Grave Robber


Her fingers wrapped around him. He grunted. "That might be a lot to ask," he said.

"All sorts of things are returning unexpectedly tonight," she said. "I think we're due for one more."

She ran a hand up and down the length of him, and he sucked his breath between his teeth. She laid a hand on his forehead and told him to relax. He closed his eyes and tried not to think too hard. She tightened her grip and started to pump him with her fist. He was still wet from her body, and her hand slid around him easily. She circled two fingers around the tip and tugged, once, twice, three times, and he felt himself stiffening, a dull throb starting at the base and moving up.

"There we are," she said. "See? You don't give yourself enough credit."

She swung one leg over him and pressed him between her thighs. He tried to sit up but she pushed him back down again. "Just relax," she said, positioning herself over him and then pushing down. They came together again. She rocked back and forth on him, her fingers digging into his bare shoulders.

Wallace cupped her breasts and squeezed them as she rode up and down. She leaned over far enough for his mouth to reach one, and he licked a wet circle around one nipple. She gasped and he did it again with the other. She wiggled her hips back and forth, and braced herself against the wall to push down on him harder. He sucked one breast into his mouth, pushing the firm nipple against his teeth. She moaned.

April pushed back and forth on him, and tiny electric jolts ran up his body. He'd only been with two women before, and only one he'd really enjoyed, but April showed an exuberance even she hadn't. He could tell that she was thinking about nothing else except the feeling of him inside of her, and he tried to block everything out of his mind too. Now and then an image of the graveyard swam into his mind, but he pushed it all back.

April sighed and murmured. "Do you know, I think I feel more alive now than I ever have. What do you--"

She stopped.

"Someone's at the door."

He looked. "There's no one."

"I saw him trying to look into the windows."

Wallace saw no one, but to reassure her he went and opened the door. "Clarence!" he said.

"Oh, you remember my name? Goody, goody. Are any other memories starting to stir, like where in the hell you're supposed to be?"

Clarence pushed him out of the way and came in, taking off his hat with one hand and shoving his pipe in Wallace's face with the other. "I told you three hours. Oh, you're on thin ice now, very, very thin ice!"

"I can explain," said Wallace. "Something has happened."

"Unless that something is that you've forgot how to tell time or walk out of your own damn house then I don't give a rat's ass. I think you're going to be in for--"

Clarence stopped. He saw April. She lay on the bed, sheet wrapped around her body, breasts exposed, staring. Clarence's jaw dropped.

"You--" he said, turning to Wallace, mouth working but not able to speak for a moment. "You're a sick man, Thom Wallace!"

"It's not what you think!"

"Sick! Sick, I tell you, sick! Now, I'm not above a little body snatching when times are tight, but I take 'em to the university labs. I'm a patron of modern medicine is what I am. But what you're doing is wrong, boy, filthy and wrong!"

"You don't understand: She's alive!" He looked at April. "Tell him! Show him what happened."

April said nothing. She didn't move. Her expression did not change.

"April?" said Wallace.

"Sick! Sick!" said Clarence, backing out the door. "Don't you come near me! There'll be hell to pay for this in the morning. Hell to pay!"

The old man turned and ran. Wallace watched him go. As soon as he closed the doo April sat up.

"Was that your partner?" she said.

Wallace looked at her. "Why didn't you say something to him?"

"I was embarrassed," she said, pulling the sheets up over her breasts. "I was naked and a strange man burst in."

Wallace hung his head. "Don't you see? He's going to fetch the law, or worse."

April shook her head. "I don't think he will."

"Why not?"

"Well, when I got out of my coffin I didn't know where to find you. I'm not from around here you know. So I woke a few people to ask if anyone knew you."

"We have to leave before--" Wallace stopped. "Wait. What do you mean, woke a few people up?"

April knitted her brow. "Actually, it was quite a lot of people..."


Clarence's knees were killing him, but he didn't slow down. He wanted to get to the inn as fast as possible. A night like this called for drinking. A stooped old woman blocked his path and he raised his walking stick. "Out of the way, you hag," he said.

"My rings," said the old woman.

Clarence stopped. "What's that?"

The woman picked her head up. Clarence saw a sunken blue face under her bonnet. His heart stopped. The woman reached out with fingers like claws. "Give me back my rings!" said Widow Waitly.

"No!" Clarence said, falling backwards. He tried to crawl away but something pinned his arm to the street. It was a black cane, which had once had a silver head, now missing.

"Evening, Clarence," said Judge Harper.

There were more of them, all around him, people with pale faces and glassy eyes and grasping, outstretched fingers. They formed a circle.

"My watch!" said one.

"My locket!" said one.

"My gold tooth!" said another.

They corralled him into an alley.


"Grave robber!"

"Give back what you took!"

"Give it back! Give it back!"

"No, no, no!" screamed Clarence. "I don't have it anymore! It's all gone, it's spent! And what were you going to do with it anyway? What good does it do you now?"

"That doesn't matter," said Widow Waitly. "They were ours, and you stole them. You're a thief, Archibald Clarence! Thief, thief, thief!" They tore his coat with grasping hands.

"What's that you say, Clarence?" said Judge Harper. "Can't pay your debts? The law goes hard on a man who can't pay his debts."

The judge took Clarence's hat and put it on his own head, then grinned. His teeth were black. Clarence went to his knees and grabbed the tail of the judge's coat. "Have mercy on me, Your Honor! I'm a poor old man, and I swear I've learned the error of my ways."

"It's too late for that," said the judge, pulling Clarence up with a moldering hand. "You'll have to pay your dues, now."

Clarence trembled. "What are you going to do?"

The judge pushed Clarence until against a lamppost. Something gleamed in the center of his dead eye. "I always said I'd see you hang before I died, Clarence.

"Better late than never."


Shane put his shovel down and pried open the coffin lid. A sour smell greeted him, and he saw the old man, withered away to bones but with the watch chain still in his hand. He reached for it.

"Wait," said a voice. Shane looked up.

"Yes, Mr. Wallace?"

The older man bent down by the graveside. "You can't just take it. There are rules."

Shane frowned. "What kind of rules?"

In answer, Mr. Wallace's wife slid down into the grave next to Shane. She was a strange woman, very beautiful but very pale, and he swore sometimes that her feet never quite touched the ground. Mrs. Wallace put her face right next to the dead man's skull. Shane thought she was whispering, but he couldn't hear what was said. Then there was a rustling sound, and, eyes wide, Shane saw the dead man's skeletal hand lift up, holding out the chain.

"Go ahead, boy," said Mr. Wallace. "Take it."

Shane's hands shook. He was trying to remember the words to a prayer, any prayer, but it had been a long time since he'd needed one.

"Take it," Mr. Wallace said again.

Shane snatched the chain, and the hand fell back down. Mr. Wallace helped him out of the grave and Mrs. Wallace was out too, though he hadn't seen her climb up. Mr. Wallace clapped him on the shoulder.

"That's a lesson I learned when I was your age," he said, brushing dirt off of Shane's coat. "You can't just take whatever you want from the dead: You always have to ask first. The dead don't put much value by gold and jewels, but what they do value is respect. And they have long memories." Mr. Wallace jabbed a finger in Shane's face. "Keep that in mind: The dead remember."

Mrs. Wallace looked at him, and Shane couldn't help but shiver.

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