Grave Robber


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. When he did he almost screamed. "Clarence!" he said.

"Oh, you remember my name? Goody, goody," Clarence said, elbowing his way in. "Are any other memories starting to stir? Like where in the hell you're supposed to be? 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, staring. Clarence's jaw dropped. Then, turning to Wallace he said, "You're a sick man, Thom Wallace!"

"It's not what you think!"

"Sick! I'm not above a little body snatching when times are tight, I'll admit. But I take 'em to the university for dissectin'. I'm a patron of modern medicine, is what I am. But what you're doing is f filthy! Filthy and wrong!"

"Clarence, 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?".

"Sick! Sick!" Clarence said, backing out the door. "You and me are through. There'll be hell to pay for this, mark my words. Hell to pay!" And the old man turned and ran. Wallace watched him go. As soon as he closed the door 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."

"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...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 and a stiff drink 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," he said, but she didn't move. He tried to go around her but she stood in his way. "Get away, you old beggar, I've got nothing for you."

"My rings," said the old woman.

"No rings, no coins, no patience. Get!"

When he tried to pass again the woman grabbed him. Her hands were ice cold. Clarence saw a sunken blue face under her bonnet. His heart stopped when he realized he knew that face. The woman's icy fingers sank into his arm like claws. "Give me back my rings!" said Widow Whatley.

"No!" Clarence said, falling backward. 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.


"Grave robber!"

"Give it all back!"

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

"That doesn't matter," said Widow Whatley. "They were ours, and you stole them. You're worse than a thief, Archibald Clarence." They tore at him, ripping his coat with grasping hands.

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

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

The dead man smiled. All his teeth were black. "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. A sour smell greeted him. It was a cold night and the ground had been hard, but he was glad for the work he'd put in when he saw the watch chain still glittering in a skeletal hand. He reached for it.

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

"Yes, Mr. Wallace?"

The older man bent down by the graveside. It was a foggy night, and he was silhouetted against the blank gray curtain overhead. "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. He 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 hand raise and hold the chain out to him. He shrank back in horror but Mr. Wallace said, "Go ahead. Take it."

Shane's hands shook, but he snatched the chain up. The hand fell down again, and the corpse stayed still. 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: Always ask. 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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