Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Daily Story 77: When There's No More Room in Pittsburgh

The doctor looks me over, making those infuriating "mm-hmm" noises that don't tell you anything at all. I know something is wrong with me, I woke up feeling absolutely terrible and I've lost my appetite. Finally the doctor leans back, jots one more thing on my chart, and looks at me in a sympathetic way.
"Well, Calvin, you appear to be dead."

It happened in my sleep, as far as the doctor can figure. He gives me some pamphlets, the names of some morticians, and promises me that my insurance will still cover this visit - though not any after this. I call back into work, and my boss wants to know if I'll be in tomorrow.
"I don't know," I tell him, "I'm dead."
"Oh, no. Oh, what terrible timing. We have that big presentation on Thursday. And... er... and I'm very sorry for your loss, of course."
I offer to come in anyway, to help get everything set up and close out some paperwork, but he says it's against OSHA standards to have corpses in the workplace and besides, the company got in trouble for employing minors last year and he can't risk another problem with the government.

I call my girlfriend, and she just sighs. She says this is further proof of my fear of commitment. Things hadn't been going great there anyway.

I head to the library to check out some books. I get some about the afterlife and one on undead rights. I even find a do-it-yourself guide to mummification that might come in handy. I don't know that the dead are allowed to get books from the library, but I don't look all that dead yet so nobody says anything. I spend the rest of the day reading, trying to figure this whole thing out. The book on undead rights is long and dry, and it seems like it might as well have just contained the word 'none' and been done with it. I won't be able to work, and while my landlord probably won't notice as long as I pay I won't be able to re-sign my lease when it's up in two months.

I can't sleep, so I try to walk around but I can't get my shoes on. My feet have swollen terribly; I think all my blood has pooled in my legs. I shuffle, moaning a little involuntarily, into the bathroom. Grabbing my dad's old straight razor that somehow got left to me when he passed on, I lift my legs into the bathtub and stare at them. Here goes nothing. I slice in a few places and massage my legs, watching the dark ichor run towards the drain. I finish, and bandage my legs tightly. I'm going to need to read that mummification book next. I put the razor away, and I can't help but think I don't have anyone to leave it to - not that it was exactly a fantastic inheritance.

The sun is rising as I reach the Home Depot, and I see what I was looking for. A small mob of zombies, swaying slightly and groaning. I take my place with them, wondering how long it will take to earn rent for the month - not to mention the money it will take for my funeral. Those things are so expensive, and sooner or later I'll need one. There's just so much to think about. A pickup truck stops in front of us, the guy inside says they need four people with all their limbs. I push my way up into the bed of the truck with three others and we pull out, heading to some construction job or something. Dwindling behind us is the shambling crowd of other undead - my people.

High above them, vultures circle.