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How shallow was a shallow grave?

He’d never dug one before.  The hole before him, which he’d gouged out of the sandy soil in the heat of the desert looked deep, but now he’d pushed the man’s body into it, suddenly it looked awfully shallow. Could animals or other things get down to the body? Or maybe that was the point? Just deep enough for cover, but not so deep that it took too long for the flesh to turn to corruption.

This was really something TV should have taught him better. He hunched down and drank from his water flask.  Dragging the body the hundred feet from the car had been exhausting enough so he wasn’t about to drag it back.


Something squawked overhead.  It looked real. Not a drone. Maybe a bird.  Nothing man-made that would record what he was doing.

Then an idea hit: there were bound to be other bodies buried out here.  Maybe he should find another grave and dig down a little?  Maybe he could find the body of a ‘whacked’ guy and see how the professionals did it? A little river of sweat ran down his back, reminding him that it was a stupid idea.  He took the map (which had instructed him where to bury the body) from his satchel and tucked it into the dead body’s pocket.  They’d written ‘bury with body, do not burn” on it.  It was paper, so would decay quickly enough.

Overhead more of the birds were circling.  That didn’t look too good.

He stood up.

The desert plain shimmered with heat.  It looked alien enough already, but through the lens of hot air, the rock formations and scrub seemed even more curious and distant.  This wasn’t a place for him.

“Sorry buddy,” he said to the body and shovelled the first pan of dirt over it.  It took forty minutes and plenty of foot stamping, but finally the grave was filled.  He kicked some topsoil and rocks onto it, hoping to disguise its unnaturally rectangular outline.  Maybe he should have dug something with a more organic shape.

Too late now.

A wind whipped up and then was gone.  The desert was an ever changing place.  People didn’t belong here (at least not above ground and breathing) unless of course they were gambling.   For a moment he considered whether he should say some words over the unmarked grave, but it didn’t seem right.  And there was nothing he wanted to say.

He walked back to the car, drinking from the flask.  It was insulated, but the cool water inside had started to turn tepid already.

On the passenger seat was a white book: The Manual.  It was why he was out here in this place. He picked it up and opened it to page 1.

ITEM (1): The body of your predecessor must be disposed of in a location, such that the family and friends of the deceased will not detect it or have reason to detect it.  (see detachable map for disposal suggestions for your location).

There was a box next to the item line.  He ticked it and threw the book back onto the seat. It landed title up:  “Protocols for Seamless Human Interaction” it read in pompous type.  Below it, sarcastically, was scribbled: “How to be a Good Clone.”The handwriting belonged to the man in the ditch.  The handwriting belonged to him now. He turned the book over and drove off, back to civilisation, back to the people who ‘knew’ him.  Ready to continue the life of the buried man.




Bio: By day I write adverts and TV for other people, but by night I indulge my real passion: writing fiction. I have a deep love of genre writing be it science fiction, crime or horror.  Find out more here at my website:


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