Fantasy Science Fiction Horror

They rise at sunset. Kicking and clawing through the dirt with cracked grey nails and broken teeth; stumbling over silent gravestones with the grace of an alcoholic. Here, the earth is barren. Flowers refuse to sprout for fear of withering; succumbing to the rampant plague of death stretching acres of land. Among them are the nocturnal inhabitants. Owls, vultures, crows, opossums, and the Undead. Opportunistic feeders lunging at the first sign of life outside their bleak forms. When they aren’t feasting on the rotting carcass of an unfortunate victim, they sulk in the shadows of leafless trees; hissing at one another and walking aimlessly between the tombs. Most sat on their graves, legs splayed out, and staring into thin air. 

All except Agim. 

Agim’s fascination with light begins with the moon. It hangs heavy in the cloudless sky, the delicate silver and yellow glow illuminating Agim’s decaying flesh and sallow cheeks. He reaches his hands high above his head, expecting warmth. A cold breeze brushes against his fingers instead, the pockmarked skin prickling in response. He lowers his palms shakily, brows creasing. 

Why did he expect heat and buttery rays to light up his entire body from the inside out?

He tries to remember a time before his hair greyed and his bones curled on themselves. A time before the monotonous cycle of sleeping and waking took up his days and left his stomach aching.

Agim is hungry, but he has no appetite for corpses. 

He wants the sun and the memories he forgot somewhere between life and this endless, fruitless existence. More than the Undead who seek to fill the void or race toward an ungodly goal.

So he walks, narrowly avoiding interactions with the other Undead, and haphazardly steering his unwilling body around obstacles. A young girl with dusty blonde pigtails sobs in front of a granite slabbed, engraved with a sweet-sounding name. “Beloved daughter, friend, and sister,” is inscribed below. Agim briefly pauses. Her head snaps up, meeting his gaze with a single blue eye. The other socket is hollow. 

It’s the first color he’s seen since waking up. He reaches a hand out-

The girl shrieks, batting his arm. It flails to the side causing Agim to stumble back in shock. He anticipates a jolt of pain and reddening skin. He feels nothing.

He moves on, leaving the child to rock back and forth. Agim walks with his arms swaying at his sides. The movement is familiar. Agim can imagine a suitcase in his right hand, the white-knuckled grip he’d have on it. A restraining grey suit and handsome white undershirt tucked in matching slacks and polished leather loafers. There are stirrings of nervousness in his chest; knotting into a ball and limiting his breathing. 

Up above, the sky lightens. All around, the Undead are sucked back into the frozen ground. As Agim sets down his foot the earth below caves in and swallows him whole. If he could fight, he would, but a weight presses on his eyelids until blackness consumes him.

When he awakens again, the sun is well below the horizon. Agim takes a moment to recollect his surroundings. He digs his way up, losing a finger in the process. He realizes he is on top of the same grave he was the day prior. 

He turns and starts walking. This time, in the opposite direction of where he went yesterday. On the way, he remembers wearing khakis and holding a large plate stacked with barbequed chicken thighs. He envisions manning a giant grill he showed off to his neighbors. A golden dog is running around a fenced backyard with bright green grass and a toddler waddling through knee-high daffodils planted by someone important.

Back at the cemetery, a butterfly hovers in front of him. Its orange and black spotted wings create a hypnotic effect Agim couldn’t pull his gaze away from. It flutters ahead, pulling Agim and showing him the way forward. From a nearby skeletal tree, a crow squawks. It lunges off its perch and takes the butterfly in its beak. Agim collapses onto his knees. His mouth opens displaying his rotten teeth and stretching the tight skin of his face. 

This too, is familiar. On his knees, watching a car barrel toward the toddler caught off guard on a tarmac street. The resounding thunk of metal colliding against an innocent life and a soundless squeal of acceptance shuddering through his body as the tiny child crumples lifelessly. 

He stays there, on his knees. Until the sky lightens and the ground yawns once more.

On the third, fourth, and fifth day he wakes, Agim remains in his grave. 

The sixth day is special because it’s his six-year anniversary with the someone important who planted daffodils in the yard and coddled the toddler. Except his someone important is dressed in black and cannot look at him. Someone important called him a coward because he ran away after the accident. He didn’t want to run away anymore.

Agim crawls out. He begins running in a different direction. He passes a car with a dented bumper; papers stamped in red tossed on a kitchen table, unwashed dishes in a ceramic sink, an envelope sealed with a sticker and the scent of perfume, and a vanity with a broken mirror above it and an empty bottle of pills. 

Agim wants warmth. He's lived among frigid bitterness a long time before death claimed him, and he is tired of its all-consuming grasp. 

He can’t go back to save his family and repair his relationship, but he can’t subject himself to this eternity among the Undead. No matter how deserved it felt.

Far above, the moon finally sinks. Brilliant pinks and purples splash across the sky. The sun is rising, igniting its flames and casting it over the cemetery. The Undead fall into their respective cavities. If their bodies hit the ground, Agim doesn’t hear it.

It does not seem very bleak now, Agim thinks. 

His body begins to break down rapidly, his bones degrading to ash. Tendrils of his awareness slip. Darkness is an unwanted companion, but he is the only one who stays. Even still, as Agim succumbs to his embrace, he is grateful for the glimpse of Daylight. She is beautiful.

May 05, 2023 23:22

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Mike Rush
02:21 May 19, 2023

Sara, I cam across this piece while looking for pieces that had one or no comments. I'm so glad I did. I wish I could say you had me at, "decaying flesh and sallow cheeks," but this just isn't my genre. And yet, I found this a fascinating way to tell a story about what happened in the life of a young family. That is such a cool insight. And it made for great story-telling. Unless you've got some experience dealing with the Undead, you've completely made all this up. But the world into which you've taken me seems possible. Fantasy for sur...


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Rider Viv
16:20 May 18, 2023

This is beautifully written. It could use a small amount of copy editing. But, the story is interesting, fast paced, and I enjoyed the end. Well done. Will recommend.


Sara Abbood
22:21 May 18, 2023

Thank you! I 100% agree with the copy editing note. Thank you for your feedback


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