Late that afternoon the high sheriff of Sevier County with two deputies and two other men crossed the field from Willy Gibson’s old rifle shop where they’d left the car and crossed the creek and went up the old log road. They carried lanterns and coils of rope and a number of muslin shrouds on which was stenciled Property of the State of Tennessee. The high sheriff of Sevier County himself descended into the sink and surveyed the mausoleum there. The bodies were covered with adipocere, a pale gray cheesy mold common to corpses in damp places, and scallops of light fungus grew along them as they do on logs rotting in the forest. The chamber was filled with a sour smell, a faint reek of ammonia. The sheriff and the deputy made a noose from a rope and they slipped it around the upper body of the first corpse and drew it tight. They pulled her from the slab and dragged her across the stone floor of the vault and down a corridor to where daylight fell against the wall of the sink. In this leaning bole of light, standing there among the shifting motes, they called for a rope. When it descended they made it fast to the rope about the corpse and called aloft again. The rope drew taut and the first of the dead sat up on the cave floor, the hands that hauled the rope above sorting the shadows like puppeteers. Gray soapy clots of matter fell from the cadaver’s chin. She ascended dangling. She sloughed in the weem of the noose. A gray rheum dripped.In the evening a jeep descended the log road towing a trailer in the bed of which lay seven bodies bound in muslin like enormous hams. As they went down the valley in the new fell dark basking nighthawks rose from the dust in the road before them with wild wings and eyes red as jewels in the headlights.