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Crime LGBTQ+ Thriller

This story contains sensitive content

TW: Minor gore and some violence, hints of suicide and related themes

“We’re running out of time,” he snarled. “Hurry up.”

They lifted their head, wiping sweat from their brow. “Do you want to come dig him up yourself? You’re lucky I’m even helping you!”

“Keep your voice down,” he barked, storming towards the shallow hole.

Nothing but the moon and stars were there to see the sin they committed, and even then, he felt the world’s judgment. He knew God would never forgive him, but he had long since cared what He thought. He snatched the shovel from his partner and stabbed it into the dark soil. The dead were meant to rest, but maybe he wasn’t dead at all. Maybe he screamed and kicked under all the layers of dirt, pleading for a way out.

The gate to his grave creaked as a cold breeze brushed by them. He was pressed against the iron fence, digging into the grave at a steep angle. A pile of dirt grew slowly at his side, riddled with roots and worms.

“Ambrose.”

He continued to dig.

“Ambrose.”

He snapped his head up. “What, Wren?”

They motioned towards the cemetery entrance. The faint glow of a lantern crept through the gate, swinging back and forth.

“We’re almost there, I don’t care if anyone sees us.”

He sank his shovel back down.

“How do you know he’s alive?”

“I just… I feel it.”

They shifted nervously. “And no one believed you?”

“No.”

“Why not? They believed Lisa when she said her husband was buried alive. And when Aubrey was, too.”

“That’s a good question,” he huffed. He paused only for a moment to glare at them. “Why not go ask them?”

Wren looked back towards the gate. Whoever was visiting was far enough away not to hear or see them, but they were coming closer.

Then there was a hollow thud. An airy laugh fell from Ambrose’s lips, and he quickly started unburying the end of a wooden coffin. Wren dropped to his side, clawing out dirt away with their hands.

“Get the rope,” he ordered. And they did.

They tied knots around the handles as soon as they cleared enough dirt away.

“Ambrose?” a woman called. His heart leapt in his throat. “Ambrose, is that— Wren?”

They shot up and saw the silhouette jogging towards them. Her lantern swung wildly with every bouncing step.

“Maria!” they called, relieved. “Come help, he’s almost out.”

She stepped into the gate and came to a sudden stop. “Wh-What are you… what are you doing? You just said you were visiting, this...”

“He’s still alive,” Ambrose growled. “We’re getting him out.”

Maria glanced at Wren, who refused to look back at her. They gathered some of the rope and held out part of it to her. “Help us.”

She swallowed hard and nodded. As soon as she grabbed hold, they began pulling the coffin up. They felt the weight of the land pushing down on the wooden coffin, but it was slowly giving out. When they got him far enough out, Maria started to dig a larger hole. Ambrose and Wren still struggled to find a way to get the coffin free, trapped in the small fence.

We’re running out of time. We’re running out of time.

When they finally dragged him out of the gate, Ambrose collapsed beside him and pushed the lid off.

He choked back a sob, clapping his hands over his mouth.

There lay the body of the man he loved.

Wren backed away, nearly tripping over their own feet. Maria turned her head away. She didn't want to see him, not like this.

The velvet of his coffin was shredded. His nails were broken down to their beds, covered with drying blood. His cheeks were sticky with tears and his mouth hung open. His entire body was twisted, as if he were still fighting against the wooden walls.

Ambrose cupped his hands around his jaw, leaning over him as he started to cry. “I’m so sorry, Cassiel,” he sobbed, “I’m so sorry.”

He laid his head against his chest, but there was no warmth or heartbeat left to comfort him.

Wren forced themself to take a breath, then looked at Maria. Her eyes were locked on Ambrose. They could see her thoughts running, trying to figure out what to do. Then she lifted her head and set her lips in a tight line.

She had decided.

Their eyes followed her as she marched back to the grave and picked up the shovel, then walked back out.

“Ambrose,” she said, fighting to sound stern. They heard the quiver in her words. They saw the falter in her step, but all they could do was watch.

“He was alive,” he choked. “He was still alive!”

“I know… but he’s dead this time. We have to lay him back to rest.”

“He was alive!”

Wren looked between the two. Their heart started to beat faster.

“Back away, Ambrose,” she said.

“He… he was-was still… alive…”

“Get up.”

“I can’t… leave him.”

She swallowed hard. “It’s time to go.”

“Wh-What if… if he comes…”

“He won’t come back.”

Wren bit the inside of their cheek. He wasn’t supposed to come back in the first place. The chloroform was supposed to kill him. And if that didn’t work, Maria held the rag down long enough he should have stopped breathing. That was the deal: Kill him before Ambrose got home. Make sure he didn't wake up.

“Cass…Cassiel,” he whispered, lifting his head up. “Please, Cassiel…”

Wren brought him the bottles. Marie made his bed. Cassiel laid himself down.

They soaked the rag. She pressed it over his mouth and nose. He closed his eyes. They all waited together. Waited until he was unconscious. Waited until he was limp. Then waited some more.

Maria lifted the shovel over her shoulder. Ambrose kissed Cassiel’s forehead. Wren looked away.

A sharp clang echoed over the cemetery and Ambrose’s cries broke into screams. They shut their eyes tight, and their hands balled into fists.

“Wren—” he began, then another clang cut the sound out.

The silence collapsed onto their shoulders.

Maria hardly spared them a glance. Their back was turned and every muscle in their body was rigid. She heard them force down a sob.

She grabbed Ambrose by the collar and pulled him away from Cassiel. She laid him face-down in the dirt and wrapped both her hands around the wooden handle. She shifted her stance and stood over his head. She steadied her breath. Then stabbed the shovel into the back of his neck. Again and again. Blood squirted across the dark grass. Crimson splatters polished her shoes and dyed the hem of her dress.

She only stepped back when she could see the tip of his spine gouging through the back of his severed neck. Clumps of soil stuck to the mangled skin. More of his flesh clung to the shovel. She cast another look towards Wren.

They had their face in their hands. Their body trembled as they tried not to cry.

“He wasn’t supposed to come back,” they whispered, feeling her eyes burning into them.

“It was Cassiel’s own fault. That was how he wanted to die.”

“He wanted to die… not wake up in a grave!”

“Then we’ll make sure he doesn’t wake up again.”

They turned to see what she meant just in time to see the bloody shovel sink into Cassiel’s pale throat. They doubled over, nearly vomiting through their fingers.

They listened to the dull thrum of the shovel striking the coffin below him. Only when they heard the sound of it dropping to the ground, did they face Maria again.

“Do not speak of this,” she hissed.

They swallowed the bile in their mouth and nodded. All color had been flushed from their face.

“Wh…What do we do… with…” They motioned to the bodies.

“Leave them. The town will come up with some stupid story about vampires to go with it.”

“Cassiel wouldn’t want this,” they replied, their voice much quieter than they wanted it to be.

“It doesn’t matter what Cassiel wants, Cassiel is dead,” she retorted. “Go back home, pretend to sleep or do whatever it is that keeps your mouth shut."

July 12, 2022 06:42

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