Dead People Don't Talk
Dead people don't talk. Or, at least that's what Robert McVan thought. He's worked for a funeral home, driving around the hearse, for more than three years- and not once has a dead person spoken to him. They're dead! They aren't supposed to talk. Did a dead person ever talk to you before? Exactly, dead people don't talk! But boy, was he proven wrong.
It all happened during the worst blizzard in New York City traffic. He was driving to a funeral, coffin in the back, millions of family and friends following. The news said it was supposed to snow, but not this hard. Of course, it had to be today. Of course. Stuck inside a hearse on I78 in the worst blizzard he’s seen in years.
There wasn't much to do except wait. So he turned on the radio and began singing along to one of his favorite songs. Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. Lucky Bob, the song was just beginning. Nobody was with him, so why not sing his heart out? He blasted the song as loud as the speakers could handle.
"Anywhere the wind blows doesn't really matter to me…"
What Bob didn't know was that just behind him, the coffin lid began to slide off. I guess when you're so deep into a solo- you aren't paying much attention to what's going on around you.
A beautiful young woman began to rise like a vampire from the coffin. But still, Bob did not notice.
"Mama...just killed a man-"
The dead woman slowly made her way to Bob, just poking her head far enough out to see Bob. Bob, of course, still hasn't noticed. The woman wore a satin blue dress, lined with white lace. She looked like she could be going to a wedding. Or a funeral, which was this case. Her skin was thickly coated with makeup to hide the paleness that was caused simply by death. This bothered the girl. She'd never in her life worn makeup. It just wasn't her. She could feel a heavy mask on her high cheekbones and hollow eyes. But, she didn't pay too much attention to her new look, but rather to the strange man in the driver's seat singing Queen like a Freddie Mercury wanna-be. Instead of judging, she helped him with the high notes. After all, singing is one of Laura Rose's favorite things to do. Or, it was when she was alive.
"Mama...ooooh-" Sang Bob, putting his hands together in prayer.
"Anywhere the wind blows," Chimed in Laura.
"-I don't wanna die! Sometimes wish I'd never been born at all!!!"
And together, they both pretended to play a guitar dramatically. The next part of the song Laura definitely needed to help out with. She remembered when she and her friend used to duet it all the time. As usual, she took the high part.
"Galileo!" She sang dancing.
They went on and on, without Bob knowing. Until-
"So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye!" He screamed, still playing the imaginary electric guitar like some legend.
"So you think you can love me and leave me to die!" Laura was practically jumping in the back. She almost fell onto her coffin a few times. This was the most fun she’s had in a long time.
Bob stopped dancing. Wait a minute… did that verse sound higher than usual? He waited a few seconds and realized there was another echo to the radio. Like somebody singing along. Slowly, he turned the radio silent.
"Ooooh baby, can't do this to me, babyyyy-" She shut her mouth irritated, looking at the man. Jaw dropped, eyes wide, Bob stared back. "Hey, I was singing that! It was the best part!"
A few seconds passed without one single breath. Bob was shocked. She looked just like the woman in the coffin! She was beautiful and elegant- but there was something with her that made her look somewhat...dead.
He screamed. Without thinking, he opened his door, running to the nearest car for help. What else could you do if you were attacked by a zombie? He knocked hard on the window. A mixture of snow and hail was swallowing him whole. Already his limbs felt numb, and the tips of his ears turned red.
The person rolled his window down. He looked concerned but angry he had to let snow into his car. "Can I help you-"
"There's a DEAD PERSON in my car!" Yelled Bob, gasping for breath.
The man's face went emotionless as he looked at Bob's hearse. "Funny joke," He began rolling up the window, but then Bob tried again.
"No, please!" Screamed Bob. The man paused. "She talked to me!" Then Bob thought about it. "Well, she sang with me- it doesn't matter. What matters is-"
"Dead people don't talk," The man interrupted, rolling the window up all the way.
Bob was left in the harsh blizzard horrified. He ran to the next car, but they shook their heads, locking their doors. He must have looked like a maniac! Outside, running from car to car in a blizzard. He needed to get back into the warmth before he got sick. But where? Nobody would let him in, and there was no way he'd go back in that hearse with… her. There were no other options, though. From what he saw, she didn't look like a brain-hungry zombie. Actually, Bob thought she was the loveliest girl he's ever seen. Expect the fact that, well… she was dead. Maybe she was a friendly zombie? Was there such a thing? Bob couldn't wait any longer to find out, or he'd freeze to death. He ran back to the hearse and crossed his fingers as he slipped in.
The woman was now in the passenger seat, looking out at the white snowy storm. When she heard him, she looked at him and smiled. "I knew you'd come back! It's cold out there, isn't it?"
Bob tried not to look at her. He sat silent, staring down at his lap. His breath was fast as he thought on how to answer. He's never talked to a zombie before, what do you say?
"Oh, stop it," Snapped Laura, shaking her head. Bob stared at her in panic. Is this where she'd eat him? "I just saw you screaming your heart out to Queen. I know you can speak,"
"I didn't know you know you could," Bob mumbled under his breath. His hands were shaking, and he didn't know what to look at. His focus was set on the steering wheel, but he watched her through his peripheral vision.
Laura frowned. "What?" She rolled her eyes with a huff. "Okay, let's start fresh. My name is Laura," Smiling with the friendliest smile she could pull, she reached out her hand to shake his.
Bob turned to her and studied her gesture. Automatically, he shook her hand. "I'm- I'm Robert," He stuttered.
She hesitated, "Can I call you Bob?"
He stared, amazed that this dead person was talking. "Yis- yes. That's what my friends call me,"
"Great!" She clapped. "So, Bobbie, where we going?"
Bobbie was not a preferred nickname for Robert, but he didn't have enough energy to give that attention. All of it was on Laura.
"We are going to your funeral," He answered, then held his breath. He was afaird of her reaction. Maybe she'd yell or get angry- but she didn't. She just sighed, nodding.
"Right. I guess that's the reason why I'm dead, and you're driving this hearse," Then Laura giggled. "Silly me," She looked up at Bob. "Do you know how I died?"
This took Bob a minute to process. He wasn't expecting her to be so open to the fact that she was dead. "I- I don't get told that. I don't even know your name. I just drive where they want me to,"
"They? Who's they? The people who killed me?"
"No, the funeral home I work at," He said, breathing a little.
Laura gasped, covering her mouth. "Why would you want to work at a funeral home! How horrid!"
Bob raised his eyebrows. "Wait, do you know how you died?"
"Oh, heavens, no. And I'm glad- I couldn't stand knowing how I passed. I just hope it was quick and painless. I know that when I was alive, I could not handle pain. No scratches or bruises- none of that. I guess you can say I'm kind of a cry-baby. Yeah, definitely. I'm a wimp. And I'm fine with saying that- as long as I don't get hurt, you know?"
Robert paused, then shook his head. "So you don't know how you died? You just woke up all of a sudden- and you don't remember how you died?"
"Bingo. You know, you're good at repeating things, Bobbie ’O. My turn to repeat what you say. Tell me about yourself, Bob. How old are you?"
Bob was starting to adjust to the dead woman. "21,"
"Aw, so I missed your big 20th year! Man, I wish I knew you when you turned 20. I would planned a party and everything. I'm nineteen. I'm going to have this big party. The theme is a tropical paradise," Then she sighed. "Or I was going to have this big party… Being dead really sucks,"
"Um, well…" Bob didn't know what to talk about. There were so many questions he has about being dead. Was there a heaven? Was it just black? "I don't really know what to say,"
"That's okay, Bobbie. I'll ask questions," She smiled, patting his head. He stared blankly at her. "What's your favorite color?"
He was still trying to think of questions to ask. "Aren't you a little bit freaked out that you died? I mean, don't you want to know what happened?"
She thought about it, pressing her lips together. "Not really. I figured I'm alive- or awake, so why not live it out until I go back?"
"Back? Where to?"
"I don't know. But dead people aren't supposed to just wake up after they're dead, right? So eventually, I'll probably have to leave," She took a deep breath.
"Why are you wasting your time talking to me then? Don't you want to see someone else, or finish some unfinished business?"
She laughed. It was a laugh that warmed Roberts's heart like butter. "I don't have any 'unfinished business.' And I don't want to go out in that!" She gestured her thumb at the window behind her. "I just want to enjoy the company I have. Trust me, I'd much rather be with my family and friends, but that'll only scare them- and I don't want to scare them. It’s different with you. You never knew me, so you never grieved for me. But I'm sure they've been in tears for days, and I don't want to make them start it all again after I leave,"
"Oh," he pondered. "I guess you've got a point,"
"So, can you just pretend I'm not dead?" She smiled again, turning up the radio.
Bob was far from listening to the radio. This dead person could talk. This proves that zombies are real. This shows there is more to death than just dying. He should be taking her to scientists for experiments. For this girl proves there's a second chance for the dead.
Something inside of him sparked. He felt sad for the girl. Bob surely would hate if he woke up from the dead to be questioned and tested. He looked at the girl with pity. All he knew was that she could die again anytime and that it was going to be a long wait before traffic picks up again.
"Green," Bob said, cutting the silence. She looked at him confused. “You asked me what my favorite color is. Its green,"
Laura smiled, turning the music down a little. "Mine's orange,"
And then, the two struck up a conversation. Mostly about random things like past memories from their childhood. Oddly enough, they had the same likes and dislikes. They both loved classic rock- that was the first thing they noticed. Laura and Robert jammed out to every song that played on the radio like it was a dance party.
As the storm cleared, Laura began to feel sleepy. Bob, for some reason, knew her time was almost up. He kept the radio on, as she rested her head on his shoulder. He felt sad that she was dying(again). He wished he knew her when she was alive. But, he was kind of glad he didn't. He'd probably grieve. She was such a kind soul; he would probably be sorrowful...
Once the snow stopped, Laura was officially out. Bob sat there with her leaning on him for a few moments. He smiled but was still deeply confused. What just happened? And then, reality smacked him awake and he realized he had a dead person sitting beside him. He looked back at the coffin. Her family wouldn't believe him if they saw her out of her casket. They'd think he was insane. They'd think he dragged her out himself!
After he placed her back in the coffin, traffic began to move again. He drove to the funeral destination, just thinking about what just happened. He talked to a dead person. A dead person talked to him. If only there was proof, he’d even tell people. But, he never told anyone about Laura Rose rising from the dead. Bob still didn't fully believe that it happened.
Robert McVan talked to a dead person stuck in traffic during a blizzard. None of it made sense, but it happened. Dead people do talk. You just have to be quiet enough to hear...or sing Queen. Either way.
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Great story. Really fun and funny.
Roland Aucoin, Thank you for your feedback!