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Final Judgment: Horror Flash Fiction by cam

Updated on November 9, 2017
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Chris has written more than 300 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.

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The Urn

Bob Lawson tossed five ones and a twenty onto the unmade bed of his extended-stay hotel room. He undressed and dropped the clothing into a pile.

“Cheap bastard.” He shook fish food into a bowl. Hiram, his pet goldfish, nibbled at the flakes as they drifted toward the opaque marbles on the bottom. “Sure wasn’t worth all the trouble I went to breaking into that smelly, old mausoleum.” He had thought the urn would fetch him a few hundred bucks, but the clerk at the pawn shop claimed it was nothing special.

He lay his head on the pillow. Light from the street shined through the window, illuminating Hiram’s bowl.

Hiram the Goldfish

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“So I’ve been reduced to robbing graves in church cemeteries. Beats getting a job I guess.” He closed his eyes and saw the black interior of the mausoleum. Anybody with a grave that size must have had some money, was what he had thought at the time. “Twenty-five bucks,” he muttered as he drifted off to sleep.

The red LED lights of the bedside clock hurt his eyes, but he could still make out that it was a little after 2:00 am. The mausoleum continued to haunt his memory. He had broken the lock with a crowbar and entered. Nine crypts stood end to end around the perimeter of the room. A tenth was positioned in the center on which the urn stood. Bob had simply grabbed the urn, looked inside, dumped the ashes on the floor and ran out. He hadn’t been inside for more than a minute.

He glanced at Hiram’s bowl. Tiny lights swam around like fluorescent guppies. “What the hell.” Bob rolled off the bed and walked toward the fishbowl. Hiram was floating on his side, slowly turning with the current created by the swimming lights.

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Bob stumbled backward. His feet got tangled in the discarded clothing, and he landed on his back. One of the tiny lights rose out of the water with the fish following it into the air above the bowl. Bob grabbed his clothes, climbed to his feet, and headed for the door. Hiram’s wet, limp body struck him on the forehead and fell to the worn carpet.

A single light drifted toward him. Human features formed within the glow. Nose to nose it pondered flesh and blood it had once known. The other lights joined the specter but retained their miniature form. Male and female spoke in an airy vocalization.

“Where is it?”

Bob backed away from the congregation of souls that pressed in on him.

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The lights circled the room in single file, then scattered. Clothing flew from the closet along with storage boxes and shoes. Blankets landed in a heap on the floor. Dresser drawers dumped their contents into piles and smashed themselves against the walls.

Bob curled into a fetal position on the floor and looked up to the one who had taken form.

“What do you want from me?”

Silence struck as suddenly as the storm had begun.

“The Urn,” they sang, in chorus.

“I don’t have it. It’s at the pawn shop.”

“Take us there," said the visible spirit.

“The pawn shop is closed. It’s the middle of the night."

“You had no trouble entering our mausoleum in darkness. Go now. We will follow.”

Bob drove in the direction of the pawn shop. He mashed the accelerator down hard and sped forward.

The spirit took form again outside his window and pressed its face through the glass. “You truly are a fool."

Bob parked a couple of blocks from the pawn shop and walked the rest of the way down a dark alley with tiny lights floating about his head. Along the way, he picked up a stone. “What about the alarm?” he said. “The police will come.”

“Do you fear the authorities more than the dead?”

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Bob smashed the glass in the rear door and reached inside to turn the deadbolt. The spirit lights shot through like an arrow ahead of him and found the urn within seconds. Bob was already back in his car before the sirens could be heard in the distance.

He drove into the cemetery with his headlights off and parked in front of the mausoleum. Inside, he set the urn back in its place. The discarded ashes spiraled upward from the floor, circled Bob’s head, then settled into the urn.

Atop the crypt on which the urn stood, the shadowy figure of a woman took shape.

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“Those are my ashes,” she said. “I am also the matriarch of these spirits you have offended, and I sentence you to a most horrifying death.”

Spirit lights surrounded him, driving him from the mausoleum away from his car. He ran through the darkness, tripped over potted flowers, collided with monuments and headstones, herded by the spirits into a dark corner of the cemetery.

The ground vanished from beneath his feet. He hit the side of an unearthed grave first and landed in an open pine box at the bottom. Bob stared into empty eye sockets. Dessicated gray skin cracked with the forming of a smile.

“I promised you a most horrifying death,” said the spirit mother. The lights hovering around her head became a swarm of flying beetles which dived like a javelin into the coffin. The lid slammed shut.

The corpse laughed.

Bob screamed.

The spirit at the edge of the grave pronounced the final judgment. “Flesh Eaters.”

working

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