July 27th, 1998 Quarry Park, Calgary, Alberta
rating: +13+x

It was 10 AM and Greg Tremblay was standing under the morning sun waiting on a bus so he could start his route selling to the good people of Quarry Park, Alberta. Greg was looking good all things considered. This was partly because he had decided to slick his hair back today and trying something new always made him feel better about himself. The other reason one could say Greg looked good today was that he had been dead for 6 years now.

Not almost dead, pretty dead, or even partly dead. Greg Tremblay had died falling off his roof, resting peacefully in the graveyard behind him for some time now. Today, the dead man was up and walking about, feeling the sun on his face, clutching a leather suitcase and humming to himself softly. His own reanimation seemingly unnoticed or unimpressive to himself, he looked at his watch and scowled slightly as the bus finally came around the corner.

It’s important to note that Greg didn’t look dead, or even like he’d been buried for half a decade. He had his wallet on him, a shine to his shoes, coffee on his breath, and maybe only the slightest of musk to him though not unexpected from a man of his size waiting in the sun. So it didn’t seem unusual for the bus driver to stop and open the door for a dead man waiting on a bus that day. It didn’t seem strange at all when he had exact change and took a seat near the front as the bus pulled away from the cemetery. What was out of the ordinary was the white "Scaffolding, Construction & Plumbing" van across the street that was running Greg’s face through an advanced database of residents buried there in the last twenty years. To be fair, no one noticed that either.

Greg was riding South, towards Douglas Glen, though he would transfer and head towards Douglasdale for his first stop of the day. He couldn’t go North, so some of the other guys who got up that day from the cemetery would cover the neighborhood. Too many people up there that might know Greg. His family was further North, past Riverbend, but some acquaintances might recognize him that way still. Not that this was at the forefront of his mind this morning. Whatever the thing that pulled him from death to be a salesman was, it also took into consideration planning his route to avoid the complications of running into those who might have known him in his previous life.

Seraph. That was the thing. Well, it was something. On his business cards, the ones he had in his breast pocket, it read "The Seraph Manufacturing Company," though asking him about who that was would get you the same run around as a man who hadn’t read the fine print. The same run around as a man who forgot exactly who he was supposed to call back but had dialed the number anyways. Or maybe it was what? It wasn’t important right now. At least it wasn't important to Greg as he made his transfer and prepared for his first sales pitch of the day.

Lightly drumming on the suitcase he carried, by his outside appearance he seemed a little anxious. Any fidgeting he displayed though was unrelated to the fact he had been in the ground rotting until 9:45 AM this morning. It was also unrelated to the fact that his suitcase was filled with dead squirrels taxidermied into awkward pen holders. Well, his anxiousness was somewhat about what was in the suitcase, but more about how he would make the sale to these people and less about how or why he had a suitcase full of dead animals.

In his life, he had been an electrician. His work was pretty straight forward, usually repairing bad wiring and helping people install new TVs and home security systems. None of that knowledge was in play as he stepped off the bus and walked up to the first house on the right and rang their bell. He slicked back his hair one more time and tugged his shirt sleeve down a bit as a woman opened her door.

“Hello, wonderful morning we’re having! Practically balmy out here!” Greg exclaimed, shifting his suitcase between hands.

“Why, yes, it’s, it’s very nice out today.” The middle-aged woman agreed, somewhat hesitantly but still opening the door wider as to not be rude.

“Ma’am, I’m sure you’re busy, you look like a busy woman. Lot of things you got to take care of around your house. Lot of things you need to sign for with a pen, correct?”

“Well, I do suppose. But, but I already have a pen? I have plenty of pens.”

“Probably more pens than you know where to put them, am I right? Probably got a whole drawer of pens somewhere in this lovely house of yours and they probably move every time you open that drawer, right?” Greg tried to give an expression that read as exasperation and pained, stressing this as a struggle most suburban households face.

“I mean, yes, that, that is an issue I have,” she said despite this not being an issue she had.

“Well, ma’am, my name is Greg Tremblay, but Greg will do just fine. I’m with Seraph and I have the answer to your prayers right here in this case.”

“Greg? I, I would like to know more about what this is you have.” She seemed to beam and leaned out her door a little more at this.

“Wonderful! Let me just flick the flaps and kick out this little stand and, there you go! Take a look at these fine pen holders we’re offering you today!” Setting up his suitcase to stand on its own, Greg revealed the wares he was selling today in the bright sunlight.

“What are, are these, these are squirrels?”

“Correct, ma’am! Nothing but grade A squirrels we’ve got in only the best and funnest little poses, ready to hold any pen you got! Can I see that one you have there?”

“Sure. Oh, oh my, that little one on the left, it’s like it’s holding a flag it’s saluting? It’s got a little uniform on too!” The woman pointed to the one on the right with more excitement than anyone had ever pointed at a taxidermied squirrel before.

“You’ve got an eye for the finer things I see, ma’am! That’s our ‘Active Service Men and Women Squirrel Pen Holder’ model. We’ve also got the ‘Sir Chitters and the Pen is Mightier than the Sword’ model over here next to him. Then, and here’s one I don’t show the older ladies, but I think you’ll appreciate it, here’s our, ‘Squirrel on a Stick’ model, though as you can see..”

“Oh goodness, that’s too rich! And they all hold just one pen each?” Giggling to herself, the woman could see why Greg wouldn't should a more conservative viewer the squirrel with a pen stuck in its bottom region and exaggerated googly eyes glued to its head.

“Yes, we found that multiple pens just made the squirrels look silly, you know? How often does anyone really hold two pens at once in each hand?”

“I can see what you mean Mr. Tremblay.” The unnamed woman replied as she stepped out of her doorway a little more.

“Greg is fine, Miss…?”

“Janet. Janet Smither.”

“Janet, can I get you to commit to taking one of these lovely little models out of my hands today? We’ve got a great deal going on for folks like you, the boss wants these gone before tonight. How’s this, $24.99, down from $56.99, right here and now, no future payments or commitments needed?”

“Greg! You’re, you just gonna cut to the chase then? I mean, that’s, it’s twenty-two dollars off! I think you have yourself a deal!” This was anything but a deal, but powers beyond either of them would allow it to be acknowledged.

“That’s what I like to hear, Janet! Now I’ll need you to sign here for a receipt, great, and which model do you want to hold that great fountain pen you’ve got?”

“Oh, um, I think I’m just loving that first one you showed me.”

“Ah, wonderful! Our ‘Active Service Men and Women Squirrel Pen Holder’ model. I’m sorry to see it go so quickly today, you’re making my job harder taking our top model but I’m sure I’ll find homes for the rest of them! How will you be paying?” Greg asked her as he put the squirrel into a little brown bag and pulled out the needed paperwork for the transaction to be recorded on.

“Is cash acceptable?”

“All currency is acceptable with Seraph, Janet.”

“Thank you, have a wonderful day Greg!”

“Same to you Janet, enjoy that little guy, though watch out, he’s a bit nuts!” Greg exclaimed as he packed up his suitcase and headed down her front walk to the street.

“Oh, you!”

And with that, the woman named Janet brought an awkwardly stuffed squirrel dressed as a military serviceman into her home to hold a single pen on her desk. No one in her household would question it, despite it standing out from all the rest of her decorations. No one except for out of town guests who were still too polite to actually question it but would raise eyebrows about it and steal a picture of it to post online later. The powers that be couldn't stop everyone in existence from thinking some elements of this were odd.

As Greg Tremblay left the yard, no one would notice as the unremarkable van from before screeched to a halt and pulled him into it. His protests and resistance would fall on deaf ears. His following interview and interrogation would be largely useless and tedious. By 8 PM that night his body would revert to the decayed mess it had been only 12 hours earlier. Getting his body back into the grave it had been resting in was beginning to be routine at this point for the Foundation field agents on this assignment in Quarry Park.

MTF-ζ “Public Eye” was still working on what to do about the suitcase full of poorly taxidermied squirrels left behind. For a while, it was kept in a biohazard containment area. Then it was tested for anomalous properties and DNA sources. After being deemed not unusual, if badly stuffed, the squirrels were incinerated. The only remaining proof that Greg Tremblay had traveled from his resting point in the graveyard to a home in Douglasdale was a stuffed squirrel sitting in the den of a Janet Smith. The squirrel forever holding a salute and sometimes holding a fountain pen.

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