Plant Thou No Roses

            Meredith sat up and cursed.  When WOULD he remember to push back the lid of the casket first?

            Once the obstruction had been pushed aside, he stretched his arms and sighed.  This was, of course, only his second day in the tomb.  There would be time to work out the details.

            Last night’s brief inspection indicated his instructions had been followed to the letter.  Most intimidating suit, imposing silk tie (no mirror, of course, so this inventory had taken extra time), contents of his pockets just as they were when he strode through the office….

He checked his Rolex, which had been entombed with him even though Cousin Alice had lusted after it.  Past midnight: it was safe to climb out and check his new home more thoroughly.  No sunlight could penetrate this far anyhow.  Meredith just wanted to keep quiet.  If he did too much during the day, some passerby might hear the pop of a champagne cork and wonder.

            Last night, he had merely checked the placement of the furniture and the contents of wine cellar.  His hungers and thirsts would be different now: he knew that.  Most life extension programs involved a change of diet.  But he had found to his pleasure that he could still enjoy a glass of champagne and a couple of chocolate truffles, simply to salute his new life after death.

It had taken him months to plan this sanctuary, but years to achieve his goal.  For beings so omnipresent on cable, vampires were reclusive and not very cooperative.  Fortunately, money remained a good lubricant.

Meredith considered the mountain of boxes: yesterday he had just nudged them a little, verifying they were full.  The earphones sat with the sound system, but there should be plenty of music and television on the discs packed away.  (No cable or Internet here: such things were traceable.)  Books, thousand-piece jigsaws, magazines: amusements to keep him occupied as he sat back in his favorite chair.

He switched on the lamp as he passed, more for the familiar glow than that he needed it, with his newfound nightsight.  A vampire needn’t spend ALL his waking time on the prowl for delectable prey.  Especially not once he had established his army of undead slaves, who could do the hunting for him, commute and all.  (Damn city planners: they never put unhallowed ground in a really convenient location.)

            Pity he had to start with his Becky, his airheaded niece.  Biddable she was, but she had trouble getting through the Junior Jumble.  Nice torso—he knew just which of her dresses he would order her to be entombed in so he’d have something to look at when she wasn’t out luring men to this lonely place.  She had obviously insisted on following his will down to every last particular.  AND she had gotten the vintages right on the wines.  True, not to give her too much credit, he HAD written it all out for her, just as he had directed her to make sure there were no Bibles mixed among the books, nor Father Brown nor Reverend Randolph stories among the mysteries.  But for someone whose MBA he had bought to read the wine labels (lips moving the whole time, no doubt) and not make mistakes: well, perhaps he could name her Assistant Imperial Supervisor of the slaves or something.

            His chair looked inviting.  He walked past it to the tall, stainless steel refrigerator.  A nice bit of Gouda, a glass of wine, and something to read would serve to pass the time.  Meredith had decided not to try venturing outside for a few days: there had been too many reporters at the funeral, all abuzz about the crazy rich man and his eccentric burial.  A few of them would serve in his army.  He had amused himself during the funeral thinking through a few things :serve” would cover.

Having selected  the right wine to accompany this Gouda, he set them down on the end table and turned again to the stack of boxes.  The topmost said “Magazines”.  He nodded.  Another nice thing about the life of an undead: he would have time to catch up on all his New Yorkers.

The lid tore away from the box at a touch: he’d have to watch this new strength when he turned pages.  Ah, these would do nicely.  Feeling with one hand for his mechanical pencil, he used the other to take up first half dozen magazines.

These tumbled to the floor as he leapt back in pain.  Skin peeled back from his fingers, releasing steam.  His dimming eyes searched the floor for a clue.  Search-a-Word, Trivia Masters, Maze Quest….

His chest heaved with the collapse of his lungs and heart.  She should have thought of this.  HE should have thought of this.

CROSSword puzzles!

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