(yes,'hamazing' is a typo, but I'm so keeping it)
by Carey Burns
Albert squinted toward the west and rolled up the window of his truck, slamming the door hard against the too-tight hinges. "Gonna be a bad one, Ray."
Ray shrugged, leaning against a tombstone. "It don't look like much to me."
One look at the towering green-tinged mass of clouds told Albert different. "You know what that is?" He pointed at it, striding toward the small wooden shack nearby. "That's what we call a Gravedigger's Thunderhead. You’re young, so you don't know, but when you see clouds like that, you get your ass to shelter or you end up work for the gravedigger."
Ray smirked and followed, staring skyward. "You're just paranoid. Besides, we need the rain, don’t we?"
He stopped, his pale, claw-like hand gripping the handle of the storm shelter door. "It ain't rain you need to be thinkin' about, it’s what comes with it. Hail, lightning, winds, tornadoes..." He shook his head and pulled up on the angled door, staring down into the murky shelter. “Some helper you’re turnin’ out to be.”
“But it’s job security then, right? More work for us.” Ray chuckled.
Both men picked their way down the old stone steps into the darkness.
"Don't shut it yet," Albert held up one hand and looked along a low stone ledge. "There it is..." He plucked up an old kerosene lantern and slid off the chimney, careful not to break the thin glass. One flip of his Zippo and the tiny shelter was bathed in a yellow glow.
Ray pulled the shelter door toward him and slid a piece of wood into the door brace to lock it, doubting it would hold in a real storm.
"Listen..." Albert stood still, glass chimney in hand. "The birds ain't even chirpin'. That's a sign."
Ray watched him put the chimney on the lantern and looked around. There shelter was maybe ten feet square with a low ceiling that made both men slouch. The walls were smooth stones but the floor was packed dirt. There was no food or water, just the lone lantern and what looked like a wadded-up tarp in the far corner. Albert balanced the lantern on the ledge and stepped backward, just out of the rim of light.
“Where are the emergency supplies?” Ray asked, staring at the slivers of light peeking through the old, cracked door.
He laughed. “We don’t need no supplies. It’ll be over soon. See, the first sign is the birds stop. They just listen, waiting. The second sign is the sky gets dark…greenish yellow…” His voice trailed off and the flame of the lantern jerked and dimmed.
Ray stared at the greenish hue seeping through the door cracks. “What’s the third sign?” He whispered, catching a faint rustling noise from the corner.
Albert slipped behind the younger man and lifted his arm, bringing the old axe down on the back of his head. “You don’t get a third sign.”
He waited out the storm and buried Ray with the other would-be gravediggers.