A Grim Affair

-Strange – 3 Pages –

It was the quietest of Sunday mornings, if it wasnt for the occasional bird chirp, in fact there would have been no sound at all. It was in fact, such the loveliest of mornings in the village of Waxbury that even the mere thought of something bizarre happening, would seem very extraordinarily out of place.

Waxbury was a small, yet prosperous, village hidden discretely in the heart of the Derby Dales. It was the sort of town that had the feeling that time had simply stopped. There were all the usual businesses to be found in this picturesque spot. A post office, a butchers and a few other small ordinary little shops, a pub and a 14th century Church If you looked a little off the main street, tucked away on the outskirts of the village there was also to be discovered an undertakers. Alas every town needed one.

On this particularly fateful morning Archibald Higgins was humming to himself as he drank his morning coffee and sized up the body in front of him.

A beauty this time he considered as a wicked grin permutated onto his corpulent lips.

Archibald had amassed a small fortune from his chosen career choice, not from his salary, which was admittedly in itself fairly adequate, no his little nest egg had been accumulated from something far more sinister. Many years ago he discovered that the poor departed that came his way were often dressed in their grandest finery. This often included exceptional watches, jewelry (cufflinks were his favorite!) and even gold teeth. Yes, gold teeth, over the last thirty years he must have removed and melted down hundreds of them, having mastered his technique to almost an art.

Anyhow He thinks draining the last few drops of coffee from his cup Business before pleasure It was time for him to start on the masses of paperwork that the Government required.-copies of death certificate, burial arrangements and the final release form-this was all his responsibility. After all he was the last person to be looking into the coffin before the service.

Name of Deceased. Jessica Christina Brown

Cause of death. Heart attack

Age 72

Date of death July 22nd 2004

Burial site. Waxbury Church Waxbury High Street. 11:00 AM

Archibald signed it , and left complete yet mundane instructions for the bodies transit to the final resting place as he always did attached it to the brass handles on the casket. This was the best coffin he carried; he chuckled to himself as he recalled her poor husband. The chap was so drowned in grief he would have signed anything!! People are so vulnerable and gullible at such times like that!!

He begins to examine Jessicas body. On her right wrist she wore perhaps the largest tennis bracelet Archie had ever seen. His eyes grew to a size that they looked as if they could burst from his piggy face at any moment as he sees n oversized diamond ring.

This was going to be his lucky day!

His excitement grew even more profound. As hanging solemnly from her ear lobes were the most exquisite earrings Archie had ever seen.

Jack pot! He gleamed to himself!!

As was his curious practice, he reached into the casket and lifted up the limp body. This was always the trickiest bit of the process, but experience had taught him to thoroughly examine the bodies, removal from the casket is always essential. Some of the greatest discoveries were often hidden discretely on the unfortunates person.

As he reached in the casket, he felt it shake; he was getting to old for this. The lid quivered back and forth as he raised Jessica abruptly from her last resting place. He maladroitly took her into his private quarters and laid her on his kitchen table and gleefully went about his task Glancing at the clock he realized he was going to have to hurry, it was already after nine and they would be there for the pick up by 10:00.

The bracelet was easily and promptly unclipped. The ring gave him more of a struggle; it took a few moments, and a little lard, to finally remove it. Now it was time for him to retrieve his prize the ear rings, but wait one was missing, it must have fallen off whilst he was removing the body. He sped back into his work area and peered into the coffin. Ah, there it was, it was right at the bottom. Reached over and into the casket, he tries to retrieve it he was not a tall man. It appeared to be stuck blast he was going to have to get into the bloody thing. He pulled himself up and in a few moments there he was on his hands and knees inside the encasement. The scene would have appeared comical, if it was not so pathetic. He clambered in, his awkward fat stubby fingers grasping for the jewel as he grasps hit, he excitedly jumps back, and hits his headThe vibrating jolt was sent shuddering throughout the casket. In a thump the cover closed. It was a sturdy coffin the best he had to offer. The weight of the lid met with the tenderness of the back of his head. Then there was silence.

At the allotted time the hearse arrived to take the coffin to its final internment, the four men arrived late they needed to make up time. Hurriedly they confirmed the paperwork, everything appeared to be in order, and lifted the casket onto their vehicle.

Archibald must have been unconscious for an hour or so, he suddenly awoke, momentarily confused as to where he was. As his memory started to return he hastily pushed open the lid, it refused to move. His panic heightened as his breathing deepened. Archibald concentrated fully about his task, pushing with all his might, still nothing. Tears filled his eyes as he realized the fate that lay before him.

It was a modest funeral, only about half a dozen watched as the coffin was gradually lowered into the ground.

As the vicar read the appropriate words, as he had so often done, there were those who could have sworn that they could hear the faint sound of screaming.

It wasnt for almost two weeks, that the disappearance of Archibald became apparent. He was not a well-liked man. In fact it was only when his services were required that anyone much bothered with Archie at all. In fact if poor old Mister Roberts hadnt suddenly died in his sleep they would have never even bothered to search for him.

Upon investigating the police reluctantly went to the funeral home. After no-one answered the door, they felt compelled to break it down. The first thing they noticed was the stench; it had been a particularly warm summer. They quickly discovered the rotting corpse of Jessica on the kitchen table.

The funny thing about the corpse though remarked the constable as he contained his urge to vomit, I could have sworn she was smiling.

More Strange Stories…

P.S. Gifford

P.S. Gifford is a published horror author of great talent. He started submitting stories around 2005. His short stories are by far some of the best and most entertaining that I have read. Around that time he was invited to write columns which are titled "Paperback Writer."

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