When you have to sneak around just be quiet!
Hearing isn’t everyone’s best sense!
If you really need to
Speak while you
Poke around off limits
Everybody know you just have to
Reach out without a shout!
It was no secret that Heherson was still completely heads over heels for Irish. The breakup hadn’t been his decision, solely Irish’s. “He would totally listen to you.”
“No. He would totally look at me with big puppy eyes.” Irish frowned, looking rather uncomfortable. “If I went to talk to him now you know he’d get the wrong idea. I don’t want to deal with that.”
That a mass influx of dead people might hit the streets seemed a bit more important to Tim. However, he couldn’t ignore the idea. “He’d probably think you’re impressed. Considering your first reaction was that it’s bad timing but a big deal, he wouldn’t be wrong.”
Irish glowered. “Hey. I don’t think there should be a mass raising of the dead ever. That’s just insensitive.”
Tim rose an eyebrow. “‘That’s impressive’.”
She rolled her eyes. “It is impressive. That doesn’t mean anything.”
Bri stopped them for a couple more people, though she didn’t make as much pointless conversation as she had in the centre of town. The roads turned from mainly straight lines of pavement to curved, to gravel and dirt. The bottoms of Bri’s jeans were beginning to collect the dust of the road. Malak’s shoes were still covered in the wet line of the dog’s nose.
The sense of the faded immortality finally suffused Malak’s senses. The taste of something they hadn’t had in so long, the feeling which had already dispersed to the point of torture. They walked over to the short fence, stepping on the barbed wire and easily clearing the top to land on the other side. Instead of continuing forward, they stopped long enough to turn and help Bri over. The field was currently unoccupied, Malak could see the horses which occasionally inhabited this area down further in another pasture.
None of that mattered. They made as straight a beeline toward the feeling and the person accompanying it.
The messenger sat next to a tree, their tattered clothes nearly blending them into the texture, if not at all hiding them in colour. The being’s eyes lay open, staring forward without blinking. Pupils without irises, expanding and contracting no matter the shade.
Malak recognized this messenger. “Orifiel?”
“Well then, we know for sure it’s not you.” Irish smirked, though a part of her seemed to relax as Tim finally drank his chocolate. “Even if you wanted to. You didn’t want to early enough. You’re sort of not good at the subject.”
Tim swallowed. “A dead fish, if you will.”
Irish groaned. “Okay, so Heherson is doing a mass raise. What terrible timing. Now what?”
The moment of truth. Tim set his mug back down, keeping the warmth between his hands. “Can you talk to him about it?”
Irish scowled. “What? Why me?”
“Because he’d listen to you. I doubt he’d want to hear it from me.” Tim smirked, with a slight shrug moving his wrinkled shirt too much.
“I haven’t talked to Heherson since we broke up,” she reminded him.
“I don’t think he holds that against you.”
Trying to talk
Uttering unknown understandings
Irish sighed, pinching the end of her nose. “Right, of course. But why are you telling me this? If not just to cause me undue anxiety while it’s going on.”
“If Heherson is doing this, I thought it would be important to know why. As you two used to be going out, I thought I’d ask if you had any ideas. It’s not something just any necromancer up and does, after all. Messing around with spirits, raising the occasional singular dead, sure. An entire apocalypse worth? Why would anyone do that?”
“Super villain status?” Irish suggested.
“That’s so old school.”
She sighed, leaning back in her chair. “I don’t know, Tim. I can’t think of why he’d do something like this. Are you sure it’s him?”
“There are two necromancers in Saltdale’s registry. I mean, I could be doing it, but if that’s the case than I really need to be throwing myself a bone here, because that would make me a brain dead master caster here.”
“The messenger is more important than being polite,” Malak reminded her politely.
Bri nudged their arm with hers, resting there for a moment before pulling back. “This is why you’re still with me. Finding is the first part, but adjustin’ to the world is next. You still struggle with the world because you think you’re more than wee small mortals. And you might be. But that won’t help you among the people who don’t, and won’t, know any better. Think on Ingle a bit.”
Malak tried not to think about Inglebert unless they were in the city, at the café. “That is different. He was as difficult in the beyond as he is here.”
“Because it’s difficult for him to be flexible,” Bri continued. “And if you were a little more flexible, you’d be just fine. I know you can do it.”
Malak didn’t like being compared to Inglebert, but he understood why Bri thought the correlation necessary. “The messenger went in the direction of the river. We should continue to search down in that direction.” They took the lead at this point, walking down the bare incline of the sidewalk, away from the businesses and toward the neighborhoods in that direction. There were many streets to go before they reached the more sparsely populated, larger propertied outskirts.
“Aw, and here I thought you hated talking to dogs!”
“I don’t. I don’t like talking to anyone.”
Except for Bri, but that they had accepted a year before. Gotzone wasn’t always bad either. Vangelis was also acceptable. However, as messengers once themselves, those two understood on a baser level. Inglebert too, however Inglebert had been just as impossible in the beyond as he now was on Earth. Earth might have made him worse.
Irish was still less than moved. “If Heherson was raising the dead, that would be… wow. Doesn’t that require a lot to pull off?”
“Sure.” Tim looked from Irish’s thoughtful expression down to the mug of cocoa she placed in front of him. “Even some of the most practiced necromancers wouldn’t be able to do that sort of shit. My dad wouldn’t be able to, even if he wanted.”
She sat across from him, propping her chin in her hands. “That’s impressive.”
“I think you’re missing the point.”
“How could I miss the point?” Her mood switched quickly. “You know I have a meeting! I won’t be able to carry through it all if the zombie apocalypse is going on? How would anyone concentrate? How would everyone get to work?”
That depended on what the mass uprising of corpses got up to, but Tim didn’t know if they could do anything more than be a nuisance and cause the havoc of the usual mindless horde. “I think even your meeting, as important as it is and as well as I hope it goes, is also the least of our concerns. Big picture, Ai. The city will be completely destroyed if every dead thing comes back to life. Or animation.”
He really couldn’t remember if he’d even learned any of the specifics about this, other than how to recognize when the dead were being raised.
“There are other things that I should write here, but I don’t know what they are,” she said as she settled her feet down on her head.
“Can you find a way to settle that down, away from those who might want you dead?”
When she looked at him, he went beet red, as they continued further down the paths neither of them had before tread.
Finding that this one, as well as all others, led to the place where they had finally rested their dread.
Irish favoured him with an impatient glance. “Then get to it already. Why on earth did you show up to give me more to do?”
Tim tried not to smile, considering what he was about to ask. “I think your ex-boyfriend is starting the zombie apocalypse.”
His attempt at not smiling perhaps conveyed the wrong sort of tone to his sentence, because in no way did Irish react with the appropriate gravitas. “Please.”
“I’m actually being serious.”
“The self proclaimed master of the knowledge about necromancy? You know just as well as I do, Timothy. Heherson doesn’t practice necromancy. He’s like you, except for the fact that he actually has knowledge about it even though he doesn’t do anything.”
“There aren’t any other necromancers in all of Saltdale. I know enough to say that someone can’t just move in and start raising the dead. Something about displacement?” Or was it because the process took a long time? Tim didn’t know the details, but he easily succeeded in not showing Irish that he had no idea what he was talking about. He was still fairly certain that was the case.