Momento Mori

There was something to be said about the light.

It was sort of terrifying, the thought of having every last organ exposed, having people see them raw and cold and laid out on the slab. But that was the way it always went. Cold air. Icy touches. The instruments were shiny and sharp and cut through them like butter. Their insides were too dark, too cool, too sticky with clotting blood. They always got to them before they were bloated. Usually just after rigor set in. This was their job, after all.

This happened every week.

They would not know when death would claim them, exactly, but it happened so often that the fear had dulled down to a nauseating apprehension.

They would proceed through life quietly and as happily as they could, but then, eventually, it would be an icy Wednesday afternoon and they’d find themselves pinned beneath the too-hot, panting form of a werewolf. Teeth yellow, drool against their skin, and then those fangs (ones they studied in class, ones that were not supposed to belong to beasts this far in the city) would be digging into their throat, giving, taking, ripping away the life from their body as they kicked and screamed.

It happened all the time. They would be dead, as physically dead as any other lycanthrope or car crash or murder victim, but they would still be in there, in most senses of the word. Trapped in their cocoon of meat and sinew, dripping cooling blood and covered in bruises. Sentient, but only partially feeling. Un-moving. Cold.

Then the autopsy.

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Decay

Jim worked in a field that left his definition of “deceased” a little blurred.

It had sort of called to him ever since he was a child – that desire to distort the line between life and death, to explore what he could outside the bounds of “nature.” His father had been a pious man, a preacher, but where his mother had been quiet and kind, his father had been cruel and his words had rang out like God himself was using him as an amplifier. He could still hear the hellfire spilling from his lips as he lorded over his congregation, spoke of sin and eternal damnation. Whenever he’d preach those things – promises of punishment for being a heathen –  he’d always look down at his son in the first row. It was like he’d seen something sinister in the boy on the day he was born, and every move Jimmy made only solidified that suspicion.

So Jim had done what came natural – he had cowered from his father, turned away from his warnings of damnation and demons. It wasn’t out of spite (he had never been too spiteful, really) but out of fear, a desire to protect himself. He wasn’t bad, right? He hadn’t even done anything wrong, at least, not until he turned twelve and met the witch that would grant him his very first spellbook, would whisper that he had potential, that he had a knack for black magic.

That had been years back, though, in another story altogether – a time when he’d been fragile, swayed by his desire for approval, to find a place he belonged. He was hardly that watery eyed preacher’s son anymore – now he was a thirty-something year old necromancer who hadn’t shaved in a week or so, who smelt of sulfur and gore and stale cigarettes. He lived in the middle of nowhere in a dirty little trailer, and practiced his craft within the shelter of those rotting particleboard walls.

Things were, he assumed, as good as they’d ever get.

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