The Reluctant Necromancer (Part 3)
For a corpse, he looked pretty good. Well, considering he a an overweight, pasty, white guy who’d been dead for about a week already. I’m pretty talented with a makeup brush if I do say so myself.
Frank made no comment as I perched his glasses back on his wide nose, so I took that as a good sign. Sometimes the dead liked to chat as they were prepped for burial, talk about grand kids, jobs, cats, collections of teacups. It could get boring, listening and nodding to an hour-long diatribe about the names or some old lady’s cats, though it was better than the dead silence (no pun intended) of the funeral home at night.
But Frank was just an ornery old fart who wanted to destroy my good mood. All finished, I dragged my metal tray of supplies over to the sink to wash up. Peach-colored creams and powders swirled down the drain, highlighted by the occasional pinkish lip or cheek pigment. A calming and satisfactory feeling to finish out my day.
In the end, Frank looked almost identical to the picture his wife had left with our funeral director. A Frank that was only five years younger, but with a distinct ruddy sheen to his face, like someone who spent a lot of time enjoying the outdoors. My boss would wheel him out to the main showing room the next morning, all ready to go, and I might be called in to do a few touch-ups.
But for now my night was over. Netflix and a tub of Ben and Jerry’s were calling my name. The day had been unusually stressful, beginning with a reconstruction on a child’s face.
The poor little guy had been shoot through the eye by his mom’s angry boyfriend. Kids are always a little heartbreaking. He was scared and wanted his mother, so I tried to calm him as best I could and told him some of the little bits and pieces I remembered from childhood fairy tales.
Then there were two more usual clients, both elderly ladies who’d passed from heart conditions. They spent more time chatting with each other than with me. And then there was Frank, the complainer.
Most of my coworkers thought it was quaint and eccentric the way I talked with our “clients” as I worked. Once the granddaughter of a client caught me gossiping away and actually thanked me. She was grateful that someone was keeping her grandma company and respecting her as a person, even if she was only a body now. I just thought it was rude not to speak back when someone spoke to you. And the dead liked to talk.
All of my makeup back in its place, I turned off the blaring speaker on my desk and gathered my purse. There were no windows in this room, filled with steel gurneys, wooden caskets, and other morbid supplies, but I knew it was already pitch dark outside, close to 10PM.
The hall was empty as I exited the prep room and started toward the outer door, key in hand. The other staff had gone home hours ago, so I’d have to lock up everything for the night.
Passing the embalming room, I heard a faint clicking inside. Surprised, I peeked my head inside. “Hey, anyone in here? I was just gonna lock up.”
The room was dark except for a few blinking lights on a row of equipment in the corner. The reds and yellows winked eerily out of the gloom, but nothing else stirred.
I turned to close and lock the door, but there was the sound again.
And then I heard the screams.