Tuesday, 29 September 2009

SHOTGUN WEDDING - A Short Story of Horror, well, kinda...

by Matthew Glenn Ward

How was I to know that wearing a condom can actually increase the chances of getting a ghoul pregnant.

My ladylove’s name is Elizabeth Wonderplowe. She is forever 17. She’s 17 and so am I.

Elizabeth died of plague in 1851. In 1996, I threw myself off a cliff, and thanks to a litterbug and a rusty 1972 Holden Kingswood, instead of the dramatically romantic demise of drowning in the ocean, I just broke my neck on the diff of a very common and lacklustre Australian sedan.

So, Elizabeth and I lived 145 years apart, but we both died at age 17. Quite romantic, isn’t it? We have everything in common. We both like music, but we do have different tastes in bands. Me, I like late 1970s punk. She is more into circa 1850s traveling minstrels singing about the gold rush.

Elizabeth is pregnant, ‘with zombie’. Her father, the right honorable Cleveland Wonderplowe, sneered as he thrust a gun in my ribs. Shotgun weddings shouldn’t be a worry because you’d think there’d be no pain when you’re a ghost, but the funny thing is there is pain, and sorrow, and also happiness. This didn’t used to be the way, the old timers tell me. But it all changed a long time ago...

* * *

The story goes that in 1714 God and the Devil got drunk together to reconcile old differences. They spent an afternoon quaffing tequila. Well, they laughed. They cried. They stared blankly at a blaring jukebox saying they had wasted their lives. God said he was sorry he lost his temper that day he threw the Devil out of Heaven and into Hell. The Devil forgave him, and said he, too, had a confession, that he had disguised himself as God and had had his way with God’s wife while God was away trying to swing things in the favour of the Christians during Crusades II.

This last confession infuriated God so much that he slapped the Devil in the face with a leather glove, in essence challenging him to a duel. Pearl-handled cosmic cannons at dawn. In the atmosphere on the other side of The Sun.

St. Peter was God’s second. The Devil initially chose God as his second, then after God gave The Devil a WTF look The Devil decided to be his own second.

God thought about St. Peter’s suggestion of swapping the Devil’s cosmic ammunition for silver-dipped martyrs from other faiths, but he thought better of it knowing that he’d never get any sleep, what with all that guilt.

So, there they were, God and the Devil, back-to-back, Good and Evil in the fight to end all fights.

Well, to cut a long story a little shorter than it could have been, they both turned and fired at exactly the same time. 500,000 warheads the size of mountains collided with each other causing such a tumult that both God and the Devil were thrust back into twin black holes. The kings of Good and Evil were crushed down to the size of carbon bees, and they drifted into the blackness.

* * *

Heaven and Hell ceased to exist that day, I was told. No longer would God and the Devil intervene in the lives of people on the planet Earth.

And so, here I was in a cemetery, never to leave, all because two old friends who became enemies decided to become friends again.

Those who come to a place like this can never get out as there are invisible boundaries that zap you if you try. The individuals look like they did the day they died; they sleep, don’t have to eat but can if they want to. We’re stuck here forever because there’s no longer a Heaven or Hell to go to. And we are invisible to the living so if they come here, they can’t help.

* * *

The guests started arriving. I went on my last night of freedom last night, drinking blood & wine cocktails from the skull of a Dadaist who wanted his head buried in the cemetery and his torso burned in the crematorium. I was taken to a ‘strip club’ which was really a secluded part of the Catholic section where ravens watched from tall trees as Potato Famine teen girls from the year 1847 did lap dances in my gracious lap.

My now heavily pregnant bride appeared, stumbled up the aisle, escorted by her father who looked at me with one eye while he bent down to pick up the other that had fallen out and rolled away. The guests cheered, and some of the women cried. Boer War veterans toyed with their medals.

When Elizabeth got to the altar, our zombie baby chose then to fall out and onto the ground, as zombie babies are wont to do. The matron of honour wiped it down with a souvenir 1902 Coronation hanky, and everyone applauded as the zombie baby stood up on its own - and I was amazed to see it was actually born in a tiny suit!

The ghost priest smiled in that way only priests do at weddings.

Then the zombie baby brought forth a velvet cushion with two rings. I noticed the rings had stones that were black, shiny and mysterious. My future father-in-law had said before the ceremony that he had acquired them from somewhere but wouldn’t say exactly.

I put one ring on Elizabeth’s ring finger. She put the other ring on my finger.

We exchanged vows. We kissed.

Everyone was ecstatic as we walked arm-in-arm between the graves. Hundreds of ghouls applauded us and threw maggots, cos rice can swell in a pigeon’s stomach and choke them to death.

* * *

That night, Elizabeth and I lay in opened stone caskets in our own wedding present from her parents: a stone sarcophagus. After some spine-melting lovemaking, she held me tight and I her as well. Everything was perfect.

Our wedding rings on our fingers shone in the moonlight that seeped in through the crack in the roof of our sarcophagus. Then the strange black stones on the rings seemed to move. I heard a ‘tink tink’ sound, like when you knock on a TV screen with your fingertips. Then tiny voices. I looked closely at both rings and could see little faces. Their mouths seemed to be saying: “Let me out! Let me out!” One figure had a white beard. The other, horns.


This story has been accepted to be published in issue 7 of House of Horror (UK) out Dec 1st 2009.

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