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Janett L. Grady writes from Palmer, Alaska. Her work has appeared in magazines all over the country. including two, Springfield, based in Missouri, and Travel Naturally, based in New Jersey, that have been using her stories in every issue for about five years. Recently venturing into the world of the "strange," her weird creations have appeared in Tales of the Talisman, ZYZZYVA and Polluto, which is based in the U.K..

janett l. grady

Dead and Damned

When the hooks tore into Sara's chest, the pain was fierce, excruciatingly sharp, but she was unable to cry out. She was obviously quite dead, her body blue and bloated from being underwater for nearly twelve hours. Pulled to the surface and dragged into the boat, the hooks ripped off most of her left tit and a small piece of her right. Sara tried screaming but the effort was useless. She knew she was in for a bad time.

Zipped into a body bag, she felt better. Her eyes still worked, although things had been hazy since she had tumbled out of her boat. Pain from the hooks was still there but less severe. She knew the pain would subside because the suffering of being unable to breathe had passed. She fully expected the nerves in her chest to wither and die. Things could be worse, she thought.

Sometime later, she found herself being dumped face down onto a hard surface covered with a white cloth. Her shoes and socks were yanked off, then her shirt and bra, jeans and panties. Fingers poked at her puss, then slid roughly inside, lingered, and then pulled out. She heard a commotion of people coming and going but couldn't decipher what was being said.

A short time after, a pair of strong hands flipped her over and her eyes were suddenly burning. An unshaded, overhead light pierced her eyeballs. She tried desperately to close her lids but couldn't even blink. Through her pain, she heard footsteps fading away, and the mumbled words, "Have they found her old man?" Sara's brain was screaming for somebody to shut out the light but nothing happened. Her whole face was on fire.

When the fire finally went out, total darkness eased her pain. She knew her eyes were gone, but felt grateful that her punishment had been relatively short. It could have been worse, she thought. She had certainly watched her share of naughty movies.

Distant voices jostled her thoughts. She strained to listen. As the voices drew nearer, she became increasingly sure that one of the voices belonged to Harry, her husband for the past twenty-five years.

"She was such a dumb ass," he said, "always out in that stupid boat. If I told her once, I told her a thousand times, 'Don't go out in that boat alone,' but she simply refused to listen."

It was Harry, all right, and Sara felt willing to lengthen whatever punishments lay ahead if she could just sit up and give him a piece of her mind. If she hadn't caught him jacking off into a pair of her panties, she never would have been out in her boat in the first place, especially in a rainstorm...

"That's her," he said. "My God, what a mess."

"I'm sorry, sir, but death is never pretty. We will, of course, prepare the body, try to preserve it as long as possible."

"Yeah, yeah," said Harry. "But what about an autopsy? Are you going to cut her open?"

"No, sir. There's no question as to the cause of death. But, of course, if you want..."

"No, I don't think so. Just give me the ring. I'm not burying six hundred bucks."

Sara was hoping to hear Harry say something about the mausoleum, an above-ground vault where she'd be safe from the worms. Of all the hell she expected, her greatest fear was the fear of a common grave, worms and maggots chewing and burrowing into her body, every nerve being devoured slowly and painfully and for a long, long time. But the voices stopped. Footsteps faded away.

Forcing herself, Sara reasoned that Harry was making arrangements for the construction of their mausoleum, the steel and concrete and whatever else it might take. She figured he was in the office signing papers and otherwise closing the deal. After all, they had made the promise, assuring each other they'd spend the extra money.

The embalming that followed was less painful than she had thought it was going to be. A sharp pain or two shot into her brain but that was it. When it ended, though, a brief conversation caught her attention.

"Did you see that box her old man picked out?"

"Yeah, how cheap can a guy get?"

Sara's brain suddenly ached. Harry was failing her, going back on his word, casting her aside as if she were a piece of garbage. He was going to have her buried in a common grave, feed her to the worms. With every fiber of her being, Sara cursed him, damning him to the hell he so fervently believed in.

But there was nothing more she could do, and, after a painless funeral, the time soon came when the occasional but familiar sounds of human activity were being drummed out with a thumping of dirt on top of her box. Terror washed over her brain. Worms! She wondered how long it would take, but she fought back her horrifying thoughts with a firm conviction that sooner or later the torture would end.

Sara had lived her life according to the words in The Lord's Prayer, "...forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us," and there had never been a doubt in her mind that she could forgive any trespass against her, no matter what it might be. Worms? Yes, she'd suffer through it and then no longer exist. After all, she had been right so far, the pain in her chest was gone, the fire in her eyes had gone out. Her hell of being punished would come to an end, as soon as her brain withered away.

Quiet shrouded her body. Resigned to her fate, Sara waited for the first touch of worms, keenly mindful of where the agony would more than likely begin. She wished she had never once pleasured herself, the pain down there was going to be unbearable.

Then a bone-chilling cry shattered the silence and Sara was suddenly aware of light, a painful blur, a burning haze of searing wind. With a feel of falling, Sara heard a wailing of despair rising from below, and a stench, a wrenching foulness of burning flesh filled her nostrils.

"No!" she cried. "No-o-o!"

"Yes-s-s," said a heinous voice. "Oh, hell yes."


"No buts, bitch," came a laughing reply. "You damned the old man, remember? Do unto others. As we forgive..."

The fact that she had been right about things didn't matter, as tortured souls, naked and falling and writhing, surrounded her in a churning sea of flames and hideous screams. "No-o-o!" she cried, but her cries were lost to the blistering wind aflame in her throat.