Flash — “A Thousand Worms”

I work freeways, where thoughts slip pass like cars. It’s easier pulling over a Corolla. The only voices come from the car.

/ Where the hell is my registration? / Wait, I thought I was going the speed limit. / Stay calm, it’s just the tail light. /

Growing up, I thought I could be a librarian. Among books, thoughts turn slowly. People read well-tread passages like cars following a snow plow. But the librarians ruined it—their minds are violent. I could hear them from the aisles.

/ That goddamn madman couldn’t use the library’s search engine? / Where the hell is nonfiction again? / If she sneezes one more frigging time./ 

I thought I would be a coroner. The dead are silent, comfortable. The only sounds are the bubbles in their bodies and the murmur of mold. Even if people are thinking in the Great Beyond, it’s in the Great Beyond, not here.

But graveyards and morgues thunder with pain. From the living. The blubbering, the broken. Putting flowers by mother. Treating grass like its sacred.

/ She can’t be gone, she can’t be gone, she can’t be gone. / I should have known when I saw the bump on his neck. I should have known what it was. / It’s kind of a relief, you know? The house to myself. / 

The dead were silent.

Until recently.

Until I began to hear thoughts below. At Silver Meadows, nowhere else. Below the gray stones, quiet grass, are not whispers but screams with the volume turned down. Muted minds trapped in the agony of gas. Screeching at the rot and loss and encroaching wood.

Something has brought them back.

And I hear something else. Below the caravan of coffins. Something deep, blocking that man-sized door to the next life. Like the murmur of a thousand worms.

And I’m starting to think I’ll have to get a shovel and dig it up. Because if I wait, if I don’t kill that buried thing, I might end up softer than the living, shrieking at the squirming things.