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The Graveyard Book

The last book you'll ever read and the only one you'll be allowed to read for all of eternity.

By Donna Fox (HKB)Published 11 months ago 6 min read
Top Story - May 2023
The Graveyard Book
Photo by Amadeus Moga on Unsplash

“Place all your possessions into the bin please.” A pale grey-faced man with large bags under his eyes instructed as he pushed a plastic bin similar to the ones at the airport towards me.

I had no recollection of how I had found myself here, not that I knew where ‘here’ was. I looked around in shock and confusion , trying to get my bearings.

Thinking to myself that I must be in some kind of airport, but my surroundings were grey like a rain cloud and detail-less. Making it hard to confirm my suspicions, but my thoughts were interrupted by the grey-faced man.

“Cell phone, keys, wallet, all your worldly possessions in here please.” He reiterated and shoved the bin closer to me.

Seeing a line behind me, it occurred to me that I was holding everyone up so I did as was instructed. But was still perplexed by my mysterious location.

The man took the bin and placed it on a conveyor belt behind himself, then handed me a worn-looking copy of Oh the Places You’ve Been.

“Weren’t much a of reader were you?” He mumbled and then gestured for me to proceed to another line.

Standing in line I tap the lady in front of me, as she turns around I am met with a grotesque half-skinless face. One side dawning masterful and professional makeup, something like a businesswoman would wear to the office. The other half was fleshless, her skull poking out in some places.

My stomach turned as I fought to hold a straight face while still addressing her respectfully. “I’m sorry to bother you,” I began in a small voice, “but what is this all about?” I inquire.

With a dirty look she huffs in annoyance, then her eyes fall to the book in my hand and she stifled a half-smirk.

“Not much of a reader eh?” She sneers before turning back around to move ahead with the lineup.

As she turns away I notice the book she is holding looks rather profound in size. 

I duck around to try to read the title but find no such luck and give up the pursuit as the line continues to move along.

Moments later I found myself at the front of the line standing before a pale green face of a woman who regrettably resembled a toad, complete with a few warts growing on her chin.

“Are you satisfied with this choice of reading material? Remember this is for eternity, there will be no exchanges or changing your mind. There are no libraries where you are going.” She stated in a monotonous croak as she checked my name off of a list, not even bothering to look up from her clipboard.

“Where am I going?” I ask, in my own monotonous but also curious voice.

Her eyes bulged as she looked up from her clipboard in shock. Her long mouth formed a line across her face. Which only sold her frog-like appearance for me.

Then she gave herself a shake as though to recompose herself. “You mean no one told you?” She clarified, trying to suppress her growing discomfort and anger as a small growl rumbled in her wide throat.

“No,” I admit, still watching her avidly. A piece of me worried that I had committed an accidental foh-pah for this strange place I have found myself.

“Excuse me for a moment, will you?” She requests, with a faux but frog-like smile.

I nod in agreement but still don’t take my eyes off of her as she leans back and fixes her menacing gaze upon the grey-faced man from earlier.

“I’m gonna kill you, Mark,” she begins to shout, her face turning a light shade of pink that overtook her natural subtle green.

I follow her gaze to see ‘Mark’ still manning the bins and doing his best to ignore her, while still shooting nervous looks in her direction.

“It’s your job to tell 'em they’re dead,” she shouted more, watching him through tense narrowed eyes.

Dead? I thought to myself, it felt like ice had begun to run through my veins and I was frozen in place.

“I’m dead?” I asked in a barely audible whisper.

“Sorry, I thought he knew.” Mark called back in a not-at-all-convincing voice.

“I’m dead?” I repeated the question a little louder, looking at the frog-lady in shock and desperation.

“Yes dear, sorry to break it to you.” She muttered, avoiding eye contact with a guilty grimace. As she rummaged through a cabinet that suddenly appeared and began thumbing through for my name. “It says here that the cancer finally claimed you, you died in your home, asleep in bed.” She explained, still not looking up from the paperwork as she gave a nervous swallow.

“I see,” I reply, feeling even more numb and swallowing hard at my own understanding.

Her eyes fell upon the small book, I now clutched on to for dear life. Or lack thereof, I suppose.

“Now, let’s talk about your choice of Graveyard Book.” She cooed in an attempted soothing voice, “It looks like you weren’t much of a reader.” She commented with an empathetic glance, “Could I recommend something a little more substantial? Maybe ‘The Book for the Recently Deceased’?” She offered with a hopeful smile.

I pulled the book out from under my arm and looked at it once more, reading the title and author again. Oh, the Places You’ve Been by Dr. Snooze.

I smiled to myself as I ran a few fingers over my name on the front cover and I felt pride at the legacy I’d created.

Looking back to the frog-lady, “No thank you, as you’ve said. I’m not much of a reader.” I replied with a tear-filled smile.

“As you wish,” she agreed with a quizzical look that held a hint of admiration as she tucked a half smile in the corner of her long mouth. “Please step forward through that door and it will take you where you need to be.” She instructed, gesturing me forwards.

“Thank you,” I spoke and walked through the door into the next great adventure.

A Few Notes From The Author:

Firstly, I’d like to say thank you to L.C. Shafer for the idea, although you may not know that I had gotten the spark from you. Here is the story that gave me the idea for this in their notes from the author.

Secondly, some of my avid readers may have seen the nod to one of my other stories on Vocal “The Book for the Recently Deceased”. But if you haven’t read it and are at all interested, here is a link to said story:

Lastly and most importantly, THANK YOU to my readers and supporters! Without you, my stories that are so near and dear to my heart would be sitting unread for eternity. 💜

Short StoryMysteryHumor

About the Creator

Donna Fox (HKB)

Thank you for your support and feedback! 💚💙💜

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  1. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

  2. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

  3. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (37)

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  • Alexander McEvoy9 months ago

    The next great adventure part was my favourite I think it blends really nicely with the idea that the narrator was proud of what they’d left behind. Also the description of the dead woman before them in the line mixed horror with polite confusion really nicely :)

  • Grz Colm10 months ago

    Nifty idea!!… “could I recommend something a little more substantial?” No fair, you are only allowed one book though. 😁

  • Lamar Wiggins11 months ago

    I loved the tie—in that the title suggests. Your attention to details is amazing. And congrats!!!

  • Abby Kay Mendonca11 months ago

    Ooohhh! I loved this. I’m so glad you read my poem or I never would’ve found your page! I can’t wait to read more

  • ThatWriterWoman11 months ago

    I ADORE this! I read it and went away to think about it afterward! I love the atmosphere you create describing the strange new environment he finds himself in. I love the twist that it is his book. I love how you carried the phrase 'not much of a reader' throughout. I love it!! This is a truly impactful piece with an engaging story. Well done Donna!

  • Very good article

  • Mariann Carroll11 months ago

    Congratulations on top story 🥰🥰🥰

  • Heather N King11 months ago

    The captivating storytelling and unique blend of fantasy and mystery kept me hooked from start to finish. Well done!

  • Really liked this one Donna. Especially when I realized he wrote the book. I've been pretty busy this week so I was excited to see you've got a couple new stories up here!

  • Heather Hubler11 months ago

    Ahh, I enjoyed that! I loved how you tied the book in, so clever and heartwarming. A wonderful story :) Congratulations on Top Story!

  • Congratulations on your Top Story😉💖✨🎉🎉

  • Charlotte Flores11 months ago

    👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 Unexpected tale Wow !! What a story Donna !!! Congratulation for having this pen and mind 😍

  • Mackenzie Davis11 months ago

    It feels like a much bigger world wants to unfold from this. Maybe it will, or maybe it won’t, but this story is just so engaging and fun!

  • J. S. Wade11 months ago

    Intriguing tale. I love it 😍. Congratulations 🥇

  • Test11 months ago

    Congrats on top story :)

  • Serhat Köse11 months ago


  • Brenton F11 months ago

    That was amazing! Very well written!

  • Naomi Gold11 months ago

    Love this, Donna. My day job is being a nanny for a sweet little toddler girl. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! is part of our regular rotation of reads. And it’s so funny to me, the “not much of a reader” jabs. Because Seuss’s thin little books are bursting with wisdom. Oh, the places any great writer has been!

  • Gal Mux11 months ago

    Outstanding. A very intriguing story

  • Roy Stevens11 months ago

    Ahhh 👏👏👏 Congratulations on Top Story status Donna, it's well deserved!

  • hayaadnan11 months ago read mine too 🤞

  • hayaadnan11 months ago

    wow! this is nice :)

  • Mark Gagnon11 months ago

    Nicely done, Donna! I like your portrayal of how things work during the sorting phase of the afterlife. Congratulations on Top Story!

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