Tombstone Key

Tombstone Key

A Story by Abaddon

What happens after you die? Is there an afterlife? Perhaps.


„Isn’t it beautiful?“  the black winged creature asked. I looked up to it, rain drops streaming down my face. It was a bitterly cold autumn afternoon with nothing but grey clouds and cold rain.

“What is beautiful about a funeral?” I asked the creature. It blinked at me with confusion, as if I’d been speaking gibberish.

“What do you mean?”

“This person died and everyone is crying. The air is thick with sorrow “

The creature let its long slim legs dangle from the tombstone it was sitting on. It crossed its arms and leaned back, looking relaxed as if it was a warm summer day. I watched how the priest made the sign of the cross while the coffin descended into the ground. The widow cried out loud and fell onto her knees, her son held her while she cried. The people around her were too drunk from their sadness that they barely noticed her.

“He’s reached the state of infinity. In this very moment, all attention belongs to him.” The dark thing beside me snapped its fingers in front of me. “Are you listening?”

I glanced into its glowing white eyes.

“Do humans only deserve attention when they’re dead?” The creature picked up a daisy from the grave below him and twisted its stem between index finger and thumb.

“If they want genuine attention, then yes” I frowned at that statement. Then I looked at the crowd around the fresh grave.

“This is stupid.”

“Indeed. But it’s true.” The creature handed me the daisy and stepped from the tombstone. I could barely hold the daisy �" my handy were feeling numb. It had become really cold.

The creature stood up and started to walk towards the crowded grave.

“Uhm…” I cleared my throat. The creature’s black wings looked like a billion of shimmering, black glass shards when it turned around.

“Yes, human?”

I clenched my hands together. Then I opened my mouth to ask what or who it was, but before I could speak it smirked.

“You already know who I am.” And with those words it slowly faded away.

I walked closer to the grave when all the people had left. The undertaker was shovelling dirt onto the white coffin until it was fully covered. Meanwhile the person whose body laid underground sat next to me underneath the weeping willow. He sighed and stared at the fresh grave. “I didn’t want to end up like this. My family still needs me.” I looked at him. He looked no older than me, maybe two or three years.

“One moment”, he snapped his fingers, “and everything’s over. Damn it all.”

“It ain’t too bad. Your family will be okay after some time, believe me.”

We sat there in silence for a few minutes until he offered me his hand.

“The name’s Barrett.” I shook his hand. “Connor.”

Barrett smiled slightly. I pointed at the right side pocket of his trousers.

“I believe someone left you a gift.”

Barrett frowned and grabbed into his pocket. He then held a key in his hand.

“Is… is this the key to heaven?” He asked while mustering the little thing with his brown eyes. It shimmered like a white opal stone.

“Heaven, Nirvana �"whatever you like to call it.” I answered. I stood up and looked into the sky.

“You should go soon. I don’t know for how long the key will be valid.” An expression of fear and panic came across his face. He abruptly stood up and looked around as if he’d be searching for something.

“You mean I have to hurry?”

“Well, no. Not yet. The lock to this key is your tombstone. You have to wait until it’s finished and on top of your grave. From that point on, I wouldn’t hesitate if I was you.” I put my hands into the pocket of my jacket and turned on my heels to face Barrett. “Unless you want to stay here forever. I wouldn’t recommend it.” I looked at his key: it what as white as a pearl and its shimmer was brighter than any other key’s. It was beautiful. I’ve never seen one like it. Barrett must’ve been a good person.

“You know… this very key is linked to your new life. As soon as you insert it into the lock and twist, you’ll be reborn.” I walked closer to him and looked into his eyes. “Do not lose it.”

A few days went by and Barrett stayed with his family until the tombstone arrived in the graveyard. He came and opened the door as soon as one possibly could. He didn't even say good bye.

The next funeral was a month later. The newcomer was an old woman who died of old age. She didn't have many relatives or friends, so the funeral went by fast. The granny's name was Rosie and her key was silver like her hair. Rosie stayed for a few weeks until she left. She was quite nice, even though her life story consisted of only cats and knitting.


I never saw the creature again that appeared on Barrett's funeral until one day. I remember it well, it was the 1st of August 2043, 26 years after Barrett’s funeral. It was a very humid and sunny summer day. There was barely any rain the days before and the wind was nowhere to be found. Clouds also seemed to avoid my town. Most of the flowers in the graveyard had become limp and their colours faded. This funeral was... special. One might even say odd. There was no priest and no family nor friends. The one burying the freshly deceased person was a stranger. She talked to the urn while carrying it to the grave.  It seemed like the stranger didn't exactly know what to say. She just set the urn into the shallow hole in the ground and wiped off some sweat from her face.

"F*****g s**t. I don't even know you, why do I have to bring you here?" She looked around as if she'd feel me watching her.

"This is bullshit. I hate graveyards." The woman kept on cursing while burying the urn with her bare hands. When she was finished she searched for something. She plucked a withered crocus from another grave and stuck it onto the fresh one she just made. Then she patted the dry dirt off her hands and stood up. After standing there for a few seconds she closed her eyes and her facial expression got thoughtful. Then she sighed and let out a half muttered curse.

"Ok, listen, dude. I must be nuts for talkin' to ya, but I gotta apologize. I ain't knowin' any prayers. So I’ll just leave and..." The woman quickly made the cross sign over the grave and whispered "amen" before leaving the graveyard in a fast, almost stressed pace. While this was occurring I just stood beside Barrett's grave and watched from a distance. Then I heard a familiar sound. The sound of flattering wings and a soft tapping sound of claws hitting stone.

"Hello my old friend. Still here, I see?" I searched the source of the voice with my eyes. Then I saw it. The creature from many years ago.

"Long time no see." I said. It jumped from the tombstone it was sitting on to the next one besides the new grave. Its glowing white eyes mustered the messy pile of dirt with the crocus. Then it reached through the ground and grabbed something. The creature pulled and I could see the hand of a woman inside its claw. The hand was attached to an arm, and the arm belonged to a woman with butterscotch coloured, wavy hair. Her dark brown, round eyes wandered around in surprise while the creature lifted her up from the grave.

"Callisto Serena Evans. What a gorgeous name. Too beautiful for a grave without a tombstone." The creature said with a slight tone of pity in its voice. Callisto's slim face, now directed at the winged thing, looked so innocent. She didn't know what had happened to her. The creature let go of her hand and started to walk around her. He looked like a carnivore strutting around its prey. Just not as intimidating. Her glance followed the creature while it eyeballed her. Her rosy cheeks were ornamented with freckles.

"Who are you?" She asked. Her melodic voice sounded like she had a beautiful singing voice.

"I? You needn't know. The only thing that matters is this." The feathered being handed her a key with an elegant gesture. This key looked exactly like the one Barrett had. Callisto confusedly smiled and a dimple appeared on her right cheek.

"I do not understand. What is all this?"

"Take it. Find the matching lock. Connor will help you." As soon as I heard my name I frowned. I should help her find the lock? There is no tombstone. This would be to no avail.

Callisto looked at me in confusion. She held the key towards me.

"What does he mean?"

"I don't know. You'd need a tombstone to use the key."

The creature smirked and a slight glimpse of amusement danced in its pale eyes. Then it turned around and slowly faded away like it did 26 years ago. Without a word it just left me to wonder about its existence.

I turned to the girl and explained that she was dead and that she couldn't start a new cycle in her reincarnation without a tombstone. She seemed to fully understand, which was strange since many others may have panicked.

"But... why does one need a tombstone?" She asked after thinking through everything. I opened my mouth to answer her question, but then I realised: I didn't know.

The tombstone thing was so automated that I totally forgot the meaning of it. Was there even a meaning? I started to question myself. The girl let me snap out of my thoughts when she tapped me on my shoulder.

"My mom once told me a story about the afterlife. People got a key from death and they used it to travel into heaven. The lock for the key could be everything that the deceased believed would be right to be heaven's gates."

I shook my head. "Nice story, but things do not work like that."

"Then how do they work?"

"I don't know. But they don't work this way."

The girl smiled calmly and looked at me. "You'll be my witness if my plan works. Tell the people that are to come." With those words she turned around and stuck the key into the weeping willow besides Barrett's grave. As she twisted it, she faded away.

She was gone.

I couldn't believe it. So many years I thought only the own tombstone could be the door. And now... I am proven wrong.

I sat beside Barrett’s grave and closed my eyes. I guess I shouldn't have thrown my key away when my tombstone was destroyed.


© 2016 Abaddon

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Added on April 3, 2016
Last Updated on April 3, 2016
Tags: ghost, key, creature, death, funeral, opal, white, pure heart, stuck, graveyard, girl, Connor, Barrett, Callisto, Evans, butterscotch, brown, eyes, round




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