The funeral parlor smells of potpourri and faux beauty. There's itchy chairs with floral upholstery that almost match the wallpaper and green carpet. The body of Our Father lays in a cherry wood casket at the front of the main room.
We're all wearing our ceremonial cloaks to honor Him who left before His time. Brother Coleford stands by the casket with a lit candelabra, whispering and begging Him to give us words of wisdom from beyond the grave.
Brother James asks the funeral manager if he could step outside and give us a few minutes alone with the one we lost. The manager is hesitant at first. I can tell by the way he studies Brother James’ face, but he agrees to give us a little time. A little time is all we need. Brother James and I walk him out. I prop one of the chairs under the handle of the door and turn the deadbolt while Brother James shades the windows with the blinds and chintzy curtains.
Some of the other Brothers pull jars of sacramental oil from their cloaks, and we all circle around the casket to hear the final words Brother Coleford has to say about the Great Man Himself. Without Him, we Brothers are lost. Without His leadership, the meaning of life, our existence, and who we are is dismantled. He was great for His ideals. Great for everything He did for us, for mankind. He left before His time, so not many in this terrible world heard the pure words or message He tried to spread.
Not many followed Him. But those of us who did, we know the truth. We believe His message. We know what it will take to cleanse the world of its disease. We’re ready to begin.
The funeral manager must’ve changed his mind about letting us be here alone. He tries the door, and when he finds it won’t open, he starts beating on it, his shouting muffled by the thick oak doors.
We ignore the distraction. Brother Coleford reads a passage from Our Father’s own diary. A message about the Great Cleansing of the world. About peace. We bow our heads while we listen and repeat The Cantos as a group.
The wicks in Brother Coleford’s candles are diminishing. We’re almost out of time.
The Brothers with sacramental oil pass the jars around the circle. We each take turns spreading some of the oil on our cloaks. It’s putrid but potent. It won’t take much for the flames to lick and take. We douse the ugly carpet around us, the casket, and Our Father Himself.
We loved this man. We loved His wisdom, His teachings. And we know that death will have no hold on us. We know we will rise again, stronger. Equipped to cleanse the world of its souls. To be the hand of damnation to unite the living with the dead.
We are Brothers of the Sacred Order. And so we have no fear when Brother Coleford starts the flames to our cloaks.
We will return.
Eric Fomley’s work has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Galaxy’s Edge, and Inferno! Volume 6: Tales from the Worlds of Warhammer. You can read more of his stories on his website ericfomley.com, follow him on Twitter @PrinceGrimdark, or support him on patreon.com/Fomley.