It was cold.
Not the ‘let’s bundle up and we’ll be sorted’ kind of cold.
It was the kind of cold that cut through you like a knife.
What was unusual about this though, is that it was just a few weeks’ shy of summer, and just a few moments ago, I had been as they say, sweating balls.
This told me that I was getting close to my target, a non-corporeal haunt. For those not in the know, a haunt is almost-but-not-quite a ghost. Sometimes it’s an emotional echo, a leftover bit of rage, ecstasy, jealousy, what have you. These are by far the most common kind of haunt to deal with, but unfortunately, not the kind that has been making mischief for the last month.
The haunt I’ve been sent to deal with is sneaky. Very sneaky. Which is unusual because haunts by-and-large, are unintelligent masses of emotion, and incapable of intelligent thought.
A curl of breath escaped my lips, gradually vanishing as my body temperature dropped to room temperature.
Wait. Let me explain.
I’m what you’d call a specialist in the field of the afterlife. Yeah. Mortimer J. Appel, Necromancer, at your service. Before you get all uptight, keep an open mind. I’m what you’d call a psychopomp. Yeah, I didn’t know what that meant when I started either. It just means I guide the dead to rest. No, not like the reapers. I don’t particularly care about where you go when you die, just that you get there. Ah, but I do have some other abilities…
Anyway, after spending two weeks chasing this thing, I realized it was sensing my life force and fleeing when I got too close.
Which is convenient for me, because all I have to do is die. It’s nothing special. Anyone can do it, the trick is coming back, and not just anyone can do that.
So now, the detachment that comes along with death dulls the pain.
Oh, it’s still there. I can feel it if I care to. There’s power in pain. It can drive a man onwards when all he wants to do is lie down. I’m not at the point where that’s necessary though.
Revenancy. That’s the name for the state I’m in right now. It’s your basic intelligent undead. A few steps above zombie, a few steps below Vampire. …The purebloods, that is.
Common vampires are just barely smarter than zombies, not even considered people, they’re just smelly, faster, smarter zombies that crave blood. Don’t get me started! Vampires are a huge problem for Necromancers, and I don’t care to explain why just yet, it’s embarrassing.
Anyway, now that I’ve cast loose the life in me, I found that the haunt has become less evasive. What I didn’t expect was the emotions it pushed outwards, the Book that it orbited, or the fact that it wasn’t alone. A dozen haunts slowly circled the floating Tome
I took it into my hands, wiped away the layer of frost that covered its heavy leather cover and read its title:
The Economicon: The Economics of the Dead
I applied spiritual pressure on the haunts that hovered nearby, and felt them transfer their emotion onto me. I paused, because the emotions were unlike any I had absorbed before. They tasted like a complex combination of depression, resignation, and something else foreign to me. As I processed the emotions, the haunts faded away, finally free.
I tucked the book into the large pocket inside the breast pocket of the khaki overcoat I usually wore when out on a job, and headed back to the office. The glittery black eyes of Nathan, my driver flicked my way as I sat with a grunt in the back seat and shut the door with a little more force than expected.
“Everything alright?” He said, pulling out and heading downtown.
“Things got a little weird, but we’re good. Get us home, take the scenic route, I’m going to res.”
“Sure thing. I’ll wake you when we arrive.”
I’m gonna need some help with this one. I buckled my seatbelt, and began the process to return to life.
“Let the boss know I’m heading in, and we’re going to need a staff meeting.”
“Yes sir,” Nathan’s eyes cleared to appear normal as he drove.