Monsuta and Cashew sat waiting for only ten more minutes before the man, who owned the carriage that they were planning to ride, came out of a nearby house. He was steadily dragging a long, wooden box.
“Janardan, let me help you with that!” Monsuta called out as he jumped up to greet the man. Janardan was a short, old man with a long, grey beard and worn-out clothes. Nevertheless, at the pace with which he was managing the box, he looked to be quite sturdy from a life of hard labour. At first, the man recoiled when he heard Monsuta’s sudden shout, but then gave a small nod in thanks, and the two slowly carried the box up and into the back of the other’s unbroken carriage. Unlike Monsuta’s dark and relatively small vehicle, this one was made up of lightly-coloured wood and was so much larger, that it was attached to four, hazel and white, speckled horses, as opposed to Monsuta’s two black ones. Once the box was secured in the back, the two got into some sort of serious conversation that Cashew couldn’t quite make out from where he was sitting. By the time he decided to come up and hear better, Monsuta was already making his way back with his usual giddy smile on his face and gave two thumbs up.
“He said we can grab a ride with him since he has to transport some cargo into a small village past the woods we live in.” Monsuta then gestured to the crates of flowers on the ground, and both Cashew and Monsuta started loading them onto where the large box had gone earlier. Cashew stepped into the body of the carriage through a flap serving as a door at the back. He was reluctantly holding the crate of chrysanthemums (which had started this whole mess), when he noticed that there were about four other human-sized boxes stacked at the back. The inside was damp and poorly lit, as opposed to the carriage’s welcoming exterior. It was basically the opposite of Monsuta’s carriage, which had a haunting outer appearance whilst the inside felt comfortable. The space which Cashew was currently in made him feel uneasy, knowing that he would have to sit in here for the next hour and a half, and he even developed a small urge to go back into Monsuta’s carriage, which he had already got used to.
“So... by transporting cargo, do you mean...”
“Oh yes, I haven’t introduced you two yet! Janardan, meet Cashew- he’s a new worker of mine. And Cashew, this is Janardan. He is and old acquaintance of mine- the friendly neighbourhood undertaker; but not of this town, that’s why you don’t know him.”
“It’ naas to meet yer,” said Janardan in a grave and rugged voice, “ I nev’ thought da’ dis ol’ fellow raa’t hea wood ev’ let an’won b clos’ to ’im.”
With one final handshake, the three men mounted the carriage and started to set off and out of town. Already with droopy eyes, Monsuta feebly lifted a flap in the side that served as a curtain, and looked out onto the streets. Cashew could see that it was beginning to get dark, and the market people were already packing up for the day. Suddenly, Monsuta slapped himself in the face with both hands at full force, nearly making Cashew jump out of his skin.
“Janardan, stop the cart for a minute, will you?” Monsuta shouted out whilst desperately fighting his motion sleepiness. The carriage stopped and Cashew could only watch with wide eyes as Monsuta jumped out and ran off somewhere. What had the other seen outside? Or did he remember about the trap door in Cashews shop and suddenly have the urge to see what’s inside before they leave? (Did he suddenly regain his murderous instincts that run in his family and go out to kill someone? Kill Shirley and Merl?) This sudden and irrational thought made Cashew also jump up, but he was immediately pushed back down as someone from the other side of the flap rammed into him and knocked him over.
“Ouch, sorry, I remembered that I need to order a new carriage to be made for me by the next time I come back into town.” Monsuta said whilst rubbing his head. Cashew was about to go on a rampage on how this guy’s every move was making him go crazy, but as soon as Monsuta was inside, the carriage had started moving once again and the blonde fell asleep before Cashew could gather his thoughts. Left by himself, Cashew kicked one of the boxes that was placed next to him in order to vent out his annoyance, and angrily sat down facing away from the sleeping Monsuta.
He heard a slow, creaking sound from behind him and Cashew’s first thought was that he had woken Monsuta up with his racket. Still angry though, he made a silent vow with himself that for the rest of this month, Cashew was neither going to talk to or notice Monsuta no matter what the other wanted. Cashew then felt a weight on his body and, with his annoyance already overflowing, couldn’t help himself and spun around.
“Monsuta, I swear! I don’t care what you want, I don’t want to see you or- eeek!!” Cashew screamed like a little girl and his face immediately turned as pale as a ghost. About a centimetre away from him, stared back a skeleton head. The fact that it was staring right at Cashew made him loose all control and, in complete terror, he closed his eyes and flailed his arms wildly into all directions, whilst also jumping from foot to foot in a measly attempt to throw off the skeleton. One of its fingers was stuck onto a strap around Cashew’s waist and the brainless man did not realise this fact, instead idiotically continuing to dance with the bones. He thought that it was angry and possessed because he had kicked the skeleton’s coffin. Finally, it fell off when Cashew stumbled over one of Monsuta’s legs. A few moments passed where only the shacking of the carriage, and Monsuta’s light snores, could be heard. Still shaking and with heavy, irregular breaths, Cashew slowly forced himself to look around and noted that only a sleeping Monsuta and a swinging coffin door could be seen. But the corpse was nowhere to be found! He thought long and hard on whether or not all of the past 10 minutes were only a mocking collection of his imagination, but then a thought brought him running to the flap at the back of the carriage. When he lifted it up, he saw, with great disbelief, that the dead body was lying in the middle of the road where they had just driven past and was already beginning to disappear in the distance. Cashew unsteadily walked back to where he was sitting and was left wondering at what to do next. It seems that in his moment of annoyance he must have kicked open one of the coffins and when the body fell out, he panicked and accidentally pushed the skeleton off of his body and sent it flying out of the coach!
(Hmm what to do now though...) He looked at the empty coffin and then again over to the sleeping Monsuta. That’s it! He won’t wake up until the carriage stops moving and even after that, there’s no way he would be able to open the coffin from the inside. This is a chance for definite death!
With a grunt, Cashew lifted Monsuta and half pushed, half rolled him into the coffin. Looking around, he found that the skeleton had dropped a handkerchief, and he quickly covered Monsuta’s face with it. (This way if they take a look inside, they’ll see the handkerchief and think it’s the guy from before!) He then securely locked the lid shut. Pleased with himself, Cashew clapped his hands together in triumph, dusted himself off and sat back down. Looking around once again, he saw Monsuta’s book lying on the ground beside him and decided to read the rest of the bamboo book.
At first it was dark and stuffy. A few moments passed before a red glow lit up the space around him. Looking on in disbelief, a mound of dead bodies appeared and the air around him took the aroma of a butchers shop. Where there had once been smooth skin was now torn muscle and blood. Limbs lay in unnatural angles and he could see the white glint of bones sticking out. Upon looking at the crimson-sprayed walls, he felt something warm on his hands. Lifting them up for a closer inspection, he saw, that they were dark red and had fresh blood slowly oozing off of the tips of his fingers.
Monsuta woke up with a start; heart still pounding and mind full of gory images that he’d just seen moments ago. A long lost state of adrenaline flowed weakly through his veins, but as he continued to lay there, his breathing rate started to steady to his usual, unfeeling self. Noticing a stale scent of death, Monsuta took in a deep breath and calmed his excitement.
“Oh, how that smell brings back memories.”
He gave a small push against the wooden wall in front of him, but it was to no avail.
“This won’t do, I’m weaker than I thought I’d be.” With a sigh, he began to hum a broken tune and allowed his mind to reminisce of the life he used to have in order to muster up his strength. Another push against the wooden surface but once again it didn’t even shudder. Monsuta was beginning to wonder what he should do when suddenly, his heart felt like it was being pressed, which triggered a little cog in his body to let a trickle of alien substance mix with his blood. This feeling... could Cashew have found it? Monsuta couldn’t believe his fate and exploded into manic laughter.
“What was the saying? Curiosity killed the cat?” His heart beat 5 more times before Monsuta rammed his hands into the wall with inhuman strength, making the very hinges rip off as if they were paper and he sent the door of the coffin hurling a few feet into the air. Some dirt and pebbles which were thrown above also had gone flying in all directions, whilst others tumbled into the sudden hole. Monsuta got up and patted away the dust from his suit then, looking around, he noticed that he was in the middle of a graveyard. A person who had blood-shot eyes from hours of salty tears and who held flowers in her hands was kneeling beside a grave not far from Monsuta and was now trembling at the scene before her.
“Good evening miss,” Monsuta exclaimed cheerfully as he casually stepped out of the grave. “Would you please help and tell me where we are?”
The poor lady couldn’t utter a word and only managed to point a shaky finger at a sign which said Red Ranch Graveyard.
“Thank you very much!” Monsuta replied, with a coy smile. Then, the woman with the flowers nearly had a heart attack as the blonde’s body suddenly let out crackling noises and sizzled with mist, morphing into a monstrosity before the woman’s very eyes.
“What... are you?” The woman could barely ask.
Monsuta merely looked back, cruelly smirked and, without another utterance, disappeared into the night...