writing. Lifting his pale gray eyes to meet the intense azure blue of her own, he grunted out a reply.

“Madam, if we could conclude this business expediently, I would be most grateful. I've much work to do, and my son is expecting me for supper promptly at eight.”

“Well...what would ya be willin' to pay, then?”

Realizing she knew virtually nothing about the standard rate of fresh, black-market cadavers, he dropped the quill back into the inkwell with an agitated sigh.

“My dear madam, the going rate for...scientific specimens is eight pounds, five shillings. No more, no less. Furthermore, that precedent applies only if the specimen is fresh enough to be...harvested for research.”

“Oh. 'es fresh 'nuff, alright, doc. I checked 'im me...”

The doctor cut her off. “Yes, right, you checked his body yourself. I understand.”

“Wanna 'ave a look at 'im, doc, so's you can see for yourself.? Mr. Pips, 'es the bloke which told me about you. I'd never 'ave been able to find this place wif'out 'im. The both of ya in cahoots, are ya?”

The elderly man's prior smugness was put off a bit by the woman's wry grin.

“I've been a fancy of Mr. Pips for”—she rolled her piercing blue eyes for dramatic effect, tapping her chin with a grunge-caked fingernail in unison—“say... 'bout a month now. 'E's told me lots of things 'bout you two, 'e has.”

Dr. Beaumont went to great lengths to be cautious. No one could be permitted to know of his secret affiliation with the reprehensible, grave robbing Mr. Pips. He thought he'd made that very clear to the man. However, because of his partners amorous endeavors, all his hard work had obviously been compromised.

“Even told me 'bout the babe you 'ad 'im dig up and bring to you, nigh on a fortnight past. You recollect that one?”

“Miss...” He struggled for her name, one she'd never imparted to him.

“My name's not important, gov'nor. W'at is important is for you to 'ave a look see so's I can be on my way. Then you can get on with, well... whatever it is you do 'ere.”

Dr. Beaumont rose, straightening his shoulders in a vain attempt at maintaining an air of authority. Odd he should feel so intimidated by a woman he'd just met. However, for reasons unbeknownst to him, her current demeanor made him a bit— uneasy.

“Alright, I-I'll examine the body, so we can be done with this...transaction.”

The venerable physician extended a shaking hand, then pulled back the burlap covering the face of the cadaver. His gut clenched and his heart seized. It seemed as if every ounce of air rushed from his lungs in a solitary burst. His mind raced feverishly, frantically fighting off the realization presented by the cold, lifeless visage revealed before him. He clutched at his chest, the crushing pangs of death now descending upon him in bone-shattering waves.

“That babe you 'ad dug up? She were mine, see. An' you 'ad her pulled up out of the ground, brought back here to be butchered like a holiday goose. Her name was Mona..."

The old man crumpled to the floor, gasping futilely for the last morsels of life-giving air.

“Oh, gov'nor...let's not be rude.”

Lidia violently yanked the rope binding the sack. The burlap unfurled, exposing the dismembered corpse within.

Aint 'cha gonna say 'ello to your son?”



 


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Writing Prompt
Write a flash fiction tale of REVENGE. Maximum 800 words. This can be in any genre and can range from a light-hearted prank to a murderous act of vengeance. Clever twists and irony encouraged.

Best Served Cold
Contest Winner

Recognized


798 word count.

As medical schools became more numerous and students began conducting dissections themselves, the need for cadavers grew. Countrieson continental Europe met the challenge by passing anatomy laws on how anatomists could acquire bodies.

In desperation, anatomists turned to grave robbery as a means of acquiring bodies for dissection. Initially, these thefts were conducted by anatomists and their students, but by the mid-18th century, there arose a class of thieves who made their living from this gruesome practice. These so-called resurrectionists or "resurrection men" entered graveyards on the night following a funeral. Working silently, with as little light as possible, they unburied the upper part of the coffin in the new grave. After breaking through the lid, they slipped a noose around the corpse's neck and dragged the body from the grave.The grave was returned to its original appearance, and the resurrectionists brought the body to an anatomy school. At the school, they received money for the body, generally with no questions asked.

Thousands of graves were robbed in the late 18th century and early 19th century, primarily in and around Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and London.

Descriptions of grave robbery turn up frequently in the literature of the time. For example, the character Jerry Cruncher in Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities described his line of work as a "tradesman" dealing in "a branch of scientific goods" in answer to his son's questions about what a resurrection man did. Naturally, the public was disgusted and angry about the resurrectionists' activities and the anatomists' indirect involvement. It was not uncommon for people to sit guard by the grave of a friend or relative for several days following a burial. Some used locked gates, traps, and other devices. The resurrectionists ran the risk of being attacked by guards defending a graveyard, and there are reports of some being shot and killed. Violence sometimes led to riots, and more than one anatomy school was destroyed by angry mobs both in Britain and the United States.

Laws regarding the practice were not changed until the British 1832 Anatomy Act. American laws were passed on a state by state basis and most had laws in place by the 1840s.

If you've gotten this far, thanks so much for reading my story. I hope you were horrified, yes, but more importantly, I hope you were entertained.

Pleasant screams...heh heh~
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