Flash Fiction for for Aspiring Writers (FFfAW) is a writing challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The challenge asks us to write a piece of fiction from the photo prompt provided in around 100- 150 words – give or take 25 words. It encourages participants to comment, constructively, on other entries, so supporting each other’s writing. If you’d like to join in with this challenge, follow the link to see what to do. The challenge runs from Wednesday to Wednesday every week.
Here is this week’s prompt, kindly provided by Sonya:
. . . and this is my story:
A pale moon cast just enough light to stop Charlie from tripping over Bert’s feet as they traipsed along the narrow path through Lord Harcourt’s estate. Why he’d let himself be talked into this, he didn’t know. It had seemed a good idea at the time – after a few pints at the ‘Duck and Goose’.
‘Light the lamp,’ Bert hissed over his shoulder. ‘We’re almost there.’
The lamplight threw an eerie glow over the small graveyard as they dug rapidly down to the coffin of his Lordship’s recently interred son. Charlie’s heart pounded as he thought of the consequences of being caught in the act of body snatching. Imprisonment would likely be the death of him.
‘Let’s hope old Jacob’s still awake,’ Bert whispered, as they lugged the body back to the horse and cart on the nearby lane. ‘We paid him enough to keep watch, for Gawd’s sake.’
‘Evening, gents’, one of the blue-clad Peelers intoned as they reached the lane. ‘Pleasant night for a spot of digging.’
Word Count: 170
Note: ‘Peelers’ was the name given to the earliest policemen in the U.K. The name comes from that of Robert Peel, the person responsible for the Metropolitan Police Act of 1829 which provided permanently appointed and paid Constables to protect London as part of the Metropolitan Police Force. The earliest ‘Peelers’ wore blue tail-coats and top hats and each carried a truncheon, handcuffs and a rattle to raise the alarm. Rattles were later replaced by whistles. Later on the Peelers’ nickname was replaced by ‘bobbies’ – the shortened name/nickname for Robert.
If you’d like to view other entries, click the blue frog below:
For anyone interested, here’s some information I put together about body snatching, mostly from Wikipedia:
Body snatching is the secret disinterment of corpses from graveyards. The people who practised body snatching were often called ‘resurrectionists’ or ‘resurrection men’, and in the UK during the 18th and 19th centuries, they were commonly employed by anatomists to exhume bodies of the recently dead for either dissection or use in anatomy lectures in medical schools.
Before the Anatomy Act of 1832, the only legal supply of corpses for anatomical purposes were the bodies of those condemned to death and dissection by the courts. Those sentenced to dissection were often guilty of harsher crimes. Such sentences did not provide enough corpses for medical purposes, and with the expansion of medical schools at least 500 cadavers were needed yearly.
Interfering with a grave was classed as misdemeanour at common law – not a felony, so only punishable with a fine and imprisonment, rather than transportation or execution. It was a lucrative enough business to counter the risks of detection. Burke was hanged because he actually murdered his victims.
Body snatching became so frequent that many relatives and friends of the deceased kept watch over the body before and after burial to stop it being violated. Sometimes, graves were protected by a framework of iron bars, or iron and stone devices, called mortsafes.