Friday, February 8, 2019

The Face-Stuffing, Running, Decaying, Ghost -Torturing Dead

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words were: autistic, you never know, stuffing, manual, heart, build. They were submitted by:

Okay so full disclosure: this isn't a 100% original idea. I saw a prompt of the general point of the thing and wanted to write it, so here we are. I sort of made the words fit instead of letting them fall naturally where they do like I have with a lot of other UYW posts, but I think it still turned out pretty good. 


The first sound Vanessa uttered in her afterlife was an exasperated yawn. See, she didn't quite realize yet that she was dead. To her, it was any other day she didn't want to get out of bed to face. Another day, another $1. Well, another $.25 if she wanted to be realistic.

The thought of money made her brain kick through the sleep fog and realize a couple things at once. The late afternoon lighting meant she was about to be late for her evening shift at work. Again. And she was *not* looking forward to getting her ass chewed out for it or the potential write up and suspension she might face.

And, two, she wasn't actually at home.

What in the wide world of fuck? She was in the middle of a cemetery.

The breeze she felt and the lighting is what really made her open her eyes and focus long enough to take in her surroundings. Tombstones, creepy angel statues, the cloying scent of too many dying flowers, shade trees every few plots as if the dead got hot in their little rectangular dirt prisons and needed some respite...definitely a cemetery.

The thing of it was, though, being in the cemetery was actually not as shocking as the fact that it was filled with ghosts. Like, actual translucent beings hovering inches off the ground. There but not there. Eerily familiar but not. Ghosts without a doubt.

"Holy fuckeroni! I have never seen an actual ghost before. I didn't think they were real! Huh, you never know with this life. You never know."

A tall drink of ethereal paleness in dr. martens and a flannel shirt floated in her direction, "uh, honey, do i have news for you then."

"What's that supposed to mean?!"

"Take a good look at yourself."

So Vanessa did. Her shock grew by miles as she took in her luminescent skin, the fact that she could see the ground through herself, the fact that she almost but not quite touched the ground. No being in the history of the universe had ever screamed as long and as loud as she did in the few moments following.

"Was that necessary?" the flanneled ghost with the slim build asked her.

"Maybe," she huffed while internally she cringed at how much she was checking out this ghost seconds after finding out she was dead. Always thinking with her heart not her brain. Okay, okay heart and vagina. Mostly vagina.

But in her defense, the girl ghost was definitely hot.

"I'm not a girl. They/them pronouns please."

"Whaaaaaat?! You read minds? And I apologize for assuming gender."

"No problem. But to answer your question, you're not human anymore, you know. What you are now was pretty much what your mind consisted of when you were alive. Your internals are all out here in the ether, so, like, everyone knows everything about everyone else until they're finally at rest."

"Okay.... creepy. Also, 3 questions real quick. 1) what the fucking fuck? 2) How do you know all this? 3) what do you mean 'finally at rest?'"

"In order: 1) it is what it is. 2) there's not a manual like in Beetlejuice. We figure it out along the way. 3) you know that cliche movie plot where ghosts exist because of unfinished business? Totally true."

"I don't have any unfinished business. I barely have finished business. All I do is work and watch Netflix. No great mystery there unless it's about finishing my 12th time watching Trailer Park Boys start to finish."

"Remember how you died?"

"Oh. No actually. Was I murdered or something?"

"How the hell would I know?"

Vanessa started to speak then stopped, one ghostly finger in mid-air while she paused before finally saying, "you're the one who said everyone knows everything about everyone!"

"Only if you know it. I mean, otherwise how would the info get to me? Just think back and see if you remember anything at all. Maybe it's a clue."

The last thing she remembered was calling in sick to work with a fever, cough, and stomach cramps. She'd been home in bed trying to relax with comfort tv, something to make her laugh but that she'd seen enough that she didn't really have to pay attention and how could she so loaded up on medication? A little weed, nyquil, Phenergan she had left over from the last time she was sick, and a vicodin for the cramps. No wonder she didn't remember much.

"You were sick, you say?"

"I didnt 'say' anything but yes why?"

"Shit. You're not going to like this."

"Well don't leave me hanging!"

The ghost drew closer and pulled her away from her spot. "It's almost time. If I'm right, you can see for yourself in a few moments then I'll explain."

"What if you're wrong?"

"Let's hope I am."

The two of them sat together quietly for awhile as the sunlight streaked in multicolored tendrils across the sky and began to fade. When the last of those tendrils started to pull away, she heard it--a faint scratching coming from the freshly covered dirt plot she woke up on. Her eyes grew 5x their normal size as she saw a hand shoot out of the ground like something out of a Romero movie. Not just any hand. Hers. She'd recognize that botched nail job she did herself the day before she got sick anywhere.

Never day drink on your day off and try to do your own acrylics.

The other hand followed then a muddy face growled and pushed its way out of the ground. She stared across at her own self in absolute terror. It *was* her, or, at least, it looked like her, but it was also eerily devoid of any sort of--well, for lack of a less cheesy word choice--life.

Her body pulled the rest of its way free from the dirt and made a shambling run for the gates.

"I was afraid that would happen."

"Well what the fuck happened? What is going on? Why did I just climb out the damn ground and make a run for it while ghost me is still here?!"

"That wasn't the real you. It was zombie you."

Vanessa's jaw dropped open a few inches leaving her utterly speechless which was all fine and well considering she heard growling and screams coming from the entrance. Apparently, someone had chosen the wrong time to visit their loved one's memory, and she, er, her body, or, uh, zombie her was taking advantage.

"Look at zombie you stuffing her face! She's really putting back that thigh meat."


"I mean, looked to me like zombie you just ripped the sucker right off and bit a huge chunk out, clothes and all."

"No, asshole, how did that...thing...happen? How am I... how is my body or whatever... fucking whatever. How does that zombie exist?"

"I guess seeing my lifeless body reanimated and tearing into the first warm body it could find would be a shock for me too so I'll forgive the 'asshole' comment. Just this once though. As for the zombies--yes there are more than just you. You aren't that special--there was a measles outbreak in the northwest then the northeast then it spread to the South and mutated. We could talk all day--or I could at least--about conspiracy theory culture, the legitimate fear Americans have over their own healthcare system, and the resulting need for research and self diagnosis, but regardless of the nuance and need for that conversation, this is different. *THIS* all started in an area with a bunch of crunchy moms who were terrified about vaccinations making their kids autistic despite all the evidence to the contrary. Oh no your kid works differently. The fucking horror, amirite? Either way somewhere during its travels across the country it mutated and became something else entirely. I don't quite know how it worked on a molecular level or why it affects humans the way it does, but that's why the stuff that made you who you are is here and the physical you is working its way through a 250 lb man like he's a candy bar."


"And my guess is the ectoplasmic you will exist until someone takes your body out however long that takes."


"Are you okay?"

"um. no?"

"Fair enough."

"What am I supposed to do?"

"Enjoy my company. Obviously. I mean, you do think I'm hot after all. wink, wink. We can follow your body around and make bets on how many humans you take out in a day and see how long it takes you to figure out my name, Van."

The familiarity of the nickname made her smile in both sadness and nostalgia. "I guess there are worse ways to spend eternity, but it would be lit if I didn't look like death."

Vanessa shrugged when she realized her unintentional pun, and the two set out after her physical self already arguing over who would win the night's bet as more zombies gathered around the closed cemetery gates trying to free themselves for a night of gluttony.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

Wandering Web Designer

Cognitive Script

Southern Belle Charm

The Bergham Chronicles

On the Border

Part-time Working Hockey Mom 


  1. Nothing wrong with coming up with the story first and making your words fit, it's a challenge either way. And I'm a big fan of your explanation of how the zombies came to be. Not about vaccinations, but in my mind a very similar situation: my older son had asthma and every time a mom sent her kid to school sick because she couldn't think of others, my kid ended up on the nebulizer for a week.

  2. Vaccinations=no zombies. Agreed. LOL. I love Vanessa's journey into the afterlife. My favorite line? The flanneled ghost saying, "Was that necessary?". It's something I could see myself saying to an overly-dramatic newbie ghost. <3

  3. I don't know what I liked better the story or your use of the word fuckeroni! I'll have to add that one to my repertoire!That's my go to word when I'm pissed. Great job!

  4. I do love the way your mind works! Good job using your words~ And I know someday, I am going to be reading your books!

  5. An afterlife post and a very creative use of my words, well done!