by Kevin Wallis
My right thumb just fell off, but at least I got the lid open.
Leave it to my stupid kids to buy the cheapest coffin on the market for dear ol’ Dad. Guess I should at least be grateful for this one act of idiocy, though. Not sure I could’ve pried a top-of-the-line lid off.
Stupid kids. They never gave a damn about me when I was alive, so why start after the Reaper came a-calling? I bet there won’t be a single flower over me. Hell, I’ll do a cartwheel if I have a headstone. Stupid kids.
Man, this lid is heavy. Figures, what with six feet of earth crushing it from above. I can’t see, of course, but I sure don’t feel any muscles on this body. Guess we just come with super-strength or something. Whatever, I’ll take it.
I’m tough enough to do what I gotta do, though. Stupid kids. I give ‘em one final instruction, just one single task. They can roll up all my other wishes and smoke ‘em, but this one thing was non-negotiable. Then I wake up in here. They probably never heard a word I said.
Well, I’ve had enough. Now I’m gonna kill ‘em. Then I’m coming for you, Julia.
Almost free from this coffin now. I don’t assume I’m actually breathing anymore, but that box damn near suffocated me. Still got a lot of dirt to dig through, too. And if my fingers keep falling off, I’ll be shoveling with knobs of bone.
Leg’s stuck on the coffin lid. Just a little pull, little more. Shit. Lost the leg.
That’s all right. I’ll crawl to my stupid kids if I have to.
Funny, I don’t feel a twinge of guilt over what I’m gonna do. Maybe my conscience eroded away with my liver. All I know is that they never lifted a finger to help their old man, or their mother, never helped anyone for that matter, and for that they have to die.
I’m dead. They’re alive. As my granddad used to say, that dog just ain’t gon' hunt.
Just one simple instruction. One wish from a dying man. That’s all I wanted. Stupid kids.
Where’d this rock come from? Hard enough digging my way out of the ground without freakin’ boulders in my way. Push off it this way, twist my hips around here . . . and . . . broke my hip. Got past the rock, though.
I’m coming, kiddos, blood of my blood, apples of my worm-food eyes.
Then, on to Julia.
Ah, the bugs. I was wondering when they’d join the party. Can’t see ‘em, but I sure as hell feel the little bastards. Funny, since I don't have nerves. No, no, no, not in the mouth. Not sure I could spit you out.
Well, I guess I can. Spat my tongue out, too, but I’m sure my new six-legged friends will put it to good use. Hope my jaw hangs tight, though. It’ll be hard to eat my children without a bottom jaw.
There. That’s gotta be the surface. Just gotta push my head out, check out where my lovely offspring left me to rot. Arms free. Well, arm. Where the hell did I lose the other one? No matter. Pull my leg out, and freedom, baby.
I’m in a graveyard, at least. Moon’s bright, stars gleaming. It’d be a beautiful night if I wasn't a fucking corpse.
Guess I should assess the damage before the hunt begins. I can’t tell if I’m actually seeing my decayed body or if I’m mentally visualizing what I know to be true. Either way, I’m screwed.
One arm. One leg. Opposite sides. Three fingers on my right hand, none on my left. And the kicker - I lost my jaw, after all.
I try to turn, find a path, crawl towards my doomed children. After an hour, I look back at the five feet I’ve scooted and collapse on my back. What happened to my super-strength?
Well, if my children have become quadriplegic, by chance, I’ll definitely tear them limb from limb.
I’m too old for this shit.
I turn my head to the side, or maybe it falls on its own, and see my headstone. Zachary Ingalls. Beloved husband and father.
My head lolls back further until the back of my skull rests on my spine. Another tombstone stares at me, its words upside down in my present awkward position.
Julia Ingalls. Beloved wife and mother.
I sigh, although I suspect it’s only the wind whistling through my exposed, hole-ridden lungs.
Stupid kids. All I wanted, my last dying wish, was to be buried with their mother, my Julia. Instead, they made me her goddamn neighbor.
Screw it. Their stupidity is curse enough. Besides, they did give me a headstone. The cartwheel’s gonna have to wait, though.
I’m coming, Julia.
I manage to roll on my side, my cranium bouncing like an undead bobblehead, and I scoot-crawl over to Julia’s grave. With three fingers and a bony nub, I start to dig.
Kevin writes horror fiction, but he occasionally adds a dab of humor just to quiet the laughing in his head. His collection, Beneath the Surface of Things, is coming out this summer from Lame Goat Press.