The Vigil. Short Story.

So, I’m still crippled today. But now I’m a cripple armed with drugs! Went to the doctors yesterday and was given some anti-inflammatory stuff and muscle relaxants. They may or may not be helping. I’m not quite sure. It seems a little better, but it is kinda hard to tell. It isn’t exactly fun but I’m hoping it will heal quick, I do have shit to do this month.

I thought a shower would be a good idea, hot showers are supposed to help right? You would think that, but instead of being in pain, I was simply wet and in pain.

On with the show!


The bodies were all around her. She couldn’t see them, but she knew they were there, that faint smell of corruption that would only get stronger in the coming hours. She didn’t know how big the room was, not anymore. She had seen it when she was first brought into this place, but now she could not tell. There was a table in front of her, she knew that much. She sat on a chair that at first was comfortable enough, but now it was painful. She was afraid to move from the chair though. All around her the bodies were piling up, but as she could not see them, she was too afraid to move, lest she touch one of them or worse, trip into one of the stacks. Food was brought to her, as was water, placed on the table in front of her. Mostly there was silence, but sometimes she could hear them moving around in the dark, stacking the bodies. The food was bland but she was thankful for that, anything with too strong a flavour might have been difficult to keep down, she thought  the liquid was water. There was no scent and only a faint taste. What ever it was, it hadn’t killed her yet. The people in the room were given night vision goggles, at least, that’s what she assumed they were given. They were able to see in the darkness. She would have asked, but they never answered her questions, they never said anything. Sometimes she wondered if they were deaf or mute. It didn’t really matter either way, all she had was silence.

The room was chilly but she was dressed warmly with a thick coat and heavy trousers. She shifted and squirmed in her seat to keep movement up, if she didn’t sometimes her legs fell asleep, before coming back to life with pins and needles that poked and prodded. She slept sitting in the chair, at first it caused problems, until she was so tired she was able to doze. Before they had started to bring in the bodies she had slept on the floor, though it was cold and hard it was easier to sleep on. She knew it was coming though and that after a short while she wouldn’t have the floor.

She didn’t know how close they would stack the bodies, but she assumed that they would use as much space as possible. When they were done she would be free to leave. It wasn’t the first vigil she had held, nor would it be the last. She didn’t enjoy them, she didn’t think she ever would, but they weren’t that bad, the first was the worst, the scariest. She expected things to loom out of the darkness, cold grasping hands grabbing at her clothes, dragging her to the ground. It didn’t happen then and it wouldn’t happen now. She knew it was a ridiculous fear, but it was there regardless.

A hand landed on her shoulder, she jumped, then let out a shaky breath. They were done. She raised her hand slightly and they grasped it, carefully she stood, with support and their help she was navigated through the room. They brought her to a room that was dimly lit, but the light was almost blinding. They left her there, it was bright enough for her to move by herself without any help and there was no fear of falling into bodies, this room was clear and clean. She still didn’t know what they looked like but she resigned herself to that though, no one knew what they looked like. It was all part of the way things were done. She stretched, relived that she had the space to do so, then looked at the food on the table. It was plain again, and she took a few bites, more out of obligation than hunger. Then she took a mouthful of water. The lights in the room were slowly becoming brighter, allowing her eyes to adjust, once they reached full brightness she would be free to leave. She was looking forward to eating something nice, seeing the sun and bathing. The darkness clung it her, it would be nice to bathe in the sun and fresh air. She could still smell it on her skin, that scent of slight corruption, it clung to everything. Even the clothes they had provided for her. Soon those clothes would be destroyed, but it would linger on her skin.

The room was brightly lit, there was a faint click as the lock opened, she walked towards the door and pulled it open, stepping outside she smiled, she didn’t mind the vigils, they had to be done, but when it was over, she always felt profoundly grateful that it was done. The felt the warm sunlight on her skin and she smiled.


About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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