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The Telephone

By Michael Berry All Rights Reserved ©

Other / Other

Chapter 34

William made not a sound as he carried Sarah’s lifeless and bloody away from the forklift truck and out of the room, out rightly refusing any kind of help from the other scientists, aside from ordering one of them to reverse the forklift away.

William walked rather slowly as he carried her body, the scientists watching him go without making a single sound, not knowing what they were in his mind right now. He continued on, forcing himself to keep his gaze fixed on what was in front of him, rather than having to look down and see her pale face, drained of blood, the few spatters underneath her chin, her eyes closed off forever to life. He could sense the obvious lack of life inside her, the spark of existence, the endless perpetual motion of her countless organs inside her body. All of that was gone, forever, replaced by a hollow feeling, a sensation of emptiness, like carrying a large box and being able to sense that it was empty.
Not knowing exactly why, William forced back the tears that welled up like a raging ocean wave deep inside him.
Once he was a safe distance away, the scientists walked out themselves, carefully making sure not to distract him or make him irritant as they all entered the main dance- hall.
The hall was beginning to light up now, the pasty featureless whiteness of the early morning sky began to throw its pure white light across the hard smooth wood of the floor, a few squeaks and creaks of the expansion of the wood could be heard as the light brought them to life.
William walked up to the edge of the dance-hall and stopped as he reached the wooden fence-like structure that stretched from side of the room to another. He looked out over the horizon of blank, featureless sand and sand dunes, mixed in with the occasional small puddle of water. The thick ghost-like fog appeared yet again, drifting silently across the shadowy dunes in the distance, accompanied by the whistle of the wind and the constant stillness in the air. William looked past all of this, past the dunes and stared unrelentingly into the pure white sky hanging above. He began to cry, and then looked down at Sarah’s lifeless body in his arms, her head resting in the palm of his hand, her blood streaked arms hanging like pieces of string down to the floor. The scientists stayed away from him, whispering to each other of what he was doing and what would he do to them. William simply stood his ground, staring hard into Sarah’s closed eyes.

The group stood silently around a large object that seemed to hover above the ground in the old lakeshore Graveyard on the edge of the city, the icy cold breeze brushed past their quivering fingers and bare hands, the dense fog obscuring the bottom half of their bodies. Weeds and vines poked out like withered hands and bony fingers from the dusty, un-kept ground, gravestones and monuments of people long dead stood like meaningless pieces of rubble that were slowly crumbling to nothing, the few that still survived were almost engulfed by the thick concentration of simple wooden made gravestones of those killed in the plague that had the good fortune to be properly buried before everyone everywhere had died. The gravestones were awash with quick-made messages and names written in pencil and highlighter pens, decorated considerably with small toys, friendship bracelets, rings, necklaces, baby-sized shoes and fading photographs of children, babies and fully-grown adults, their faces fixed forever into expressions of joy, happiness and contentment. The engraved names and special messages of the older gravestones were all but gone completely from sight. Young and old, rich and poor, none of it made any difference, everyone’s monument here, shared the same indiscriminate wrath of the passage of time. William looked on in complete silence with a saddened expression on his face as he watched a couple of the scientists slowly lowering Sarah’s specially chosen and well-polished coffin into the specially made hole in the dusty old graveyard with long pieces of rope, the rest stood by a few feet away and watched with dirty shovels in their hands, nervously keeping an occasional glance at William.
None of them really wanted to be here with him, or be in the same presence as him. They all wanted to help in Sarah’s burial, to lay her to rest, even though he made them help regardless of what they thought or wanted. They all hoped that William didn’t hold them in ill feeling or worse still blamed them for her death and planned to take revenge, though they wouldn’t really blame him if he did suddenly jump from where he was and try to strangle them to death. They all hoped and prayed that he knew what they knew, that everything that happened to him and Sarah wasn’t their fault and that they were forced to do it under Oswald’s maniacal and life-threatening demand. They made sure not to give off the impression that they were all simply victims in all of it and didn’t deserve any kind of punishment, more that they were people that had done wrong, but wanted to be punished, wanted to find the right path to be better than they already were.
The two scientists finished lowering the coffin deep into the hole till it softly rested on top of the bone-dry earth. They carefully lifted the rope from the grave and dropped it a few feet from the grave. The scientists lowered their heads a little, more out of respect for William that actual praying. They occasionally glanced upward at him as they waited for him to tell them to start filling her in. But, he simply stood beside the grave, unflinching and unmoving, not making a single fraction of movement, he simply stood there and gazed down with a blank pale expression at the polished and varnished coffin in the darkened grave.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternal and agonised wait from the scientists as they wondered what would happen next, William motioned with his hand for them to fill in the grave. They all immediately followed his order and each one of them picked up a shovel and began to fill in the grave with dry ash-like soil and dirt. William closed his eyes for a moment and walked away toward the rickety and rotting picket fence that circled the graveyard, the scientists watched him go and exchanged a few whispers.
William stood by the fence, his left hand resting on one of the pickets, his eyes resting on the large four-wheeled car a few feet away on the other side of the road, partly obscured by the fog that drifted silently across it like a veil.
A deep surge of anger and hatred burned fiercely inside him, it gradually grew and grew in power and intensity and he knew it wasn’t a blind anger that was directed to anything or anyone. He knew full well who it was directed to.
But, no matter how much his mind screamed to him to do it, telling him that it would remove the splinter of pain and anguish and resentment from him and would make him feel a lot better, the tiny spark of free will still managed to find a foothold in his head as all around him demons chewed away at his senses. He knew full that everything that had happened wasn’t their fault, that they were under Oswald’s merciless tyrannical demands. He had worked under Oswald too, he had seen over the years that he knew him how far he would go to get everything he wanted exactly how he wanted it to be. Yet, despite everything he had watched him do, he never once imagined that he would kill, maim and destroy to get something. He supposed that he must have gone insane never being satisfied by what he had, even after the things he had done to get them. In his mind, he imagined that the world of the dead would somehow offer him immortality, absolute power, freedom from the world and everything that had held him back in the past, all of it made him snap and go over the edge.
William resisted the temptation to feel sorry for Oswald and regard as someone who was suffering. Perhaps, in his own way after he went mad, he was in some way feeling pain what with his mind completely lost all sense of civilised behaviour. To an ignorant person, that would most likely be completely true, but William knew him before that had happened and he knew he wasn’t a person who deserved to be sympathised over and felt sorry for.
He thought back to the moment he died, when just before she died, Sarah had summoned up enough strength to shoot at Oswald just before she died. He found himself feeling a little wronged by Sarah, feeling that he somehow deserved to kill Oswald himself rather than her after all that he had put him through. But, he thought of the pain that Sarah was going through that he could only imagine. She was somehow cursed with the ability to see and communicate with the spirits after listening to The Telephone and had to endure it while searching for the spirit of her father through the myriad of voices and spirits that continually screamed messages to her, driving her mad with fear and unending noise and interruptions.
He knew that whatever he was feeling about the act itself, Sarah was most likely the one who really deserved to kill Oswald.
He turned round and watched as the scientists continued to fill in Sarah’s grave, their long white coats thick with dirt, sweat and stains gathered over the past few days.
William watched them as he wondered what to do with them. He knew he wasn’t going to hurt them or take any kind of revenge, nothing would come of it anyway. He imagined that they probably wouldn’t want to stay in the city and wanted to get away somewhere and forget all of this that had happened. William wasn’t sure whether he would go with them, he wasn’t sure of anything anymore, his mind overlapped and changed shape as it struggled to put itself in correct order. He decided to let what he would do next lie for the moment as he pondered it himself.
The scientists finished filling in the grave and relaxed themselves on top of the shovels in their hands, slowly exhaling and inhaling to gather their strength back. One of the female scientists stood behind the small monument of the grave and read aloud a burial passage from a small withered edition of the Bible. William walked toward the grave and they all immediately shot back up to a sharp and erect standing position, keeping their worried eyes fixed onto Williams face. William inspected the grave and then glanced over to the makeshift gravestone at the head of the grave. No one had the know-how or skills to carve something out of a marble or stone monument and so decided to use a few pieces of reject coffins. A message was scrawled awkwardly into the hard polished wood of the monument:


Another message was etched underneath, William smiled with pride as he read it to himself.


William looked up as he saw one of the scientists break away from the huddled and nervous group and tentatively step forward, an obvious shaking of his shoulders could be seen. He recognised them immediately as Sol Neaps. He had obviously been pushed into talking to William by the rest of the group, possibly because they couldn’t stand to wait any longer for what they imagined was inevitably going to happen to them.
“Erm, sorry, but,” he said through a quivering mouth. “But, what do you plan to do with us. I know we don’t, um, have any right to be just let off, but we’d just like to know what you intend to do to us.”
William gave a slight smile at the corner of his mouth and looked back down at Sarah’s grave.
“Go on,” he said simply in a quiet tone. “You can go, I’ve nothing against you, I know it wasn’t your fault. But, right now, I think I want to be alone. So, you can just leave to wherever it is you’re planning to go.”
The scientists looked at each other in a mixture of stunned silence, hope and nervousness. A few were ready to simply run as fast as they could before he changed his mind, but they remained when they saw that Sol was still stood beside William.
“Are you sure you won’t come with us,” Sol asked. “We were planning on getting the hell away from here and settling somewhere where there might be more people. You’re welcome to come with us if you-”
“No, that’s okay.” William said suddenly. “You can go on, I’m gonna’ stay here. Thanks for the burial and what you said.”
Sol nodded, as well as a few others who desperately wanted to get away quickly.
Sol gave William a quick wave as he walked backwards and followed the other scientists as they walked out of the graveyard and onto the ground before slowly disappearing through the thick veil of fog.
William breathed in a deep sigh as he watched them disappear completely from sight then looked back at Sarah’s grave. He reached into his pocket and took out a small cardboard cut-out of a pink Cadillac. He smiled a little at the sight of it and placed it on top of the mass of dirt that covered her coffin. He looked back up and noticed the long rope use to lower the coffin that lay beside the grave settling beside a tall withered old tree. He walked over and picked it up and began to study it, wondering how best and how quickly to make a noose from the rope.
He looked up at the featureless milky-white sky and with his last thought he said:
We don’t belong here, now. This world belongs to the dead.

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