"Alex, it's time for dinner."
"In a minute, mom. I want to see the parade."
"It's not a parade, Alex, as I've told you before, it's a funeral procession. They go by your window nearly every day, do you have to watch every one?"
Alexander's second story bedroom faced the Dead Road, the dirt path from town center to the necropolis. Long, loud processions passed his window every day, and Alexander did not understand them.
His parents told him; he was from Earth, these people were different. He could see that. They said; he was only eleven, lots of time to understand things. Maybe.
The grievers went first, crying and wailing and catching their tears in little vases. Then came the musicians, playing on pipes, horns, stringed instruments, and drums. After them came the liturgists, reading from holy books and making sermons out of the passages. Then came the family and friends. Last came the problem.
The body and spirit. That wasn't a metaphor. For some reason, on this planet, the spirit was visible and it stayed with the body. With the spirit were the spirit tamers, which is to say thugs of the religion, carrying magic-imbued chains with which they whipped the spirit of the dead.
"Come on, Alex!" His mother appeared behind him, urging him to dinner.
"But Mom!" he whined. "It's the bodies." They could both see through the window the wagons carrying the distended, gray corpses, each with a twisted, writhing spirit floating above.
Mom turned away and headed back to the kitchen. Why had they moved to this God-forsaken planet, and why had she believed the realtor who told her this was the quietest road in town?
She opened the liquor cabinet and stared inside. She had some spirits of her own to tame.
Opening: D Jason Cooper.....Continuation: Anon.