Part 1 posted on 4/15/2012

This is a work of fiction.  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. **Contains Mature Subject Matter…you’ve been warned 😉

Entombments Incorporated Part 2 by Shannon O’Brien (Copyright 2012)

***

After yanking my arms through my shirt I hollered, “Honey, don’t forget, the man with the clean-up company will be here soon.”

Stephen stepped out of the bathroom donning only a butterscotch towel around his slim hips, a wave of steam followed him into the bedroom. “That’s today?”

“Yep.”

“I don’t know about this, Babe. What if he’s an undercover cop or FBI? I mean, whoever heard of a company specializing in removing dead bodies? It’s gotta be a joke–.”

“Slow down Muchacho. We already went over this. We need help and we’ll just have to wing it.” His brown eyebrows knitted together. He did not appear convinced. “Look,” I said, “the embalming fluid has kept away most of the smell and vermin. He’ll take one look around our house and know we are normal people. If we get suspicious, we can tell him we were just going along with their gag. And if worse comes to worse, well, he’ll never leave our property.”

Stephen shrugged and wandered back in to the bathroom.

I tugged my yoga pants over my hips, pulled my hair in to a ponytail and bounded down the stairs. Once outside I skipped along, my running shoes kicking stray pebbles along the way. Pulling the chain from around my neck, the ancient iron key slid up between my breasts. I slipped it in to the keyhole and turned the clunky lock. The kitchen door swung in and abruptly stopped. Poking my head through the gap I found a stack of torsos had fallen over in the night, their black stumps sticking out in all directions. Pushing hard, I managed to get one more inch open, but not wide enough to squeeze through. 

I fumed and cursed at myself for not keeping a coffee pot in the house. The cell in my hand rang, startling a roost of ravens in a nearby tree. They cawed and scattered in to the morning sky.

“Hello?”

“Good morning ma’am, a Mr. Tartarus is here to see you?” Our front gate security guard sounded apprehensive. 

“Yes, Harold, please send him through.” Huffing out a steamy breath, I pulled the door shut and wandered around to the front of the house.

An unexceptional tan truck lumbered up our driveway. The white magnetic sign on the door read Excavators, Inc. I giggled at what the company actually “excavated.” The truck pulled around our curved drive and stopped in front of me, I couldn’t make out anything through the dark passenger window.

The engine shut off and the driver’s door opened, squealing like a man on fire. Out stepped a gargantuan figure, at least seven feet tall with shoulders twice as wide as mine; skin white as a calla lily; hair black as the ravens now sitting high above us on the railing of the widow’s walk. His most stunning feature though, was his long, hooked nose. Slamming the door shut, he turned toward me and squinted in the bright sun.

“Good morning, I’m Sarah Leyden,” I said, stepping around the front of the truck.

“Nice to meet you,” he said as he shaded his brow with one hand. I was prepared to be uncomfortable, but his smile was sincere, his blue-white eyes serious yet inviting. His attire, his short hair and his demeanor all exuded professionalism.

“Please, come in to the house.”

He carried only a vintage Louis Vuitton suitcase. He placed it on the floor next to his impressive feet before he gracefully reclined in the camelback chair.

Sitting on the chaise longue, I carefully observed him as his eyes darted around our opulent room.

“Your home is enchanting,” he said. “But the problem lies out back?”

Eyeballing him I thought, whatever dude, with a beak like yours, I’m sure you could smell a firefly fart.

He blinked and cocked his head, his light eyes roaming over my face. “There’s nothing like a warm summer evening filled with the scent of Lampyridae flatulence, my dear. And yes, my nose did locate your, ah, dilemma.” He chuckled. “My nose knows…”

Before I could snap my mouth shut, Stephen entered the room. “Hello there,” he said loudly and strode over to our guest. Mr. Tartarus stood, towering over my husband, and shook his hand. 

“Before we begin, I’d like to see some references.” Stephen’s tone was strong, demanding. “I’m sure you understand we have reservations about this whole thing.” Stephen was the assistant Commonwealth Attorney in Loudoun County, proudly the wealthiest county in the United States. His job was to protect and serve the citizens by prosecuting criminals. 

“Of course.” The tall man sat and gingerly placed the suitcase on his lap. He flipped open the brass latches and pulled out two binders, handing one to each of us. On the cover was a gothic crypt.

Stephen stood by the fireplace and opened his binder. I opened mine to find pages of anonymous clients’ glowing testimonies with color copies of photos. Bodies of lovely young women cloaked in dripping water grasses hauled out of pretty little ponds. Bodies of elderly men piled neatly on dank basement floors. Nude men and women hung by their hands in massive attics. Clothed businessmen dirtied with mud from shallow graves. And lastly, a garage containing five freezers filled with blue bodies. Their frosty eyes were open wide, their mouths contorted in silent screams.

Currents of electricity flowed into my lower belly and I squeezed my thighs together. The primal carnality of the photos was stunning.  Quite simply, the photos were turning me on. The tenderness and concern shown to the victims was overwhelming. They weren’t shoved in to corners. Their intestines weren’t tangled around their killer’s feet during a midnight snack raid.

My stimulation quickly waned as jealousy ripped through my soul. I thought I was special, but these pictures confirmed I was just a common hoarder. 

“Okay, you come in to possession of the corpses. Then what?” Stephen asked all businesslike.

“Kindly turn to page thirty-two,” the man instructed.

Stephen and I flipped through our folders to find another photo: a vast field of rolling green hills, dappled with old oak trees and hundreds of unmarked graves swelling like waves upon the sea.

“We treat the dead with respect, Mr. Leyden. But we treat our clients with even more.” He trained his steady gaze on me with unspoken affirmation. He knew my wicked thoughts. And he seemed pleased.

I glanced between the men. I was impressed, but Stephen had his poker face on. Unlike my ease at reading the stranger, I could no longer interpret my own husband. His unpredictable reactions had steadily increased over the last several months, which alarmed even me.

Mr. Tartarus continued to stare at me. “Do you intend to seek professional counseling or take steps in ceasing your current habit?”

Nothing about this man indicated he wanted to rat us out or bring any attention to our compulsions. “No,” I said firmly.

A wide smile lit up his gaunt face making him almost attractive. “I’m delighted, simply delighted. Most of our customers are repeat clients. And trust me, you will not be disappointed.”

(To be Continued)

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