Pick a random word from the dictionary. Nouns work best; try to avoid names. Then add the word "Kills" next to it at the top of a blank page (e.g. "Trivia Kills"). You've got yourself a title. Now write the story that goes with it.
I went one step further and added a random word to the other side of the equation. So I bring you Stardust Kills Cremator. Henceforth titled:
In the beginning there was light. And a big bang.
“This your first Stardust job?”
Dylan nodded and looked away from the smoldering wreck of the Harmony Gardens funeral home. Mack was inside the van, straining against his own girth as he pulled on boots.
“Well get ready to pop your cherry bubba, you’re in for a real treat! You’ll want the thick gloves, trust me. Less feeling through them.”
Mack tossed out the gloves and a roll of duct tape. Dylan turned back to watch the smoke while he wriggled his hands into the rubbery confines. The billowing column spilled out of the hole in the roof, twisting and dancing in the wind. The smoke changed colors from deep blue, to red, to purple. It looked like an undulating and magnificent beast stretching for the heavens.
“You’ll want to use the tape,” Mack continued.
Dylan wound the roll around each calf and wrist until the seal was tight and impenetrable where his boots and gloves met the rest of the hazard suit.
Mack coughed and spoke in grunted half-breaths as he doubled over to do the same.
“Used to be a lot more cleanups like these when those Stardust things first came out. Have to be removed just like pacemakers before they burn the body. Someone forgets or just plain doesn’t give a shit, and you get this. That’s why they get those little blue star tattoos right behind the ear.”
Or was it darkness? In the beginning there was darkness?
Dylan couldn’t remember. He turned back to the van and pulled a respirator mask from the shelves.
“Not that one. We’ll need the level tens,” Mack said as he spat into the dirt. “I’ll tell you what, make it through this job without having nightmares and you’ll be solid for whatever weird shit life may throw at you.”
With the mask on and hood in place, Dylan felt like an astronaut. This was the first time he’d worn a level ten and the world outside felt distant and out of reach. He supposed that was the idea.
Space. That was part of it. A big bang, and the creator scattered all of the elements for life out amongst the stars. Those weren’t the words, but the imagery was right.
Mack was shouting at him through his own respirator now.
“Grab some of the bio buckets. The big ones.”
He grabbed the buckets and slid the door closed. The red Crowley Clean-Up logo stood out in sharp contrast to the white of the van. Dylan took a deep breath and listened to the exhale as it whispered its way out of his respirator. Inside the hood, the sound of his heart and blood pumping was magnified.
There was a heartbeat too. Pacemaker. Insulin pump. Something like that. A combination of the two. And Stardust.
The two set off for the open door of Harmony Gardens. Mack stopped at the threshold, chuckled, then shook his head before ushering Dylan through and into the foyer.
The entry was still mostly intact, creating a darkness that enveloped them as Mack closed the door. From behind him in the darkness, Mack swore.
First there was darkness. Then a big bang, that scattered the elements of life throughout the cosmos. The Stardust from Infinitech has finally found a way to harness those building blocks to rejuvenate and sustain you! How would you like to live an extra ten, thirty, even fifty years? The Stardust implant will do just that.
Those might not have been the words either, but they were close enough. He could remember the blonde, against a starry background. The animation of the pump as it attached to the heart. The way it sent out its “safe and regulated dose of our patented formula” in a wave of little blue animated stars. What might have been considered a miracle in earlier times being passed off in an infomercial.
First there was darkness. Then a big bang. And then there was light.
The dark entryway illuminated as Mack pushed through the adjoining door. The light from the missing ceiling passed through the haze of smoke and created a soft glow all around them. Dylan wondered whether he would’ve screamed had it not been for that surreal filtering effect.
The explosion had been massive. It started in the crematorium and radiated out to destroy most of the building from there. The building, and the Funeral Director.
Dylan struggled for comprehension as his heart raced and the sound of blood pumping became a deafening roar in his hood.
There were too many body parts for just one person. A quick glance revealed at least five feet, four hands, and the head of an elderly woman. These ragged, and singed bits weren’t bad. They were pale and bloodless. Pieces of corpses, and not the Director.
The Funeral Director had been closest to the furnaces when the implant exploded and his remains were a spray of red and pink viscera that covered every surface. At first glance even that wasn’t too bad. Messy, but not the stuff of nightmares.
Dylan took a tentative step forward then stopped, foot still suspended in the air. A solitary eyeball looked up at him from the ground. When the shadow of his leg passed over it, the pupil dilated.
Shredded pieces of muscle fiber inched across the walls like bloody worms, propelled by the perpetual expanding and contracting of the tissue. The gore was still alive, and moving. He registered movement on every surface.
Even the tiniest pieces of organ were still performing, still trying to carry on their appointed tasks.
From somewhere in a distant universe Mack was laughing and yelling through his respirator.
“Massive dose of that Stardust shit and this is what you have. Poor bastard has been dead for twelve hours but the bits and pieces won’t get the memo for another twenty four.”
Dylan watched in horror as tiny connective fibers tried to weave themselves into the flesh of a dead woman’s arm. Blackness threatened the edges of his vision and a lightness unspooled from the center of his head. He was passing out.
Mack’s voice was replaced by the blonde woman’s as gravity buckled his knees.
In the beginning there was a big bang, and the Cremator scattered all of the elements for life out amongst the dead.