The Grave Robber – Austin L. Wiggins

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Cloaked by the night Jean crept along deserted streets. The black clothes Jean wore further cloaked him in the moonless night and he went unnoticed despite the clank in his bag caused by the shovel hitting his lantern. Every other step clanked and though it was just past midnight, Jean worried he’d stir the others. The absence of lights in other houses comforted him. Jean mentally repeated, and at times his mouth moved with the thought, the name he was looking for: “John Allen Cross.” He had engraved the name into his soul before he left, but couldn’t bare to have the name leave his tongue.

On the outskirts of town was the cemetery and Jean, having no confrontation along the way, arrived shortly after departing his own home. Headstone by headstone Jean read names of multiple men named John, and stopped a moment to read the epitaph of a John Bronston. “For a good time, dig.” An hour passed as he searched. Jean’s calm walk morphed into a stomp until at last he read the name “John Allen Cross: 1880 – 1920.”

Jean grabbed his shovel and struck at the earth that was damp from the previous day’s rain. He dug two feet into the earth with unwavering focus, but soon he heard footsteps in the distance. He grabbed the lantern next to his hole and patrolled. In the dirt he found fresh footprints that weren’t his own, and they abruptly  vanished in an absurd spot in the middle of the cemetery. Against his intuition, Jean ignored the sign knowing a greater gain was four feet below his current hole. It was the gold of John Allen Cross.

Six feet deep got Jean to the coffin, but before he could celebrate his lamp went out. a scurry of footsteps followed. “Hello,” Jean shouted, but there was no response. Soon his eyes adjusted to the dark and Jean went about opening the coffin. The gold among the skeleton was a mix of spotless to slightly tarnished, but all of it seemed accounted for. Jean heard another rustling above and then a disembodied chuckle. Finally the voice spoke, “So you want the gold of John Allen Cross?”

“Who’s there?” Was all Jean could muster.

“You think you’re deserving of my gold? Well you’re far from it. You’ll be joining me in this pit for another poor petty thief to stumble on.”

The grave began filling. It wasn’t as if it was being filled by a shovel; that would have been easy to escape. Rather, it seem to be dumping into the hole by the truck-full, and the first load thudded hard on Jean’s back. Before he could recover another load came down, and then another. Then the rain started to pour and Jean could feel the dirt turn muddy as he struggled to move. The loads continued. Jean was suffocating as he heard the concussive thuds of more dirt hitting above him. Then all was silent but the gentle plod of rain on the ground above.

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