Prompt: A fake funeral with an empty casket
Character: A banker
“I don’t understand it.” Shelley from It stood staring at the black and white photo on top of the casket. It was the same photo as his ID badge. No one had been able to locate any family and his only friend outside of the office only had a few blurry photos with Gerald in the background trying to get out of the frame.
“First David, and now Gerald.” She gave a little sniffle. It was not that she had been terribly close to Gerald; it was just the shock of the whole situation that got to her. She had barely known the guy, one run in with him over a non-authorized USB device and that horrible meeting. The last meeting they had with David. Now David was someone she would miss, but she could never tell anyone how much, his harpy of a wife would make her life hell even now that David was gone.
“I think we can safely say that this is not entirely a coincidence. After all, he was the one they said killed David.” Herschel’s voice was annoying on the best of days and a funeral for a coworker killed while fleeing the cops while on the run for murdering their boss was by no stretch a good day.
“Don’t be an ass,” Mark from accounting said, pressing his lips into a prissy mu. “You know there is no way Gerald killed David, you knew the man. You sat next to him for 5 years. He was a mouse in a man’s body.”
“Then who did kill David, smarty-pants?” Shelley felt her temper rise. “The police said they caught him literally red handed, standing over –over-David’s…” She trailed off, hiccupping into a kerchief. She could not take it anymore, acting like everything was ok.
“There, there,” Herschel patted her shoulder awkwardly. “If it hadn’t been for the cleaning lady seeing him, the police would never have figured it out.”
“It makes no sense,” Mark insisted, oblivious to Shelley’s impending break down. “Gerald had nothing to gain by killing David. He could not more up in the company simply by killing a top manager. It would do nothing for him.”
“Unless David found out something about him, like maybe he was the one responsible for the disappearance of the project files.”
“That’s it!” Shelly’s eyes got wide. “That must be it! Gerald was working on the project and only days before the disappearance I caught him with a USB device plugged into his computer. He said it was his phone charger, but he could have downloaded a virus onto the system then. Clearly he created it to have a time delay to throw suspicion off of himself, but it all makes sense now!” She did not realize how loud her voice was until she looked around and saw all the shocked pale faces around her.
“Maybe you have been under a little too much strain lately,” Mark took her arm gently and guided her toward the exit. “I think you should go home a rest for a while.”
“I’m not crazy!” Shelley insisted as the accounted led her away from the now murmuring crowd. “Can’t you see it? Gerald was involved in something big!” She pulled away from Mark and marched back inside the funeral parlor.
The service had not been much, no one knew Gerald well enough to say anything, no one even knew if he was religious, and his body had been burned so badly in the crash that the casket was closed.
“I’m on to you, you son of a bitch!” Shelly grabbed the framed photo from the top of the polished wooden box and threw it against the wall, shattering the glass so that it rained down into the generic floral arrangements lined up as a backdrop for the halfhearted service.
“Don’t think I won’t find out who you were working with. I will find them and I will ruin you and them!” Mark and Herschel both lunged for the ranting woman and the same time, throwing her and themselves off balance. The trio tottered precariously, almost got their balance but failed and came crashing down against the side of the casket. For a horrible moment, it looked like the box would stay where it was, but slowly, almost like in a movie it slid to the side, tipped passed the point of no return and hit the ground with a solid thunk, throwing the lid open in the process.
Everyone gasped in unison, so turned their heads to avoid seeing the contents, but some were unable to look away, and were greeted not with a charred corpse, but a long burlap sand bag, like the kind you might put in the back of a pickup in the winter when it snowed.