Happy Halloween! I hope you’re enjoying celebrating Samhain and conversing with the spirits of the dead. It’s one of my favourite times of year and we’ve been busy decorating, as you can see from my Make It Monday post. To celebrate, I’ve written a short story featuring safety coffins, something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently (the life of a writer! Always the macabre). I hope you enjoy ‘The Bells’ and feel free to read my other free fiction. If you enjoy it, perhaps consider buying me a coffee!
As The Bells Toll
That blasted ringing is driving me insane! Why won’t it stop? It’s been going for hours, days. Ring, ring, ring. Maybe a pause, then Ring! Ring! Ring!
I look around the room, for so long my sanctuary from the outside world. Here I could ignore the demands of family, of neighbours, of life. Here I could immerse myself in my work. But now? With this ringing? I can’t even find the door as I curl into a ball and cover my ears to try and block out the tinkling.
It doesn’t work.
Tears seep through pinched eyes as a wail bursts from my lips. If anything it makes the ringing louder.
I knew people called me strange, wondered how I could do my job, even created macabre stories about what I did, but eventually, they all called upon my services. As the towns funeral director, I’ve prepared and buried the residents of this little town for longer than I can remember. New techniques have come along, but I prefer to stick to the old ways: simple preparation of the body, a bell around the toe in case they’re ‘not quite dead’ (a quaint tradition my wife would laugh at the bells would never ring), before laying them down in their coffin for their final sleep and a nip of brandy for me at the end of the day. Course, since Margo and the kids left, it’s been more than a nip, but still, the old ways continue.
Ah, Margo. She’d been my soul-mate. We’d met at a conference and hit it off immediately. I was amazed she was interested in me, even more amazed she’d agreed to marry me. Two kids later, the usual arguments and bickering, laughter and tears but never anything severe, then….. nothing.
Didn’t believe it at first when the sheriff knocked on my door and told me. My brain kept saying it was another family, but he insisted. Said it was a hit and run while they’d been put trick or treating. All three dead before the ambulance arrived. He’d offered to have their bodies transferred to the undertakers the next town over but how could I let them touch my babies? My Margo? No, they came here and I did as I’ve always done, cared for them as always. Cleaned them up and rebuilt what I could, laid them out in their best clothes and tied the bells around their toes. Just like the old ways.
I’d been well into my bottle when I’d first heard it. I tiny little rustling and gentle tinkling. Thought I was imagining it till it happened again, getting louder and louder. Then I heard her voice, my Margo, calling my name, then our children join her, their voices rising in time with the bells I’d tied to their tiny toes with string only a few hours before.
The bells won’t stop ringing but I’m too scared to see what’s pulling the string.