Flash Fiction Challenge: Sincerely, Your Mortician

To Whom It May Concern (The De Rais Family):

            You may not know this, but I See and Know all. It’s not hard. All of you practically tell me your secrets. A week before our meeting with your Aunt Nora, you come into my office and tell me. “Under no circumstances are you to speak with Mr. Bellweather, he has had many scandals, and is not to be trusted.” So, of course I obey these wishes, and Mr. Bellweather is put on the non-admittance list from my office. While I know ours is a small town, and I hold two very divergent yet related positions, it is the least I can do.

            There is the insistence that we provide no less than four dozen bouquets of African Lilac, as this was the flower that was in bloom when your Aunt Nora’s husband Ephraim proposed to her, on safari in Tanzania. I regretfully inform you that this particular flower is in bloom only after what we would call in the Northern Hemisphere the Winter Solstice, and being that it is July, the flower proves terribly difficult to procure. I have included with this missive a photograph of some very beautiful lavender that we are able to get our hands on, and I hope that will suffice, as you and I both know that your Aunt Nora is not going to be able to see them anyway.

            Before moving on towards any more negative news, I would like to illuminate what we can do to accommodate your Aunt’s very specific instructions:

         Exactly six hundred and sixty-six red candles can be provided. We get them wholesale and the cost to should come out to exactly $333.

         The ninety-nine supplicants, anointed with Oil of Abramelin. Yes, we can provide this, however our small town is not entirely acquainted with your family’s particular faith and so we have had to hire outside talent. It appears that after a cursory internet query, we have found enough to fill the necessary positions and all are willing to participate for the chance of personal spiritual illumination. Nevertheless, we are a business and have assessed a finder’s fee of $100.

         We have found about the town several Runes of Ng’Ralthur, however the instructions given by your Aunt are vague and slightly maddening, and give no insight as to how we are supposed to utilize them.

         Seven hundred and eighteen copies of the Invocation to Babalon, printed on velum in blood ink. Please understand that velum is very hard to come by, and the blood ink is a perpetual work in progress. We cannot provide an estimate at this time, seeing as we will use the most expedient sources of velum and blood as they present themselves. An invoice shall be sent after the fact.

         We have contracted with the local bakery to provide as many baked goods and sandwiches as they can provide between now and the meeting.

We offer a wide variety of containment seals, in pentagrams, heptagrams, and hexagrams both standard and unicursal. Which would you prefer for keeping out the unwanted ghouls and bloodsuckers, who will inevitably turn up?


Now we must address the unfortunate subjects of what we shall not be able to provide:


On the subject of your Aunt’s familiar. No it cannot attend. You know it’s diet, and you know why that would be disastrous to the proceedings. PLEASE, make alternate arrangements.


We also cannot accommodate nor condone the ritual sacrifice of the 99 supplicants at the meeting with your Aunt. This would allow her to break the barrier between the current timeline and the one in planning, and would put a severe damper on our plans to provide a feast of ten-thousand corpses at the waking of our eldritch lord Nepheranduram. Long has Nepheranduram laid claim on our quaint town of Howard Texas, and We- the Howard-Phillips family- have honored that pact since our ancestor brought back its effigy from darkest India in the year 1881. We would appreciate in providing services for your Aunt and family that you respect the claim our Lord has over this town, and do nothing to disrupt the proceedings of our continued operations here. We would remind you that the fall equinox is sooner than you might realize, and that in taking the time to provide these services we are setting back our time table considerably.

THAT said we are perfectly amenable to you providing your own effigy of whatever barbarous name it is your family worships, so long as it is taken away from our facilities at the end of services rendered. Anything left behind at the end of the service will be subject to a cleaning/ refitting charge. We must keep the integrity of our facilities intact.

The service shall start at precisely four o’clock sharp. We will have ushers to guide family and important personages to their seats. Programs and copies of the Book of Mad Abu-Alrehzed shall be distributed. As in accordance with your Aunt’s wishes, a chamber music arrangement of Dead Can Danse’s most popular hits shall be played. Prior to the eclipse, all will have thirty-three minutes to come forward to meet with your Aunt Norma and say any words they wish. The exception of course being those that occur in the 72nd verse of the 93rd verse of the Book of Abu-Alrehzed, which is enforced by municipal ordinance.

To end this missive, I know your family had asked for the particulars of the autopsy. Being as this is one of the positions I hold, I see no reason I should not kill two birds with one stone as it were. Your aunt suffered an acute pulmonary embolism, triggered by the plant Monk’s Hood. Good thinking really, and a smart move had your Aunt Norma been anyone else than she was. Normally Monk’s Hood is impossible to detect, and flushes out of the system with digestion. However your Norma was afflicted with diabetes, and the plant was introduced to her system between meals. With no absorption to occur, the Monk’s Hood was was easily detected by a simple toxicology report,as well as my assistant Caliban, who is a necrophage. It would occur to me we should also place some of invoice for the placement and training of another assistant, but Caliban was strictly an off the books kind of employee.

I hope this letter and outline of the proceedings of your Aunt’s funerary proceedings is both straightforward and comforting to the De Rais family in it’s time of need. Please do not hesitate to ask my staff or myself for anything that might provide further easement. Also, as I said I know and see much more than you might think, so why not petition someone who is already in the know? May the Dark Lord Nepheranduram judge us all when His Time Arrives ( roughly Sept 21, get ready).


Your Mortician

Robert E. Howard-Phillips


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