Death’s Door

by Rose Thompson

Death takes everyone – old, young, fat, thin. The dead decompose and turn to dust that eventually drifts off to land on objects and items. But the dead can be raised, the dust swept back into the coffin and assembled into flesh and bone, blood and guts. That’s my job.

My name is June Daize, and I am an apprentice necromancer at the dungeon of Thein. I am not sure if there are any other dungeons … I don’t get out much. It’s a dark, dank, candlelit place. Most of the chains have rusted, their solemn clanking no longer heard, the long stone corridors, once filled with guards walking to and fro, now silent except for the slow echoing footsteps of my boots. I hear shuffling steps behind me.

‘June,’ sighs a voice. I turn around to see Squivel Balding, a tired old necromancer who was cursed by some witch or something to teach other necromancers … (I didn’t really pay much attention to this story because at the time I was reading a particularly good book).

‘Come with me – I have set up the raising circle,’ exclaimed Squivel looking sceptically at my long purple robes, slender black boots and dark hair held in place with a silver pin.

‘What?’ I said glaring at him.

‘Well, traditionally, red robes are worn for raising the dead not whatever colour that is.’

I sigh. ‘It’s purple, Squivel and I happen to think it looks quite fetching.’

Squivel looked down at his worn and stained red robes and said, ‘Considering all the other times I have tried to convince you to change the colour of your robes and taking into account that every time I do, you dye them a brighter purple, let’s just go to the raising circle and perform the spell.’

I grin, ‘Yes I think that would be best.’

Squivel continues to shuffle down the long corridor with me at his heels. We arrive at the familiar tall black door with the skull door knocker and the words Necromancy Room 3 written in gold at the top.

‘So, what are we going to raise today? A skeleton, zombie or … oh, how about a flesh-eating zombie parrot?’ I ask. I always get excited when I get to raise something even though I can only keep the thing I raise alive for a few minutes before it breaks into pieces.

‘Well, I thought we could raise a skeleton and let’s see if you can keep it alive for longer than last time,’ replies Squivel. ‘And I told you not to mention the flesh-eating killer parrot. Last time a necromancer raised that thing it gnawed one of his fingers off before we could get it back into the ground.’

‘Sorry, Squivel, I promise I won’t mention the flesh-eating killer parrot again. I’m not even thinking about the flesh-eating killer parrot.’

Squivel sighs and we walk into the room. On the floor is a large star sign drawn in black sand. Around it lies a circle of red candles, alight with flames. Shelves line the walls and are filled with jars and pots saying things like Werewolf blood 1972; Black sand (fine); Dark soul, handle with care. Books are piled high on a small desk. I walk over to it and take out one titled Necromancy Medium Level and find the page on raising a skeleton.

‘Right, well, it says here that we need a raising circle with candles. Tick. Although it doesn’t say they have to be red … Couldn’t we have purple ones?’ I ask with a smirk.

‘June,‘ says Squivel in an exasperated voice.

‘Sorry! And we need three drops of blood from the necromancer who is to perform the spell. Why does necromancy always include blood? I mean stabbing yourself with a pin hurts. Oh, and I need to read the incantation to … ugh, it’s in Latin.’

‘Well, here is the pin.’ Squivel hands me a short, very sharp pin that’s been used for generations of necromancers to draw blood. Pretty gross considering it’s never been washed.

I walk into the center of the circle, sit down and place the book in my lap. I then grit my teeth, stab myself with the bloodstained pin, let three drops of blood fall onto the top point of the star and recite the spell: Sanguis per signum ad superos disscurret coniunga animam meam corpus factum ossis infer, ut ad nostrum mundum resuscitet resuscitandum.

The room darkens, my eyes shine red. I feel cold run through my veins, the star glows the colour of blood and a skeleton claws its way out of the ground – its eyes black, bones brown with age. It stands there rattling for a minute. I try to make it move but it falls to pieces. My eyes change back to their normal pale green and all that remains of the skeleton is a pile of bones.

‘Well, that was a great use of my blood,’ I say glaring at the bones.