Welcome Back, Again
‘Welcome to the Bruntwood Funeral H… ah, you’ve let yourselves in.’
The ‘ah’ got my hackles up. Combined with the fact my brothers and I were looking into an empty coffin meant that, by the time the pallid old man had finished, I was ready for a fight.
‘Where’s Dad?’ the words spoke themselves. I didn’t turn around.
I could feel my brothers’ eyebrows raise in unison with mine.
‘This better be good, vi,’ I always wanted to call him a vicar but he wasn’t. He was just a man who handled the dead for a living. I didn’t correct myself.
‘Yes. You see…’
I hated everything this dusty parasite stood for. If they’d only let us throw our deceased into the sea or feed them to the beasts as nature intended, we could take all this death industry space and solve the housing crisis. There was a murmur of thunder and raindrops began clacking against the roof.
‘Where is Dad?’ my youngest brother repeated the question. I could hear the familiar scratching of steel on steel from the penknife he was letting his fingers familiarise themselves within his pocket. I needed the grief merchant to say anything other than the one thing I knew he was trying to find a way to make a floral presentation of.
Lightning cracked. The funeral director failed to choke a shriek. My brothers held like granite.
Back at the house - the one from where the meat which had previously been our father had been removed only days before - dials were turned and switches were thrown; a woman flicked her gaze between a skylight and a table.
‘We asked you one thing,’ our older brother spoke now, out of patience with the charade.
‘I know,’ the ghoul sounded defeated. ‘I.. I couldn’t. Legal…’
‘Legally?!’ my baby brother didn’t say the swear word which preceded his exclamation but we all heard it. By the time I turned, his knife was open and held to the man’s throat.
‘We have to go,’ I said as the priorities of the situation dawned on me, I watched as my brother weighed up the time it would take to open our betrayer’s throat. He folded up the knife, leaving nothing more than a shaving knick, and ran to the door just a step behind us.
Rain peppered our faces like buckshot as we sprinted pointlessly from the funeral home towards our mother’s house. Two of us froze as lightning hit the rod which stood tall on its roof, one of us splashed two more steps before dropping to his knees.
Inside the house was caged static. Eyes and lungs dilated against their will and a man looked with horror into the face of a woman.
‘You,’ he said, consumed by agony. He tried to recoil but he was restrained.
‘Welcome back,’ the woman spoke calmly; victoriously.
Stepping away from the table, she pushed buttons on her phone.
‘Hello,’ she said when the line clicked open. ‘It’s Mrs Frankenstein. I need to take out a life insurance policy on my husband. No… wait,’ she looked to a list of company names on the wall, half of which had been crossed out. ‘No, I don’t believe I have taken a policy with you before.’