“Expiration Dates”

Crunch goes the cereal between the Caretaker’s teeth—a white picket fence that has stood for thousands of years, like the one that had enclosed his cemetery for just as long, until…

Crunch went the white picket fence around Ascension Lawn Cemetery, vomiting an undead tribe of expired loved—and forgotten—ones.

Crunch go the leaves under the Caretaker’s feet. Tired, he shuffles along his trembling land, shovel in trembling hand, feeding the hungry giant under the cemetery by burying corpses that had shuffled along a reanimated flatline until…

Crunch went their skulls as the Caretaker’s shovel dug deep into the empty graves of their minds, burying a sharp reminder of death into each. With his blood-dipped shovel, he continues to rewrite endings across multiple burial plots, burying a rotted reminder of death into each. But it’s not enough. His cemetery has many plot holes, but not enough characters to fill them with. The rest of the dead are out there, in the city of Orchard, New Jersey.

Crunch goes the living flesh between their teeth.

Crunch goes the floorboard as the Caretaker slowly steps back into his house, escaping his lawn. Outside, his house is a modern architectural beauty that catches even the teary eyes of those mourning the dead. Inside, his house is as decayed as the dead that have been mourned for years. “Lonnie, I’m home.” The words slowly come out, escaping his yawn.

Crunch go the steps leading up to his bedroom. It’s been a long day, but he’s no stranger to longevity. Longevity is the loyal woman that has warmed the Caretaker’s bed for thousands of years. Longevity is a beautiful monster.

Crunch go Lonnie’s frail bones as she makes love to the Caretaker. “I’m the only woman you’ll ever need.” Her words slide into his mind as she slides him into her beautiful body. The secret to her skin-deep beauty… is grave-deep youth. She wears youth like a costume, masking her ghastly old age. Right now, there are flayed women walking around the city, like unwrapped gifts death has returned to life.

Crunch goes the cereal between the Caretaker’s teeth. “I never want to eat that again,” Lonnie says. “It tastes horrible. Check the expiration date.” Her disgust hides behind a face held up by paralysis, robbed of all emotion and the wrinkles that come with it—Lonnie despises wrinkles. “The dead walk,” the Caretaker replies. “Expiration dates don’t matter anymore.” He masks his usual stony expression with a smile—he knows these could be his final words to her, if he doesn’t make it back tomorrow.