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Deadbox Revenant

by Matthew Treacy © 2004

It could be worse.

They might have never found my body. I could have been a black slick of human decomposition seeping into the earth or a series of limbs strewn about the roadside. And what would I be then? A whisper in the wind, a ruffle in the dust, divisions of myself in each separate extremity longing for reconstruction? Trapped. Trapped and most certainly faced with the immovability of my form.

Yet there is hope. Though I lay here complete in my coffin - a cheap, dusty box of wood I might add - and indeed am trapped in many respects; there is hope. For I shall utilize my last bit of power for escape.

Damn that son of mine and his beloved Loretta. Their lack of respect for the wishes of the dead sets my bones to rattle. Was it so odd that I requested my corpse be burned on the pyre? Yes a pyre; where I would rise into the wisps of the Earth's air in all my glory; free from the shell of dead flesh; free to float onto the wind and into my new form. Alas, no. My wish was only spoken and therefore not binding.

True, I would have settled for the crematorium. At least there the chimney portals would have shot me into the air with something of a form with which to move along. Yet here I lay, rotting in my box beneath the earth, my living word counted as nothing next to the decisions of my son.

And that wife of his. Oh, what mischievous joy in slipping into her wormy body for revenge.

A Christian burial will do, they agreed. It was no doubt his recent conversion that spurred his denial of my request. But in life I could not tell him my reasons for the fire. He would have thought me mad.

Always burn a witch is the old rule. To do otherwise is a torture: less than hell, but some hell nonetheless. To burn in the open air is the greatest gift one can receive. To float amongst the elements and mingle with the wind, to find the next life that one will live. The alternative is a sort of limbo; analogous to a room with low ceiling where one can only pace back and forth. Grooves are dug into these rooms you see, yet the mind is alive and sharp: always thinking, always plotting, always pondering the reality which awaits. For there is nowhere to go; there is only the dark room, pacing and pacing and waiting out the days. Enough of this thinking now, for I must set my mind in the proper motion. Yet I cannot help but feel the weight of the dirt on my box. This is a horrid place: black, cold, moist. And the dreadful sounds. My current form is a wicked one, you see. I still inhabit this body as I have for the past sixty-three years. My senses are as alive as ever, yet my flesh rots before me. Adding to that are the enhanced senses of my spirit form, the form that aches to break away from this decomposing lump I inhabit.

When I think with the ancient voice I can see the soil outside. I can pass through the layers into the other graves where wretched bones and black flesh lay. And some within the graves still move, their spirits similar to mine yet lacking power. They roll about in their boxes, scratching out the silk linings with their long, dead nails and trying to speak with their snapping jaws.

I admit it is a bit disheartening, but again there is hope. Though my form is weakened, my spirit is powerful, for I can travel into the minds of the weak even now as I lay under the dirt.

The bugs are near. I can sense them tunneling toward me, those wonderful little moppers of the Earth. But not yet, dear friends, not yet I say. There is still work to be done from my box, still movements for this dead body to make. Do not invade my crypt just yet and bore your fat bodies into my flesh. Ah, if only I could communicate with them. But alas, even a single thought is more than they can fathom.

The air is quite ripe with me, I'm afraid. The inevitable rot will soon begin the most damage. That is why I must work now. Enough of this going on and on. I must concentrate. I must do my creeping. And it requires much concentration. So let me start now, for time is not a friend to carrion. Pushing my spirit upward, I can see out of my box now. It is rough work, the pushing. Though I pass easy into the horizontal where my fellow rotters lay, the vertical is difficult for I can feel the pressure of the soil even on my thoughts. Yes, I am on top of the wood now. Oh, what an inferior dying space they've put me in. Damn their frugality! If I am strong enough I shall see my marker above. I fear the worst: a tiny rectangular slab that barely fits my name upon it. Not a tombstone, but a desk placard.

I must cool my anger you see, or I shall have the likeness to possess both daughter-in-law and son. Though it would not be ideal I daresay it would be good for the acreage of vengeance planted within me. Push. Dig my imaginary head forward into the stony soil. Let the rocks tear into me, let the wet dirt pour into my wounds. Push. Push. I swallow the worms and bugs, I bite them with invisible teeth. Nothing can stop me. Push. The dirt feels warmer now, drier. Yes, I am close to the surface now, perhaps only a few feet more.

So tired. Like the physical body I am tired. The race is not over; keep on damned spirit, out and through this wretched soil of the blessed Earth. Push. Push. Bleed me with your earthen nails. Lick my wounds with arrowhead rocks.


I can smell the wind now: wet with pending rain. How splendid it is to be nearly out of the ground. Just a few more seconds of dirt gnawing.



I cannot rest now. Rest is the door to oblivion. A final Push and - yes, here is the open air. Rain is starting. Trees hold their arms out above me. It is night. Let me look down at what the peons have said about the sum of this life.

I should have known. Meaningless banter written by a dullard. Even so, there is some truth to it: "Life does not end after death. We shall see you again Father." Indeed, you may see me sooner than you can possibly imagine. But for now, I must creep.

I have missed the earth since physical death. It floats past me now as I cut through the mist. Light rain dusts the evergreens, water droplets rest on the ends of their needles. And the air: cool, wet, refreshing even to my transparency. How I want to lay bare on the wet grass and writhe in it. But no, I must keep on. There will be time for sensory pleasure soon enough.

Provided I creep swiftly.

There it is: a funeral home. I must find a partner. A victim. A soul. Whatever the choice description I must find it. Chances are slim, I know. Perhaps three people at most in there now. My time is limited, I'm afraid. It must be now, for I shan't be able to make a trip like this again without risking the finality of that which I am attempting to escape.

An open window: a blessing. The physical pass-throughs tire me. I am in a darkened office. Light shows through the crack at the bottom of the closed door.

I slink underneath it. I hear conversation down the hall. It comes from a fat man in a suit talking on the phone in another office. I go to him. He is laughing. Little does he know I am floating just behind his balding round head. I wrap myself around him. His essence rises within me: hot, sharp and painful.

He will not do.

As I pass out of the room I can feel him sensing me. Down the hallway, a thin man with a long face vacuums carpet in the foyer. Yes, he may do. He may do just fine. I hover just above the floor, watching him. He whistles a tune and licks at his silver whiskers. I sneak behind him, through his legs, up to the front of his face.

He seems unaware of my presence, just as I expected. I move closer to his pitted cheeks then lay on top of his head for a moment. It is cool. I flow back and encircle his head and face and neck. Cooler still. Little intelligence here. I can hear others from a different room. Women. Perhaps I should investigate. They may be better suited. And yet time continues its damn consistent pace. No. I shall stick with this man. He has the physical strength. Better so: he is of minimal mind. Now to begin my little dirty work.

Men require such small temptation. I should know after all. That is why he is smiling now. That is why he licks those cracked, thin lips of his so readily. I needn't even have to rattle the doorknob, his door was wide open.

I send them fast at first: quick snaps of the sensual fruits. He raises his eyebrows, his pulse quickens. He vacuums the same spot over and over again. So easy.

He is taken aback when I show him the lovers in their strange positions. Yet it excites him. Then the images are slower. There are movements. Bodies pressed together. He takes over from there. I hand the reigns over willingly, you see. For the occupied mind is open to suggestion. The fantasy boils around him now and I sense that the tiny mouth is open and hungry in my new helper's mind. So I begin to feed it. It is a delicate thing - feeding the mind. It is apt to bite at my creeping hand, especially when those occasional senses of normalcy trigger the mind muscle to contract. Bite, it says. Kill that which is foreign and is taking us over. Annihilate the invader.

But I encounter no such thing from this willing mouth. It savors my invitations, chewing slowly. The lips are wet with hunger and so I oblige.

Someone yells to my friend, snapping him out of my influence. It is the bald man. I unwrap myself and float quickly back down into the hall, diving beneath a crack in one of the doorways. I watch the bald man through the wall. Though it steadily saps my energy I must monitor his reaction. He looks around as if I were a moth crossing his path. Then he dismisses me and bids farewell to my partner. He senses me. I can tell. I lessen my powers until he leaves the room.

Quickly I glide back to my host, enveloping his head and thoughts. He is still hungry. He follows my instructions well, this dear little robot of mine. He walks out into the dark, opening the supply room. He grabs his favorite shovel--the one with his initials scrawled onto the wooden handle. And some water. Yes, this dig will require hard labor. Finally thhe gasoline and matches. Prepare yourself, mortal deliverer.


He walks amongst the graves. I float just in front of him, marking his path, leading him to my corpse. I sense some hesitation in him. His little mouth has quite a hunger. Fortunately my choice morsels are in no need of replenishment. I stop him at my prison and tell him to dig. He looks around the grounds. I feed him larger portions but the mouth is closing. He rubs at his forehead and licks his lips. They quiver. I swaddle the weak babe with myself. Still I feel him pulling away. Threats are necessary.

I will suffocate you, dear friend, I say. Though it may take all that I have, I will worm into your soft brain and make bits of it. But it mustn't be that way, young helper. Come to me. Acquiesce to my bidding. I shall make it worth your while.

My friend begins to dig. The soil is heavy and wet and he struggles. A fleeting sense of doubt weighs upon me. So much earth to remove. And how long? And will he be discovered? My form begins to float to the new hole in the ground. I feel compelled to it, but not of my own volition. My box is pulling me.

No, I say! I will not go. This shall be completed. I shall be released.

I think of the coffin, of its splinters and its wet pine smell. The bugs--the little cleaners sucking up my flesh while I pace inside. Then of the other dead--rattling and pounding at their own prisons, mouthing their skeleton teeth for me to help them. I begin to lift away from the deepening hole. I fight it.

Yes, keep it at my friend. Dig. Dig. Dig until you are upon me.

Time is passing, though slow. My friend is hard at work, some four feet down now. His mind is absorbed with my fruit. I must admit that my own power is leaving me. I haven't much time now. As it is I know I shall struggle in giving my final directives. There is scratching from inside the earth, a muffled tearing. It is the restless dead. They hear the digging. They want out, you see. Their opportunities for escape ended with the deaths of their world-ridden bodies. Now they can only dig into their boxes, longing for a groove in the wood. But it shall never come for these unfortunates. Being a witch has its advantages.

I feel I must rest now. A small slumber for my haggard form. Yet I cannot. I must continue to push on for my corpse is only inches from discovery now. This world has not seen the end of me. Regardless of the supposed laws of death I shall walk again in human form. I will not be held by the wooden box any longer. The sweetest sound now fills me: the hollow knock of shovel against box.

Yes, dear digger, you are almost finished. Careful now - the other dead are close. You would not want to disturb their crypts, for I would not be able to protect you when they pulled you inside with them. Let us not think what would happen then. Instead, dig my friend, clear away the soil on my box. We are close now. You must hurry, you must open the coffin before I slip back into it. Faster, damn fool! Even now I fall like a sheet of paper into the hole. Crack it if you must! Break it with all you have. Hurry! My time in this manifestation is limited by proximity and all the witching energy I have. There will be no other opportunities. Now!

And now here I am, laying in my deadbox. Exhausted. I fell into it just in time. My partner stands over me, my box is open. He puts his hand to his face and turns away. I feed his little mouth again; stuffing it this time. He must not be distracted, for now is the time of unequaled importance. I see him vomiting into the dirt. His thoughts are starting to ramble. Though I risk everything I push what remains of my power into him. Grabbing his brain, I squeeze into the soft flesh, rattling him.

Gas. Pour it. Light. Now.

It is all the thought-strength I can muster. But it is sufficient. He is out of the hole. He holds the red container over me. He pours. The fluid flows over my corpse, into my mouth and nostrils. Now there is silence save for the drips of gasoline inside my box.

Light. Burn me. Burn me!

He hears not my thoughts; I can no longer send them. I can only wait. Some of the loose skin sloughs off my cheek. The dead still pound and scratch. I am thankful they do not have voices.

I hear a scratch. The flame. A match lands on me.

I am burning now. Already I sense the rising of myself out of the hole. My strength is returning. I am forming a cloud of smoke just above my body. The flame burns into the flesh and bone and hair, releasing me into the elements. I want to leave now. Yes, I am becoming strong and ready. But I must still be patient.

The flesh bubbles from the bones, popping upward and into myself. Oh, the power of new life! Dissolve old bones. Blacken in your death. I shall be held no longer!

Suddenly, something passes through me. It is dirt--from the shovel of my dear partner. He is shoveling dirt back into my grave. My influence has departed and I cannot reenter him. His reality--however altered by our danse macabre--has returned.

Not yet, dear friend. Let me burn. Let me burn!

But he is panicking now: shoveling sloppily like a madman. My fire is dying down. Only remnants of me float up through the thick soil. So much power squelched beneath that dreaded dirt!

My deliverer can do no more for me. Now as I float here watching him, I think perhaps he should be destroyed. Would I not be filled with greater power had he not covered my corpse? Yet here I am--alive with most of myself intact. No. I do not intend to start my new life by murdering he who fell victim to my powers. Let him be.

I begin to move. The wind carries me into the wet clouds above. Take me where you may, dear wind, and I shall be grateful. Alive again! Escaped from the first death and onto new horizons. Farewell, mad digger. And be thankful I allow you to exist. Now where shall my new life begin? A newborn? Oh, if only it were possible to inhabit the plump little body of an infant. I would be patient; hiding within the chambers of its body until the mind was old enough for me to begin the whispers. But alas, they are protected. It must be an adolescent youth, I'm afraid. So open to suggestion and influence. A boy? A girl this time? Oh yes, that would indeed be an experience.

And there is time. Indeed, I can swim on the wind forever if I desire. A solitary observer of humanity from my invisible lookout. Yet I long to inhabit a body, you see: to control its movements, to indulge in raw emotions and to incur them in others. I feel no pity for those who I inhabit, for they know it not. Ignorance is bliss in the life of the possessed.

Now, onto my search.


An odd story with an odd premise, this rough tale blends several different elements of horror-—the witch, premature burial, possession, mind control. Mr. Treacy handles them all well and weaves an interesting yarn. I liked it, how about you? -GM

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