Grave Circumstances

by Costin Becheanu

Kott paced up and down the cemetery wall, the odor from the now decaying corpses fueling his already seething rage. He turned on his heels, stared at the mountain of mulched, multicolored meat before him, spat, and started back towards the gate again.
It had been weeks since he'd hired the new undertaker. Weeks of broken promises, ignored deadlines, extensions, and what can only be described as willful ignorance from his brand new employee.

"Dodge Carliesle, at your service", Kott muttered under his breath and spat.
He was taken aback by the exuberance Carlielsle took to the job, speaking of all the ins and outs of grave digging, very keen on seeing Kott's vision of the cemetery through... He should've known it was too good to be true. It always was.

Funnily enough, it was a grave-related circumstance that had allegedly kept Carliesle from performing his duties. But even that only covered for some of it, and not nearly enough. Kott's mind was made up, and it was getting harder and harder to contain himself, especially since this wasn't the first meeting Carliesle was late to over the past few weeks.
He reached the gate, sighed, looked over at the burning wreck of the barge not far down the road with the Desmemberment Devision still working on pulling its charred hull apart, then turned back the other way. He'd barely taken a few steps when he saw the undertaker who'd just turned on to the main alley from behind a crumbling mausoleum.

"Carliesle!" Kott cried.
The undertaker paid him no mind. He kept poring over a tattered bit of paper, gazing over at the bodies and talking to himself in hushed tones.
"I say, Carliesle! Over here!" Kott rasped louder and quickened his step. He reached his quarry and tapped him on what seemed like a general shoulder area, which had the contradictory effect of getting Carliesle to both jump and lose control over his multiple knees at the same time, sending the undertaker tumbling awkwardly to the ground, a mess of jumbled limbs and jabbering folds of flesh.
"M-Mr. Kott! What in the Gnoems' test tubes possessed you to creep up on me like that? This is a cemetery, sir! That isn't supposed to happen in here!" he whimpered in a shrill voice, his vertical nostrils oozing fresh goop all the way down his multiple chins.
"I'm sorry, I-" Kott caught himself being disarmed by Carliesle's demeanour yet again "What do you mean 'creep', I literally just called at you?! Just now! You know what, forget it, pick yourself up, I have something to tell you and I'll try and keep it short." he said, seeing his tone was doing nothing to calm Carliesle's nerves.
The undertaker recomposed himself and went straight back to his notes and thoughts, turning his back on Kott and walking on as if nothing had happened.

"Driver-less, clump-cell chariots. I'm surrounded by them." Kott muttered, massaging his temples "I say, Carlisle?" he tried in a sweeter tone and started after the undertaker again.
"It's been almost half a TIRD since we discussed your employment and your duties, and while I don't mean to put any undue pressure on you" he started making a rather violent series of gestures behind the undertaker's back "it's clear to everyone involved that this whole arrangement isn't working out for anyone, especially in light of the most recent project update, wouldn't you agree?"
They carried on for another dozen or so steps, and then Carliesle stopped and turned around. He almost fell down again when he saw Kott waiting there for him.
"Mr. Kott, oh, such a fright, truly! So glad you could make it, it's been a while since we've spoken, would you like to see how the project is coming along?"
Kott blinked, slowly, for the longest of times while Carliesle just blank-stared at him, shifting from one pair of legs to the other.

"The, uh... The project, Carliesle?"
"Yes, sir!"
"The one that was supposed to be done five times over by now?"
"The very same!" Carliesle winked.
"Are you all there at the moment, Carliesle? Or in general?"
"No, sir, not quite, but things are coming along nicely, I think!"
"You think, eh?" Kott sighed "Could've fooled me..."
"Yes, I think we're on the right path here, if you'll just follow me..." Carliesle skittered away, prompting Kott to follow.
"The right path?" Kott could feel his entrails churning, taking on a mind of their own, wanting to burst out of his body and lather Carliesle in a what had been a thoroughly enjoyable late dinner, a mere three shifts earlier. That might've just been the corpsey atmosphere talking, but he doubted it.
"Yes, sir, right up ahead, then a left at the old Chugglan patch, and we're there!"

"There? We should've been there in about half the time you'd initially allotted for this, Carliesle... But I liked your spunk and your vision and really thought we could do something together" Kott started speaking faster as he was spasmodically opening and closings his fists "I gave you plenty of leeway in the matter. I think I was very understanding when that unfortunate event befell you, too. All I kept asking for was a time table, and you kept skirting around it and telling me 'It's on track, we'll do it'.
"And who is we, anyway? I only ever see you saunter around here aimlessly!" Kott threw his arms up.

"Yes, we've been hard at work recently" Carliesle spoke to seemingly no one in particular and scratched at his head "I think you'll be very satisfied with the delivery, right this way!"
"There you go thinking again... My good Carliesle, I'm sure you're in no position to think in any way, bodily shape, or form. In fact, if you were any more dim you'd need to be watered every dozen shifts..." Kott gritted his teeth.
"What I'm saying is" he tried to calm himself down "you're f-"
"Here we are!" Carliesle said, triumphantly, pointing at a fresh hole not far off from the flesh mound.
Kott paused to look at the hole, then at Carliesle, and back at the hole, sighing internally and telling himself there was no way in the verse this was actually happening.
"Here we are... Doing what, exactly?"
"Is this not what you asked for?" Carliesle raised his single eyebrow, getting closer to the hole "We followed the specs to the letter, and while this is but the first prototype, I'm sure we can get better results with the next iteration which is just now being compiled by my team." he said, rapping his fingers on his head.

"You've got to be shitting me." Kott's shoulders dropped.
"That is one hole."
"I don't understand." Carliesle shrugged.
"How could you, really?" Kott chuckled in spite of himself and took a few steps towards the corpse pile, the smell almost knocking him senseless.
"You see, Carlisle, I asked for a quick interment solution for when the victims of the barge cleared Gnoem processing and would be ready for burial." Kott waved furiously at the corpses "Do you see the issue we're dealing with here?"
"Sir" Carliesle took a proud posture "the business of undertaking is no small feat, and this is state of the art craftsmanship, built to specs and able to fit a wide variety of corpses, based on size, chemical composition, and colour. I have to say th-"

"You took half a TIRD to dig a single hole, you absolute waste of tissue!" Kott bellowed.
"I could've dug a hundred of these myself in that time, and we wouldn't be dealing with this soul-rending smell right now! Do you feel that, Carliesle? Do you know what that foul stench is?"
"I'm sorry, sir, I lost my sense of smell at birth, terrible circumstances, you see..."
"Of course, of course you did. That actually explains a lot..." Kott contorted his face into the semblance of a smile, eyeing Carliesle's snot dripping onto his chest and settling on top of his irregularly shaped collarbone in a small, gunky puddle.

"Carliesle" he started, clasping his hands together "I'm going to have to let you go."
"I see."
"I'm glad we understand each other. I'll be needing your full work allotment for the time you spent on this project so that we can settle everything and then you can be on your way, is that alright?"
"Yes, yes, I think- I think I can do that, sir." Carliesle's voice dropped an octave.
"Cheer up, I'm sure there's something out there for you to work your magic on" Kott rolled his eyes "this just wasn't it, see?"
"Yes, yes, of course."
"Good, it's settled, then. I always forget if your kind likes to shake on things, so I'll just leave it at that, shall I? You know your own way out, I'm sure."
"Yes, sure."
"Good." Kott turned and started walking briskly towards the exit, a newfound sense of purpose and hope kindling in the tired cockles of his heart. He could just sense the stench falling behind and was almost contemplating a late breakfsat as he heard Carliesle shriek after him:
"I'll have the plans for version 0.2 on your desk immediately, sir, I think you'll love the updated design!"

~DISCLAIMER: any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental. This is 100% a work of fiction, and satire at that. All existing names, characters, images, and references pertaining to the Nexus IP are the property of D-Verse Publishing LLC and any other of their respective owners, and are used in this work of fan fiction without the express intent of monetary gain or other benefits. Any new characters and locales are original works of the author and bear no intent to infringe upon the existing IP and/or its subsidiaries.~

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