I tried to keep this under 35K, but I failed. Well, yeah, this is my entry, so I hope you all like it. :D
Note: I've never been to a funeral, so I don't know what is exactly said or done. What Father Lawrence said I got from a website that seems pretty reliable. I'm sorry if I got anything wrong, so please don't hold it against me. ^^;
Death is final. No amount of power can bring one back from the clutches of that infinite blackness. In one of the many roads of Sunnydew Town, Johto, rode a girl who still believed that everybody would live forever, that no one could die if she believed hard enough. From the weather-beaten red car, she looked at the scenery passing by. The five-year-old brushed a lock of curly, auburn hair, but it still fell back on the collar of her black dress. With bored, aquamarine eyes, she saw rows of tombstones pass by. She had passed by Oakland Cemetery many times when riding the school bus, but she had never thought she would actually go in.
Grandma Alicia was dead. She had shaken her head when told by her parents. Grandma Alicia couldn’t die. She made her muffins whenever she was sick. Her clothes were always available if she wanted to play dress-up. The smile she always had lit up the whole room and never failed to make her problems go away. Such a person could never die.
But whenever Carol told herself that, she saw the saddened faces of her parents again. They had hugged her and told her everything was going to be okay, that Grandma was in a better place. She didn’t understand. Grandma had always told her that spending time with her was her favorite thing to do. Why would she choose to go somewhere else?
The car stopped in front of the elaborate white, but bleak-looking, church. Before Carol knew it, they had dived to join the rest of the family relatives and friends. She was towed around without a say to the matter. Every single person she met was as sad-looking as the churning, slate-gray clouds above them. They moved like the branches of the gnarled trees that decorated the scene: slowly, and as though they were about to fall apart if the wind blew. The tears, sobs, and smiles confused her even more. She wanted to reach out to someone and demand what was going on, but they all continued to talk in those hushed tones she was starting to hate.
“Wait here, honey.” Carol looked up at her mother. Seeing windows of stain glass and rows of pews, she realized with a start that they were inside the single-room church. The woman knelt before her and pointed to the polished, wooden seats. “Mommy and Daddy have to go and talk to some people. You go sit down, we’ll be right back.”
Carol nodded, too confused to do anything else. Her brunette mother stood up and walked out with her husband. They exchanged some words and glanced back at her. The girl paid them no heed. She ran down the aisle, nearly tripping on the beige carpet, and hoisted herself up onto one of the front benches. Though the wind that flowed through the opened doors made her shiver, she was just glad to be away from the people who thought her grandma would never come back.
“She’s coming back,” she was repeating to herself, twisting the satin bow around her waist to keep herself from crying. “Grandma Alicia is coming back.” Her voice broke, but she bit her lip and looked around. The lit candles that littered the tables and altar mesmerized her. The dancing flames were just like the ones from the scented candles Grandma Alicia lit every Christmas. If she closed her eyes, Carol could almost smell the cinnamon fragrance. For the first time since she set foot in this place, she really believed that her best friend would come back. A smile graced her face, and she was immediately immersed in blissful ignorance.
A sudden gale swept through the room. Carol’s curly hair whipped her face, and the candles were snuffed out. When she looked up, the room was bathed in black. The light the colored windows let in was feeble and gray. The massive doors behind her were almost completely closed. Suddenly, the church was no longer warm and comforting.
Carol looked around with wide eyes. She could hear the wind outside rattling the windows and doors. The murmur of people she had heard was drowned out. Cautiously, she slipped down the pew. Was it her or did it get colder? Carol wrapped her arms around her tiny frame and took a few steps forward, towards the altar. She didn’t want to venture deeper into the darkness, but at the same time, going back to her mom meant hearing those people talk about how her grandma wasn’t going to come back.
A step later, she hit her head against something hard. Carol rocked back then inspected the large object with her hands: a rectangular box as polished as the pews in the church with a stand made up of three rods of wood that lifted it three feet off the ground. Wandering fingers found a plaque embedded in the coffin’s side. Carol squinted and traced the beautifully written name beneath the shaft of fog-gray light. Though she was just beginning to read, she knew this name as well as her own.
Alicia Mary Martin
“Grandma?” A wide smile broke across her face, her entire being filled with renewed hope. This was where her grandma was hiding. She was here, all this time. Everybody had been wrong. She had been right. “It’s me, Carol!”
On tiptoes now, she tried to grab the edges of the open coffin. The girl hopped and skipped but could not grasp the edge and haul herself up.
“Grandma! Grandma!” she cried, desperately jumping with outstretched hands. The coffin laid still. Carol stood and gazed at the casket with teary eyes. She knew Grandma Alicia was there, she could smell the perfume she always wore. Then why wasn’t she greeting her and telling her that everything was going to be alright?
Carol dropped her arms and bit her lip, but it didn’t stop the flow of tears that ran down her cheeks. She felt betrayed and more confused than ever. The hope was dwindling into nonexistence with each quiver of her lip.
“Grandma…?” she choked out. Carol hiccupped and looked up again. “Grandma, why don’t you come out? Grandma!”
She now began to sob. Her chest heaved as more tears left her shut eyes. The v-neck of her dress was getting soaked, but she didn’t care. Nothing so trivial mattered. Her best friend had chosen not to see her. Grandma Alicia had ignored her, perhaps to prove the people outside right. It hurt, and she wanted nothing more than to curl up into a ball. Hopefully, the pain that racked her heart would go away.
Wood creaked. The temperature in the room plummeted. A hand stroked Carol’s cheek. The five-year-old started and looked at the person who was leaning out from the coffin. The plump figure was wearing a familiar dated, but still beautiful, chocolate dress. Though her hair was done in a strange and elaborate bun, the silver sheen was still the same under the weak light. Carol latched onto the ice-cold hand of her grandmother, her sobs subsiding with the joy that immediately healed her heart.
“Don’t cry, Caroline,” Alicia soothed. Her smile seemed deformed, her voice too gravelly.
Carol’s smile faltered, though her sobs now turned to hiccups. She looked at the wrinkled hand in her own.
And immediately let it go.
Even though the cuts had been cleaned, the ghastly slices of ruby that ran up her arm were terrifying. Alicia outstretched her other hand, this one splotched with disfiguring burns that had turned her skin leathery and a withering charcoal. Carol backed up toward the pews. The color had been drained from her face. Her eyes, once glistening with newfound hope and happiness, were wide with fear.
“Caroline, dear,” her grandma pleaded, that dreadful voice dry and unfamiliar.
Then the doors were blown open by a fierce gust of wind. Light spilled in. Carol finally saw her grandmother’s mangled face. The elderly woman smiled again, making her empty, left eye socket squint and the exposed bone on her cheek more prominent. She leaned forward, exposing the burns that forever blackened half her face.
Carol screamed and burst into horrified wails.
The corpse slumped forward, the life that had shined in her sole eye gone.
Alicia Mary Martin, age seventy-eight, had died on September 22nd, 1999 in a horrible car crash. Carol saw her rise from her coffin two months later.
Which meant she had seen her corpse come to life.
She had run screaming from the church and into the hands of her mother. She had asked, crying at the top of her lungs, why her grandmother was the way she was. They told her that Grandmother Alicia died like that, but it didn’t really sink in that her friend was gone forever until she saw her being lowered and buried in the cemetery. As the dirt cascaded down, she did not come back to life, or did she ever again.
The fourteen-year-old Carol was startled back to the present when a car zoomed just inches from her bike. Her hands tightened on the handlebars, and she swerved dangerously for a few seconds before regaining her balance and riding way from the rocky edge that marked the beginning of a construction site.
“Damn drivers,” she muttered, taking a moment to spit out a strand of hair that escaped from its French braid and into her mouth.
She continued to peddle down the road. The sounds of heavy machinery whirring the day away reached her from the right, and the hum of people bustling from store to store floated from the left. The rusting cranes peeked into her line of vision every second or so. The noise of metal against metal, paired with the dozens of conversations that rose into the air, was deafening. The smoke from passing cars and clouds of dirt swirled around her, her light eyes tearing whenever she went too long without blinking.
It was heaven.
With all of the commotion and distractions, she could never go too long in losing herself, for something would always bring an abrupt halt to her thoughts. The musings of death and her unnerving power were lost to the hubbub of everyday life. From the moment she was old enough to be allowed to take her bike to school, Carol had abandoned the bus and taken the alternate, much noisier, route.
Her eyes lowered until she caught sight of her navy, knee-length skirt and the white, polo shirt that completed her uniform. The five years after the funeral had been torture. Every morning and afternoon, she was forced to go past Oakland Cemetery. Carol would turn her eyes from the window, even force herself to go to sleep, but even in her dreams, she would feel a cold shiver run down her spine whenever the tombstones came into view.
Carol Sheffield could make the dead briefly come to life if her emotions became too out of control.
She painfully knew it, the reminders merely brought Grandma’s Alicia’s disfigured face to mind.
The brunette turned a corner with an extra burst of strength. The wheels of her cerulean-colored bike thrummed like angered Beedrill. The beginnings of tears sparkled in her teal eyes, and her grip on the handlebars was as white as her fluttering shirt. Deep down, beneath the scars of her heart, she knew she had treaded into forbidden memories. Her emotions, though, were running amok, driving out any rational thought.
“Why the hell did it have to happen?” she half growled, half whimpered. She began to pedal faster, her thighs tickling with the beginnings of an ache. She felt her hands shaking, whether it was from her anger or the speed she was bicycling down the nearly deserted street, she didn’t care.
“I can’t even think of her without seeing her like that.” The words tumbled out of her lips before she could stop them. She was getting out of control, the tears were already staining her cheeks, and the rumble of a sob shook her throat. Carol bit her lip to stop the quivering that had begun to rattle her body. The tires squealed against the street as her steering grew unsteady.
“Tata!” something screeched in front of her. Before she could snap out of it, the thing leaped onto the middle of her handlebars and sunk hideous, decaying teeth into her arm. Carol screamed and instinctively swerved to the right. The front tire of her bike collided with a trashcan, and she was sent toppling to the side.
“Ow…” she moaned, the ringing of the trashcan’s lid spinning on the sidewalk in unison with her pounding temples. Sitting up with her uninjured arm and looking beyond the spinning wheels of her upturned bike, she saw a Rattata hissing at her. His maroon pelt was thin with bald spots all along his inflated body. The cream fur on his paws and belly was either squirming with maggots or gone all together to expose his rotting innards. Only a stub of his once curly tail remained.
“Rattata!” the rat squeaked again, his sole whisker quivering and his torn ears back. His rancid breath polluted the air.
“Oh no,” the girl groaned, cautiously staring at the animated corpse while she picked up her bike. The fourteen-year-old looked around with fearful eyes, then sighed in relief when she saw nobody around. This was another reason she chose to stray away from the cemetery and the forest it neighbored. Pokémon died everyday, and she had met more than a few corpses that sprung to life on that route whenever her feelings broke the dam she had created over the years.
“Go back now,” she ordered, trying to be as emotionless as possible. If she continued crying and cursing, that poor thing would be “alive” for days.
Carol got back on her bike and hastily rode away, not daring to look at the decaying creature she left behind.