“DAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH! NNAANABAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH! (Look! Here it comes!)”
The guard shouted from his perch with enthusiasm. He slid himself over to the other side of the stone mausoleum roof and leaned against a crumbling angel figure chiseled on its corner. Ever since the sun left the sky to disappear behind the tombstones on the cemetery’s far side and the horizon beyond them the guard waited. His patient figure could have been mistaken for another stone angel, if only angels’ bodies consisted of decomposed flesh, still hearts, a lack of wings, and cravings for a live food source.
Yet in a way the zombie’s duties mimed those of the once stately angel beside him. Had he not stalked these sacred cemetery grounds under the orders of his just and respected king? His legs still held intact making it possible for him to patrol through the graves. Fortunately enough teeth still clung inside his mouth to devour any other beings invading this territory to disturb the dead. While those existing in the old world sealed his remains inside a wooden box and quarreled over his precious estate the King granted him an alternative existence to merely collecting dust six feet below the growing and unkept grass he now gazed downwards upon this very moment.
The guard heard another exclamation followed by another moan of triumph. He focused his attention down the hill to its bottom and approximately twelve gravestones to the right of the old cobblestone path. Between two tombstones, an old wooden cross and a large marble block, another zombie staggered towards him. With the zombie’s one functioning arm that was not rotting off at the elbow it dragged a large, limp meal. Lying on top of the feast balanced a filthy shovel with its wooden handle lathered in soil and dried blood. Clumps of grass and dirt stuck to the gradually rusting metal giving off a similar color to the ever in style dried-blood-and-dirt shade.
The observing guard muttered “Eeehoooo maaaaaaa…(Funny people! It’s been years and that color is still in style…)” The approaching zombie staggered from the burden of his load and lack of limb to move it. At once the guard swung his body over the mausoleum edge, released his grip from the angel statue’s chipped wing, and descended to the ground. He hurried down the hill at the fastest speed possible for his brittle legs to help.
The guard grasped the teetering shovel and lifted it off of the corpse’s chest. The two zombies gave a short nod and smile to each other.
“Aaah (Mission accomplished).”
Together the zombie pair dragged their treasured cargo up the hillside. While they did not feel pain or fatigue as they once did during their past lives, both still retained the ability to enjoy a fine feast. The sooner they reached the Dark Crypt at the hill’s peak, the sooner everyone could enjoy this meal. Both zombies’ eyes fixated up the hill to the point of horizon between two large pine trees.
Their distance to the destination could be measured by the amount of pine needles lying among the blades of grass. The ancient pines, now drooping and shedding needles, was dying. Soon the trees’ life would end and transition into the world of the deceased, joining the other residents of the graveyard. Even if trees such as the pines could retain memories neither could remember many joyous moments. Two tiny seeds placed into the ground countless years ago remained in their places ever since and grew into the respected examples of foliage now marking either side of a ornately decorated stone structure.
When the zombies’ worn shoes -or feet if an area of their shoe rotted away- pressed against a thick layer of pine needles they could gaze upon the structure. Before them stood a rectangular facade with a mound of dirt rising to meet its edges on the other three sides. The Dark Crypt’s entrance was built into the mound, giving the architecture a serene and earthy depiction. The lowest branches of the trees rested on the ground and the ones brushing against the mound began to bend slightly upwards. It was if the trees attempted to exclaim the structure’s presence by pointing towards a grand entrance.
On their walk along the hilltop the zombies passed the ultimate cemetery landmark. Although the marble mausoleum was not remarkably large, especially compared to the crypt, it splendidly provided the King and the Princess with a dignified place to rest. The mausoleum, designed for family’s private use, could easily hold around eight bodies within its walls. While most of the exquisite designs suffered a few chips and weathering from the elements over time the six columns still proudly accented the mausoleum entrance. The inscribed name had long since been covered in strands of ivy spilling over from the roof. A few devious strands of ivy trailed downward along the columns. Two mythical unicorn statues stood on their marble pedestals. A set of eight steps spread between the statues led from the ground to a pair of iron gates. Two thick wooden doors lay shut beyond the iron gates. Carvings of ivy not too different than the live plant growing above it bordered the marble above the door and along the tops of the columns. On the marble from the columns to the roof a modestly sized, octagon shaped window provided a final touch of adornment. The King’s grand mausoleum shielded him and the Princess well from the natural elements endured by those buried in the earth. The ultimate benefit was protection from grave robbers. While countless desecrators prowled the grounds none gave a serious attempt to penetrate the mausoleum’s doors.
The zombies grinned while dragging the body past the mausoleum. This was the only instant in which the unfortunate person would ever pass the elusive tomb. Grave robbers posed the greatest threat to the zombies’ existence. They frequently arrived at the cemetery gates during the night to steal away recently buried corpses. For many their final rest ceased upon the sinister visitors’ shovels striking their coffin lids. With a few pries of the nails the robbers snatched their prize, messily tossed the coffin fragments and uprooted dirt back into the open grave, and bolted back down the cobblestone and out of the cemetery. The remaining zombies never discovered another trace of their companions ever since the disappearances.
To combat this abhorrence a zombie resting in the mausoleum stepped forward. He organized a group consisting of the zombies roaming the cemetery. Most were uprooted when grave robbers dug up their graves, damaged their coffins beyond use, and left them in the cemetery upon realizing they decayed past the level of usefulness they desired. These zombies awaited the next midnight encounter and overpowered any live humans who walked the cemetery grounds. Time passed and eventually the amount of robberies declined. Finally, because of the King’s plan of defense, the number of visitors dwindled until nobody stepped past the cemetery gates at all. With at least seventy percent of its plots filled already and most of the dead’s family finally deceased themselves and the location a lengthy trip from town, the living most likely started a new cemetery conveniently closer and with less eerie rumors connected to it. The King earned his place as beloved monarch of the graveyard, protector of all zombie subjects and archenemy of those wishing to desecrate the hallow grounds.
The lady slipped through the ornate iron cemetery gates. After looking down at the rust accumulated on her black gloves she daintily brushed the residue off against a stone pillar supporting the gate at its hinges. With grace the soles of her leather boots met the cobblestone path flooded with streams of rainwater rushing through the gaps in between the stones. The widow in mourning collected the skirt of her raven black dress and pursued on up the path. A bouquet of flowers bound together with a smooth black ribbon would soon collect enough water to drink. The lady grasped the flowers in her right hand along with that side of her skirt. Barely anybody from the road heard or even noticed her while she continued along towards a certain grave underneath a grand willow tree, elderly as she.
Solemnly the visiting mourner parted the willow tree’s branches and approached a simply decorated tombstone approximately the height of her knee. A chilly wind picked up and sent her skirts and black veil fluttering around her. She decided it was best to quickly complete her task and head for home. She took the flowers and laid them on the ground, aligned with the tombstone’s center. After giving a small nod of approval she turned from the grave, passed through the willow branches once more, and stepped onto the cobblestone path facing the opposite direction from which she came.
Naturally, since completing the purpose of her visit, the lady’s mind no longer lingered within the confines of the cemetery gates. Instead she conjured images of the warm soup with tea she hoped to enjoy upon barricading herself inside her home from the dismal outside weather. Unfortunately she should have paid at least a meager sum of attention to her current surroundings, no matter how dreary they felt to her. For if she chose to glance down, even for a mere second, she could have died on a far less dismal day and location.
This was not the case, however, and the black clad lady failed to notice the most gruesome arm protruding across the path before her approaching feet. Suddenly a boney arm with scraps of flesh, decaying tissue, and long beyond tattered shirt remnants clutched at the widow’s left ankle. This caused her to fall and strike the cold, dense cobblestone at a quite unforgiving rate.
“Oh!” she uttered for a split second and glanced down at the cause of her fatal stumble. Her eyes grew wide with terror as her frantic, feeble attempt to shake the arm free failed her.
From behind an old marble monument with its inscription long eroded away by the elements and surrounding growth of moss the arm emerged to reveal its connecting shoulder and chest. From above the stone rose a dirty, scar covered head with its eyes glazed over and rolling about. Twigs and earth were intertwined in the corpse’s knotted hair. It was the most ghoulish spectacle the lady saw, and would ever see, in her life. Swiftly the petrifying creature’s grimly jaws creaked open to reveal its stained teeth. At last, the black clad lady met her fate.