Keeping the Dead

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"You should have kept the corpses!" said Dan with enthusiasm, "We could have used them later for something."

"And where do you suggest we hide the bodies?" asked Huu, smiling at his friend, "It's all very well having an army of zombies, or potential zombies in this case, but the locals tend to disapprove of corpses stinking up the place."

"We'd have thought of something."

"The river was the best place for them. It's not like forensics in Antrakksei are up to modern specs."

Dan laughed. "CSI Antrakksei," he said, referring to the made-up world that formed the setting for their Dungeons and Dragons game.

"Exactly. Do you want to come in?"

"Sure, I've got my Commander deck if you wanna play."

Magic sounded good. Though the evening of role playing was definitely up Huu's street, his first gaming love had always been the card game that had dominated his spare time for over two decades. Huu opened the door, motioned to his friend to be a little quiet to avoid waking his mother and led him into the living room where he flicked on the latest, and final, Linkin' Park album.

Dan eventually left at two in the morning, having been soundly beaten 6-3 by Huu's saprolings. It had been a fun few hours with a couple of truly memorable moments. Huu realised he hadn't heard from his mother in twelve hours and went to check on her.

Which was, of course, when he found her dead.

* * * 

Hubert had been sitting silently on his mother's floral-patterned carpet for half an hour without moving. The initial shock had given way to disbelief, then a furious attempt to get some sort of life out of her, but she was dead and though her bowels were prone to loosen while she slept, it normally woke her and whatever mess was in the bed this time had been lain in for a while. Huu had noted numbly how it had caked the duvet such that it was now connected in a macabre and disgusting fashion to her thigh. He hadn't attempted to move her.

"Well, mother," he said finally, "we're in a pickle, aren't we?"

Logically, it wasn't much of a pickle at all. She was old and had died naturally in her bed. He hadn't been stupid enough to move anything at all, and a single phone call to the hospital would have the right people show up, pronounce her dead and that would be that.

The pickle was what Hubert would do after that - after his loving siblings sold his home over his head and put him out on the street. Sure; he'd have a third of the money, but what was £40,000 or so really going to get him? If he had a job and the credit rating to match, it was a sizeable deposit for a house of his own, but in reality it'd be blown on having fun and before he turned around he'd be broke, his inheritance nothing but a memory, and working in McDonalds or worse.

Cleaning her up hadn't exactly been the highlight of his life, and her conversation had been lacking more and more as the months went on, but she was still his mum.

Had been his mum.

His brain flashed though those 'good times' memories like a film montage sequence. Walks to school when he was a child with her explaining the names of flowers and trees, her defending him against his dad when the latter had turned up after a decade of absence to 'claim his son', that 21st birthday cake... Huu stood up and looked at his mother's cold, pale corpse and decided, as Dan had suggested earlier, to keep her.

* * *

There must have been a point in Norman Bates' life when he was normal, Hubert reasoned. No one begins psycho - after all, an innocent baby doesn't reject integration with society off its own back. No, there was a moment when Bates lost all his marbles and went down the path of serial killer and though it's never defined exactly, his mother was definitely involved.

Hubert couldn't help but see parallels between his actions and that of Norman Bates. Every time that niggling voice triggered in his head telling him what he was doing wasn't normal and that he might be crossing the line, he reassured himself that at least it wasn't his mother's voice, and went on to ignore it.

Though he sat down in front of his computer with a solid plan of googling necromancy extensively, Hubert admitted to himself that he was already something of an expert. Denk Carnage, his Dungeons and Dragons character, was the seventh in a long line of fantasy wizards he had put a lot of time and effort into, and Denk wasn't even the first necromancer. Over the years, if he added up all the time spent on that, reading horror writing generally, even building mono-black reanimation Magic decks, Huu believed he'd amassed enough experience of black art theory to make him, well, if not a master, at least a journeyman. The only difference between him and a more proficient necromancer was that he'd never tried to put that theory into practice.

Time to change that.

A sensible scientific approach would have been to find a dead mouse, or even an insect, to have a go with first, but Hubert knew he didn't really have the time for extended research and trials. His mother was going to start stinking very soon, and if he didn't report her in the morning, questions were going to be asked regarding the delay. He had to go right in with the real thing - success right off the bat.

"Come on, mother," he said an hour and a bit later, research notes in hand, "we have a lot to do."

Nothing like Norman Bates, he convinced himself.

There were plenty of rites and rituals available on the internet for the man willing to really look. They ranged from the obvious (pentagrams on the floor in salt) to the quite frankly hideous, but Huu was able to tell the ones with a little more depth from the obviously fantastical. He realised he had the equipment, the know-how and the desire - everything that was needed to make a zombie.

He chose zombie over some of the more flamboyant alternatives because it best suited his need; nothing in the ghost, skeleton or mummy bracket was viable, and although he was tempted by vampire it seemed a lot more dangerous than was needed. As a fantasy enthusiast, he debated the idea of a life-draining wraith for longer than was really sensible, but it neither fulfilled his purpose, nor gave him any feeling of safety. Next time, though.

He took his mother's corpse to the dining room, donned a long black cape he just happened to have in his wardrobe, and closed the door.

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