Discover more from The Sprawl: Speculative Fiction
An out-of-work necromancer is a total drag. Nobody wants to be around me, and I can’t blame them. Most days, I sit with my summoning circles, reading my tomes, brewing my potions, all for nothing. The phone never rings. My inbox is empty. I’m running out of savings, but it’s okay, I’m manifesting Good Will, I’m doing my Mindful Minutes, and I’m putting out Positive Energy, so I’m sure I’ll find a job soon.
I tune into Andy Ornery on the TV one morning after I can’t take it anymore. He stands in front of a crowd of worshippers with their fists raised toward the ceiling—real high ceiling, bathed in dark—and they chant his Words of Power and Vibes, and I chant along from my armchair feeling the Spirit of the Eternal wash over me like cool running water, and after that I feel about as Blessed as Blessed can be. I drink some tea, do my Ablutions, repeat my Mantras—you’re beautiful, you’re smart, your thinning hair doesn’t matter, your collection of vintage erotic playing cards will pay off one day, the world is yours to plunder and love—before hitting the street with my resume.
I do it old school. I figure, a necromancer’s a dime a dozen, and everyone’s got a laptop these days. The Necro Guild’s overflowing with hot young bulls digging up bones and creating zombie hordes like it’s no big deal. But very few of those young bulls have a Winning Attitude and Flexible Thinking, so I feel like my prospects are fantastic. I put on slacks, I comb my hair, and I think, today’s your day, Power Through, Power On.
It does not go well. Here’s the problem with being an old necromancer: people think you’re creepy as hell.
My prospects are truly slim, until late that evening, after I give myself a pep-talk in the Macy’s bathroom, Enhancing Self Esteem, Affirming my Human Rights, Growing Spiritually and Mentally, I sidle up to the security booth hidden in the Employees Only section, and give the woman with short brown hair and deep wrinkles around her eyes a big, go-getter smile.
“What do you want?” she asks, not looking away from the bank of black and white monitors.
“I thought I might inquire about a job.”
“My name’s Bertram and I thought—“
“Find a manager if you want to leave your resume.”
“I was hoping there might be something for me in security. I’m a Fully Licensed Necromancer in Good Standing with the Guild.”
She swiveled slightly, squinting. “You don’t look like a necro.”
“We don’t all have black hair and wear skulls.” Although I did have some human remains lining my shelves back home, but I thought I’d save that fun tidbit for the interview.
She chewed gum slowly. “Why do you want to work security?”
“I thought my skills might be particularly suited.”
She made another grunt then gestured at the TV monitors, pointing to a particular man in a large black coat, a very suspicious black coat. I stepped closer, leaning in, frowning.
“That guy’s shoplifting,” she said.
“How do you know?”
“Watched him shove sunglasses into his pocket. You go catch him, and you got a job.”
I don’t need to be told twice. I’m Winning today, Exuding my One with the Universe Outlook. I head into the store proper and find my mark hovering near the Menswear.
He’s a big guy. Not muscular, but hefty. Bald head, squinty eyes, with a mean, soulful stare. I feel for the guy. Stealing’s not something anyone really wants to do. Maybe he got forced into it. Maybe he didn’t plant enough Good Seeds with Positive Acts of Intention, and now here he is, Rock Bottom.
Well, it’s a rough world, and I really need a job.
Catching him won’t be hard. The earth is littered with the dead. Bones, fragments of bones, even the smallest organic material, it’s absolutely everywhere. And where there’s death, a necromancer’s got options.
I raise a horde. It’s not easy—the long-gone animals don’t want to return. The skeletons tear themselves from deep beneath the ground, digging with bone claws until they rip great holes in the tiles.
My minions, my beauties.
“What the fuck?” Mr. Thief yells.
People scatter, screaming. I can’t blame them. My bone beasts are hideous things. Scores of them snap and snarl as they surround Mr. Thief. He throws up his hands in abject terror.
That’s when things go wrong.
The beasts, they’ve been dead too long, and they forgot how to act. So they go a little nuts. They start ripping apart the clothes and displays and ceiling tiles, absolutely destroying the place. It’s a wild frenzy. I try and force my Will upon them, my creatures of the night, but hell, I’m out of practice.
They rampage hard. Mr. Thief manages to get away, Thank the Almighty. No reason to get torn limb-from-limb just for stealing some sunglasses. But it’s all I can do to keep the beasts for murdering everyone else.
By the time they crawl back into their graves, the place is demolished, truly trashed beyond belief, and Security Lady is far from happy.
It’s okay though. I’ve got Positive Vibes, I’m Manifesting Openly. I’ll find something else after the insurance claim goes through.
ps, Another shorter piece. Anyone know which writer I was sort of channeling? If you liked this, share it! See you next week. - DC