The Resurrection Man

The Resurrection Man

A Story by Phil Kuhlman

They used to call gravediggers "Resurrection Men". Wonder why?



        “So does anyone know what this is all about?” The elderly woman asked from the back of the room. It was a dusty old room, at one point it was the city hall, but after years of neglect and expansion, the city donated the land it was on to the use of a graveyard.

        “Can't say I do, Mrs. Berkman. I think we all received the same letter.” John Peters turned in his chair towards the rest of the crowd. With just this crowd, you had the majority of the family history of Blueflag, Texas. The Boyds, Berkmans, Peters, Golds, Schmidts, all of them had a representative, as did all the other big families composing the group. At least 20 people were now sitting in the dank, musty old wooden meeting hall awaiting their host. John opened his letter again, reviewing it briefly before folding it back up. “Fact is, I believe we're all being blackmailed. At least that's what I gathered from my letter, and from Dwayne Golds when he showed me.” Mrs. Berkmen sighed heavily and wrapped her ancient fingers around the top of her purse.

        “I haven't done anything wrong, there's no reason for me to be here!” She snapped through her thin lips. In the back, a few people murmured to themselves. Something about her mother, a bottle of sleeping pills, and a nice piece of property to build a house on. She ignored it, attempting to put herself back on her pedestal.

        “Well, when our host gets here you can tell him that.” The door opened and creaked shut behind a middle-aged man. His hair was only somewhat gray, but his body language made him seem so much older. As he entered the room and stepped into the light near where the podium once stood the people recognized that this was Glen Henson. He was the local gravedigger. For as long as some of them could remember the Henson's were always in charge of the graveyard.

        “Glad you're all here...”

        “What's the point of all this, Glen?” A voice from the back echoed across the hallow walls.

        “The point? The point is that you all have something to answer for, each and every one of you, and it's time you did.”

        “Blackmail then, Glen?” A man stood up from the crowd. He was tall, well-built, and upon his chest sat a silver badge. “I could haul you in for this right this minute.”

        “Derrick, I suggest you just calm right down and hear me out, I believe it's for the best.” Derrick looked around for a moment before nodding to Glen and taking his seat. “Thank you. Now we can get started. Any of you know the term “resurrection man”? It's a name for a gravedigger basically. Well, we didn't get that name for being good at our job. You see, this may seem fantastic, but hear me out, after all, I do have enough dirt on you to cover a thousand graves, my friends. Anyway, I've been the gravedigger of this particular lot since it opened, and before that, I was in charge of the old cemetery near Burke's lane.”

        “That's impossible, this has been the only working graveyard since I was a little girl!” snapped Mrs. Berkman.

        “You should know, you did bury your mother here after she overdosed on those pills, right Mrs. Berkman? I bet you'd give anything to have her back.”

        “Of course I would!”

        “Well I can oblige that. As I was saying, many years ago I was given a fantastic gift. I became a real resurrection man if you will. It was taught to me by the first gravedigger out at the old lot back in the 1800's, and after he retired, it fell to me. You see, they call the art “Necromancy” and I got pretty good at it. The only problem is that it costs next to nothing to bring a spirit back, but sending one back takes months, sometimes years off my own life.”

        “Bullshit...” Mrs. Berkman muttered.

        “If you'll all take a look outside, you'll see we're about to have a visitor. It'll take her some time to get up the hill, but you'll be happy to see your dear sweet mother is on her way back to pay you a visit.” The crowd snickered, jeered, and laughed as they all got up, almost as one, and started to walk away, many planning to do so to simply go home, until they actually saw the dusty figure in the distance, tattered clothes hanging loosely off a bony frame as it lumbered up the hill. Glen simply waited as the crowd rushed back in, some screaming horrified, others simply in silent shock. None more silent than Mrs. Berkman, until she made eye contact with Glen.

        “What do you want?” She screamed. Glen simply laughed as he smiled back.

        “But I thought you'd want your mom back, so she could prove to everyone that those rumors about you and those nasty pills weren't true.”

        “How much do you want, just send her back!”

        “It'll take time off my own life you know, and she'll take quite a bit to send back. Lets make it twenty grand flat?” A loud banging startled the group. It seemed that Mrs. Berkman's mom wanted in.

        “You son of a b***h!” The old woman's bony fingers reached deep into her purse, dragging a check book out.

        “Just make it out to cash, that was always my favorite nickname you know.” She snarled as he took the check, folded it, and tucked it into his shirt pocket. He closed his eyes for a moment and the knocking stopped. “Now you all understand. All of your loved ones are coming back to see you to disprove all the horrible things that were said about you and their demises, isn't this a good thing? I'm fairly sure you've all said at one point that you wanted nothing more.” Dr. Clark Gold slowly approached Glen, pulling a pen and a pocketbook from his coat.

        “Um, my wife was an amazing woman, but I'm fairly sure it'd be better for me if she was left to rest. I mean, her waking up to answer questions about that surgery I had to perform, well, she just wouldn't appreciate it.”

        “Oh I understand completely Mr. Gold. We'll just tuck her back in, it'll only cost you seven thousand.

        “A fair price for a good nights rest, right sir?” Gold smiled as he turned back to his seat, sweating like a w***e in church.
        “And you Peter, how much would you pay to make sure your brother kept to himself?”

        “What?” Peter looked up, shock in his eyes.

        “You know, your brother? I believe his brakes failed soon after his wedding, right? He's a lucky man to have a brother like you to take care of his lovely young wife and that beautiful house. Just how much did he pay for that car?”

        “He paid this much...” Peter slowly walked over to Glen, and handed him a check. Glen smiled and closed his eyes again. In the distance, a groan faded in and out.

        “Now this has gone on far enough!” Derrick stood back up and produced his revolver.

        “Say, now, you shouldn't be so upset, you're about to get to settle that old rumor that you planted the evidence in that suicide case involving John “The butcher” Bradley!”

        “Um, what?” Derrick froze.

        “You know, John Bradley? The man who killed all those folks at Grackle's Nest Asylum all those years ago that was found dead in his cell on your watch? He was sane, oh don't you doubt that, so there will be no problem with him explaining to everyone just what really happened that night. I'm sure he'll especially enjoy seeing you, the man who bravely tried to get him out of that cell while he was hanging by his shoe strings, but the door had a malfunction, right?”

        “Yeah...yeah, it much?”

        “How does fifteen thousand sound to keep a man down, literally speaking?”

        “It's fine, I'll do it.” Derrick signed his check over, sat down, and put his head in his hands.

        As the night wore on, each of them paid the gravedigger's toll and left the building somewhat more somber than when they arrived. All but Peter. Glen waited for the crowd to disperse before stopping Peter.

        “Oh Peter? You'll be receiving your just reward for this by the way. I want to thank you for gathering all this dirt for me.”

        “Don't thank me, just get me my cash and get the hell out of town, I never want to hear about you again.”

        “Don't you think you're asking a bit much for your cut though?”

        “You think I don't deserve that? All you did was put on a ghost show and told a moronic story. We all know your family has worked this place, it wasn't just you all these years. Hell, your story even had a huge hole in it. You didn't age one bit when putting those “ghosts” back in the grave. Hell, you broke character. Each time you would you'd get a bit more spry, more lively. You're lucky they didn't figure you out!”

        “Well what if I lied? Maybe it's all true, but that part?” He chuckled “Why would a necromancer get older for playing with souls like that? Perhaps he'd get younger? If I had said that I would have lost the crowd's reason to pay me off. You know, that whole part about how much my time was worth?”

        “My time's too valuable to listen to this s**t. Just get me my cut, and get out of town. That's what I'm planning. You just told all these people I killed my brother, you moron!”

        “They were all horrible people too, and they all paid. All but you.”

        “Oh no, are you going to dress some hobo up as a ghoul and send him to get me?”

        Peter turned away and left for home. The drive felt heavy for him, the air, the way the car moved, all of it. Finally, his home was in sight. Something was wrong though. Glen looked very young, younger than he really was. When Peter was a kid he remembered the gravedigger looked just like Glen, but that was Glen's dad. The old b*****d's story was getting to him.

        “Snap out of it, moron. You're a rich man, richer at least. Soon you'll be out of this backwater and in the Bahamas thanks to this town full of superstitious idiots.” He laughed nervously, trying not to pay attention to the shadows jumping across trees as his lights flew by them.

        His sleep was troubled though. For the first time in years he was thinking about his brother, about the smile Glen had when he buried him, and the wink he sent to Peter as he offered his condolences.

        The sudden bang at the door shook him from his sleep. His wife didn't react one bit, she was still dead asleep. Peter fumed as he walked down the steps. It had to be Glen. The son of a b***h made him have those dreams about his brother. All of it. Probably asking for a bigger cut or something.

        “God d****t, what are you doing here at this hour, I already told you...” His blood froze as the shambling figure approached the door. It looked up, grinning, skin flaking, clothes tattered, and spoke.

        “Did you ever wonder why they were called Resurrection men, Peter?”

        Glen smiled in his cabin, counting his take. He knew this would hold him over for a few more decades. After that, it'd be time to collect on the town's dirt again. Just like he did dozens of times before. Every generation has it's secrets, and for a resurrection man, the dead silence speaks louder than words.



© 2008 Phil Kuhlman

My Review

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Excellent story! The whole "Resurrection Man" concept is very cool. Good ending, too! Nice work, indeed.

Posted 15 Years Ago

Fun. Very "Tales From the Crypt."


Posted 16 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

WOW!!! This story was definately awesome! I love the creativity of it and it's definately going in my favorites if I can figure out how the new WC works that!

Posted 16 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Thanks, as it is I wrote the story in about 45 minutes. It's got a lot of room for growth and such, but since I'm dealing with one of the more irritating chemo side effects called "chemo-brain". Basically, it makes you feel like you got ADD so it makes it pretty hard to write. However, I wanted to get something out so that I don't get rusty. The story itself is my retelling/tweaking of an old twilight zone episode. The concept came from Mr. Serlings excellent tv show, but I wanted to give it more of a "creepshow/tales from the crypt" style ending. It's not literature that you can teach in school, but I hope at the least it's entertaining for folks who put the effort into reading it.

And for the life of me, I can't remember the episode that inspired this story. I remembered the title was "mr." something and something else. I can blame my lack of memory here on either chemo brain, or watching it at 3:30 in the morning while half-asleep.

Posted 17 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Not bad. Like a good read.

Posted 17 Years Ago

1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Phil, I just don't know what to say, I can't believe how good this really is, especially since I happen to know that you only banged it out on your keyboard this afternoon. Like all your work-product, other-than a little editing, is it a fantastic, hypnotic read. And as much as I know "The twilight Zone", this has such an Originality, I cna't think of which inspired you. N

Posted 17 Years Ago

2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

As he entered the room and stepped into the light near where the podium once stood the people recognized him. His name was Glen Henson.

You might want to reword this to they recognized him as Glen Henson. Gives it a more polished feel.

This is a great story. I love the idea behind it. I felt the end cut off abruptly and maybe a little formatting there could have let the reader know it was about to change direction.

The only other issue I had with this was the dialouge. It didn't quite hold true to each character. When you have so many voices in a small story it is hard to give them an individual identity. I would read it over and see what could be done to make them all seem to be different than one another.

Good story, I wouldn't mind reading more.

Posted 17 Years Ago

2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

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7 Reviews
Added on February 5, 2008
Last Updated on February 6, 2008


Phil Kuhlman
Phil Kuhlman

Kerrville, TX

I am a published author in the Horror genre. Thus far, my publication credits include "Shadows In The Snow" in the summer issue (#3) of Shroud: The Journal of Dark Fiction and Art, "Open House" in the.. more..


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