I’m not a monster. I know that as soon as you hear that, you all are going to assume, ‘This guy is clearly a monster. He probably is going to do something totally messed up at the end of his tale and we should start distrusting him now.' I’m not however, please stop being so counter-intuitive. A few unfortunate deeds don’t make someone a monster. Their lack of rationalization and remorse makes them fiendish. You’ll notice I am capable of both. More or less. I mean if my story were sane enough, I could have submitted it to the news instead of this. I’m not trying to belittle you guys or anything, it’s just you are a little more willing to suspend your belief which is necessary for my tale.
I’m sorry for that rambling introduction, but I feel like I have to justify myself. I am not a bad person. I am only a person, struggling to survive. I have a job that pays minimum wage as a grave digger. I’m sure you don’t care to hear about my glamorous life digging graves for the dead so I won’t describe it other than to say it’s hard and unforgiving work. The part that will interest you all is probably my side-job. It’s hard to make ends meet on a grave-digger’s salary which is why I had to resort to moonlighting as a grave-robber.
Before you go and assume the worst. It wasn’t my idea. I had been working on the job for a few months, breaking my back and callusing my hands before a co-worker decided to help me make ends meet. Let’s call my friend G.R. after Guy Rolfe. To save you the trouble of googling it, Guy Rolfe was the actor who played Baron Sardonicus in the Frank Castle film, "Mr. Sardonicus." I was typically paired with him digging the graves and we became friends after a few weeks.
We talked about everything. We discussed anything to distract us from the work at hand. We talked about our lives, families, and aspirations. Our friendship grew stronger as each day passed. It was only after I confessed that I was having trouble making ends meet that G.R. let me in on an opportunity. That moonlighting opportunity was the nefarious act known as grave-robbing.
G.R. told me that people buried their loved ones in their finest jewelry and attire. I confessed that it seemed a waste to leave these things in the ground to molder and he suggested liberating these things from their tombs. He mentioned that it wasn’t like anyone would miss them. I agreed, it seemed like a waste to confine such valuable things under six feet of earth, but I was concerned about getting caught. G.R. told me that he had done it a few times and no one had seen him yet. He mentioned that at night, the streets were empty and we were surrounded by office buildings so there was little chance of catching an observer’s eye. He followed up by inviting me on my first and last grave robbing expedition.
We had just buried Judith O’Dea that Friday. G.R. confided in me that most family had looking like they had lived out of town and would probably be gone the following day. She had no children and was the perfect target. G.R. had noted that she had been buried with a few rings and a pearl necklace that could be fenced for a pretty good sum. He told me that since the dirt had already been disturb by burying her that it would only take one night to dig up her coffin and liberate her of her possessions. I agreed to the ghoulish activity and we decided that next Sunday night would be the best time to unearth her.
I spent the entire week battling with the revulsion of what I was about to do in competition for the sad realization that that was what I had to do to survive. I was in debt and my payroll barely kept me afloat. For those that are more visual, I was in a sinking ship and G.R. was presenting me with a means to extricate myself from the ruins and find my way to shore. I went to the cemetery at one o’clock Sunday night and we proceeded to dig up the remains of Judith O’Dea.
To say I was nervous would be an understatement. I would bring up a few shovel-loads and then would look over my shoulder. I felt like I was being watched. G.R. had to keep telling me to calm down and get back to work. The earth had been recently dug up in the process of burying her so the soil was loose. This was not to say that it easy work. Most coffins are buried six feet deep and moving all that soil was not fun task.
We labored for an hour and a half before our shovels found the wooden lid of the coffin. G.R. tapped on my shoulder with a dirt-caked hand and warned me. He said that the first time someone sees a dead body they typically get sick. It’s the state of decomposition. Cracking open a coffin and exposing rotting flesh to the air was a jarring experience. Hundreds of thousands of years of evolution have taught the human body to experience revulsion to the sight and smell of decomposed flesh.
G.R. gave me that warning so I could prepare myself. I think that some part of him wanted to ease my entry into this seedy underworld. Maybe he saw me as some form of kindred spirit or maybe he just didn’t want to work alone. He waited for me to nod my assent and then he grabbed the lip of the coffin and opened up the grave of Judith O’Dea to the world. Suffice it to say, the coffin of Judith was not like the others that he had excavated.
I had steeled myself against the sickly sweet smell of death, but in reality I smelt nothing. I expected to see her moldering corpse, but what greeted my eyes was her. It would have looked like she was sleeping had her face not been frozen in an expression of pure horror.
G.R. gasped and exclaimed, "Sweet Jesus!”
The inside of the coffin was riddled with claw marks. She had tried to scratch her way out of the wooden coffin.
G.R. reasoned, "They must have buried her alive, she probably woke up after the burial. Tried to claw her way out. Must have run out of oxygen and died. Sucks to be her.”
He knelt by the coffin and took the necklace from around her neck. He pulled it off of her and snapped the clasp.
I asked, "Don’t they embalm people nowadays? Wouldn’t that kill anyone? Being buried alive is a thing of the past.”
G.R. countered, "Well those scratches didn’t make themselves on the inside of the coffin and typically after a week, the bodies begin to rot, but she is as fresh as the day we put her in the ground. The mortician probably tried to cut corners and didn’t embalm her. Good thing for her because she probably wasn’t dead, bad news was that we buried her a tad bit too early.”
G.R. continued to rifle through her pockets and grabbed whatever looked valuable, like rings, necklaces, and watches.
I continued, "There’s something going on here. I don’t like this one bit.”
Guy Rolfe nodded and said, "Just look at her, she must have been quite the looker when she was alive, still has a bit of appeal if I don’t say so myself.”
It was meant as a joke, but by the look in his eyes, I doubted he was joking. It was then that I realized why other workers refused to work with G.R. He had some unsavory predictions.
He continued to pass up jewelry to me. I focused on anything other than what G.R. wanted to do with the body afterwards. I took a mental inventory of how much we would earn by fencing these things. For a few hours of work, we would earn about three hundred dollars each.
I realized when G.R. told me, "We’re done here, why don’t you go on ahead and I’ll re-bury her?”
I told him that I would help him. There was a feeling of sickness welling up in my stomach. He told me that I looked tired and should get some rest. The nausea began to suffuse through my entirety. I knew what he had planned.
There can be no worse sensation than the realization that a person you had once called a friend was not the person you had thought them as. There is no worse thought than realizing someone you once called a friend may actually be a monstrous person. Looking at G.R. as he examined the corpse of Judith O’Dea with a ghoulish expression made me want to vomit.
G.R. turned to me and said, "Go home.” All amiability had drained from his words. He was going to defile her. I sank to my knees and threw up. G.R. said, "I told you everyone gets sick their first time, but it gets easier. It gets, better.”
I wiped my mouth and spat, wanting to get the taste out of my mouth. I knew it wouldn’t be that easy.
I was about to respond when the clock tower in the town square interrupted me. It tolled three heavy times.
G.R. said, "You don’t want to be here. Go home.”
I got up. There was nothing I could do without incriminating myself. I couldn’t call the cops without having a lot of questions being thrown my way. I am not a monster, but I was going to leave that ghoul with the corpse of Judith O’Dea. I turned around and was walking away when I heard G.R. scream.
I whirled around just in time to see G.R. attempting to struggle out of the grave. He had just managed to lift himself out of the hole when Judith grabbed him and pulled him back in. I was paralyzed by disbelief. He screamed and I heard flesh striking flesh. I heard a squishing sound that was coupled with a wet gurgle. This was proceeded by the sound of a few more bites, by then the gurgle had died off completely. It wasn’t until Judith stood back up and looked at me with her gore-covered face that my shock was broken and I did the only thing I could. I got the hell out of there.
The image of her face was seared into my memories. Her face was stained red with blood and her teeth were working to grind something tough. I didn’t need to stick around to know that it was a part of G.R. and that he wasn’t going to be getting out of that grave anytime soon. I ran and didn’t stop until I was home. I would later realize that I had left all the valuables from the grave robbing next to the grave.
I am not a monster. I need you to believe me. I need you to understand why I didn’t and won’t go to the police. I can only be an accomplice to the crime of desecrating a grave and an abettor to the murder of G.R. after the fact. I was glued to the news for the next couple of days; expecting to hear about the grisly cannibalistic murder in the local cemetery, but that news never came. What I heard perturbed me even more. The local news aired a story about the string of crimes in which graves had been excavated and bodies were removed from their coffins. I can only hope that it is the work of depraved grave diggers and that thing, Judith O’Dea, is not digging up the bodies or even worse, that the bodies are digging themselves out.
Written by EmpyrealInvective