The Winston Manor Mortuary - I

Written and Illustrated by Benjamin Fouché

While nearing the end of the desolate path, I became immensely unnerved––for I did not see a single lantern in sight. And where was the one who wrote the note attached to the corpse? I cautiously stepped down from my hearse and calmed my horses. Over the insufferable quietness, I softly called out many times, but alas; there was no reply. Henceforth, it was quite evident that I was the only soul standing amidst the isolation of the deserted graveyard.

Swiftly turning back towards the hearse, I suddenly realized that something was indeed out of place––the coffin was empty. In an instant, my eyes widened––I quivered and felt my heart tighten. My breathing intensity consumed my lungs, as my heartbeat was being strangled by an anxiety of great acuteness; I was not alone––for I knew that I would soon be confronted by this living cadaver. Aghast and dismayed, I turned in many directions. My struggle to evade the unnatural occurrence inexorably endured.

And all at once, I sharply came face to face with the thing whom I had previously presumed to be a dead body. Upon the corpse's timeworn face was a downhearted frown. He curiously stared into my bemused eyes for a few moments, and then spoke dolefully.

“Who are the deceased?”

I could not answer, and for a while, we both remained silent. A weak whirlwind disturbed the leaves around us as he began abhorrently leering in the light of the hearse’s sconce.

“All we are, my friend, is merely a reminder of the past. So what does your insight say about this place, and your work?”

As foolish as I was, I could not grasp his philosophical question.

“You must open your eyes, good sir. Among the earth are many mysteries and secrets––buried, concealed and long forgotten. They are far beyond the realm of the living’s simplistic comprehension. Now then, do you understand?”

I shook my head, still unable to see the things that he could see.

A few stretching clouds parted and a gleam of majestic moonlight gracefully descended upon us. While I was watching him, I realized that there was an uncanny characteristic about his face––it was aging drastically.

“All that we seem to be, when we live, is no different from when we are dead.”

There before me now stood a rapidly decaying corpse; the skull began to protrude from the crisp skin that was shedding. His fingers were now long and skeletal––no longer encased in flesh.

“Do not let the earth fool you. The deceased can lie, but they hold a sincere truth. And now, you shall remember this night eternally.”

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