Captain Julian Escobar leads a small detail, including his friend, Lieutenant Maria Bazan, on a mission to administer a dose of post-mortem justice. They have orders to exhume the remains of a war criminal, Commandant de Alvarado, confidante of the Fascist dictator of the former regime. The old Commandant has been lying in a mausoleum on his ancestral lands in this backwater village for some thirty years now. Escobar’s detail is to take the Commandant’s remains and deposit them in a pauper’s grave.
Escobar doesn’t relish the thought of disturbing the dead. He’d much rather be home, lying in bed with his wife. The rain isn’t helping.
As they approach the mausoleum, an old man approaches. He knows what they want and warns them to go away. He helped inter the old Commandant, and what’s in the mausoleum should stay there. After some back and forth, Lt. Bazan cold cocks him with the butt of her semiautomatic pistol.
Suffice to say, poor Escobar’s detail finds more than they bargained for when they open the Commandant’s mausoleum, something none of them was looking forward to begin with. In many ways, this plays out similar to many supernatural horror stories, so there was little surprise there.
I can’t help reflecting, though, that the rise of Fascism is depicted as an outside force to which humans seem irresistibly drawn. Its emblem is a double-headed eagle, which is an ancient symbol, generally of empire, and used by various powers over the ages. Did the author have this in mind? I don’t pretend to know.
Escobar’s detail was warned. They had their orders, which, really, they had little choice but to follow. Following them came back to not only bite them in the ass but bring back an evil that they’d thought banished, so—they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Is there an answer?
I enjoyed this sad little tale, even if I sound like I nitpick.
According to his blub, author Richard L. Rubin has been writing science fiction and fantasy since 2008. His short story sci-fi thriller “Robbery on Antares VI” is available on Amazon. Science fiction stories written by him also appear in Broadswords and Blasters magazine, The Weird and Whatnot magazine, the Aurora Wolf journal of science fiction, and Eastern Iowa Review.
In a previous life, he worked as an appellate lawyer, defending several clients facing the death penalty in California. Richard is an Associate Member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. He lives in the San Francisco Bay area with his wife, Susanne. Richard’s website is at:richardlrubin.com.
The story can be read here.
Title: “The Exhumation of Commandant De Alvarado”
Author: Richard L. Rubin
First published: Theme of Absence, July 10, 2020