Bring Out Your Dead 

by Kerry E.B. Black 

I hear the cart wheels. They crunch over the gravel as though grinding bones. I cringe beneath my blankets and pray he’ll pass by again tonight, because I know his name. Every night since we moved here to England, I hear his voice echo through the fog-filled streets. “Bring out your dead.” I read about him in our history unit on the Black Plague. He’s the Buggyman.

Momma told me it’s imagination, that I can’t hear his passage, but I do. His bell haunts me. “Bring out your dead,” he orders, but I’m not dead. I pull my blankets tight over my head and hold my breath. The Buggyman smells like a cat I saw decaying in an alley, but worse, bigger and older and much more foul. I run to Momma. She’s cold, so I curl up in the crook of her arms to add my warmth and seek her protection. The smell’s stronger. The bell pounds like hammers upon coffin-pegs. “Bring out your dead,” he insists. 

“I’m not dead,” I whimper. I pull the blanket over us, cover our heads. Momma doesn’t protest. 

“Bring out your dead.” He sounds louder tonight, closer. “Bring out your dead.” 

My stomach liquifies, and I realize he doesn’t want me. I touch her pasty cheek and pull her stiff body closer. “Momma.”

Kerry E.B. Black resides in the land where George A. Romero raised the dead, Jonas Salk created the Polio vaccine, and CMU students invented the first internet emoticon. Please follow Kerry on facebook and Twitter.
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