The Funeral

An Urban SciFi Short Story by Larry H

The Funeral

by Larry H

More Stories by Larry H


The black limousine followed the hearse down the cemetery access lane followed by a 17 car funeral procession. The procession stopped near a freshly dug grave and mourners began making their way to the graveside. The eight pallbearers gathered at the back of the hearse, and the driver rolled the casket halfway out of the vehicle. Talking in low tones, the men could be heard as they lifted the casket and carried it toward the gurney.

“Poor Miguel. We gotta do something for his parents, man. D’you know they didn’t even have him embalmed? No money, man. That’s why the service was closed casket, he prob’ly don’t look too good by now.”

“Man, this is so weird. Miguel was our age. And for him to die in his sleep like that…” Gabriel affected a shiver.

“I still think it had something to do with that accident he said he wasn’t involved in,” Angelo said.

“Did you see the front end of his cruiser?” Berto said. Just as they reached the curb, someone tripped, dropping his end and knocking everyone off stride. The corner of the casket hit the ground, hard, just inches from the gurney. The fallen pallbearer got up and dusted himself off.

Gabriel said, “Hey, Louie! You trying to wake him UP?”

“I wish I could, man,” the clean-shaven young man said. They lifted the casket, and placed it on the gurney. “Nobody just dies like that. And there wasn’t a mark on him.” He continued.

“Madre de Dios! You’d think he’d at least have a bullet hole in him or something, hey ese?”

“Aw, shut up, Berto, You know he wasn’t like that!” Pablo said.

They guided the casket to the graveside and lifted it down to the elevator mechanism, then moved to their folding chairs.

“Yeah, he was into flyin’ saucers an’ stuff!” Another pallbearer, Juan, said.

“Guys! Keep it down!” Manny reminded them. “The service is starting!

For the next half hour, the friends sat quietly, listening as the priest comforted the family and described Miguel’s Heavenly Reward.

* * * *

Miguel woke with his head forced forward against his chest. He’d felt a few moments of vertigo, and he seemed to shift downward, relieving the pressure on his neck. Trying to scoot back into a more comfortable position, he realized that the dark place he was in was also claustrophobically small. “What the…?” He reached out, exploring the black space he seemed to be trapped within. It was soft and deeply upholstered, almost like a… a coffin! “What the hell?” he exclaimed. “Hey! What’s going on? Let me out! Is anyone out there? Hello?”

He reached up and tried to bang on the lid, but was frustrated by the thickness of the padding and the small size of the space above him. It seemed designed to swallow every sound he made, whole. He stopped to listen, but could discern nothing. Only phantom lights playing in the darkness before him, the illusory response to total light deprivation.

_Where am I? In the funeral home? No, I was scrunched up in the corner there. In the cemetery! Buried? Or worse… They wouldn’t cremate me, would they? Shit, it’s cheaper, too. I bet… Oh, god don’t let me burn!_

“Lemme outta here!” He started banging futilely on the lining again, then tried tearing at the fabric that cocooned and muffled him so effectively. But with so little room to move, he couldn’t get much leverage, and the fabric was new and strong.

_Nothing. No knife, no keys, what can I use? I gotta get this thing open!_ His breathing was beginning to quicken. _Oh, shit. How long have I been in here? How much time do I have?_

“HEY! IS ANYBODY OUT THERE? CAN ANYBODY HEAR ME?” Panic deepened, seizing his throat, but also giving him the strength to rip a few stitches out of the padding. Encouraged by the sound, he retraced his hands’ movements, trying to locate the rip in the darkness. His finger caught on something! Grabbing at it with both hands, he pulled the tiny tear wide, releasing an avalanche of fabric or cotton wadding or some such material. Some of it landed on his face, tickling and threatening to suffocate him as he wiped and blew heedlessly at it, then returned to ripping the fabric from the space above him. He shoved as much as he could down toward his feet, but still more material seemed always up there.

He felt his arms weakening as the oxygen level dropped and carbon dioxide increased. Soon he was able to do little more than breathe, a shallow panting that seemed to do little if any good at all. Slowly, his consciousness began fading, and he began dreaming wild and desperate dreams, of space aliens and of trying to breathe vacuum, far away in the fathomless depths of space.

A voice and a face seemed to float into his mind. Looking like an angel, with short golden hair and a well proportioned body, a young man, looking like he should be named Sven, smiled at Miguel. _We’ve been trying to reach you for some time now._ he said. _There is little time left before your world enters the new harmonic convergence. When it does, there will be a telepathic referendum, and your world will be raised up into the next level of awareness, or it will be sent back down for another ten thousand years of slavery to the old paradigm. You must…_

Oh, come on, man! I’m dying here, an’ you’re gonna push that bullshit off on me NOW? Goddamn alien freaks! Fuck, man, I wanna talk to Jesus or Mary or someone, not you! Whassa matter wi’ you, ya fuckin’ freaks? BACK OFF!”

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee…_

_But this is important! You’ve got to tell…_

_I don’t gotta tell nobody nuthin. I’m gonna be dead inna minute. So shaddap.

Where’s that fuckin’ tunnel of light?

Blessed art thou among women, and…_

* * * *

The service had ended, and the small crowd evaporated, leaving only the four friends, now standing beside a shedding birch tree.

“Man, Louie, if Father O’Brien knew what you were going on about, he’d have you excommunicated in a heartbeat! When did Miguel start with that alien crap, anyway?”

“I dunno, man, maybe a couple o’ months ago. What’s that got to do with anything?” Manny said.

“Nothing, I guess. I was just remembering how tired he seemed there towards the end. Like he wasn’t getting enough sleep. I didn’t think an aneurysm could do that,” said Berto.

“Hey, man, maybe he was like getting abducted or something, eh?” Pablo joked.

“Yeah, like, they wouldn’t let him get his rest. Maybe he crashed his cruiser `cause he was too sleepy,” continued Louie.

Manny flushed with anger at the exchange. “Will you two stop it? What?

He forgot he crashed his ride? I don’t think so!”

“Maybe the aliens crashed it for him,” Louie volunteered.

“Oh, yeah, right. Little green guys hotwire a classic ’69 Impala and jump it into a brick wall. Call ‘The Inquisitor’! Stop the presses!”

“They’re not green, they’re gray. Don’t you read the papers?” Pablo corrected.

“They’re not gray, they’re imaginary! Don’t you have any sense?”

Manny retorted.

“It’s not right, man. Miguel had a long life ahead of him. It’s like they stole it from him,” said Louie

“You talk like they’re real,” said Manny.

“Guys, they’re not imaginary, they’re over there!” Pablo’s voice rose An octave and he pointed past the gravesite to a silver shape just over a hill maybe a half-mile away.

“Aw come on, Pablo, that’s just a… water… tank?”

“Oh, man! I’m not seeing this!” Louie said.

“Look at that! It’s taking off!” As they watched, the silver disk rose into the air and flew faster and faster toward them. It shot past, maybe twenty feet above their heads, then angled up and vanished into the blue.

“God! Did you see that?” Berto cried. “It’s like they wanted us to see them!”

“What did they want? Why would they care about a simple funeral?”

Pablo shaded his eyes and tried to follow its track.

“I don’t know, man. Maybe they were listening,” said Pablo.

“I’ve heard that they can read your mind,” Louie said.

“Yeah, right! Like they really want to hear what you’re thinking!” Manny said scornfully.

“And they talk to you telepathically,” Pablo said.

“Right. They told you Miguel isn’t dead, and we’d better get him out of there before he croaks!” Manny said.

All three of them stopped and looked at Manny. Seconds passed as they realized that they had all had the same thought.

They looked at each other for a moment longer, and then silently ran back to the graveside. Louie jumped into the hole as the backhoe was driving up with the concrete lid. The driver shut the engine off.

“Hey, kid! Get outta there! What do you think you’re doing?” the operator exclaimed. Louie just reached down and began unlocking the latches to the casket. The others arrived and stopped at the edge of the grave.

“Not so fast, obrero! We gotta check something.”

“Hey! You can’t open that! It’s illegal! You gotta have papers!”

Louie moved back and grabbing the lid, pulled it back. The casket lid was shredded up to the metal housing. Miguel’s lips were blue, and he was covered in torn bits of cloth and foam.

“Miguel! Are you dead, man?” Louie grabbed his shirt and pulled, slamming him up and down in the casket for a few moments, until Miguel took a deep breath on his own.

“Louie! You heard me! Thank God! I thought I was done for. Get me out of here!”

Louie helped his friend get out, then the others pulled them both out of the hole. The backhoe operator, who had taken out his cell phone, relayed the news to his boss as the reunited friends walked away, surrounding Miguel. As they walked, he looked around at his friends.

Any of you guys ever heard of a harmonic convergence?”

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