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The Gravedigger and The Thief

IMAGE: Abstract interpretation of the text

Even with disease and misery spreading throughout the land, the life of gravedigger is always good. The work can be tough, especially in winter but it is constant, reliable even, and never without reward, if you know where to dig.

There are treasures enough buried here to set a man up for life and over the years I have made a tidy sum. If ever found out then it would be to the gallows with me, which is why it never pays too be greedy. Trust can be an issue when selling anything on, but my nephew was always on hand to fence it on.

You can always tell the best ones from the mourners who stand by the graveside. If they are well off, then you can as sure as be certain that whoever is inside has something of value. The upper crust don’t like being sent off without their riches close by and at the end of the day, it seems such a waste.

Not long ago there was a wealthy turnout for a well to do young lady. All went as it should have done and in due course, I performed my duty. It is a nuisance having to fill up a hole only to dig it up again later, but a pretense must be kept. It is also best not left too long before returning, else the task becomes all too unpleasant.

True to form my nephew arrived as the task was done. The coffin was determined to keep its secret but with some gentle persuasion it gave them up. There have been occasions where the smell was almost too much to stand but the air from within was pleasantly sweet.

Even on that moonless night she was an image of perfection, with skin pale and silvery. It was almost a shame to disturb that endless rest, but the jewels were too tempting to leave. The necklace around that delicate neck was fine and demanded care as I removed it. My nephew however was troubled by an unyielding ring, giving me cause to glance his way. In that moment something changed and looking back, I was met by a startling sight.

Her eyes flickered open in exactly the way a dead person’s shouldn’t and before I could give warning, her cold hand reached out and took my nephew’s wrist tightly. With her first gasp his heart stopped dead, as if she stole his very soul and once more alive, cried out.

I claimed to have heard her through the soil whilst doing rounds and in her delirious state she remembered nothing. I was hailed a hero and was even rewarded by the lady herself for my great deed.

As for my nephew, well, I dealt with him how only a man like me could. It is unfortunate in many regards and though it will never be quite the same, I will find someone else. Until then, there will be work enough to keep my busy…

Written by NEIL M THORNE

Artwork by JAMES OATES

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