PodCastle 127: The Belated Burial


by Caitlin R. Kiernan

Read by Amy Elk

Originally published in Subterranean Online (Read the text)

Being buried when one is fully conscious and keenly aware of the confines of her narrow house and the stink of cemetery soil, these things are terrible, but, as she has learned, there is always something incalculably worse than the very worst thing that she can imagine. Miss Josephine has had centuries to perfect the stepwise procession from Paradise to Purgatory to the lowest levels of an infinitely descending Hell, and she wears her acumen and expertise where it may be seen by all, and especially where it may be seen by her lovers (whether they are living, dead, or somewhere in between). So, yes, Brylee objected, but only the halfhearted, token objection permitted by her station. And then she did as she was bidden. She dressed in the funerary gown from one of her mistress’ steamer trunks, the dress, all indecent, immaculate white lace and silk taffeta; it smells of cedar and moth balls. Amid the palest chrysanthemums and lilies, babies breath and albino roses, she lay down in the black-lacquered casket, which is hardly more than a simple pine box, and she did not move. She did not make a sound. Not breathing was, of course, the simplest part. Miss Josephine laid a heavy gold coin on each of her eyelids before the mourners began to arrive, that she would have something to give the ferryman.

“She was so young,” one of the vampires said, the one named Addie Goodwin.

“Your sorrow must be inconsolable,” said another, the man whom they all call simply Signior Garzarek, who came all the way from New York for the mock-somber ceremony in the ancient yellow house on Benefit Street.

Rated R: Violence, Sex, and Disturbing Themes