MODERN NECROMANCY

Craig awoke to the shrill beeping of his alarm as he did every morning. He had grown used to its harsh tone over the years, almost growing fond of the routine it represented. He lay there for a few seconds, just letting it ring, still waking up, and realising that it meant he had to get out of his bed. He slowly sat up on his bed and stretched forward to turn off his alarm. He stood up from his bed, feeling the bones in his joints rub against one another; he ached all over and he figured this was just part of getting old.

He shuffled over to his bathroom and pulled a small pill bottle out of a drawer. The bottle was nearly empty and Craig remembered that he needed to refill his prescription soon, and would have to find time in his schedule to pick it up from the pharmacy. Nevertheless he fumbled two small tablets out of the bottle and downed them with a gulp of water. Immediately his joints ceased bothering him, but he could still feel a deep, dull ache through his entire body. He looked up from the faucet to the portrait of himself he hung above it. The mirror had been replaced with the picture years ago. He didn’t want to ever see himself in his old age, so he decided to simply hang a picture of himself from his youth in the mirror’s stead if he ever wanted to look at himself. He looked at the picture of the man before him as he did every morning. The warm brown eyes that had once seen so well; the pale, taught skin now surely given way to sag and freckling, the short cropped brown hair now given way to a gray- white comb-over. He still recognised the man in the picture, but didn’t feel it was him anymore, but he didn’t care.

He got dressed in his scrubs and got in his car. The radio was always off; the car was always silent as Craig drove to work with only his thoughts to occupy him. He never minded his commute, it wasn’t too long, there was never too much traffic, and it was just something he had to deal with anyway. He pulled into the parking lot at the mortuary and parked into his normal spot. He had really been meaning to talk to the management about reserving it specifically for him. After all, he had been working there for the longest out of any of the doctors, and he thought he should have one at this point, but in order to make that happen he would have to go out of his way to go and talk to someone about it.

The building in which Craig worked was a sterile building, almost like a hospital, but not quite. It was larger, though it only served a single purpose: resurrection. Craig has chosen the profession because he did not want to deal with living patients, and as a post-mortem restorative surgeon he would merely have to present his patients with the accompanying paperwork after their reanimation and send them to the waiting room for release. Of course there were issues with the job. He hated being referred to as a ‘necromancer,’ which was the colloquial term for people in his profession. And of course it was easier to say than his full job title, but it still rubbed him the wrong way. It had always had negative connotations and those connotations had persisted even past when his line of work had gained mainstream acceptance. Though, he never really heard it often anymore. Perhaps it had fallen out of fashion, or perhaps it was merely because he didn’t talk to many people anymore.

His thoughts were interrupted as he walked down the hallway by a nurse telling him he was needed in operating room B. He slowly trudged down the hallway and over to the room; he could take his time to get over to the operating room after all, it’s not like the dead

become impatient, and a few extra minutes weren’t going to make a difference in the decomposition.

The body was lying on the operating table in the centre of the room. A man, in maybe his late 20’s, with what appeared to be multiple stab wounds in his abdomen. Craig hated when there were multiple wounds. Clearly this was done intentionally, and so the person who killed the man should have known that a single stab would have sufficed to kill him. It just wasn’t necessary and it made his job that much harder. He would have to make several sutures in the intestines, perhaps several organ transplants, and he much preferred when it was some illness that killed the person he was operating on. Although it was more likely that a person would die of prescribed poison than actually dying of the illness. After all, why bother taking antibiotics and fighting an infection when your doctor can just give you poison and have a surgeon ‘magically’ bring you back from death and send you on your merry way. It was a thankless job, but the salary was good, and it wasn’t like he needed to be showered with praise anyway. Yet bodies like this, ones that required extensive work just made him wish people did thank him, or better, see things his way. Of course, with him being the longest working doctor at the mortuary, he had to deal with most of these harder stiffs. And of course he got paid more for it, too.

The body lay there still, and he reached over to bring his cart of instruments to the body so he could begin operating. He appreciated the sterility of the room. A space of steel and marble; pure and clean. The room around him had nothing to say, no artistry to it. It was functional, nothing more, and he appreciated that. The body however, was a mess of flesh. His professors had consistently tried to get him to appreciate the beauty of the human body, but he never saw it, to him it was always just an inefficient mess of organs and veins twisting around one another, dead ends, unnecessary twists and curves. It was just something that made his job harder. A body did not need to be beautiful, it needed to work, it needed to sustain itself, and it didn’t need to have any sort of flair or beauty.

He opened up the abdomen to survey the damage. He poked around in the intestines and found six places the man had been stabbed and at least 23 places where the intestines would have to be sutured. The intestines, wound up and overlapping each other, had turned six stabs into 23 wounds that needed to be sewn up. He again thought of the chaos and superfluousness of the human body, as well as how idiotic and thoughtless whoever had stabbed this man had been. After all one stab surely would have sufficed and the person must have known the man would be brought back. So why bother stabbing him in the first place if the only thing it would accomplish was making everyone’s lives harder? He examined the liver and found that it was undamaged from the stab wounds, but suffering from severe alcohol damage. He decided that it would likely cause the man death at some point in the future, and he didn’t want to have to deal with this man twice, so he decided he would replace the liver. Over at the intercom in the corner he patched himself over to organ orders.

“Adult male liver needed in operating room B.” His voice was raspy and harsh. The tone unwieldy and uncouth, wavering with each syllable. He almost never spoke; he tried to avoid it as much as he possibly could. He hated his voice and he hated the act of talking; the reverberations in his throat as the sound waves passed through. He took a scalpel and cut a small sample from the patient’s liver, placed it in a small glass capsule, and sent it up a chute in the corner of the room.

It would be a few minutes before the liver would be delivered down to the operating room, so he sat down in the steel chair in the corner and waited in silence.

A few minutes passed and the chute next to his chair stirred to life and a freshly made liver was delivered at the bottom. He took the tray with the liver out from the chute and prepared to begin operating. He took a minute to look over the abdominal cavity again and then began moving the intestines out of the way so he could replace the liver. It was a rather simple process, carve out the original, place the replacement in its stead, and suture it in place. He then got to work sewing up the holes in the intestines. He worked quickly and efficiently, sewing up the wounds and then sealing the abdomen. He reached up and pulled the large resurrection apparatus down from the ceiling and lined it up over the man. The device was similar to an x-ray machine; the doctor aligning it to the patient and leaving the room to run it, except for the obvious difference in function. Craig stood before the controls for the machine in the other room. A stack of papers were laid on top of the console: the patient release papers. He quickly flipped the switch on the console and waited for the light next to it to go from red to green. When it did he turned the machine off, grabbed the handful of papers and a pen, and headed back to the operating room.

The patient, disoriented, was attempting to sit up on the operating table, but the resurrection apparatus was blocking him. Craig moved it away up toward the ceiling, waited for the man to sit up, and then placed the pen and papers in the patient’s lap and pointed to the doorway. Craig then went back to the chair in the corner and waited to be called for the next patient.