Immortality

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QUESTION: Underworld residents don't age. What would you do with the gift of immortality?

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“What was I supposed to do?” I demanded.  “Furies are on the loose, birds of prey were dropping out of the sky like feather bombs, there aren’t any boats coming, and it’s raining blood.  Do you think I should have just left them there?”

“Miss Oliviera.”  It was Mr. Graves’s voice.  I couldn’t see anything too well, due to the red staining everything.  But I could hear perfectly well.  “Need I remind you that they’re already dead?”

Souls of the dead.”  I pointed at John, though of course Mr. Graves couldn’t see my finger, and to be truthful, I could see only the dimmest outline of it.  “He could be one of them.  I was one of them once.  She’s one of them.”  I pointed in the general direction of Mrs. Engle.  “So are they.”  Chloe and Reed.  “No one gets left behind.  No one.”       

“I understand that,” Mr. Graves said, gently.  I’m certain he couldn’t tell what was      happening with my vision—no one could but me.  But he must have recognized by the tremor in my voice how upset I was. “All of this—everything you’ve done—serves the dead, and serves them well.  But a physician’s responsibility must always be what’s best for the living.  Regardless of the strength of our feelings for the dead, we must always think to ourselves, How can I best serve the living?  For it is the living whom we serve, and who matter most.”

Slowly, the red began to recede from my eyes. 

“I know that,” I said, slightly ashamed for my outburst.   “I went to Coffin Fest.”  With the very person for whom it had been named—whether its organizers knew it or not.  “I do understand how important it is to properly dispose of the dead—” My gaze slid towards John’s body. “—when the time comes.”

“Then you know,” Mr. Graves said, “that it isn’t only the threat of disease.  It’s because of the very real possibility of revenants.”

“Could you people please speak English?” Reed asked.  “What’s a revenant?”

“A revenant is someone who’s come back from the dead,” Mr. Graves said, “the way many in Isla Huesos believe the captain had, because they often saw him roaming the cemetery.  That’s how Coffin Night became a tradition . . . the people of Isla Huesos came to believe if they enacted a yearly funeral pyre tradition, the captain, whose spirit was restless from an improper burial, would rest.  But a revenant is dead, not alive, like you and the captain.”

“You mean a zombie?”  Reed’s voice broke with horrified incredulity.  “Is that what those Fury things are that everyone keeps talking about?  Zombies?” 

“Or ghosts?” Alex asked, looking angry. “If you guys says we running from a bunch of ghosts back on that beach, I swear to God, I’ll break every wall in this place down right now.”

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