A short story I am working on. Don’t know where it’s going yet.
A Coffin for Two
The little brass bell dances up and down at the opening of the door. I sigh to myself as the young couple—they’d been drinking—make their staggering way to the front desk, my desk. They hold onto each other and wiggle their noses together.
Without looking at me she says, “Coffin for two, please.” She giggles and jumps, playfully slapping the man’s shoulder. There is a sign on my desk and it clearly directs costumers to write their names in the ledger. We even have a pen for the costumer’s convenience. In thirty years no one had ever just followed the sign, let me hand them their key, and then parted ways.
I move the ledger closer to them, and point at one of our rooms. She takes the pen, and as he kisses her neck she twists, shivering and smiling at his tickling lips. Scrawling her name she passes the pen to the man. He’s moved on to her ear now, doesn’t even look at the paper he’s scribbling over. He whispers something to her.
“Do you have room—ah, quit it!” she shouts laughing. “Do you have room service?”
I reach under the desk and hand her a menu. They look it over.
“The Italian,” she says.
“I was thinking Chinese,” he says. There is, of course, no Chinese on the menu. He seems to realize this, looking at each entry carefully. “Uh,” he stammers, “you decide my little blood pudding.”
She does that sort of smile a woman does, the one where they curl their lips inward and stick out just a bit of their tongue. His arm is around her waist now, and he begins pulling her a little side to side.
“I’d like the Italian,” she says, beaming.
A musical chiming plays behind me. Looking over to the clock, I point to the sign under it. There are ten minutes before daybreak. Her expression changes, dropping a moment. She whispers into his ear. Snatching the key from my hand the pair begin a sort of playful race to the staircase, tugging at each other as they go along. Out of my sight I hear her shrieking with delight, followed by the fluttering of leathery wings.
I ring up the butcher, give him the order, “an Italian for two,” he talks, “Room six,” I hang up. When I was alive this sort of thing would have fascinated me, I loved the macabre. That’s probably how I got here, though I don’t really remember.
My joints begin to make an audible creaking as the rising sun dispels the dark magic holding me to this world. Sitting back, cobwebs begin to form over me as my dried flesh melts to dust. The new hire, one of those zombies that seem to be everywhere nowadays, moans his way toward the front door. He’s a little slow, but manages to set the lock properly.
I don’t think zombies are stupid at all, just slow and clumsy, yes, and inarticulate. But in our line of work, you don’t really need to talk. Theodor, puts headphones on top of his head. He complained to me about not being able to handle earbuds, couldn’t quite manage getting them in, but he seems happy with these.
I can hear his brainless music, a repetitive baseline married to indiscernible lyrics, from here. A ghost possesses a feather duster and begins removing my cobwebs. I hear the shuffling of mail being sorted to their distinct boxes. A letter is thrown onto my desk. It reads, “To my Billy Bones.”
I would have shuddered, had I been able. Even now her perfume wafted toward me from the pink envelope. A skull was imprinted on the seal. I dreaded what would happen next. My standing order was to have my mail read to me when I was in this state. If it had come in the midnight post I would have thrown it away.
The monkey-like gremlin crawls onto the top of my desk and break the seal.
Update: A Coffin for Two (Continued)