No one should die lying in the shadow of a children's playground while wearing an Ed Sheeran concert tour t-shirt, but that's exactly what happened to the sixteen-year-old would-be-mugger that moments before believed he was in a position of strength.
There were six in the group. Once mum-zombie had violently and mortally wounded one (the aforementioned popular music fan), she turned to the second and lurched. The other four, further away and shrieking, ran.
Hubert had little choice - he knew if he was caught that he'd be sent to jail without any chance of reprieve, and did what he felt he had to.
Stop them, he ordered Jenson, permanently.
The wraith passed him faster than he knew it could, a black gas-like streak of death that would have little trouble with the petrified boys.
Hubert dropped to his knees, suddenly shaking as the realisation of what was happening hit him. This was meant to be fun.
The necromantic field brought him knowledge of the wraith's success simultaneously with the feeling of his mother sating her hunger. Huu vomited and collapsed into a heap on the floor.
* * *
The sticky sensation of his own sick clinging to the side of his face disturbed him a little but he made no move to clean it off, feeling it was some touch of punishment for the events of the night. He closed the door of his house behind him and sank to his knees on the carpeted floor. He pulled out his phone, ignored the fact it was reminding him that it was the very early hours of the morning and pretty much the least sociable time to call anyone, and rang Dan.
"I need help," he rasped into the mouthpiece as soon as his apprentice picked up, then he hung up melodramatically. He had planned to have more of a conversation with his friend, but the effect of cutting him off as if they were in a film would probably spur the other man to action quicker than any words would have done.
Sure enough, Dan rang the doorbell exactly eleven minutes later. Huu sent his mum to answer as he leaned back on the sofa. His face was dark.
"Necromancers are evil," he said as an opening line, continuing the sense of melodrama. "There's no getting around it."
Dan sat down cross-legged on the floor. "You've got something pretty yuck on you," he commented.
Huu nodded and said nothing.
"Evil?" Dan prompted.
Huu nodded again.
"Umm? Are you OK? What happened?"
"Something evil. The undead need to feed, Dan. Not just the zombie - we knew that, but Jenson too. He was hungry in a way I can't even describe. Soul-hungry, if you can get that. So I had to take them out. I thought we could get something animal and wild, but that didn't happen."
"Six kids. Bullying idiot kids, for sure, but that doesn't make it any better."
"I had to kill the group so that no one would report it."
"Oh my God, Huu!"
"I know. I thought this would be fun, it's not fun."
The two men sat in silence for a while. "Can you undo them?" asked Dan eventually, "The creatures, I mean. Can you turn them to dust or something? Make them just stop."
"Probably. I've thought about it, but what's the point? I've passed the line now. I'm evil - I may as well accept that part."
"You're not evil."
"In the past few days, my actions have killed seven people. To keep the secret, I'm going to have to let them keep killing more."
"So, undo them. Is there any evidence to lead to you?"
"There's no evidence at all. You've not seen Jenson work - he can just make things disintegrate. There's nothing left of any of them."
"It is," Huu agreed, his voice hollow.
"Huu, you can fix this. I mean, you can't undo the damage that's already been done, but hopefully there's no way it'll lead back to you. You can stop it from happening again - just undo the three of them."
"You make it sound so simple."
"Probably because it is."
Huu smiled thinly. "I need some sleep before we do anything like that. Will you stay? I'm sorry, I know we were meant to take a break."
"Of course. Go, get some sleep. Tell the undead to stay out of my way and I'll crash in here. We can talk in the morning."
Hubert walked upstairs, the image of that t-shirt rolling around in his head. He was never going to be able to listen to Ed Sheeran again.
* * *
Edgar was sitting on the edge of his bed when he awoke. Hubert was struck with the image of a loyal puppy; unlike the others, the skeleton had done nothing bad to anyone, just plodded along behind them with his little click-clack and oddly amusing fleshless smile. Hubert wondered how and why the skeleton had moved from his assigned place, but it didn't bother him. In fact, he found it strangely comforting.
"Hi," he said as he pulled the sheets off himself and gazed, not for the first time, at the debris on the floor. "Let's clean this up," he decided suddenly, pushing the thought through the strand of the necromantic field to Edgar.
The skeleton lifted himself off the bed and went about methodically picking up cards, socks and discarded chocolate bar wrappers from the floor and putting them away as they should be.
"You," Hubert said quietly, "are an example of what being a necromancer should be about. You're actually quite fun."
Despite the oddness of the situation, Huu found it comforting to be cleaning his room with the speechless skeleton. He didn't rush, and half an hour later was sorting Magic cards into ever-increasing piles by colour. Edgar sat on the floor by his feet, a D20 in his hand causing him untold fascination.
The peace lasted another hour before reality and the memory of the previous night began to weigh on Hubert. The last few cards were put back in a box and he turned to his strange helper with a sad look on his face.
"Time to be undone," he said with a sigh, "let's go, Edgar."
The skeleton followed him dutifully out of the bedroom door, the dice clutched in his hand like a personal treasure.
YOU ARE READING
A Very English NecromancerFantasy
** Wattys 2018 Winner! The Wild Cards! ** Living in his mother's house, thirty-four year-old Hubert Grange has aspirations - beyond simply becoming the best FPS zombie assassin, watching everything Netflix has to offer, or completing an all-foil Sli...