To collect data for an important experiment, these scientists installed a camera in Xander’s coffin. On the night of the funeral, they turned on the camera and were utterly stupefied. The graveyard was packed with people from various walks of life, and with the sweet scent of all the flowers the mourners had brought with them to honor the deceased.
Butterflies were attracted by the flowers, and many hovered close by, creating a colorful cheer in what would have otherwise been a very somber affair. Tears stained the cheeks of many people, and many surreptitiously tried to blow their noses. Palpable grief was heavy in the atmosphere—all of this was for Xander, the deceased who passed away in his early 40s.
He had been a well-known philanthropist and humanitarian, a good man who selflessly improved the lives of many with his wealth. Several young people at his funeral had benefited from his scholarship schemes. Many widows had been assisted in building sources of livelihood, and even old people had a proper working nursing home, thanks to Xander. Nobody could believe he was gone because he was so young, so vital, and so boisterous. When the news had spread less than 48 hours ago that he was dead and his funeral would be held, the entire community had been too stunned to speak. Many had hoped that it was a nasty rumor until they saw his coffin, and he was nowhere in sight.
Xander’s only family relation at his funeral was his sister Heather. She had flown into town over a month ago to visit him. It had been during her stay that he had kicked the bucket, and she had taken it upon herself to organize this funeral. Heather stood the closest to the coffin, sobs escaping from her as if she were trying to hold them in but couldn’t. She looked bereaved and in deep pain. Xander was her last family, and she didn’t think it fair that he would leave her alone in the world like this.
A few paces behind Heather, there was a lady dressed in an elegant black lace dress. Heather noticed the lady from the onset because of her carriage and her aura. The lady easily stood out compared to the other mourners, and that irked Heather. Who did this woman think she was, she thought, and turned away from her, trying to pretend that she didn’t exist.
The lady was beautiful, looked to be in her mid-30s, and could pass for a celebrity. Heather felt the lady was familiar, but she couldn’t place her face. The lady initially wore dark shades that concealed half of her face, but she took them off briefly to dab at the unsto[ching tears that flowed from her eyes]. It was then that Heather saw that her eyes were puffy and that she looked deeply distressed, even more so than many of the mourners. This made Heather wonder.
Fortunately, she didn’t have to wait too long to find out. A few hours later, Xander’s lawyer gathered a few people in Xander’s office to read his will. Although his death had happened suddenly, Xander was known to always prepare ahead. That’s why he had written his will months ago and had given it to his trusted lawyer. Heather and the unknown lady were included in the people gathered. The lady was Patricia, Xander’s occasional business partner and his friend. She had a bearing about her and a sureness that made Heather feel a little jealous.
Heather wasn’t very confident and struggled to be comfortable in her own skin, unlike Patricia. To Heather’s dismay, the lawyer read Xander’s will, and they discovered that he had dispersed his wealth to his protégés and to charities. All that Xander left for her was a small cabin in a location that Heather didn’t like one bit. She felt an overwhelming sense of disappointment and resentment. She was his only family; how could he have done this to her, she thought.
Heather was secretly thrilled when she heard that Patricia got nothing except a letter written in Xander’s hand and words of encouragement to keep the company thriving. Heather suspected that Patricia expected to get money or some properties. Although her financial features were neutral and revealed nothing, Heather recalled how she had been the one who discovered Xander’s lifeless body and contacted the ambulance service.
That entire day still replayed in her memories like a horror movie playing in slow motion. She remembered the ambulance arriving and the paramedics checking for a pulse. She remembered how they had performed CPR on Xander and placed an oxygen mask over the lower half of his face. She had ridden with the ambulance to the hospital, where he had been pronounced dead.
Heather’s ears had rung, and she had sunk down to a crouch, covering her ears and nearly swallowed up with utter disbelief. Heather was a religious woman; for this reason, she had refused for an autopsy to be carried out on Xander to find out the cause of death. She had informed the doctors that he had cardio issues for a number of years and the sudden attack must have been what killed him. Some scientists who had been coming by the hospital happened to hear her talking with the doctors.
The scientists were searching for relatives of deceased people who would grant them permission to run an experiment. Overhearing Heather’s concerns, they had approached her. They had introduced themselves to her and told her what they did.
They were currently researching the composition rate of dead bodies. They wanted to install a camera in her brother’s coffin to collect necessary data for their experiment. For this reason, her brother’s body didn’t need to be stored in a mortuary. The scientists would be the ones to arrange his coffin with the required parameters, and all Heather had to do was go ahead to hold the funeral and bury him. In exchange for this, she would get paid good money.
Heather had been hesitant to accept this offer. She had just lost her brother, her last living relative, and she had been lost on what to do. However, she had thought about it and had known that an experiment such as this would have been supported by Xander. He had been a humanitarian, after all, who had contributed so much for the progress of humanity. Even in death, she felt he wouldn’t object to such a selfless act. She hadn’t thought much about the money.
The preparations for Xander’s funeral had been rushed because Heather wanted to get it over with. She hadn’t wanted to prolong the grief and also wanted to return to where she lived, which was out of state. Heather hadn’t allowed for Xander to lie in state so that she wouldn’t mess with the scientist’s setup. Instead, she had chosen a recent photograph of Xander where he was laughing and looked full of life. She had framed the photo to life-size and put it beside his coffin. Unbeknownst to Heather, Patricia had taken that photo at a business event.
Seeing that photo used at his funeral made Patricia more emotional. Everyone who had come to the funeral paid their respects while staring at the photo and laid flowers on the coffin. Hours after the coffin was buried beneath the earth, many people departed, but not Patricia. She returned to the graveyard after the reading of Xander’s will, and she stood there as if she was on guard. Heather was mildly annoyed to see her remain there when there was no one else in sight.
She ignored her and left as well; only Patricia was there alone, staring at the freshly t[sed] earth. Patricia walked down memory lane. She recalled the first time that she met Xander. She was presenting a proposal to his company at a business meeting. Xander had the power to either accept her proposal or shove it out of the window. Yet, instead of paying attention to her, he had been distracted and brazenly pressing his phone, ignoring her.
Patricia had been so annoyed; she felt that he was taking her lightly because she was a woman. So she had done a most unusual thing to get his attention. She had stopped her presentation, turned on the lights, and shocked the board of directors present by calling Xander by his first name instead of chairman. When he had raised his head to look at her, she had accused him of being a misogynist.
On the surface, it had appeared as if Xander hadn’t been moved by her accusation because he didn’t react. But she had seen his jaw set harder and ticking in the corner of his eyes. He had been offended. Setting aside his phone and every other distraction, Xander had listened to her start and finish her presentation. Then he had been brutal in his assessment. He had sought to throw her off balance by asking tough questions and searching for loopholes, but Patricia had held her ground. Xander had been intrigued. After the presentation was over, Xander had invited her to have lunch with him. She hadn’t hesitated to turn him down, although he was handsome.
The next time they met was at an event that Xander’s company had held. Attendance had been strictly by invitation, and only 200 high-profile guests had been invited. Patricia had been one of them, and in addition to that, Xander had sent a limo to bring her to the event. Patricia had imagined that he was trying to woo her, but in fact, he had invited her solely for the purpose of business.
Much to her surprise, he had told her that she was an astute businesswoman, and he wasn’t going to pass up on working with her. She was innovative, efficient, practical, and flexible. Patricia had found Xander unusual. She knew she was beautiful, and often times whenever she worked with powerful men, they wanted a piece of her and had pursued her relentlessly. Xander hadn’t done that; he had been focused and concerned with helping underprivileged school children, struggling widows, and physically challenged people.
Just as Xander predicted, he and Patricia had worked well together, became friends, and had great work-life balance. Their values had been aligned, and they had complimentary tastes and often made each other laugh. Then, in a few weak moments, they had shared a few kisses. Xander had always been the one to put a stop to them, severally and with pain in his composure. He had told Patricia that he wasn’t looking for a romantic relationship. He felt that he didn’t have the time and would make her feel lonely. Moreover, his past relationships hadn’t ended well, and going by that, he hadn’t wanted to lose Patricia’s friendship and companionship. Patricia had been hurt to hear this, but she respected Xander and had agreed to stay friends.
However, a month ago, they had crossed a major line. They had closed a huge deal and were celebrating at Patricia’s house with a few other people. Xander had called a designated driver to take him home because he had been drinking. He had waited at the balcony with Patricia, and they had talked over more drinks. Everybody else left except them, and next thing, they had found themselves in a passionate embrace and had slept together. In the morning, Xander had apologized to Patricia, and she had asked him not to be sorry. To her, the night before had been special, and she didn’t want to ever regret it.
After that day, their communication had drastically reduced. In over two weeks, Patricia had discovered she was pregnant and had been working up the courage to tell Xander. But he died out of the blue. Patricia wailed loudly. If only she hadn’t been so scared of his reaction and had broken the news to him, perhaps things would have been different. Perhaps she would have been with him at the time of the heart attack, and he wouldn’t have died. She wiped away her tears and forced herself to be strong.
“Xander, I’m going to have our baby, and I promise that no matter what, this baby will be loved fiercely and will be strong yet compassionate, just like you.” With these words, she forced herself to turn away from his grave and strode out of the graveyard.
Meanwhile, the scientists had set up such that the cameras in the coffin would turn on for 10 minutes at 10:00 p.m. Within those 10 minutes, they would take note of all that they needed, record the data, and that would be that. This pattern was to be repeated for up to a year.
On that fateful night that Xander was laid to rest, the camera automatically turned on at 10:00 p.m. When they checked the video, they were extremely shocked. They had been the ones that placed a dead man in position, but instead of lying supine as they had left him, he was lying on his side and pushing against the solid coffinwood as if he was trying to get out. The scientists suspected something was afoot and that they needed to act quickly to save the man.
They had placed some oxygen in the coffin as one of their experimental parameters, but even that was set to expire in less than 30 minutes. That oxygen was the only thing keeping Xander from suffocating to actual death. The scientists didn’t bother seeking approval from regulatory authorities to excavate the grave. That would take the time that they didn’t have. They merely acted on instinct, grabbed some shovels, and dug up to the grave.
They were done digging up to the grave and were in the middle of pulling up the coffin when the oxygen expired, suffocating Xander. He writhed furiously in the coffin, nearly causing them to drop him back into the ground. They begged him to hold still, and fortunately, he complied. It was difficult, but they were able to place the coffin on solid ground, opened it, and Xander crawled out of it, panting. It had taken everything in him to hold his breath for 5 minutes. With their help, Xander was secretly administered to a hospital overnight, and he got in touch with the cops.
Together, they planned a huge surprise for a certain someone. Heather was packing when she heard the doorbell ring. When she opened the door, her eyes threatened to pop out of their sockets because Xander was standing before her, alive and well. He came with the cops, and they were there with a warrant to arrest her. Heather resisted and fought against getting arrested. She claimed that she was innocent and that Xander was wrong about her.
However, one of the cops revealed a copy of her bank balance. 10 grand had been wired to her the previous evening by the scientists for her cooperation. She explained it didn’t mean anything. That was when another cop revealed she had booked a plane ticket to Las Vegas. It had been easy to get a hold of Heather’s history as a gambler. She had been planning to go gambling.
Although Heather was shocked that private information about her had been dug up with ease, she still maintained her ground
that she was innocent and didn’t deserve to be arrested. Even though Xander gave me an overdose of sleeping pills, Xander asked quietly. Heather froze; she had been avoiding staring him in the eyes until he said that. In his eyes, she saw disappointment and pain. He wasn’t angry at her; he was just extremely let down. Heather wasn’t related to Xander by blood; she was his half-sister because his dad had married her mom, a likable lady. Teenage Xander had welcomed Heather with open arms, but she had behaved badly.
Heather had gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd and started doing drugs, which threatened to destroy her. Heather had been quietly admitted to rehab. There she had a chance to reflect on herself and promised to change, but she kept on relapsing. When Xander’s father had passed away half a decade ago, he had still acknowledged her in his will and left her a small stipend, hoping that she would use it and start over. Heather had despised the inheritance; she had wanted more and had felt entitled to more. She had begged Xander to give her more things, but he had refused. He had wanted her to prove to him that she was worthy of more by improving her own life.
Heather had angrily left. Four years later, Heather had returned to town because she was in debt and desperate. Xander had graciously offered her a room in his house and had been willing to help her get a job. Heather hadn’t been interested in that kind of help; she wanted him to pay off her debt and give her money. Xander had refused to do that. He had told her that doing that would only damage her further. They had a series of meetings where Heather had tried to change his mind, but he had been resolute.
Frustrated, Heather had thought of another plan, and that’s when she had thought of putting sleeping pills in his tea. Her plan had been to knock him out while she searched his house for valuable items to run away with. However, her plan had gone awfully wrong when she didn’t detect a pulse on him and had to call the ambulance.
Heather finally confessed to her crimes; the cops handcuffed her and led her away. It wasn’t easy for Xander to put her in jail, but he believed that her desperate nature and greed made her a dangerous person. She nearly killed him, after all. He was filled with sorrow.
Patricia heard the good news and rushed to see Xander at his house. She was bawling. Xander crushed her in his embrace and wouldn’t let go. He kept thinking that he could have lost her forever, and near that experience taught me to grab hold of love and enjoy it to the full. “I’m never letting go of you, Patricia,” he told her. She cried happy tears and kissed him deeply. Then she broke an unexpected piece of good news to him—they were having a baby.
Xander was over the moon. To him, it was too good to be true. He proposed; they got married and settled into a happy life together.
As for Heather, she faced the consequences of her actions in jail. The legal system would determine the appropriate punishment for her deeds. The events surrounding Xander’s supposed death had brought about significant changes in the lives of those involved, leaving them to grapple with the aftermath of deception, betrayal, and unexpected twists of fate.