Wake up before sunrise. Rush to the backyard to bury the body again. Try to go back to sleep for a while.
When that doesn’t work, I get up to fix coffee and wonder what has happened to my life.
“It’s a beautiful sunrise…” I think to myself, as my eyes dart back and forth from the horizon to the patch of loose soil in my backyard lawn.
“Have I covered up the evidence well enough? Have my neighbors noticed I’ve been acting suspicious? How long until my wife finds out?” These thoughts swirl around my head as I leave the house to look for another odd job for the day.
These days I try to dress my best and look for steady work. No more under the table jobs. That’s how this whole nightmare started.
I remember the day I got that letter in the mail. That’s how I usually got my odd jobs from Claude, a man I’d never met personally but always had the best paying work.
This letter was strikingly different from any I had gotten from Claude before. It had no stamp or postal markings, and the only words written on it were “Bury My Body”.
Inside the envelope were instructions to meet with one of Claude’s clients in a secluded location outside of town. I followed the directions, which led to a lake deep in the woods.
There, I found Claude’s client lying in a ditch, already dead. I should have turned and ran at that very moment. Someone had handled my job for me – there was no need to get involved. The man had been shot in the back of the head at a very close range, as if he had been snuck up on. I didn’t want to end up like him.
Next to the body, I saw the man’s leather wallet lying in the patch of leaves. I picked it up and quickly searched for some kind of identification, but found none. The wallet was, however, stuffed with a hefty $20,000, all in $100 US bills. 20 grand was more money than I’d ever seen in one place, outside of a bank. I took it all without thinking, and left the wallet.
I wondered if I should bother burying his body. I decided not to, and left in a hurry.
Only later did it occur to me that someone may have intentionally removed the identification from the wallet, and left the money for me to take. It may not have even been the victim’s wallet, or his money.
I immediately hid the money once I got home, and tried to push the incident out of my mind. I didn’t start spending the money until 4 months later, and even then I remained frugal so I wouldn’t raise suspicion. I never told my wife about the incident, or about the money. I simply lied and told her I had gotten a raise.
After that first night we went on a spending spree, we came home and had a party. She passed out early from the alcohol, while I stayed up and continue to get drunk.
Through the kitchen window, I noticed what looked like a large hole in our backyard, along with a mound of dirt beside it. It was dark and the outside light was burnt out, so it was very difficult to tell for certain what I was looking at. I grabbed a flashlight and went outside.
There, I saw the hole in the ground was a grave.
Inside the grave was the body of the man I had abandoned by the lake. I recoiled in horror – as much as a drunken man could anyway. When I saw the shovel sticking out from the mound of dirt, I knew what I had to do. I took a swig of my whiskey, fully aware I couldn’t hold my flask, the flashlight and the shovel all at once.
Before I set the flask down, I poured a little bit out for the man I was about to bury. I wondered if the dead appreciated that as much as the living do.
I stumbled through the day in a haze, convinced last night’s actions were nothing more than a dream. After my wife fell asleep the next night, I checked the backyard again and found to my utter disbelief the body had returned. This time I couldn’t blame alcohol for what I was seeing. Perhaps I was going insane.
I picked up my shovel and began work on burying the body again, just as I did the night before. That night I decided to blame the hallucination on stress, and guilt from spending the dead man’s money. Then again, I wasn’t really sure whose money it was, and I had no way of finding out. I hadn’t heard from Claude since that job, and I had no idea how to get in touch with him.
I was also beginning to suspect he was the dead man I left lying in that ditch.
I was exhausted by the time the grave was filled. It was almost 5 in the morning, my muscles ached and I was covered in sweat. I needed to eat, bathe, and sleep, and I barely had time for one out of three. I chose to bathe. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hide this from my wife for long.
Every night around midnight the grave returned. And every night I set out to bury him, hoping and praying to God that the nightmare would end soon. This went on for five months. I began getting stronger muscles from all the digging. I told my wife I was working in construction. I worried she didn’t believe me.
With the extra money, we decided we would take a week-long vacation to the beach. She seemed very excited. We were both looking forward to it.
She asked why I always seemed so sleep deprived lately. I had no good answer. She suggested I see a doctor for insomnia and I didn’t argue. She was right, my mind was in a fog from lack of sleep. But I was confident I had managed to keep my secret from her.
I was wrong.
A few nights later, I was shoveling dirt into the grave when the beam of a flashlight showing from behind me. I turned around to see my wife standing there. “What have you done?” She asked, trembling.
I slowly walked toward her. My mind was blank. I knew she had seen too much. She shrieked. “What are you doing?”
I swung the shovel at her. There was a loud thud and she dropped to the ground. I kept swinging. Her flashlight rolled away and pointed out into the darkness.
That night, I found myself burying two bodies – my wife’s, along with the strange man’s. I had no time to give them separate graves, with the sunrise quickly racing towards me. I had no time to think about the fact that I had just killed my wife.
As I went to sleep that morning, I wondered if my wife’s death would be taken as a sacrificial offering.
I still had about $16,000 of the stolen money. I didn’t have much use for it now. Most of it I had planned to spend with her.
“What are you doing?” Her final, panicked words echoed inside my mind. She was right. What am I doing?
The following afternoon I began drinking early, in preparation for the inevitable burial ceremony I had become used to. Would I see my wife in the grave along with the strange man? Maybe I could pull her out and give her a separate grave.
I must have visited every bar in town before nightfall. I could easily see myself spending all the money on liquor if I wasn’t careful. I parked in the driveway before entering my house. I couldn’t imagine burying my wife’s body every night, until I died or went insane. I prayed to God the nightmare would end. I got out of the car and started toward the house, carrying a sick feeling inside me. I immediately headed to the backyard.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing was real.
There was no grave. There was no mound of dirt. Had my prayers finally been answered? It seemed too good to be true. I walked over the patch of grass, which seems like it had never been disturbed before. I fell to my knees with relief, but also with a heavy sense of mourning. I felt guilty I couldn’t give my wife a proper burial. But the most important thing was that the nightmare was finally over.
I called the police and filed a missing-persons report on my wife. A detective visited later that day to ask me questions about her possible whereabouts. I gave him a story about her visiting friends and never returning. I pointed him to a few dead ends. “There’s no way they’re ever going to find her,” I thought securely, yet somewhat bitterly. The detective didn’t seem too suspicious of me, and left after a short while.
I thought about running away with what’s left of the money after the scandal died down. I wondered how long I would have to wait.
The missing-persons case on my wife went cold pretty quick, and the police stopped looking for her after a few months. I decided to stay for a while, out of nostalgia or perhaps guilt. I couldn’t bring myself to part with the home we had built together just yet.
A year passed since that grim night when my wife discovered my secret. I was no longer concerned about finding any surprises in the backyard. I began spending my time at local bars and meeting women, occasionally taking them back to my home. I never told any of them about my wife, or about that cruel nightmare I went through.
One night, I awoke to a wailing noise coming from the backyard. I hesitated before grabbing the flashlight and heading outside. I looked around and saw nothing. I wondered if my mind was playing tricks on me.
Then I heard that terrible wailing sound again, and realized it was coming from beneath me. I stepped back as I recognized the noise.
It was the sound of a shrieking baby coming from beneath the earth. “Oh my God”, I thought, as I grabbed the shovel and began digging. “Was my wife alive?” I thought to myself. I knew the real answer, but I kept digging anyway.
My mind began racing as I listened to the sound of the baby crying unceasingly beneath me. “My wife died a year ago… This baby I couldn’t possibly be mine.” I thought to myself, horrified. In my mind, I saw my wife trapped beneath the earth with the strange man. I saw her clutching the child that belonged to him. I continued digging at a manic pace.
Before long, my entire backyard became an excavation site. But no matter how far I dug, I couldn’t find any trace of them. No bodies, no clothes, no bones, nothing.
I knew I had buried my wife there. I knew I had heard the sound of a crying baby. I kept digging until my arms are too numb to grip the shovel. Then I stumbled inside and passed out on the living room couch from exhaustion.
I checked the backyard when I woke up the next morning. The grass was completely undisturbed, as if I had never torn it apart the night before. I was too exhausted to try and explain away my hallucinations. Much of the previous night felt like a dream anyway.
I got washed up, ate breakfast, and left the house. I still had no job, but there was plenty of under-the-table work to be found. I worked on a friend’s boat for most of the day. I told him it was Good Samaritan work and I didn’t charge him. I fixed a man’s car on the side of the road. I was trying to do anything to achieve God’s redemption.
I decided not to drink that night. I prayed to God. I swore I would never drink again if these terrible visions would just stop.
It was about midnight when I heard the baby shrieking from the backyard again. I couldn’t bring myself to tear the backyard up like the night before. Part of me knew it wouldn’t do any good. I laid outstretched from the backyard lawn. The baby continued crying beneath me. There was nothing I could do anymore. It was hopeless.
After a few hours of laying there, listening to the baby’s incessant wailing, I finally got back up and headed to the car. I decided I was going to take a drive back to that lake out in the woods. I would visit the place where I left that body and see what I could find. I took the shovel with me, holding on to some forlorn hope that I might find my wife’s body.
As I drove into the night, I wondered how many years I would be listening to that screeching baby before he’s finally able to speak.
Written: September 2016
Released: September 7th, 2016
Note: This is one of my older ideas for a horror story, going back to 2013. One version I found was dated November 7th, 2014. It has grown and shrunk several times, sometimes featuring many more characters, but this version stays true to the original.