Okay, I’ve sent off my short story, Entombments Incorporated, to Writers Digest for their 81st Annual Writing Competition. Wish me luck! And as promised, I’m posting the entire story on my blog for you all to read, enjoy and share as applicable. There are four parts to the story so I will post one part every week for the next four weeks. *This story does contain mature subject matter – it’s a freaky horror story for Pete’s sakes.
The all too familiar disclaimer is as follows: The people, events, circumstances, and institutions depicted are fictitious and the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance of any character to any actual person, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Entombents Incorporated, Part 1 by Shannon O’Brien (Copyright 2012)
The smell wasn’t so bad. At least, it seemed okay to me and my husband. Maybe we were used to it. Maybe our noses no longer distinguished between the rancid stench and my prize roses. Sometimes I wondered if anyone could smell it, but we had distance on our side. In our sprawling, gated community, each mansion grew grander than the one before. While the smoke and flames from The War Between The States smoldered, the other stately homes were built around our monstrous pink and red Victorian.
Sniffing the air as I bounced down our long driveway, I was optimistically reassured the reek from our kitchen was not following me like a wispy tentacle. It was a separate, ancient structure in the backyard. Legend was this Irish beehive hovel, or a Clochán, dated back to Saint Patrick himself. Stephen’s great-great-great grandfather moved the hut stone by stone from Ireland to Northeastern Virginia.
The most peculiar thing about our unique outbuilding was the wide, deep well in the center of the room. I used to worry about falling in to the cavity when we first inherited the property. But there was no need to worry any longer for the pit was now filled with dead bodies. Over flowing, actually. The desiccated arms and legs, heads and torsos, peeked up over the rim. Our grotesque blossom.
The hole became so packed we started shoving bodies in corners, under counters and up in the rafters with limbs hanging down like wild jungle vines. I had gotten used to gray, curled fingers brushing the top of my head when I made it over to the sink. When full-sized bodies no longer fit in the tight spaces, we got creative. Now we couldn’t walk in to the kitchen without tripping over a head with matted hair, kicking it around like a wobbly soccer ball until it bumped up against another decapitated orb. The expressions on their gaunt, eyeless faces were always full of rebuke, as if our guests were asking how dare you treat the dead with such disrespect?
The wind charged up the driveway, scooped the newly fallen leaves and twirled them around my feet like mini dust devils. It was late September and the oaks and the dogwoods were already battening down their hatches for autumn.
I rounded the last curve as a breeze caught my long chestnut hair, blowing it across my face. When I pulled the tangled strands away, George came in to view. His green jersey-clad beer belly hung over his tight bike shorts, the Guinness logo strained across his gut trying to hold in what clearly wanted to escape. George O’Malley was our resident fat guy who could fly down the street on his custom yellow Bianchi road bike like he was Hermes himself. Only Zeus knew how those narrow wheels supported George’s weight. He would be a tough one to find a spot for in my kitchen. But I liked the guy better sweaty and alive.
“Hey Sarah!” He stood next to my mailbox straddling his expensive bike. He was a very clever and very wealthy computer geek.
“Hey George. Lookin’ good.”
“Right back at ya.” His eyes widened and his eyebrows shot up as I got closer. “Are you and Stephen throwing a party this year?”
“I don’t know, we have some work to do on our house,” I responded, unsure how to dissuade this topic of conversation while simultaneously growing excited at the prospect of entertaining. At the rate we were going I may never get to have another party. Since the Great Recession, we’ve been pretty busy.
His blond eyebrows rose up even higher and his little piggy teeth glistened through his thin lips. “Ah! Sarah! Your parties are to fuckin’ die for!”
“I-I don’t know, George.”
“I had a blast last year. That Cleopatra babe was hot! You gotta throw another party. I’m a lonely man, Sarah, I need a little action in my life.” Unsnapping his silver helmet, he ran his hand across his forehead and then wiped it dry on his cycling jersey. “Although I haven’t seen Frank and Libby since.”
“I heard they were touring Thailand,” I responded, my gaze unfaltering.
Images of my prior parties swarmed through my head. Last Halloween I was Marie Antoinette, only after her unfortunate demise. I carried my prop, a female head of course, under my arm while the gash in my “neck” oozed real blood. It was fabulous! Frank was drunk, as usual, and started bringing attention to my head. As a forensic anthropologist, he wasn’t fooled. Regrettably, he and his snobby wife never made it home that night. I think I stumbled over Frank’s foot this morning while pouring my coffee. I never knew men had pedicures. Disgusting.
“I’ll talk to Stephen and see what we can do,” I said as I unlocked my mailbox and pulled out the stack of mail.
“Have I told you how gorgeous you are? And wonderful?” he gushed. “Just let me know what I can bring. I have a bitchin’ toga that comes with a strategically placed fig leaf. The girls will go cray-zay.” He snapped his helmet back on and pedaled his chubby ass down the cherry tree-lined road, whistling like a Norfolk sailor who just got lucky.
Flipping through the mail, I came across a flyer. Chills danced up my spine, across my shoulders, and shot up the back of my head. The thick ivory papyrus in my hand was no ordinary flyer advertising lawn services or gutter cleaning. The name of the company was Entombments, Inc. Their tagline read, “Let the professionals rid you of your corpses.”
Inhaling the crisp, stormy air, adrenaline coursed through my veins and instantly squelched my shudder. I skipped back up the road with thoughts of having a Halloween party after all.
Life was good.
(Stay tuned for Part 2)