The Second Undead

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She could clean up the blood later, Hubert mused as he crossed the hall and followed the trail of bodily fluids up the stairs.

He felt like an idiot; if anyone else had come to him with the idea of making a zombie, one of his first questions to them would have been about feeding it. In his excitement over having what seemed to be a perfect housemate, he'd simply glazed over any of the issues. Now he was left with a monster in his home, and one which had a taste for human flesh.

He saw a piece of body which allowed him to identify his neighbour, Mr. Jenson. The old man lived alone, but that didn't mean there wouldn't be questions. Maybe he could raise him as a zombie too, it would help maintain cover for a little while later.

That idea was thrown away as soon as he opened his mother's bedroom door. There wasn't enough of Mr. Jenson available to animate. The zombie looked up at him with a strange kind of smile on her lips. Pieces of the neighbour's foot were identifiable in her hand.

"Don't move," commanded Huu. The zombie held itself as stiff as a statue while he took in the carnage. It wasn't good; none of this was good. An idea flickered across his mind and without taking the time to weigh the pros and cons, he decided to go for it.

"Gather up everything that's left of him and bring it to the dining room," he ordered, "put it on the table."

Huu left to get his cloak.

* * *

Huu had first encountered the idea of a wraith at thirteen. It was his first time playing Dungeons and Dragons and the older brother of his friend who was running the game had insisted they play 2nd edition, 'because it is the best, and nothing will ever touch it'. At the time, young Hubert was keen to impress and be accepted by the group and wouldn't have argued even if he had an opinion on the matter (which he didn't).

Wraiths had been one of Dungeon Master John's favourite monsters. Described as an incorporeal black shadow that floated like a deadly wisp over the ground, the ghost-like undead had terrified all in the party with their chilling attack. In the game, to be touched by a wraith was to lose a level of experience, a game mechanic which was a metaphor for a terrifying loss of memory and skill.

The mere concept of a wraith still gave Huu involuntary shudders, but the enticement to have such a creature under his control was too much and had been nagging at the back of his mind since he first donned the necromancer costume. Now, looking at the sparse remains of Mr. Jenson, he knew what he was going to do. Assuming he had the same level of control over this monster as his mother, he would be safe.

He ignored the bleep from his phone as he concentrated on getting the ritual right. He ordered his mother out of the room.

"Clean up the mess," he said, "make sure there's no sign of Mr. Jenson anywhere in the house outside of this room."

She left and he drew the curtains shut.

* * *

Jenson hovered in front of Huu. Determined to assert authority from the first moment, the fledgling necromancer pointed to the dining room door. 

"Go through the door, wait in the room beyond."

He watched in unbelieving glee as the wraith did exactly that, pushing its insubstantial form through the wooden barrier and disappearing into the room beyond. Huu let out a breath he didn't realise he had been keeping and stood there in silence. He had control of a wraith.

There was a knock at the door and Dan's voice called through the letterbox.

"Hey, Huu, you OK? We've been waiting at the pub a while, and you're not answering messages."

Shit. Huu scrambled out of the dining room and stood in the hallway. Between him and his friends was a deadly undead terror. He looked at the wraith of Jenson and straightened, standing tall to emphasise his authority.

Go to your old home, he commanded telepathically. Remain there until I call for you. Be seen by no-one, endanger no-one.

The wraith floated to the wall to his right, passing through it as if it were no more of a barrier than a strong wind. A second later it was gone and Huu knew it had done as he asked. He could feel its presence in the back of his mind and realised he could sense his mother there too, like threads he could pull upon if he needed.

He shook his head, walked to the front door and opened it. Dan and Alex stood there, the latter still holding his half-full pint glass.

"You're late," Alex said pointedly.

"Yeah, something with my mum, I'm sorry. She can be quite a problem."

"Don't wanna know," said Alex, his face showing he thought the issue was undoubtedly something to do with an old woman's toilet needs. "You coming?"

"Five minutes. I'll meet you there."

His friend nodded. Huu turned to Dan.

"You OK, Dan? Five minutes?"

"Sure," Dan answered. He lingered a moment as Alex crossed the road back to the pub. "Huu," he said quietly, "you've got blood on you, mate."

Huu looked down at himself. The house, he realised, was spotless once more, cleaned by mum-zombie as he'd been performing his ritual. He, however, had been elbows-deep in the remains of Mr. Jenson for an hour and was covered.

"Oh!" he started.

"It's OK, I don't wanna know either," Dan assured him. "I'll get you a pint."

"Five minutes," Huu confirmed.

Dan nodded and left him. Huu closed the door silently. No matter what his friends said, his appearance needed some sort of explanation. He just didn't know what that would be.

For now though, he needed to sort himself out and act at being completely normal. He tore off his dirty clothes and threw them into the dining room with the rest of the mess. Half way up the stairs, he sent another mental command to his mother to clean the dining room.

She passed him on his way to the bathroom without a word, cloth already in hand.

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