In the Vault
by H.P. Lovecraft
True to form, Lovecraft utilizes his favorite device of a Nameless Narrator once again, although in this rare case, the Narrator never actually appears in the story that he tells. Instead, he is relating a second-hand account to us, his eager audience.
Crass and Crude undertaker George Birch was always willing to take a shortcut in his profession, always looking to cut a few corners and maybe save a few bucks. Being a logical man and not prone to superstition, he never believed that his practices would come back to haunt him...at least not in the manner in which they did.
An accident of fate leaves him stranded in a tomb, his only escape many feet above his head. Again, a man of logic, he calculates a way out: a Jenga-like stack of coffins that he will climb to freedom.
Little does he suspect that one of the deceased tenants would react in a negative way to such treatment...
The H.P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia calls this "a commonplace tale of supernatural vengeance", stating that Lovecraft "attempts unsuccessfully to write in a more homespun, colloquial vein."
And that's not all that far off from the truth. It's a very simple story that is missing some of Lovecraft's distinctive voice, but I'm still quite fond of it. The rather silly twist ending reminded me too much of an old EC Comics story to leave me disappointed.
All that was missing was the Crypt Keeper.