In the casket lays a middle-aged woman not quite slim, not quite stocky, but robust like a former olympic, ribbon dancing coach. A shower-cap grips the crown of her scalp, containing a shoulder-length mop of wavy, brown hair. She wears a Merryhill Virginia P.D. uniform; black, grey, and decorated with an enameled badge.
This is the body of Amanda Voorhies. She would’ve turned 40 in May.
Removing her earbuds, Nora greets the corpse.
“Hi Ma.” She says with an awkward, Barney Gumble wave.
Nora notices something off with the face of her ex-parental. Its a solid shade of sardonic-orange, like she's just spent the last 6 hours in Dracula’s tanning bed.
Frank’s artistry, no doubt.
“By Lenny Kravitz’s cock-ring! What did they do to you?”
The corpse doesn’t respond.
Nora hopes this will be a closed-casket funeral. Then she sees it-
A black leather bag. No larger than a ham-radio resting on what used to be officer Voorhies’ sternum; wrapped in an entanglement of dead, sardonic-fingers.
This is why I’m getting cremated.
With both hands Nora jerks the casket, jiggling Amanda’s bodily remains for any psycho-spiritual sign or outcry for help. She once read a horror flash-fiction on the web about a man with total consciousness despite the fact that he was recently deceased. The story suggested that after death, humans still retained their sentience. All five senses; touch, taste, sight, sound, and smell were left perfectly intact except the man was still completely paralyzed. This made the autopsy and embalming procedures all the more horrifying. The tale ends with the man six-feet under. Enlightened to the banality of death but cursed to an perpetual existence of screaming in his skull while he rots for all eternity. No reason. No explanation. No cause. No solution. Pure nightmare fuel for the mind.
Nora sees not a single iota of life or consciousness in her ex-parental’s carcass. It’s empty, like the oyster shells behind the seafood buffet. Her cellular lights up in the balmacaan pocket with all the screws. She fails to notice.
“I’m sorry you’re dead. I’m sorry they dolled you up like a Kardashian. You probably don’t care. Goodbye, I guess. Clutch the dark purple hairs of the galloping orangutan of the afterlife and ride on to wherever it takes you!”
That was undoubtably the worst eulogy in all of human history, and it probably doesn’t help that I’m going to need that back…
Nora reaches into the casket and one-by-one pries her mother’s cold, dead cheeto-fingers off the little black bag. Pulling, twisting, bending each digit, snapping like a baby carrots. 10 crunches later: the treasure’s liberated.
Rigor mortis is a BITCH!
Nora slings the treasure across her neck as she’d done many times before. It possesses a shoulder strap, clips, and zippers. She opens it with one paraffin hand, fishing inside with the other and withdraws the boon of her existence. The totem of her destiny: a Nikon D3400 DSLR camera with a AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR-lens. And with a flicker of her thumb, an itty bitty green light flashes on. The camera awakens. Fully charged.
At last, my hand’s complete again!
Nora peers into the digital viewfinder of the Nikon and with her hands she sets up the shot: Amanda’s last closeup. The shower cap’s ruining the shot so off it goes, onto the floor.
She lines up the shot, her index creeps up the grip to the shutter release button.
Click-goes the camera.
-goes the door.