“How much for the coffin?”
Higgins McCoughdrop turned away from the hole he was digging, looking up at the man standing above him. He was gaunt, his eyes bleary as bits of fast food fell from his lips.
Higgins blinked for a moment. “There…there’s a body in there. I’m burying it now.”
The man never took his eyes off him, speaking in monotone as he drew his size-small beverage to his lips, having to use both hands to keep the cardboard drum from tipping over. “So, it’s a shelf model. I’ll want a discount, no less than half off.”
Higgins put down his shovel. “Are you all right, mister…”
“I demand to see your supervisorrrrrrr!”
In a flash, the man was gone, Higgins looking left and right for him. He pulled himself out of the grave, looking around the fresh tombstones. He jogged to the front gate, looking down the street and seeing no one.
Before he could turn around, a hand touched his shoulder, making him jump. He grabbed onto the collar of Clark, the Caretaker. Clark’s hands shot up near his face. “Hey, easy there. Easy. What’s gotten into you?”
Higgins let him go, slumping down. “More visions.”
Clark’s eyebrows rose. “The fat couple buying the big screen television despite having eight children with them, all of them squeezed into the same five dollar shirt?”
“No. It wasn’t even the man on the cell phone leaving his child in the video game store for two hours. This wasn’t some event I witnessed. This time, it spoke to me. It spoke!”
He shook, and Clark had to catch him to keep him from falling. “Take it easy, old friend. You’re just stressed out from all the extra hours you’ve been working in order to get this ancestral burial ground done in time for the grand opening. You just need a break.”
Higgins threw his arms off. “No! I’m not just seeing things! These shoppers are real! I can prove it!”
He reached into his pocket, drawing out a yellowed newspaper article. He handed it to Clark, who brought it close to his eyes. “’Local shopping mall going out of business, to be demolished tomorrow.’” His whole face went white. “But…but…all those consumers…”
Higgins wiped the tears from his eyes. “I know. They were left without any other place to shop, and were doomed to have to spend Sundays with their families. Did you see where it used to be, though?”
Clark continued to read, then dropped the article in horror. “Here!”
Higgins nodded, looking right into his friend’s eyes. “Exactly. All this time, we’ve been building a sacred ancestral burial ground on the remains of an old mall!”
The two of them stood there for a few moments before making a run for the exit. They were almost out when they made it to a pair of wrought iron gates, but something was wrong. The steel bars flickered as they watched, changing into a set of sliding glass doors decorated with red and green lights. They moved in front of them, but only then saw the typed ‘Out of Order’ message.
They turned back, the graveyard fading away as a hallway filled with knick-knack stores unfolded in front of them. They started to run, whizzing past a kiosk plastered with novelty phone covers, a bored university student reading a book at the register. She looked up with a pained look in her eyes before grabbing a zirconia-encrusted cover, making her way toward them.
Clark doubled over before he could get away, his wallet falling frm his pocket. His debit and credit cards spewed across the ground, foul corporate symbols lighting up across their plastic surfaces. Clark reached down to grab them, Higgins moving far too late to stop him. He had to watch as his friend turned a pale white, his shirt tattering as his hair grew sweaty and long as he purchased a cover with the silhouette of a naked woman on it.
Higgins backed away, but found he was trapped by people walking from all directions, their carts laden with things they couldn’t afford. They were closing in on him, their children howling as he realized what day it was.
“It’s…it’s the end of the month.” he whispered before he was overwhelmed.