The Lively Corpse by Doug Robbins

I stood over the corpse of Inga Johnson, grinning. “She looks so peaceful,” I thought. Her red lips sloped downwards in a natural state of nothingness. Rouge gave color to her otherwise colorless face; her eyes shut, so gently that they looked like they wanted to pop open any second. I laughed at the idea of a corpse opening its eyes. “Preposterous,” I balked. Suddenly the cadaver’s eyes did pop open.

I leapt back as the corpse sat up, inclined her head toward me. “Howdy, buckaroo!” Inga said. My voice trembled as I tried to address the corpse.

“What are you doing? You’re dead don’t you know that?” “Yeah I know it,” Inga said. “I just don’t care.”

Inga hopped out of the coffin and landed on her feet with a thud. She swayed back and forth and stared to dance. I felt my face grow hot. “Miss Johnson...” I pleaded with Inga: “You funeral is at noon tomorrow. And your friends and family aren’t going to want to see you dancing about and acting a fool: so if you would kindly climb back into your coffin and behave as a corpse ought to behave, then I can finish making the final preparations.”

The stubborn corpse stopped dancing and looked me in the eye; she got in my face, poked me in the chest, using her pencil-like finger. “Now you see here, sonny,” Inga warned. “It’s my funeral and I want to see my friends and family tomorrow and I won’t let some mortician stop me!”

I bit my lip: “Do you want to frighten everyone half to death?” I blurted out.

“Me? Frighten?” Inga asked. “I just want to see my husband, Al, and my grandson, David.”

I reached into the back pocket of my dress pants and pulled out my wallet. I opened up the wallet and pulled out a ten dollar bill: “Look: I’ll give you ten dollars if you get in the coffin and pretend none of this ever happened.”

The corpse rolled her eyes and folded her arms across her chest. “I will do no such thing!” Inga grumbled.

I shook my head. “You don’t know the way the world works do you, lady?” “How you mean?” “The dead stay dead. Period. What you’re doing goes against all natural law.” “But what are such laws but man-made concepts?” Inga argued. “Is anything in life absolute? No, of course not. So what does it matter if a corpse dances and walks upright?” Inga stretched her arms and yawned. “I’m tired,” she said, “I think I’ll go to bed now.’’

“Well, rest in peace,” I said, smiling. “Don’t get your hopes up,” Inga scolded me. “I’m just going to sleep for the night,” she said, “I’ll be up in plenty of time for my funeral.”

“Great,” I said, with some sarcasm. “Good night.”

“Good night,” Inga returned.

In the middle of the eulogy the next day, the coffin lid popped open and Inga sat up. The funeral crowd gasped, a couple of women fainted. Inga stared silently at the crowd. Her mouth was frozen in a yawn and her eyes were wide open. To the onlookers it appeared the corpse had been stuck in a frozen scream.

“Thank God,” I thought to myself. “Rigor Mortis has set in.”

Doug attends Wittenberg University where he majors in English. He grew up in Springfield but now lives in an apartment in Enon with his two cats Autumn and Jade. His horror collection, Holiday Hell, is available for purchase at Amazon and Createspace.