The three figures slipped in to the dark corner of the cemetery; two large and wide, the other gaunt and stooped. The lean figure pointed to one small grave in the corner, hard to see without a lantern or moon. The larger figures grunted and moved toward the grave.
“Hm.” said the largest figure, quietly.
The lean figure pulled back his dark hood exposing a head which looked disturbingly like a skull. “What is it?” asked Underby.
“The dirt’s all soft and mushy like.”
The other large figure prodded at the dirt with his shovel. “Yeh, that doit ain’t right, boss. Shouldn’t it be packed down by now?”
Underby frowned. “Yes.” he said. “Yes it most certainly should.”
The largest figure turned toward Underby. “Yuh think someone’s been here alridy? Who’d know ’bout the stone?”
The taste of Underby’s mouth turned sour. “Just start digging.” he said.
“Dere any point boss?” asked the smaller large figure, seemingly eager to avoid the labor.
“Only if you wish to continue receiving steady payment. Otherwise, no, none whatsoever.”
The two large figures began to dig. The grave was small and not overly deep, the two struck the coffin lid within a half hour. Pulling it out, they commented that the box felt empty.
“It would.” Underby said. He leaned down to the box and pulled off the cheap lid, and looked down at Pip’s sad frame. Still largely intact, but withered slightly. Underby sighed, then rolled up his shirtsleeve and jammed his arm inside the torso. His brows furrowed as he searched blindly inside. “Dammit,” he hissed, and grabbing the body by the leg, he pulled it out onto the grass. “I can’t see a damn thing.” Some pieces remained in the coffin.
The two large figures lit cigars as they watched Underby assault the small corpse. He turned on them both with a snarl. “Put out those cigars you useless sacks of goat excrement, do you want the entire city nosing around over here?”
The two dropped their cigars to the ground and crushed them underfoot.
“No.” said Underby. “No. No. No. No. No.”
He grabbed the opening in the torso and ripped it open, a smell like dried paper and cinnamon wafted out into the air. Dust drifted up. Underby tore the head off, sinking his hand into the top and pulling it open. He grabbed each limb, diving his thumbs into what passed for flesh and tore each open. Eventually he was surrounded by dry husks. It was hard to imagine these pieces ever fitting into a vaguely human shape.
“That deceitful hag.” he growled. “That twisted, disgusting witch.”
The two large figures shifted slightly.
“So.” Underby said, after a long pause. “She has Pip.”
“Shit.” said the larger figure.
Underby brushed his hands off, and pulled back up his hood. “Well. I knew this was a possibility when I left town as hastily as I did. I should have sent you to collect the stone, Bib, but I thought it would be safe, since almost nobody knows about it, or what it does. I should have known that horrid woman would turn eventually.”
“Should we bury it agin?”
Underby frowned down at the mess on the grass. “I suppose, if only to stifle the curious, though it hardly matters now. This will make it all slightly more difficult, but hardly impossible. And, at least we know what she has up her sleeve. She has no idea what’s up mine.”
The gaunt stooped figure walked briskly out the cemetery, leaving the two large silhouettes to put the grave back together again.