Only the Good Die Young
By Jeffrey Bishop
Tell Time: 3 minutes
Scare Rating: 2/5 Ghosts
Jeremy steered his dad’s sturdy Buick down the dark highway, his hands placed firmly at 10 and 2. A long night of group study behind him, the honors student had done all that he could do to prepare. The college entrance exams were early the next day, and he was brimming over with accumulated knowledge, along with enough ambition and potential to carry him through the long life that he should expect ahead of him.
With aspirations to serve in the Peace Corps before becoming a surgeon, there was nothing standing between Jeremy and a successful life of meaning and impact. Nothing, except perhaps the Xenon Marauder that swooped in behind him. Approaching fast and low at 20 feet over the highway, the stealthy ship lined up directly behind the boy’s car.
Jeremy never knew what hit him. What hit him was an ionic wave energy pulse that gently but firmly shoved the car from behind, off the road and into a ditch.
At Jeremy’s wake, his mom sat weeping in the corner while her sisters tried to console her. In the family room, the boy’s dad tried in vain to discuss the day’s ball game or Middle East peace or the stock market — any topic at all except for the tragic loss of his son. Instead, he endured condolence after condolence from well-meaning friends and acquaintances.
“Why do the good die so young, Wanda?” asked Betty Joe. The family friend stared across the room at Jeremy’s mom, shaking her head in disbelief and sympathy. “That boy was going to do nothing but help this world. Heck, he’d already done more to ease suffering and help others than most do in a lifetime!”
“I know it,” replied Wanda, a nurse who worked with the Jeremy’s mom. “During the summer before his junior year, he went on that medical mission to Uganda and helped save hundreds of poor villagers from death and illness and disease.”
“And what about his Eagle Scout project?” asked Betty Joe rhetorically. “Don’t you know that he got his troop to build a new playground at the after-school center for those disadvantaged kiddos to play on? Why he’s’ done nothing but give and give and serve and give.”
“They say it always happens that way with the good ones. That maybe God takes ’em early because they’re so deserving. Or maybe because they’ve already done all His will for them to do on this Earth,” Wanda replied. “I’ll never understand it.”
As darkness fell on the cemetery where Jeremy had been laid to rest only hours before, a dense fog also gathered in the still valley. In the mist-shrouded twilight, a shimmering haze appeared over the grave site. Slowly, the heavy box containing the boy’s embalmed remains lifted out of the ground and disappeared into the object hiding in the fog. The dirt mound that had covered it settled softly back in place over the vacant hole.
“Why do we always go after the virtuous ones?” asked Zalpther, the younger Xenon in the Marauder ship.
“Because they taste the best,” replied Argthag. “It says so right on the label.”
The elder alien pointed at the screen to the newly carved tombstone laid at the end of the dirt mound.
Under the boy’s name it read,
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