Barnaby Taylor, Terminal Transit (2017)

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Terminal Transit, Book IV, Verse II

The second problem with the Million was the anger they brought with them from beyond the grave. These particular undead were not driven by a lust for living flesh but were rather animated by the need to confront the people who had buried them and thereby confined them to an eternity in the grave. Though he was now way past being shocked by anything that was happening Mac paled the morning he woke up to find Sibeal standing shrieking in Front Square. Her corpse seemed remarkably well preserved for someone who had been buried for forty-odd years and knowing that he had no choice Mac got dressed and went down to speak to ‘her’.

‘So there you are at last!’ Sibeal shrieked. ‘I’ve waited a long time to have this out with you.’

Mac was stunned.

‘You are dead, Sibeal,’ he said, ‘and were it not for some infernal cosmic will, you and your new kind would have stayed that way forever more.’

Sibeal’s rotten face formed a partial smirk.

‘So now the truth is out,’ she snarled. ‘You couldn’t wait to get rid of me and now I’m back you want me to go again.’

‘But that simply is not true, my dear,’ said the widower. ‘The day you left me I thought that my life would end also.’

Sibeal interrupted.

‘But it didn’t, did it?’ she said. ‘Mine did, and that of our son, but yours didn’t. How fair is that?’

‘Fair?’ asked Mac. ‘What do you mean by fair? What’s fair about losing your wife and child in the same dreadful moment?’

‘You always were a selfish man,’ croaked Sibeal. ‘Always focused on yourself and your silly research. I bet you have never once put yourself in my shoes and wondered what it would be like to be dead, have you?’

Sibeal raised a rotten fist to Mac’s face.

‘The guilt of leaving loved ones behind pales very quickly in the face of an eternity of resentment about a life ended early.’

Sibeal began to shout.

‘All us dead are always angry. All we know is stolen time forever more.’

For every hour since the day she left him Mac had wanted Sibeal to come back to him and help rebuild his broken heart but now she was back the way she was he simply couldn’t bear her being around him and longed for her to return to the grave.

‘After all these years,’ Sibeal continued, ‘I care very little for your loss as it is nothing compared to things that I was forced to relinquish the day I died. You still had your future even if you chose not to see things that way. Me, I lost my everything.’

Mac didn’t reply. How could he? There simply were no words to counter Sibeal’s undead anger, an anger that had festered in her rotting heart for the last forty years beneath the headstone Mac had lovingly chosen for her. But buried no more, Sibeal’s anger was now the energy that coursed through her broken veins and caused her worm-filled mouth to speak.

‘Enough,’ said Mac at last. ‘Stop your keening and your crying. The simple truth of the matter is that I have spent every lonely minute of my life from the day I lost you wishing you were back here with me; beside me at night, smiling when I come home, walking with me in the city. But now that you are here before me again I wish you had never come back. The dead are not supposed to feel angry about being dead, they are not supposed to feel anything ever again, they are simply supposed to be dead. It is only these cursed cosmic interlopers who have upset the world’s natural rhythm and caused poor lost souls like yourself to experience the very state that supposedly brings an end to all experiences.’

‘But what about the bloody bastard baby?’ shrieked Sibeal wildly. ‘The rotten fruit of your reeking loins.’

Mac reeled as he remembered how excited they both were the day Sibeal came home to tell him that she was expecting. They had been trying for ages and they were just resigning themselves to the fact that maybe one or both of them were infertile when Sibeal made her announcement.

‘This will complete us,’ said Mac as he drew Sibeal close to him. ‘This will make us whole.’

Her hair smelled amazing that day and the scent was something that had always stayed with him, even long after she had gone. But there was to be no completeness for either of them, nothing whole, only everything broken and empty, only nothing.

‘You had me buried with the baby, you bastard!’

Sibeal’s shrieking grew shriller.

‘A forever reminder of my life now ended as I was forced to cradle the cause of my death until it rotted to nothing in my angry arms.’

‘But that’s what I thought you would have wanted,’ said the tearful Mac. ‘It seemed …’

Mac’s voice trailed away as he realised that his justifying would simply serve to enrage the corpses of his dead wife even more. He knew that there simply be nothing he could say.

‘You thought! You thought! You thought of no one but yourself that day. I can picture you now, standing by the grave, selfish tears falling down your foolish face as the earth is dropped on my coffin. Then a hug and a handshake, a kind word here and a small drink there.’

As her anger boiled and boiled so small parts of the remaining flesh began to fall from Sibeal’s skull.

‘And all the while I just lay there, cradling my murderer for the rest of time. I bet not even one thought of how I was feeling crossed your mind.’

‘But how could it have?’ sobbed Mac. ‘You were dead and therefore not meant to feel anything any more.’

The hateful logic of Sibeal’s argument began to make him dizzy.

‘There is no sense to any of this,’ Mac said pitifully. ‘There is simply no sense at all.’

Sibeal began to beat her broken hands on his chest.

‘For you, maybe, but not for me,’ she shrieked. ‘I only knew the crawl of time as it pressed upon me and held me in place forever until that moment when I climbed free from the grave.’

She hit him harder.

‘I only knew the crawl of worms as my flesh fell away and I watched myself disintegrate until my eyes themselves were gone away and I could see no more only feel.’

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