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Old 07-08-2008   #1
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The Gravedigger

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“ For a few moments I was allowed to be at ease in the land of the dead. For a few coins I could activate one of the machines at The Mechanical Museum and cause a cemetery to glow into pale visibility, as if illuminated by the cut-out circle of moon dangling from a thin wire in the dark distance of the phony horizon. On the other side of the machine's glass, all the sights of the toy necropolis came to life, and I gazed my way into the Gravedigger's habitat.

He was positioned at the front edge of his crude and wonderful world, his back turned to my invading eyes. There was a tiny shovel in his tiny hands, and his stiff, mechanical arms moved back and forth, pitching invisible earth into the open grave at his feet, a grave that was forever in progress. Nestled in this shallow pit was a miniature coffin, a humble box without adornments. The headstone above the grave was a small ivory-coloured square fixed to the gritty ground, as were all the others around it. But no inscriptions could be read upon them in the pasteboard moonlight. Crooked shadows were cast by frail, leafless trees and by the thin posts of the gate which traced a twisting perimeter about the cemetery landscape.

And for a few moments I was allowed to be at ease in the land of the dead, watching the Gravedigger in a trance as his mechanical arms pumped back and forth, his shovel throwing not earth but empty air upon that coffin whose grave was not as deep as a grave should be.

Yet I lost myself in the Gravedigger's good work and felt the soft weight of dirt in my shovel's blade. I was at home beneath my moon and mindlessly at peace among a world of coffined bodies settled into the ground where I had put them forever. And forever I would be filling this final grave, eternally at burial in an eternal night, silently staring earthward in the stillness and shadows, my arms in perfect motion, my shovel swinging back and forth to bury the dead, this being the only action, the only stirring within an infinite darkness.

Then the Gravedigger froze in his movements, his pitching shovel came to a stop. For a few moments I had been allowed to be at ease in the land of the dead. But at the end the Gravedigger's head haltingly swivelled about, and the mad expression carved upon his wooden face cast me forever out his mechanical paradise.
  John B. Ford and Thomas Ligotti - “The Mechanical Museum”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 07-26-2008 #278

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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