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A macabre profession

For me the eerie silence of the secluded sepulchre was a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the wicked world outside

By Raymond G. TaylorPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 4 min read
Image from a photo of Kensal Green Cemetery, London, by Scott Wylie

I crept into the crypt intent upon a grim and grizzly task. Having scaled the walls of the cemetery after darkness and prized open the door to the vault, I crouched just inside, silently waiting and listening for any movement outside. I could hear nothing but the wind in the distant trees and saw no sign that my nocturnal visit had been noticed. Leaving the door open a fraction, I cautiously covered the crack with my coat before lighting a small dip and venturing further inside. I did not want any patrolling rozzer to look through the graveyard gates and notice a flickering light from within.

This story is published as part of a collection: Witching Hour. See below for a link to this fabulous collection of dozens of scary stories

Content warning: some strong language, horror themes

Now, some might consider it a macabre profession that I had chosen, but to me the ‘eerie’ silence in this secluded subterranean sepulchre was a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the wicked world outside. If I found what I was looking for it would certainly be worth my while. As to disturbing the dead, none has so far complained, and I would always treat any mortal remains I encountered with due respect. Not for me the perils of daylight robbery and neither was it my taste to inflict violence upon a living soul. But the dead have nothing to fear from me. You might say that my reappropriating of post-mortem possessions was a crime without a victim. With that said, I was not about to throw caution to the wind (howling of otherwise) and leave myself at the mercy of the Bow Street Beak, who was more likely to regard my treasure hunting antics a felony and deal with it accordingly.

Waving my light to and fro’, I was able to identify the box I was looking for. Conveniently raised upon a dais between two relatives, I read the name (for I was at one time a church scholar) as: General Sir Wilbur Anthony Penniforce, KG, 1821-1867. It was said that his testament insisted on him being buried with his most treasured possession - a smaller than life-size golden skull inlaid with diamonds. He had brought the booty back from his African adventures, after a decisive victory against one of the noble peoples of that continent. They say that whoever touched it is doomed to die a hideous death from want of air, which is why he insisted on the unusual legacy, thus depriving his legatees of their cursed inheritance. Sir Wilbur had himself died from choking upon a herring bone. It was just as well that I did not subscribe to such superstitious nonsense.

Reaching up with my crowbar, I slowly and carefully levered open the lid of the coffin and lo, there was the golden casting, clutched avariciously to the corpse’s bony breast.

“S’cuse me guvnor,” I said, as I detached the jeweled artifact from its owner and returned the lid to its rightful place, restoring dignity to the late General. The skull was a heavy item. Must be a full pound weight of gold and when I examined the jewels in the guttering glow from my dip, I could see at least five carats twinkling in the eye sockets. I could examine it more closely at my leisure. For now, I did not wish to outstay my welcome, and the air inside the tomb was starting to get a little stale, causing the flame of my tallow wick to falter.

As I turned to make my way back to the door, however, there was a sharp creee...ak followed by a loud CLANG! and my light was snuffed out, leaving me in total darkness and complete silence!

The silence and darkness continued for some time, until…

“I hope for once you got your facts right.”

“Yeah, course! I know what I’m talkin’ about. I read about it in the library. You should try it some time.”

“Okay, okay, give me an ‘and wi’ this door… Right, pull... pull!”

As the door suddenly flew open and the two men stumbled back, a golden object rolled out at their feet.

“Fuck Me! I wasn’t expecting that!”

“What, the golden skull, or the skeleton wedged in the doorway?"

"Yeeeugh! How did he get there? Musta' bin buried alive."

"Never mind that. I'll look after the golden noggin. You just kick the bony fucker out of the way and let’s take a look inside. See if there is anyfink else worth ’avin’… Gimme that torch, Muppet!”

* * * * *

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© Raymond G. Taylor, 2021-2022, all rights reserved. The author has asserted his right to be identified as the author of this work.

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About the Creator

Raymond G. Taylor

Author based in Kent, England. A writer of fictional short stories in a wide range of genres, he has been a non-fiction writer since the 1980s. Non-fiction subjects include art, history, technology, business, law, and the human condition.

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  • Stephen Kramer Avitabileabout a year ago

    Oh, that was such a great read! So detailed and I love the alliteration and rhymes used throughout.

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