It was a warm summer's day, as it tended to be every time Billobi headed down south. He stood all dressed up in the middle of a large gathering of people, in the middle of a field, and gazed up into the sun. The warmth washed over his face, but the feeling didn't resonate with the rest of his body: sorrow had rooted itself within, and tangled his gut.
"People! People!" a voice cried out. "Gather around, it is auction time."
The voice belonged to an old, bearded man. He stood on a crude podium made of wooden crates, and held two black, small stones in each hand. Billobi recognised him as one of the locals, but couldn't remember his name.
"There, there! As we all know, the community lost one of its biggest souls last week. Somehow the Soil wanted him back, and can we blame it? Can we, really? Hamphred treated the ground as a beloved offspring, not as a unwanted bastard like them burghers do! When he ate, he chose the best meat, and when he drank, he swallowed with care. Let this not be forgotten; Hamphred took only nature's best, so that he could return the same!"
There was a strong sense of agreement in the crowd, although not a word was spoken. Billobi felt the roots of sorrow burrowing deeper within him, entangling organ after organ. He took a deep breath, and searched for his mother's hand.
"The community have selected this spot to receive the great gift of our missed Hamphred's body. His earthly body will nourish the ground, as the Soil takes back what it once gave. You all knew Hamphred, you know what his body is capable of. Remember this! This place has been given the honour of receiving this great body, an end that will lead to many great start! Let the auction begin!"
The turmoil that followed was one of the more morbid things about these southern funerals. The field was auctioned away to the highest bidder, knowing that Hamphred Dungbeetle was buried deep in the ground to moulder away and nourish the start of new crops. The old man on the podium spoke as fast as he could, trying to keep up with the bidders in the crowd. It felt like an eternity, but lasted only a couple of minutes.
"There, there!" said the man and knocked the two black stones together. "The memory of our beloved friend will not only linger in our memories, but will continue to grow here, to make it better for the rest of us."
After the auction followed the reading of Hamphred's will; since he had no children of his own, his belongings ended up with his cousins and cousins' cousins. Billobi were given, among other things, a large comfortable furniture that Hamphred knew he adored.
"The last thing on the list was given to one in our community that wishes to be anonymous. She decided to give it back to the community as a reminder of Hamphred's views on life, and it has therefore been placed on this field as a statue and inspiration. With these words, I hereby end this auction and funeral. Thank you."
The man bowed slightly and got off the podium. The crowd dissipated; some got on their wagons and began the long road home, and some met up for funeral dinner.
Out on the field stood the statue alone, a peaceful and welcoming piece, whose silhouette made it stand out as the sun set. The bathtub was as dirty now as it had ever been.
The 2016 Cartographic Review!
58 minutes ago