The Tough Part: A Bit of Flash Fiction

Every Friday, Chuck Wendig over at has a flash fiction challenge. I thought I’d try this latest one out. He provided about fourteen opening lines to choose from and we’re to come up with a kick-ass story based on those lines.

This one is no award-winner but I had a bit of fun writing it. The line I chose to start with was “Max sat amongst the dead, whistling to himself.”

I hope you enjoy it…

The Tough Part

Max sat amongst the dead, whistling to himself. His client was late. He hated that. He didn’t like spending his nights in graveyards any more than they did. A bit of consideration would be nice. He turned at the sound of muttered curses to see the client dusting himself off. The fat bastard had tripped over a mound of freshly turned earth. Served him right for being late.

The client stumbled over to the headstone on which Max was perched and shoved a crinkled envelope in his hand. Max opened it up and counted the bills.

“Where’s the other half?”

“That’s all there is. All I have.”

Max narrowed his eyes. “I ought to walk.”

“Look, you do this right and I can get you the other half. I swear it.”


“I swear it, alright?”

“You’re only going to get a half-assed job.”

“Fine. Whatever. Can we get on with this?”

Max slipped the envelope into his jacket pocket and led the way toward a nearby grave. It was relatively new and had no tombstone, just the metal grave marker supplied by the funeral home to mark its occupant. The client stood at the grave marker, shivering despite the warm night.

Max walked the perimeter of the grave clockwise three times, muttering in DIY Latin. As he walked, he looked for that spark within himself, cold and bright like a winter morning, that gave him his pull over the dead. His skin grew cold as he wrapped his will around the spark and pulled, calling the name on the grave marker three times.

At first he thought he hadn’t pulled hard enough. All was quiet in the graveyard save the labored breathing of the nervous client. Then the earth before them began to shift and a pair of hands clawed out from within. The hands pulled the rest of the body out of the loosely-packed dirt, the head emerging with a deep, sonorous, groan. Max smelled the sharp tang of urine and sweat coming off the client in waves.

“I don’t believe it,” he was muttering. “I don’t believe it!”

Max shrugged. “It’s what I get paid for. Usually. You better say your piece soon.”

The client shuffled forward. “Murray, it’s me. Gus. Where’d you hide the money, huh? Where is the cash?”

The corpse took a heavy step toward the client. “Gusssss.”

“The money, Murray. Where’d you hide it?”

The corpse gurgled and took another shambling step toward the client.

The client turned to Max. “What the hell, guy? I thought you said I could get some answers!”

Max lit a cigarette and shrugged. “Raising the dead, that’s the easy part.”

The corpse locked its hands around the client’s throat and began to squeeze. The client beat at the corpse’s arms ineffectually as his head turned red then purple in the moonlight.

“Controlling them, though. That’s the tough part.”

The client fell to his knees as his neck gave a sharp crack that reverberated through the graveyard. Max kept his eye on the corpse as he began to walk widdershins around the grave, muttering to himself in Latin. The corpse ignored him as it tore the head from the client’s body. “Gussss,” it groaned as it worked.

When Max completed the final circuit, pushing on that spark within him, he finally felt the warm breeze of the summer night on his face. The corpse left the body of his client bleeding at the foot of its grave as it clawed its way back into the earth.

Finished with the night’s work, Max whistled to himself as he strolled through the graveyard back to his car.

About Shedrick

I am a professional librarian and a part-time writer that's working to do that the other way around. I currently live in North Texas in the lovely city of Denton (“The Home of Happiness“) with my lovely wife and the obligatory demon-spawn cats. When not writing, gaming, or watching cheezy kung-fu flicks, I can sometimes be found in a pub (or the American equivalent) enjoying a fine brew.
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