Dinner Time

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As the evening gave way to night, Hubert and Dan agreed that the new apprentice should go back to his own home and that they should both have a day apart to process all the events of the previous week. Huu closed the door and felt a wave of relief as his house was his own once more. He staggered tiredly to the living room, kicked off his shoes and slumped onto the sofa, flicking on the TV.

Something mindless was on, but he didn't care; he was just pleased to be back in a world of normality for a little while. He couldn't focus on the inane goings-on of the programme, his mind still abuzz with necromantic thoughts, but the background noise was comforting.

The necromantic field tugged at him. He had tried to ignore it for the last hour or so, but there was no denying the fact that two of his charges were hungry. The sensation came through differently - with mum-zombie, there was a sickening desire for warm flesh, preferably human but she didn't really care, and with an almost insatiable need for brains as some kind of pudding. For Jenson, however, the feeling was different; the wraith needed to torture, to suck the very essence out of its victim until there was nothing left but dust.

Left untended, Hubert worried that his minions would bring chaos, and more trouble to his door. He was just thankful that the skeleton, Edgar, seemed to have no need for sustenance.

He turned off the TV, less than ten minutes after he had settled in, and returned to life as a necromancer.

Walking upstairs to his mother's room, he summoned Jenson to meet him there. The ghostlike form of the wraith passed in front of him as he reached the landing, passing him no notice as it glided through the wall and to the designated rendezvous point. Hubert shuddered; the close vicinity of the creature chilling even to its master.

"We need to talk," Huu said as he sat on the edge of his mother's bed. Mary-zombie stood in the corner staring at him vacantly while Jenson hovered menacingly by the window. Edgar was there too, sat on the floor in a heap, like a pile of bones with a skull placed on the top. It was a strange sight, and not one Hubert felt he was completely used to.

"I say 'we', but I mean 'me'," he continued, somewhat unsure that his speech was meeting any approval with the creatures gazing at him. "I know two of you are hungry, and we need to deal with that, but you have to be patient and not just go off alone to fix the problem. Let me make that clear: no one is to go off and hunt themselves food."

He could feel their assent through the field. He nodded in satisfaction.

"We are going to go out and get some food tonight. It is not going to be human meat, not until we can work out how to do that right, do you understand?"

Again the feeling of assent, though tinged with upset and disappointment.

"Good." He stood up. "I need to rest if I'm going to be able to take you out later. Stay in this room, all of you, do not leave for any reason."

He shut the door behind him and went to his bedroom, noting as his did so that the mess he'd promised himself he'd clear up days ago was still there.

* * *

The necromancer awoke a sweaty, sticky mess at 2am. His phone was making the kind of bleeping noise that has been designed purely to annoy, and had been placed cleverly out of reach in a corner of the room that required him to get out of bed to access. He groaned, fell out of bed unhappily, crawled to the phone and turned it off.

He needed to do some washing. The pile of clothes in his room had reached near epic proportions and his necromancer cloak stank in ways he never believed were possible. Going to the wardrobe, he picked out the only clean t-shirt left, emblazoned with a stylised picture of Iron Man on the front and matched it with a pair of trousers usually reserved for job interviews. It had been months since he'd last worn them, and he'd filled out a little since, so they were no longer comfortable but better than going out semi-naked. There was no need for the matching belt, he decided, and tugged on some socks and shoes before making his way to the bathroom.

I don't want this, he thought to himself, I don't want to be pet-owner and feeder to a group of flesh-eating monsters. I didn't sign up for this.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew he had.

Cleaning his teeth and emptying his bladder helped his mental state, but didn't make the night's activities any more palatable. He crossed to his mother's room and threw open the door. Unsurprisingly, all three undead hadn't moved since he'd left.

Come on, you lot, he commanded them mentally, then strode down the stairs.

Once outside, Hubert could feel the pull of hunger from both the starved undead. He walked quickly down the road with them towards the nearby wood. There has to be food in a wood, he reasoned: creatures live there.

The empty streets provided him with some measure of relief, and though the walk was at least fifteen minutes long, he started to enjoy the time; listening to the clack of Edgar's feet on the tarmac reminded him of high-heeled shoes. There'd been this one woman once, he remembered, he'd loved the sound of her shoes.

They rounded the corner to the hill which led to the park, and beyond that, the wood, when they encountered a group of large teenagers. Too late, Hubert saw them. Too late did he order the undead to hide.

"Oi mate!" called one, "Have you got a fag?"

This is going to go so very wrong, Hubert wailed in his own mind, so very wrong. He watched as two of them walked closer.

"No!" Huu called back somewhat panicked, "I don't smoke."

"How about a few quid then, so we can buy some?" shouted the other.

"Yeah, a tenner'll do," added the first.

"I really don't have anything," Huu said honestly, as they became ever so close. "I was just taking a walk."

"You must have something," said the second, not noticing Hubert's mother who had come out of the shadows. "Wha'cha got?"

Huu was still shaking his head when the zombie tore off an arm.

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