An Arm for an Arm
Bodies. Limbs. Blood.
Brynn woke up in a cold sweat, her doorbell pulsing through the apartment. Heart pounding, she took a breath and swung her legs over the side of the couch. Glancing at the clock, she frowned when it read only eight. Who the hell is at my door right now? Office hours don’t start till nine. No one likes going to a funeral home before noon anyways.
With a grimace she pulled herself off the couch, another night spent in rumpled clothing. Brynn walked to the door, raising herself on her toes, glanced out the peephole, and realizing that a box had arrived on her step.
Turning the lock, she grabbed the box and moved it to her lab. No return address, no delivery address, no symbols on the cardboard. With a sigh, Brynn grabbed for her scissors and ripped the package apart in seconds.
As soon as the cardboard unfolded, the smell reached her nose. With a grimace, she promptly pulled back from the package with a strangled sound.
A single arm sat amongst the packaging, sawed off neatly, even better than Brynn could do in the safety of her embalming room.
“I’ve heard of cheap funerals,” Brynn muttered to the arm, “But this is a really disgusting way to save a buck.” She moved the arm carefully to her lab table, where all other unimposing dead bodies ended up. “Now,” she said, examining the arm, “Who exactly do you belong to?”
A knock on the door shook Brynn from her interest, turning from the lone arm and continuing to the top of the stairs. She welcomed the client into the parlor, smile on her face.
“Hello,” she said, “My name is Brynn Fairland, welcome to the Fairland Funeral Home.”
The stranger moved inside, a woman dressed in black. “Hello,” she said, “My name is Dabria Ayler.”
“Well, Ms. Ayler,” Brynn said, “What can I do for you?”
“We have been looking for a while.” Dabria spoke as she walked around the viewing room, Brynn following behind. “My father is making his funeral plans,” she said, “He has a fear of embalming rooms, he wants to be safe even as his body is being ripped to shreds.”
Brynn felt her brow raise, surprise at the blunt language. “Your father will be perfectly safe in my care,” she said, “I swear it.”
The woman turned around sharply, her floaty eyes bearing into Brynn’s. “I should hope so,” she said, voice hovering around the room. “Could you show me?”
“Show you?” Brynn asked, “What would you like me to show you?”
Dabria smiled, wide and inhuman. “What does it feel like to be there?” she asked, “I want to know that my father will be safe.”
Taken aback by the strange request, what kind of person wished to see where their father was going to be opened? Brynn put a smile on her face and opted to humor the strange woman. “You can walk through with me, if it makes this easier.”
“It does,” Dabria said, nodding for Brynn to lead.
Walking down the steps, Brynn stopped, eyes rapidly looking for the right arm she had left just a few minutes ago.
“Have you lost something?” Dabria asked, appearing to the left of Brynn’s vision.
“What?” Brynn looked up sharply, shaking her head. “No, of course not, just making sure everything looks alright.” She walked to her desk. “Go ahead and take a look around.”
Dabria lifted her head in acknowledgement before walking around the lab. “Tell me,” she said, looking at Brynn, “Do you know what it feels like to have these tools dig through your body?”
Brynn froze, turning to look at Dabria, who held the bone saw in her hand. She should have seen the hit coming, yet she simply allowed it to happen, reflexes too slow.
Bodies. Limbs. Blood.
Eyes opening slowly, Brynn felt a bright light shine on her. A dark figure standing to the side.
“Good,” Dabria said, looking down, “You’re awake.” She flicked a needle and moved beside Brynn. “I suggest keeping still for this. You have no control over your limbs—” the twisted smile was back in place “—but it will still hurt with every cut I make.”
Brynn grunted, eyes falling shut again. “What,” she said, “What are you doing?”
Looking at her curiously, Dabria said, “I asked you if you had ever felt the weapons you use.” She held up a bone saw to inspect. “I, for one, know you have.”
Brynn looked at the rotten flesh stretching across the table, her heart pumping the blood through her body and onto the floor. She stared up at the woman and begged, no words, just sounds forming an incoherent need.
“This is what happens every day,” the woman above her whispered, bringing the bone saw down on Brynn’s right arm. “You can’t temper with the homes of the dead, the bodies we abandon, and not expect us to seek our revenge.” She moved her face to Brynn’s ear. “You morphed our bodies and destroyed who we were,” Dabria said softly, “You acted like God, but you will live forever with the pain of man.”
Gasping out, Brynn felt tears pool in her eyes as the metal dug in. “I didn’t mean to. I’m so sorry.”
Tutting, Dabria said, “You always try to apologize, but we both know you meant to everything.”
Dabria lifted the removed arm slowly, looking down at Brynn’s ruined body. She asked, “How about we leave this out tomorrow?” A demonic smile reaches across her face. “It’ll be on the step for you just as you wake up. I’ll make sure to ring the bell.”
Brynn let out a scream, her world going black.
Bodies. Limbs. Blood.
Brynn woke up in a cold sweat, her panic slowing down as she realized she sat on the couch in her office. Just another late night.
Then the doorbell chimed.
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