Flash Fiction: Though He Were Dead…

By Brent King On February 14, 2014 Under Short Stories

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I remember the fear of that Halloween. There was no light, only darkness. I fought my way from the grave, through the moist earth and a night choked with gnarled roots and trees. The fog smothered the church courtyard as I stumbled toward the town. I was hungry, and a chorus of children appeared as if in answer to my craving.

“Trick or treat!”

Their voices animated the chant as they walked toward me, comparing stashes of candy.

“Hey look!  A zombie,” said one, pointing my direction.

“Great costume, man,” said another.

Yet as I came closer, their eyes grew wide, and they stopped their noses. I lunged for the closest one.

“Run,” cried several. They screamed and scattered like a school of herring before a barracuda.

I clutched at one, but a tall figure thwarted me as the kid struggled in my grasp. I sprawled into the street.

“Pick on someone your own size,” he said as the group of kids vanished.

I shuffled on through the night. I was thrown and hit and outrun until the streets were quiet. Blood smeared my face and my rotting flesh ached. Was there no rest for the weary? Was there no peace for the dead?

At last I drug a bloody meal back to my crypt. Tearing at the flesh, I felt no better than before. Nothing sated my hunger. I wailed long and wavering as I crawled back to my tomb.

“No solace! No peace!” I cried as I lost consciousness.

I woke to muffled chaos. A force beyond my own compelled me to the surface. I struggled from the earth into a starry night. Moans possessed the graveyard. The night cried and crawled with those like me, wretched prisoners of the dark.

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…” Foreign notes floated on the air above our cries. Pure and sweet, they blended with the shrieks to form an eerie symphony.

I crawled over others toward the song. Soft lights lit the stain glass windows of the church. Shuffling past tombs and wrought iron, I made my tormented way toward them. An insatiable desire seized me: to extinguish the music; to snuff out the light; to feast on those who enjoyed what I could not. We clambered at the entry until the church doors surrendered before our assault. The music stopped. Light invaded my eyes and seared my senses. The creatures beside me wailed and fled into the darkness, but I stood transfixed. Step-by-step, I drug myself along the isle through light I at once hated and desired. Parishioners screamed and scattered before my advance, yet the rector held his place before the Alter without flinching. As I approached he reached toward me, holding out the bread of the Eucharist.

I halted, dropping eyes to rotten, torn, and bloodstained flesh, a grisly metaphor of my soul. The rector’s voice invaded my anguish.

“This is my body which was given for you. I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes on me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”

I stared at the bread before me, my yearning riven between the bread and flesh that held it out to me. Yet I remembered my last meal and hesitated. My sordid mind raced. Perhaps there was something healing in this holy man’s grasp—perhaps…

Strange, tender thoughts welled up within me, thoughts that I’d long since banished. My spirit trembled before them. Hope struggled with despair until at last my quavering hand extended for the bread. The church bell tolled as the bread dissolved in my sinewous cavity.

“Begone, thou deathless creature,” said the rector, “for today life has come unto thee.”

It was more like fire than life.

“It burns! It burns!” I cried.

Yet as the bread impregnated me a thrill replaced the fire, surging through my stiff and decaying corpse. My tissues crawled and twisted as they knit together, and peace was the balm that washed my stench away. I fell to my knees before the rector and sobbed. No more rotting graveyards! No more zombie flesh! The panicked parishioners returned, their voices taking up the strain where they left off.

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…”

Somewhere in the midst of it, I found my voice—a voice of song long silenced by my tomb.

“I had no joy, no peace to give…” My voice quavered through the church. “…was dead, but now I live.”

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