And now fingers- actual human fingers- were ripping their way through the dirt in front of me, opening holes in the earth and making room for whatever awful creature was on the other side.
And now fingers, actual human fingers, were ripping their way through the dirt in front of me, opening holes in the earth and making room for whatever awful creature was on the other side. They were bone-white and long, each one caked in mud. Soon, other sets of fingers were clawing their way to the surface. It was every zombie movie combined, but there was nowhere to hide from the rotting corpses that were surely making their way up to their master.
I screamed again, this time hearing the faint and broken echo of my voice. It was more of a terrified wail, the kind a cat would make when stepped on. I had the sudden urge to vomit, but the sight of the limbs finally breaking free from their graves kept me frozen.
The first corpse to emerge was a woman in her mid-twenties, crawling from the ground like a spider out of a drain. She wasn't decaying like I'd thought, but instead whole and clothed in an off-white and black bathing suit. Her skin was pale and waxy, as if she'd been in the water for too long. The whites of her forest-green eyes were tinged with red around the edges and stained pink. Flashes of birthday parties and chloreine-filled pools came to mind, like she'd open her eyes under water and they hadn't quite returned to normal yet.
She blinked at me, staring me down with an intense glare before shifting her gaze to the Ringmaster behind me. Then, with a tiny nod toward me, she skipped off to his side. I couldn't turn around to face her, because I was simply too scared of what would rise behind me.
A man was slowly wrenching himself free from the earth's grip, his wild black hair scattering bits of dirt across the graveyard. He turned his face, revealing a ragged scar that stretched all the way from his bone-white cheek to the tip of his collar bone. As more of him became visible, I saw that his skin was littered with bite-marks that looked horribly similar to human teeth.
With a final yank, the dead man was freed from his grave. He stood, the tattered remains of what looked to be a black shirt and red tie flapping lazily around his frame. He too stared at me for a brief moment, his black-rimmed eyes darting over me as if I were something interesting he'd found on the bottom of his shoe. After a wink so quick that I couldn't be sure if it existed, he skipped- actually skipped- to the Ringmaster's side.
This pattern continued for what felt like hours. Each corpse seemed to be taking an obscene amount of time to escape from their graves, perhaps giving me a chance to see all the gruesome features before they disappeared behind me. I watched, almost fascinated, as three more dead men were born from the earth.
The first, a tall man in a hospital gown, didn't seem to be all that frightening. He kept his gaze to the ground, absolutely refusing to look at me before he slowly joined the small group behind me.
The second man, or rather, teenager, actually seemed to be in a good mood. He smiled at me, even offering me a handshake before the Ringmaster barked at him not to touch me. If I could ignore the open wounds and stitches that criss-crossed his body like tattoos, I might've even accepted the handshake before he trotted away.
The third corpse couldn't have been older than fifteen. He was also smiling, but it looked forced and almost painful. He shook the dirt off him in erratic movements, as if he were terrified of it. He gave me a lazy wave, his arm barely moving from his side before it flopped back, and slowly joined the Ringmaster.
I watched the ground, not sure where to look. I kept expecting more hands to jump from the ground, to tear apart the grave and give room for the rest of the body to emerge.
Nothing happened. The graveyard was silent.
"You'll be next, Frank," the Ringmaster giggled, his voice no more than a centimeter away from my ear. I jumped, letting out a shriek as I whipped around.
The Ringmaster grinned at me, his hat tipped low over one of his eyes. "I'm surprised you didn't see me," he said, and all but the man in the hospital gown giggled. "Oh, wait!" said the Ringmaster, his voice beginning to shake with laughter. "I know why!"
I took another step backward, the laughter growing louder as my legs shook and almost collapsed beneath me. "S-s-s-s-s-stay away!" I yelled. "St-t-t-t-tay th-the fuck away from me!"
"Poor Frankie," the Ringmaster crooned. "You mean you don't know?"
I shook my head, unable to speak again.
The Ringmaster's grin stretched wider, becoming more of a grimace. "Dear Frankie, haven't you noticed your eye?"
What was he talking about?! My hand jumped to my eye, one of my fingertips touching its wet surface.
The Ringmaster shook his head. "The other eye, sugar."
Slowly, I moved my hand to the other side of my face. Seconds passed, then minutes, before I finally realized something.
My eye, the one that had been stabbed in that basement what felt like centuries ago, was missing.
The Ringmaster cackled, pointing at me with a spidery finger. "Now he gets it! Look at his face!"
The corpses laughed, everyone but the man in the hospital gown.
Once the Ringmaster seemed able to contain himself, he braced his hands on his knees and looked up at me. His hat had slipped further over his eye, almost completely covering it. "Well, now, Frankie. I think it's time to introduce our cast." Before I could even open my mouth to disagree, he turned around and pointed at the woman in the bathing suit.
"A is for Amber, who drowned in a pool!"
The man with the bite marks.
"B is for Billie, who was eaten by ghouls!"
The man in the hospital gown.
"C is for Curt, with disease of the brain!"
The boy with the mangled body.
"D is for Daniel, de-railed by a train!"
The boy who was afraid of dirt.
"E is for Erik, who was buried alive!"
And finally, with a flourish and a high-pitched giggle, the Ringmaster turned on his heel and directed his gloved finger at the only corpse left in the graveyard.
The boy whose eye had been gouged out of his face.
"F is for Frank, who was stabbed in the eye!"
AN: Gah! It's so short! Sorry.