Writing Prompt #100 — What’s Dead Remains Dead

Prompt: You are a necromancer who secretly helps the police by bringing back the spirits of murder victims so you can question them about their deaths.

Dave and Tommy roll in a body on the metal gurney. The steel double-doors close behind them. Their police shields clipped to their belts gleam briefly under the bright florescent light as they roll the body underneath it.

“We got ‘nother, Nate,” Dave says, stepping away from the gurney. Tommy follows suit.

“I can see that,” I say, sliding a bookmark into the book I was reading, and set it onto the steel counter. I slide off the stool and walk over to the corpse. “And what do you want to know this time, boys?”

“He was stabbed to death—” Tommy begins, but I wave him off.

“I asked what you want to know, not how he died.” I look down at the bumpy white sheet draped over the metal bed. There are splotches of red seeping through near where the man’s abdomen would be.

“We wanna know what we always do,” Dave says, “how he died and who killed him. He was a very important man and—” I wave him off, like I did his partner.

“Doesn’t matter who he was, is, or what he’ll become.” I look up through the blaring light. “Just be quiet and don’t interrupt. Remember what happened last time? You still having those nightmares, Tommy?”

His pudgy face is beaded in sweat. He wipes his forehead and looks at the ground. “Not.. not as much.”

I nod. “Good, good.” I look at Dave. “And, you? How’s the bleeding?”

He shifts his weight, hooks his hands in his pockets. “Better, doesn’t hurt as much going to the bathroom, but… Doc says it’ll heal in a couple weeks.”

“Wonderful, wonderful.” I look back down at the corpse. “Let’s begin.”

I rip the white sheet from the man. His brown hair wafts then settles. His pale skin matches the dozen of other corpses I’ve handled. The multiple stab wounds in his side still ooze blood. I remove the scalpel from the work bench and quickly etch thin symbols down his forearms and legs, and around his inward belly button. I toss the bloodied scalpel back onto the bench and take the tub of baby fat and paintbrush, and gently weave a line of fat around the symbols until they all meet at the belly button. I still find it odd it smells like butter. I take the scalpel again and cut a line in the center of the lines of baby fat, ending at the man’s middle.

After setting it back down, I press my fingers in a tub of ashes and run them along the lines, whispering words long forgotten by people. With every gibbering syllable, the overhead light darkens, darkens, darkens, flickers, goes out. The white painted cement walls tremble and cracks sound as they splinter. My words echo into the abyss pressing upon the room, reverberate off the arching, all-encompassing vertebrate of the gods dwelling in the shadows. A dark haze veils my vision and my nerves ignite with flames that licks the insides of my flesh.

The overhead light is swinging, the tools on the table are shaking, the glass cases filled with tools and ancient books are rattling violently. The air is palpable and swelling, forming a vacuum around the corpse and I. Sweat pours from under my arms. I shout the last word and press my thumb to the man’s navel and the baby fat ignites in lapis flames then seep into the center line and spread out to the symbols, which glow ruby and amethyst. The man’s chest shutters, shutters, then he sits up and Dave and Tommy scream although they’ve seen this a dozen times.

I stand back, the light flickers back on, and the world steadies. I exhale and wipe my hands on my pants, then run my arm over my forehead. “Alright, his spirit’s back,” I say, “now get your answers and get out.” I move away from the table and sit back on my stool, pick up and open my book, removing the bookmark. Tommy and Dave’s voices dwindle to almost nothing as the man learns to use his mouth again, learns to talk again, learns to comprehend the world. It’s a slow process — always is — but soon they get the handle of it and the police get what they want.

I glance up from my book as Tommy moves around the man and holds down his shoulders, and Dave takes out the cursed and enchanted Glock he always brings. People are made of routines. The man starts to fight back, screaming, crying, but Dave is quick and presses it to the man’s temple and pulls the trigger. There’s no mess, no blood. The bullet rattling inside the corpse’s brain isn’t damaging its physical innards, just the spirit within. What’s physical is dead and remains dead, even when resurrected.

With a wave, the boys in blue leave and I return to my book.

I’ll deal with the dead later.

 

Read my previous prompt, “The Humans Are Coming.”

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