Death is something that a lot of people are afraid to talk about. They’re afraid, I think, because it’s unknown. They have no idea of what will happen and people are always scared of what they don’t know. Just think of children, for example. They have to be taught to fear crossing the street without looking both ways. They have to be taught not to run with scissors, or take candy or rides from strangers. Inherently, however, children are afraid of the dark. Why? Because we don’t know what hides in the dark. Anything could be there, technically. In the closet. Under the bed. We grow out of it, but when we really think about things, it’s the only logical thing to fear. Darkness – the absence of knowing.
This is the explanation I give for religion. People don’t know what lies beyond death’s door, and so they subscribe to what they think is the best result. And they hope that they are right. Heaven is the word they use to describe the utopia they strive for. But I know the odds. And I won’t gamble unless they’re in my favour.
From what I’ve seen and what I know, death is permanent, and death is the end. It is not just another strain of life; it is not just a life that you get to live for eternity when you’re done with your old one. It’s the end. Book closed. Fade to black. Finito. How do I know? Well I provide an exception to that rule. At least, people like me do – assuming that there are other people like me. It’s what I do that calls the rule into question, but still let’s me know what lies beyond the end. Which is, of course, the end.
You see, I have a special skill. Ability. Gift. Never mind, not that last one. When I touch dead things, they come back to life. I often wonder why, if I was going to have some strange magical-y birth defect, why I was given this particular one. Did my mother have sex with corpses while she was pregnant with me? Did she accidentally get dosed with embalming fluid? Probably not. Still, it seems strange that I should get this curse. Why? Because I hate people. And animals. And plants. Essentially, I’m a very… hateful person. Yet, I have to deal with not only the living idiots, but the dead ones too. You would think that with my dislike of people, I would avoid bringing them to life at all costs. Quite wrong. You see, I’ve learned that despite their constant annoyances, people can be pretty handy – if you have the right kind of leverage. Things they need. Things they want.
Which brings me to another thing you should know: I’m lazy. I’ve been told that I practically invented the word. Also, I’m horrible at keeping track of things. Combine these together, and you have a person who doesn’t really want to put in the effort to find the things that she’s lost. So, if I happen to come across a dead person and I realize that I can’t find my umbrella or the fifteen dollars at twenty six cents that I had in my pocket, I have the perfect type of person to go find them for me. I offer them my services of cleaning house – finishing the unfinished, tying up the untied ends. Most of the time I even follow through – it really depends on how long it takes them to do their assigned task.
There are a few very important rules, however. Things that I’ve learned over my twenty seven years of having this odd little… talent.
Rule Number One – I can only bring someone back to the dead once. Once they’ve died again, they’re dead. All dead. Not just almost dead. Completely and totally dead. Perhaps even deader than dead. I don’t really know. I can’t ask them, after all, after they’ve died permanently.
Rule Number Two – The dead come back exactly as they are. This one is pretty gross. If they were already severely decomposed, they’ll be severely decomposed. Imagine a goopy, smelly, partially eaten person coming to life and talking to you. It’s like a zombie movie. Also, if they had any integral organs removed or have a stake through the brain or heart or something, they can’t really live. I learned this the very hard, very disgusting way. But it’s probably for the best. I’d hate to get attacked by taxidermy.
Rule Number Three – This is the most important rule of all. Are you ready? Never – EVER – feed them after midnight… Are you laughing? Well, you should be. That was a joke. A pop culture reference? Geez. Anyways, rule number three… They only live for twenty-four hours. No more, mo less. Twenty four to the very milli – or nano – second.
So all of this bringing people back from the dead and using them to achieve my own ends has been working pretty well so far. Sure there have been some downs, some dead people who have been less thankful for my charitable-ness. But it has allowed me to be severely lazy,and it has allowed me to know things that no one else does, which is pretty awesome.
Of course, that was all before the exception to my own rule came along.
I called him Mr. 203. At least, until I really got to know him. I called him that because he lived in the apartment next to me, number 203 to my number 205. He was an odd sort of fellow, I would have called him creepy to my friends if I actually had any to speak of. That’s the problem with people though. They’re just chuck full of surprises. Things that catch you off guard that you would never expect to see, to hear. That was 203. He was this unique fellow who really got me to take a step back and look at things. To think harder about who I am and what I do. What my curse is really for.
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Short Story / Science Fiction
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