“Silence!”, commanded Father Henderson.
The chapel instantly fell still and quiet. Everyone stared at Father Henderson. There were far more people in the chapel than it could fit. The only source of light was the moon – which was at its fullest – but every now and then, the clouds would engulf the moon, and darkness would engulf the chapel. People huddled together, with their faces full of sweat even in the bone–freezing cold of a winter’s night. All eyes trained at the Father on the altar, waiting for his unspoken words.
“It is observed by all your retaliation, that you people are not satisfied with the punishment given to the gravedigger. Who–so–ever wishes to come up with a better fate for the committed sin may speak now”, the Father announced.
Sir Frablick Abernath spoke up.
“Father, hanging him up in public is far less for the hideous crime he committed. How will it satisfy the souls of the graves he dug up and skinned to bones? We need harsher punishment, a punishment that suits the deed.”
“Aye, he is right, justice needs to be done”, cheered the crowd.
“What is it that you are thinking of, my child, his fate is already doomed, but you may speak up to the fullest of your heart, for it may be better in the Light of God”, demanded Father Henderson.
Sir Frablick hesitated, pondering upon the correct words he needed. Someone in the back of the crowd cleared his throat and Frablick came back to his senses.
“My humble apologies, for what I am about to say may be unacceptable and horrendous, but we all think that there is no worse fate for him than to tie him in the oldest graveyard”, the crowd rigorously agreed with Sir Frablick, “the graveyard is where he can be tied, till his restless soul and the souls of those he tortured even after their deaths, drink upon his last of hopes of life, and then his body left to rot with the worms and the poisonous insects of the same ground.”
There was fear in the priest’s eyes, and as if on cue once again, the clouds decided to cover the moon. From far away, hooting of owls could be heard. Somehow the night became darker than it was possible. The crowd turned silent to the extent that even the sounds of their hearts beating echoed.
The priest was as still as a stone. It seemed like the life was drained out of him, but along with the fear in his eyes, he had a flicker of agreement with the words that had been put forth. The silent accord was signed with the bare nod of the priest. The crowd started to disperse toward the graveyard. Toward the destiny of the gravedigger. A ritual was in process. He was tied to the oldest tree, covered with wilting vines and burnt resin. Yet the gravedigger never said a word. He just kept staring at a point in the infinite space ahead of him. Slowly, the people left him alone to rot away with the passing night.
The strangest of things happened the next morning. The night watcher entered the praying chapel, all panting, and sweating profoundly. The colour drained from his skin, and all he could say before fainting was the word, “gravedigger”.