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God forbid you should ever find yourself in one of those so-called funeral homes. Granted, the likeliness of such an event is rather high, especially depending on the ages of your parents and their parents and, if applicable, their parents. There's an entire industry centered around death, so prior to your own mortality you'll likely step foot in one of those rotten places.

Now, let me digress…not all funeral homes are bad. In fact, your average run-of-the-mill mom-and-pop funeral home is likely just another cog in the middle-class economic machine. You'd be doing a public disservice to not spend your hard-earned dollar letting mom-and-pop pump dear old grandma with formaldehyde.

However, with that said…not all funeral homes are good. And, largely, I reason this is because of the dry mouths.

Not many people know about dry mouths. I realize this probably includes you, too. That's okay…it's probably for the better, considering public knowledge would probably lead to mass hysteria. Imagine taking the bus home and wondering if the little girl in the green dress across from you was hit by a truck three weeks prior. Pretty morbid, I know, but this is the harsh reality of the dry mouths.

No one is exactly sure as to when this started, but for whatever reason, certain funeral homes would lose cadavers out of nowhere. Clumsy shop owners? Maybe…but how on Earth could you lose a 260-pound man's corpse in the middle of the night?

Some people theorized the bodies were probably stolen…though I beg for one good reason to steal an undressed corpse from a funeral home…besides the select few sickos that'd sleep with the thing (I'd rather not talk about it).

Maybe the bodies were unaccounted for…or cremated accidentally. This isn't true either. I used to work at a funeral home, and we take very serious precautions to account for each and every body that comes through the place.

To me, there's only one answer: dry mouths.

When you embalm a corpse (a process I'll not dive into to avoid your loss of appetite), upon the removal of the major organs and blood…you pump the body full of chemicals and stuff the major orifices with cotton. It's a grueling process. To lend insight, consider stuffing seven wads of cotton into a three-hundred-pounder's rectum; it'd be a similar endeavor to prepping a Thanksgiving turkey. Charming, I know.

The point of all this is to explain why they're called "dry mouths". They get the nickname from the balled-up wads of cotton stuffed into their noses, throats, and…other areas after awaking. And, yes, you read that right…awaking.

The day I quit…I was just building up the nerve to ask for a raise from the boss-man. I had worked at that funeral parlor for around (ballpark) four years, and I felt as if my grueling day-to-day tasks deserved some more adequate financial compensation.

As I walked from my embalming room to the head office, I ran into the boss' wife in the hallway. She turned around and smiled at me. I would've smiled back, but the knowledge that I had just removed her heart and pancreas the day beforehand didn't put me in a jolly mood. Rather, my reaction was a loud gasp, followed by my body tumbling to the ground as my hands grasped at the carpet, pulling me away from the woman who clearly was suffering from a bad case of the rigor mortis. As my hands tugged along the carpet, they happened to grip a nasty wad of phlegm-covered cotton. I suppose awakening from a cancer-induced nap and finding wads of cotton aligning your esophagus wouldn't be too pleasant.

The woman stretched out her pale, frail hands toward me and opened her dry mouth. She looked as if she was trying to scream but, considering the absence of lungs and vocal cords, that'd be the last thing to come out.

As my back finally pressed against the glass door, pouring sunlight onto my shoulders, I saw my boss step out from his office. He shot a glance at me, and then to his late wife. He left out a whimper, filled both with great joy and sorrow. I watched as he ran to embrace his wife, and as she turned to face him, I pushed through the glass door and ran to my car.

I considered that my resignation.

Astonishing as it may seem, my story is not the only one. This kind of thing happens quite often. And, as I've mentioned, there are some bright theories as to why…but only that. Theories.

Some people think that the chemicals arranged in embalming fluid create a charge that stimulates the muscles. Now, that's a cute idea, but the nearly week-old carcass of a woman chasing me down a hallway seemed a bit more than a "stimulated muscle". Other people (particularly my mortuary friends) believe the deceased were never so, but rather prematurely pronounced dead by a physician. Again, considering my boss's late wife was rendezvousing with me without a heart and lungs throws that idea out the window, too.

Others have a different, less medically sound, opinion. Some people believe that dry mouths are a sign of the end times. Maybe they're demons with skin; otherworldly beings parading as us. Maybe reincarnation is right, but we didn't read the fine print. Or, maybe, Revelation was right, and the dead really do rise.  

Essentially, we are at a loss. And God forbid you should go into a funeral home. Or a morgue. Or a hospital. Or your home.

Because, lo and behold, a month after my "resignation", I received a Christmas card from my boss. And, yes, she was on the card, too.

Dry mouths aren't trying to hide. They're hidden in plain sight. They're all around us, without cause and reason. The dead walk among the living and the living are too numb to realize it. They are intruders wrapped in a flesh suit.

I only have one question for the dry mouths: why? Why are you here? What do you want? Do you wish to feast on our numb brains with your dry mouths? Are you here for my soul? Do you want anything from us?

I suppose a dry mouth has the same purpose in life that I do. The only difference being that I have a life.

Or maybe that's the biggest lie of all. Maybe we're all dry mouth, and we've only forgotten that we've already spat out the cotton.

Written by MakRalston
Content is available under CC BY-SA