When they buried Marvin, his family wanted his grave to be special. They installed a solar powered light in front of the tombstone, which remained lit at night, causing his name to stand out from all the others.
This did not sit well with the immediate family of the man buried next to Marvin, who was named Melvin. Melvin’s family now felt that everyone who walked past their graves would think that Marvin’s family loved him more, so they set out to prove to the world that their love was beyond comparison. Soon after Melvin’s family visited, Melvin’s grave featured a group of lights that outshone Marvin’s grave, eclipsing it entirely.
Before long other families became involved, not wanting anyone to think that they loved their departed any less than anyone else did. The cemetery became every more illuminated, with ever stronger lights highlighting the graves.
This soon led to a point of diminishing returns, and families sought other ways to memorialize the dead. One family installed a video monitor that played a highlight movie of the person’s life, and this led to one monitor after another, of ever greater size and resolution, appearing over grave after grave. The movies became ever more grandly produced, some of them featuring weatherproof audio systems that played soundtracks composed by top Hollywood music writers.
This arms race of memorialization swiftly moved to holograms, in which the departed talked about their lives, day and night. These holograms grew ever more sophisticated, progressing from simple audiovisual loops to computer driven communication algorithms that interacted with visitors, and answered simple yes/no questions.
As these algorithms became ever more sophisticated, the holograms, driven as they were by programs built on the memories of the dead, became ever more self aware. They started having ever more meaningful conversations with the living, who came to visit them more and more frequently. Then the dead had conversations amongst themselves, with people from different centuries having deep, meaningful conversations about science, art, religion, philosophy, and an infinite number of other topics.
Because those alive now wished to communicate with their ancestors from home, the computers in these cemeteries became part of a huge wireless network. These resurrected beings now roamed throughout, researching those buried next to them from ever farther back in time, bringing back person after person, who sprang to life when someone put a holographic projector in front of their grave.
It wasn’t long before engineers put these bits of code into ever more realistic robots, until the day finally came that cemeteries were merely the place in which a person’s physical remains rested. Once interred, it was only a matter of time before the doorbell rang, and a duplicate of the departed appeared, acting as if nothing had ever happened.