Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chapter 45: Earl Is Pulled Below

Thurs, November 19, 2074 10:12 pm: Arbormoor Forest- Arbormoor, Pleasantview

Whenever anyone asked Earl about why he had gotten into his line of work, he was always quick to cite the advantages- His hands were too calloused to draw splinters. The ruined muscles in his back and shoulders made him appreciate a good rest better than the average man. And after twenty-five years of digging graves, he'd become well accustomed to the idea that death does, in fact, come to us all. It was not a distant threat or even an occasional musing. It was the weight that taxed his aging arms and blanched his straining knuckles. It was the deep red clay that never seemed to wash from his work clothes. It was the moment when he stood eye-level with the ground. He was more than ready for death. He was immersed in it.


James clapped his palms against the front of his overalls, summoning great clouds of dust and coughing wildly as that same dust filled his lungs.

"You alright," Earl inquired, gripping his hips and stretching.

"Yeah, I'm fine. I'm fine." James wiped his nose with the ragged back of his gloved hand. The work was playing havoc with his health but like Earl, he had a family to feed. James leaned his rake against a wooden marker.

Earl's eyes grazed over the growing number of crates that littered the forest floor, each housing the delicate remains of children that died around the time his father was born. If these children had been Residents, they would not have spent the past eighty years anonymously heaped into a mass grave in a derelict garden. It was beyond sickening. It was inhuman.


"I'm gonna pack-up and head home. You leaving here before sunrise?" Earl folded his arms over his chest and nodded affirmatively.

"I'll be outta here soon. I just want to make sure that everything is set for tomorrow. How many more bodies we got coming in from the Tellerman place?"

"Two more teenaged kids tomorrow." Earl absently kicked a rock that was embedded deep in the ground, thinking of his own thirteen-year-old daughter at home.

"Shame, ain't it," Earl said quietly.

"It sure is," James responded. Earl smoothed his moustache between his thumb and forefinger.


"So I'll see you early tomorrow," Earl asked.

"Yep. Don't work too hard out here."

"You know I won't. Have a good night, James."


"You do the same."

Earl watched as James's red and white striped torso disappeared into the trees. A low wind blew, carrying dead leaves as it went. They tumbled over the toes of Earl's boots and he thought that they looked like horses galloping across a hillside. He scratched his balding head and began to make an about-face when he heard a twig snap to his left. He turned reflexively in the direction of the sound. What met his gaze made him subconsciously question his vision.


There was a young man perched on the edge of a coffin, his shoulders hunched. Earl was momentarily at a loss for what to say or even think. He should have heard this guy coming. Or seen him. Or something. Earl's fascination went just as quickly as it came only to be replaced by annoyance. Just when he thought that his night was over, some nut-job hiker decided that it was ok to use a coffin as a chair.

"Buddy, what do you think you're doing?" The man on the coffin did not even stir. But when he spoke, his words dispersed through the air like raindrops on the ocean.


"Where are you putting her?" His voice was quivering and plaintive. Earl's eyes darted over the coffin beneath the intruder. How this guy knew that there was a woman inside and more importantly, why he cared was confusing enough to silence Earl. When Earl failed to reply, the intruder slowly shook his head.


"You can't put her here," he said quietly. It was something very akin to a plea. This man was deranged. It was as simple and as infuriating as that.

"Listen, I don't know what kind of sick freak you are but-"


Earl was cut-off when the intruder leapt up from the coffin and landed on his feet. Replaying the instant in his mind, Earl realized that this man did not so much jump as fly. Earl couldn't breathe. He couldn't move. It became a fierce act of determination just to keep his bladder in check. What he had just witnessed was impossible.


The intruder took one step forward and Earl took several quaking steps back. Earl could not even begin to guess at what this man was but his entire body shook like a hare cornered by a fox. He was torn between an instinct to flee and an inclination to keep the intruder in his field of vision. Ultimately, he decided that there was really only one choice.


In the time that it took Earl pivot his body in the opposite direction, the intruder was upon him. He seized Earl by the shoulder, spinning him around so that their noses were almost touching. Earl had spent the better half of his life staring out of empty graves, peering between blades of grass like an insect. Now, he felt as though something had taken hold his ankles, insistent on pulling him under. The ground was slipping above Earl's head and all that lay below was darkness.


  1. The poor guy :(

    People are dying at the Tellermans'? Oh my. I wonder whose coffin that is. Kvornan definitely cares, so... hmmm... hopefully it wasn't Ermengarde? That's all I can think of right now, but then again, I'm having a reeeeeally slow day.

  2. Oh no, no one is currently dying at the Tellerman's! I'm sorry that was confusing. Let me take you back to Chapter 19:

    The Tellermans have a burial plot in their backyard left over from the previous owners (the Tricous) and the graves are being re-located. There were a number of unmarked graves, plus the graves of the two Tricou children (Fricorith and Gvaudoin) and the grave of Rainelle Neengia (points to banner), who worked at the House. Fricorith and Gvaudoin were moved to the family plot at Gothier Green Lawns. The rest of the bodies (all Townie teenagers) are basically being dumped in the woods. Rainelle is in the coffin that Kvornan was sitting on. But this continues into the next chapter.

    So Ermengarde is not dead! She's fine. We'll see her in 47.

  3. Ohhh!! Whew! I was thinking the same thing as Van! I was like...what? Who died! *nods head* Good to know it;s not Ermengarde. But then...

    why doesn't Kvornan Rainelle to be put there? And if he kills the grave digger won't he have to find a grave to dig himself?

    Poor man! Just doing his job!

  4. Why doesn't Kvornan want Rainelle put there? He'll answer that question in the next chapter. Actually, 46 will answer a lot of questions. Questions like , "What is a Sheut?" "How did Kvornan become a vampire?" and "Why doesn't Kvornan want Rainelle buried in Arbormoor?" You know, little questions. :p

    If he kills the gravedigger then I imagine that he will just leave the body there and walk away. He would gladly bury Rainelle himself if he could but I don't think that he could move the coffin without being seen.

    I don't know if you guys want to go back and skim through Chapter 19. It's not just a fight over J.L. Dina recounts some important history there.

  5. OH CRAP! Me three! I freaked, I thought it was Ermengarde too. I totally remember that scene now though. Maybe you should have had Earl say something about digging bodies up again or how they ought to be left where they lie or something, I would have made the connection then. Or maybe it's just been too long since we read it. I was thinking there was a massacre or something and this was how we were learning about it. :-D

    This next chapter is looking mighty interesting...

    And now I have that Dave Matthews Gravedigger song in my head. :-o (Which is OK because it's awesome.)

  6. It's so funny to me that you guys all thought of Ermengarde. She doesn't even know the Tellermans! But I guess she is the only kid we know of with the sort of health problems that could seemingly lead to death. I might have to re-think this chapter... See where I can slip in the fact that these kids have been dead since the mid to late 1990's.

    But yeah, if there were a massacre, I would show it!

    Yikes... This puts ideaz in my head. I kinda think that Alexei is going to want to make up for lost time with Kvornan and that might involve a killing spree. And while that sort of thing isn't really Kvornan's style, he does get to be a little scary under Alexei's influence. *shudders*

    Wait- Dave Matthews has a song about a gravedigger? That's one of those bands that I like but that my boyfriend will not listen to under any circumstances. So as a consequence, I haven't listened to them in ages!

  7. Well, good to hear it's not Ermengarde. *runs off to reread Chapter 19*

  8. "Earl's eyes grazed over the growing number of crates that littered the forest floor, each housing the delicate remains of children that died around the time his father was born. If these children had been Residents, they would not have spent the past eighty years anonymously heaped into a mass grave in a derelict garden. It was beyond sickening. It was inhuman."

    I hope that helps. Also, I discovered a photographic blooper while I was writing that paragraph. *whistles innocently*

    I fixed it though.

  9. I was shocked for a while before realising Ermengarde had no connection with the Tellermans.
    I wonder why so many dead townie children? Disease or some strange circumstances?

  10. Oh no Karen, not you too!

    I suppose there is just a growing sense that something terrible is going to happen to Ermengarde. I wonder if any of my characters have that same sense.

    But the circumstances surrounding their deaths were indeed strange. Very strange.

  11. No matter how they died, the whole mass grave thing is really creepy. I guess because the whole caste system is. It's just bugging me more and more. (I know, I'm one to talk.) Mass graves are so dehumanizing, as Earl was thinking. Bodies just being dumped in there. :-( Ugh. Are we going to find out how those kids died in the next chapter, along with every other major plot line in the entire story?

  12. *enlightened* This chapter makes sense now:

    What a lucky random pick for my reread :)

  13. Lothere:

    If you can imagine, the social divide was much worse in the 1990's than it is in the 2070's for a number of social, political and ideological reasons. Mortimer Goth, for instance, would have grown-up viewing Townies like livestock. Even in the present day, if a Townie is murdered or something along those lines, the police don't normally tend to do very in-depth investigations. You'll get to see that in action later in the story. Unfortunately.

    The next chapter is from Kvornan's perspective and at the time of the flashback, he didn't know about the mass grave. In fact, Kvornan didn't find out about it until tonight when he went to visit Rainelle's grave and found that the Tellermans had dug-up the entire backyard.

    He did, however, know about one of the teenagers in the grave and he will disclose that person's cause of death in the next chapter. And it is safe to say that the bodies in the mass grave all died the same way.


    Oh yeah, 28 is a good chapter to go to for puzzle pieces. Roan fills in some important gaps there but I wouldn't take his story as gospel- Some of it was just speculation. And some of it was embellished by Roan himself. That kid is a total ham.

    However if you go back to 35, you'll find that at least some of his story is confirmed fact:

    And actually, you might want to take a peek at 35 anyway before I post 46. I'm just say'n. ;)