A drop of sweat threaded it’s way down my forehead – fighting it’s way through the stiff hair that protected my eyes. I stopped a moment to pat my brow with a dirty cloth and take a breather. I had been too hot after my physical exertion yet now the cold air hit me like a knife and felt it’s way through every damp thread.
“I don’t get paid enough for this shit!” I groan audibly. “Do this! Do that! Bury this body tonight! Why couldn’t this wait till tomorrow?”
I look over at the cart I had dragged up the mountain path. A wrapped figure starred blankly back – almost judging me. I sigh.
“I know, I know. All you want to do is rest. Not your fault you had to die before your time.”
Yet I wait. As much as I complained, it was the best part of the job. Away from people, away from him. Just me, the woods, an occasional owl, and the elephant in the room. I soak it all in for a few minutes before reaching over the dead body to grab my shovel. Perhaps if I hurried I could sit and watch the sun come up from my favourite spot overlooking the nearby lake.
Again sweat drips down my face as dirt flies up and into a pile beside me. I wondered how deep was deep enough. Perhaps I could shave a few inches off this time. At least the ground was not rock hard this time as rain had fallen earlier that week.
Startled I snap to attention with the breaking branch. My brain starts working overtime as it starts panicking.
“Who would be there? It’s 3am! No one ever comes up here!”
Cautiously I follow the tree line towards where the sound originated. I clench my shovel tightly – yet the sweat from working almost made my grasp slippery. After a few yards I stop and start to relax. Perhaps it was just an animal. Or just a branch falling in the woods.
Suddenly a grunt from behind me filled me with adrenaline and with a scream I turned and swung my shovel with all my might – embedding the sharp edge of itself into whatever was attacking me!
“Well it’s nice to see you too George!” The rough familiar voice made me blink several times before realising what had happened. And what could have happened. For there was Jim standing there with another corpse over his shoulder with my shovel stuck in its side.
“Jim!?” I stutter widely. “Where you not meant to be off tonight?”
Jim just kept starring at the shovel. “Aye. But then the doctor called and told me this one needed burying too. Blasted sickness this. Whole families dying off to this cholera.”
My shoulders started to relax. Yet my mind was still wired. I tried to speak again but all I could muster was a grunt of agreement. I cracked my neck a few times before giving a brief nod and walking back to my unfinished job through the fresh graves that littered the clearing.
“George!” I turn as Jim calls my name again.
“Do you want your shovel back?”
submitted by /u/defiant_potato1993