STRANGE RESTING PLACES

Henry Hubbert could vaguely remember reading somewhere that people don’t sleep fully when they sleep in a new location for the first time. Something to do with staying on guard, leftover behaviours from times gone past, that sort of thing. For his part, Henry was intimately familiar with the phenomenon.

A traveling salesman, he spent more nights on unfamiliar beds than he did on his bed at home. Not one of them, from the most illustrious five-star hotel to the dodgiest motel, had ever afforded him a good night’s sleep. Every morning would begin the same: a sore chest, as though he’d slept with a log under the mattress; a light headache; back and hip pain; and the sort of grogginess that comes from an afternoon nap that either lasted too long, or not long enough.

On the rare occasion he returned home for a night he rested as fully as the dead. He’d fall asleep the moment his head touched the pillow and awake six to eight hours later, perfectly rested and re-energised. He found that so long as he got to his own bed once a week at least he could endure the pains and discomfort of his unfamiliar resting places.

Unfortunately for Henry, it was on one of this return flights home that disaster struck his otherwise unremarkable life. Shortly after take-off one of the engines fell away and the plane crashed spectacularly back down on the runway. Henry was seated right where the fuselage tore apart and was thus ejected from the aircraft with some force. He did not survive.

He had never married and had no children. After his funeral and burial his siblings and parents divvied up what belongings they wanted and sold the rest. Amongst the items they decided to part with was Henry’s apartment, complete with what furnishings they didn’t want. It wasn’t much good for the family, being in a city none of them truly visited, but it was still prime real estate and sold for what could be described as an obscene price.

The new owners were a savvy business couple, young and eager and full of energy. They had grand plans for the apartment: renovations and decorations and modifications galore to turn it into their dream home. For now, however, they were happy to have a roof over the head and not have to worry about moving furniture into a new place. The couch, TV unit, dining set and bed that came with the apartment suited their tastes just fine. They’d do, for now.

Much like poor Henry, the new owners found themselves traveling on business quite often. Not a week after they moved in they had to leave for three days interstate, leaving the apartment unattended. On returning from the trip they discovered the door had been unlocked, but left closed. Fearing they’d been robbed, they entered the apartment only to be affronted by an intense smell of putrefaction. Nothing had been touched or moved, but every inch of the apartment reeked.

They considered contacting the police, but curiosity got the better of them and they ventured into the apartment. The kitchen was empty and nothing had spoiled in the fridge. The bathroom and study were untouched. It wasn’t until they got to the bedroom that they discovered the source of the smell: poor Henry, or what was left of him, curled up in the sheets on the bed, happily rotting into a moist heap of flesh and bone.

To this day nobody’s quite sure how Henry got there. His grave was found opened and the soil disturbed, but nobody seemed to have noticed a zombie ambling forty kilometres from cemetery to apartment. Nor did anybody notice him enter the building.

For the new owners of the apartment, they suspected a sick prank of some sort and beefed up the security of the apartment. As far as the bed was concerned, they shipped it straight to the local dump and requested that it be set on fire for sanitary reasons.

Henry himself was promptly re-buried, but two nights later his grave was once again discovered opened and empty. This time he was rediscovered lying on his old mattress on top of a mound of garbage at the dump. Again, nobody had seen him anywhere between the cemetery and the dump, which was an even more impressive seventy kilometres away.

Being as there wasn’t much left of poor Henry at this point, his family decided that simply cremating him would probably be the most affordable option for the future.

His grave has since remained unmolested.

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