Everybody present on the small cemetery was dressed in black clothes.
They attended the funeral of Porter Moore who died from a long
illness. Right next to the decorated coffin stood Fran Moore,
who now had to get used to being a widow, and sobbed into a lacy
handkerchief of white color. The others, relatives and friends,
stared devoutly at the ground that was icy and frozen from the
autumn cold. The priest held a short but good speech. He obviously
was freezing too. Now the coffin was lowered on ropes into the
grave pit by two strong men. In spite of the cold they were sweating
after the had carefully deposited the coffin. Fran Moore dumped
a shovel-load of dirt into the pit then the grave diggers started
filling the fresh grave with the moist, lumpy, brown dirt.
"Damn, what's that noise. I want my peace and quiet!"
it hammered in his head and he wanted to turn around but noticed
that there was a wall on his side that sounded wooden and hollow.
The same was on the other side. He tried to sit up but he banged
his head. The thumping noise now grew lower and he only heard
a silent sliding sound of something that was atop his dwelling.
He felt confined and couldn't get enough air. And it was dark,
moist and uncomfortable but somehow he liked that. It took some
effort to straighten the crossed arms and to put them down alongside
his body. He couldn't even move properly as ropes tied him to
the ground. When he was still asleep, he laid in a soft bed and
felt fine, although a little feverish, until a lot of people gathered
around him and someone examined him. Then he was carried away.
He couldn't recall more.
Now he tried to stretch his tired joints but hit obstacles all
around. He almost became claustrophobic. He wanted to scream,
yell for help, but didn't manage to get a sound across he chapped
lips. He noticed that he was wearing a white shirt and that he
was rather cold. He wondered if he was going suffocate, die of
hunger or freeze to death. All he really wanted was get out of
here. After a while he fell asleep.
Some time later he woke up. Even though he knew that it had to
be morning, it stayed pitch dark and the air was stuffy. Just
now he noticed that he didn't seem to have a need to breathe anymore
which he found strange and scary. He tried to inhale but that
made him cough badly and he had to throw up but it was just a
dry heave. Even on the ice cold wrist there was no measurable
pulse. At least he wouldn't have to suffocate but something really
scared him: The tiny, dark, boring room that he was in. He tried
to push open the ceiling with his knees but soon became aware
that it was bolted down. Also, the wood was too thick to break.
He hoped to loosen the bolts by constantly banging against the
After the mass in the nearby church, Mrs. Moore returned to the
grave of her husband and put down a fir tree twig. Then she prayed
silently and looked at the artistic headstone whose price didn't
matter. She was lost in thoughts so that she didn't notice the
slight shaking of the ground and eventually joined the rest of
the party who returned to their cars in order to drive to the
restaurant where the funeral meal was to be had. Mrs. Moore was
driven by her mother-in-law Linda Moore who comforted and took
care of her.
After the meal one went to Mrs. Moore's home. The mood of the
party was reserved and depressed especially the one of the close
relatives. They were glad then, though they wouldn't admit that,
when the gathering dissolved. Only the mother-in-law stayed over
night with the widow to look after her. She cooked tea for her
and tried to keep her in halfway good spirits.
Meanwhile, a week had passed and the death of Porter Moore wasn't
such a prime topic anymore. Occasionally, Fran Moore visited the
graveyard in order to water the plants on the grave. Porter now
was only alive on photographs for her.
He still was locked in his wooden box but slowly the bolts started
to come loose. He lost a lost of weight but had no desire to eat.
He got thinner and lighter almost by the minute. Since he didn't
breathe anymore he didn't notice the smell around him. Besides
he was thinking less and calmly rested on the soft cushion. Only
then and when he tried to loosen the bolts entirely which he became
more successful at every day. After a long time, he didn't know
how long, he finally made it. With great effort he managed to
lift the lid by a few inches. Immediately, moist, lumpy dirt fell
through the opening. It would take a while until the dirt above
would allow him to push the lid open. But eventually he managed
that too without shedding a drop of sweat or showing any signs
wear. He dug, covered by dirt, a tunnel upwards which didn't succeed
at first because the tunnel kept caving in. But boldly he stuck
his head in the dirt; after all he wouldn't suffocate. He could
now stand straight up and dug his way to the surface with his
thin hands. Moist morning air wafted at him and he climbed out
of the hole. Now he was standing in a flower bed that was bordered
by a white marble stone on one side. As he looked down the gravel
path he saw a female approach.
It had been five months since Porter Moore had been buried and
Fran Moore just entered the cemetery between tall walls through
the iron gate, that had pointy spikes at the top, to pay her regular
visit to her late husband. A bit ahead, roughly at her husband's
grave under a pine tree, she saw a shape that seemed to crawl
out of the ground. Slowly the two approached each other. As she
could make out the shape, she screamed, squealed and romped violently.
She quivered and ran off as there, in front of her, he was in
a torn shroud. He was, like all the dead, halfway decayed and
foul, lumpy, moist, brown dirt stuck to him, he stank terribly
and extended bony, with leathery skin covered arms towards her.
He once had been Porter Moore.
Copyright © January 1981, Wasty, The Grave
German title: Unter der Erde
Reading time: approx. 6 minutes
This story is dedicated to Sir Alfred Hitchcock
Last updated February 12, 2001 by Martin Mathis, e-mail lastbandit.com