I Swear It's Nothing Personal

rating: +17+x

The funeral parlor was a beautifully empty sight. Mastercrafted coffins shone in the moonlight, the perfect stillness of the night air made all the more eerie yet all the more engrossing by the inherent ominousness and strangeness of the parlor. Not even the janitor was still around with how late it was, and he'd left the place spotless and ready for the viewing tomorrow.

The dress on the girl was one of the few reminders of the cheerful, happy ray of joy she'd once been. Despite her obvious lack of life, she mirrored the strange, absent beauty of the rest of the parlor in her favorite dress. A hint of what she was in life was there, intangible, in her face, her dress, her hands, but just beyond that barrier that didn't exist. It wasn't a sight of grim sorrow, but one of morbid beauty.

The man outside the window wasn't much in the beholding mood, though. He pressed a hand to the glass and stared, sadly, a tear rolling down his face and mixing with blood from the fresh wounds of the day.

He reached in the damaged coat, freshly wet from the mess that today had been, and pulled out a matchbook, splattered with the faintest bit of blood.

His lament was almost lost in the silence.

They'd found it in the bathroom, the walls smeared with fresh blood. The razor in the sink was covered in it, and they'd barely gotten a look at what else was in the basin when the power cut. She fumbled through her pockets, digging out one of the spare matchbooks they'd had lying around, and tried to strike a match.

The first one broke in her hands, too much pressure making it splinter and clatter to the floor. The second one caught while it was intact, and a dim light illuminated the bathroom again. A voice down the hall yelled about calling help between sprinting footsteps, and she nodded, leaning over the sink to figure out just what she found. The light from the matchflame danced over the room, making the blood even darker and shining off the metal.

It bounced off the razor, too.

She tried to react, but couldn't move quite fast enough. The knife got to her first, and the match sputtered out on the floor as she screamed and then didn't.

He sobbed and sobbed, crushing the matches in his hand as he paced and paced. He knew he couldn't go back tomorrow, it was the close family day, and they never liked him to begin with. But today had gone so wrong, and he couldn't have let it end like this. The viewing had broken down into a mess, and he hadn't even made it inside before the brawl knocked him out and shut down the parlor.

There she was. He had to just say goodbye one more time, but he couldn’t get in. Maybe. His tears cleared as he remembered the spare set of keys by the shed. In, out, no questions, nobody’s grave desecrated. It wasn’t his fault, the fight wasn’t his fault, she wasn’t his fault.

So much for a clearer head.

The bathroom door held firm, despite their attempts to get in. Whatever had taken place within, it had left the door locked from inside. The dirt outside the door was scuffed up and disturbed, fresh from the fight, and the fact it’d been ten minutes without any noise was starting to unnerve all of them. She muttered for the others to hit harder, that she’d do it herself, but the mood didn’t peak above quiet uncomfortableness. It was just uncertain. Unsure. Unknown. Unwilling.

Then the power dropped for a second, and somebody shrieked inside.

She grabbed the fire ax from its place on the wall and slammed. The wood splintered, and the lock gave out. One more hit, and the door swung open, the hall and bathroom flickering as the generator began to give out.

The shed door didn’t give way so much as just plain old fell apart as he threw himself against it. The hinges barely functioned, and rusting tools shook off a coat of red as the entire outbuilding shuddered.

He looked around. Shovels, hoes, gardening and gravedigging implements covered in at least a few months if not years of disuse. The entire shed looked like it had just been forgotten about, and there was nothing that shone like it was well used or new in there at all.

No keys. Great. There went any chance of paying proper respects and sorrow. God, could he just catch a break now? Things were not stopping going wrong, and he just wanted things to go back to how they were, was that so hard, god dammit.

A stomp of frustration knocked even more rust off the tools, and sent a shovel clattering off a shelf to the floor. He spun around, jumpy and exhausted, and a terrible idea suddenly sprung into his mind.

The keys weren’t needed, actually. Just the open door.

Her friend had been gone a while, and she was starting to get a little worried. The others waved her off, telling her it was just one of those flings that happen at parties, but she wasn't buying it. The guy had been a little creepy, maybe a bit too eager, but that could have just been some early alcohol talking. Even so, she was on a little edge.

She took a step outside, into the unfinished yard, the new bathroom outbuilding a dark blob a few dozen feet away. The cold air was refreshing, and helped clear her head a bit. Who knows, maybe it could have been nothing. It was feeling like a slow night so far, after all.

Then she heard a scuffle by the bathroom. Shapes moved fast in the dark, and the door slammed shut. Somebody else heard it too, and threw the switch on the generator for the full place. Every light in the entire project's lot popped on, and she waved her friends over, jiggling the door handle. The light wouldn't last forever, and they needed to get going fast.

The door handle wasn't damaged. The lock, maybe a little more so, but it was nothing that wasn't fixable. Besides, they'd never know, and if they did, they'd get it. They knew how important she was to him, and if they had a choice, they wouldn't let him suffer like this.

Regardless of what they planned, intended, or did, he was finally inside, and finally saw her up close. The reports and rumors hadn't lied, and the faint scar running along her throat the morticians had cleaned up was clearly the mark of a dead woman. Witnessing the moonlight upon her face up close, the sheer sadness of the moment almost overwhelmed how beautiful she was. He shook and stared, muttering to himself, and swung around on the last word, nearly knocking a pot to the floor as he spun in a sickly combination of rage, grief, and…was that envy he was feeling?

She was so beautiful right now, but—no. No, you don't defile a grave like this, no.
This was supposed to be her last place to rest, or at least the stop before it. She deserved respect.

She deserved to see the morning one more time.

It was a blessing that she'd had the foresight to make sure all the nails and spare tools and materials were gone before people started arriving, because with how many people had arrived, somebody would have almost certainly walked onto one. Considering how much alcohol was being passed around, the collective inability of everybody here to not find the construction tools stashed around the rooms was either a miracle or retrospective certainty, but they were having fun, so it didn't matter too much.

A tap on her shoulder, her friend trying to get some attention. Some active partygoer had already paid a visit, and there were lipstick smears over the both of them already. She smiled at him, gears of recognition turning in the back of her head. He looked faintly familiar, but she couldn't quite tell how. She had also seen almost all of the people in here before, though, so he could have simply been a student. Her friend tried to drunkenly stammer out some words, said she wanted to go and have some fun with him, her new on the spot date.

She chuckled, nodded, watched as the two of them walked off. She'd seen him before. She wasn't sure if she was supposed to.

He'd forgotten the roses back home. The matchbook would have to do.

She strolled across the unfinished and rapidly filling room, introducing herself, laughing, joking, filling the party with life. Her friends drifted towards her, happy at a familiar face.

He looked at her from the opposite side of the doorway. She was having the time of her life, but she was surrounded by people. There was no way he’d even get close to her. She’s be far too busy enjoying herself to even acknowledge him.

One of her friends danced between the two of them. A little shorter, hair a little darker, but very similar looking. She made a kissing motion at him, smirking as she stumbled off. Already drunk. Great.

Maybe this night wouldn’t be so bad after all.

They found her in the bathroom, the same one, walls stained with fresh blood and the razor posed in her own lifeless hand. Her dress was almost immaculate, except for the long slashes running across the back, and was doing more to hold her upright than what was left of her ribcage. A note was in the sink, written like a pen had been dipped in blood before the ink started flowing.

“I’m sorry for taking two. I didn’t mean to. I swear, it was nothing personal. I just wanted one.”

They never found her spine. Or those of the other four.

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