“You’re old! You’re not supposed to be old.”
The voice came from somewhere above me, its tone plaintive and confused. I was on my back in the grass. Wet grass at that, though I had no idea whether the moisture was from dew or a recent watering. In truth, I had no idea where I was. I slowly opened my eyes, brushing the dirt away from my lids as I did so.The face peering down at me was unfamiliar. He was a youngish guy, early to mid-thirties at first glance. Dark, neatly trimmed hair, green eyes, mustache. He was leaning on a large shovel, sweating heavily and talking under his breath.
“You’re old,” he muttered, nudging my leg with one booted foot. “Now what?”
“Okay, okay.” He avoided my eyes as he talked to himself. “Nothing for it but to bury you again. Bury you and no one will ever know. Then I can’t be held responsible.”
As those last words penetrated my brain, I struggled to sit up and to grasp what was going on. Had I been abducted? Who was this guy?
“Wait…” My throat was very dry. I swallowed a few times to build up the saliva and tried again. “Wait a minute,” I said. “What do you mean by bury me again? I don’t want to be buried. Help me up. Now!”
One thing I’ve learned in my life is that adopting a commanding attitude often works wonders. He only hesitated for a fraction of a second before reaching down to grab my hand and pull me up. We faced each other then, each staring at the other as if that would somehow change the situation we found ourselves in.
That’s when I finally became aware of our surroundings. Behind my unknown companion were rows of tombstones. Here and there in the distance, I could also see large, ornate crypts. We were in a cemetery. I turned and looked behind me. Next to the spot where I had been lying in the grass was an open grave. The headstone there was weathered but still legible:
Born 1930 – Died 1972
“Hold on.” I pointed a shaky finger. “That’s me. How can I be standing here looking at that? What did you do? Explain yourself, man. “
“Okay, look,” he said. “Clearly there’s been a mistake. I just worked a little resurrection spell. That’s all. But I must have done something wrong because you came back old. How? You were only seventeen when you died.”
“Spell? Resurrection spell? What are you talking about? There’s no such thing.”
“’Course there is.” He rolled his eyes as he spoke. “Of course there is. Lots of people use them. But you know all this. It hasn’t been that long since you died.”
“What year is this?” I asked.
“2032. Now what…” I sighed and waggled my fingers in his face.
“Some things never change,” I said. “And some men are among them. Obviously, you resurrected the wrong person. I died 60 years ago. And I was 42, not 17. Read the headstone, you dolt!”
“Crap!” He hung his head, suddenly looking sheepish. “I forgot my glasses. I mean, I had memorized the spell so I didn’t think it was worth it to go all the way back home to get them just so I could read the spell book. But I must have remembered it wrong, after all.”
“Water under the bridge now,” I said. “Let’s go. I’m thirsty and I’m hungry and I really need some fresh clothing.” I grabbed his arm and started walking toward the entrance gate I could see in the distance, gently pulling him along. We’d both had a shock but, honestly, he seemed more distressed than I was by the whole thing. Why are men always so nonplussed when faced with the consequences of their bad decisions?
Several hours later, I sat on a lumpy green sofa in the living room of Matt’s apartment, waiting for someone from Resurrection Services to arrive. I had learned a lot during those hours. One thing being my Savior’s name, Matt. Another being that those who resurrect the dead are actually referred to as Saviors. Do not ask me why. As far as I could tell, I hadn’t been saved from anything except death and oblivion was pretty much a neutral, unconscious state of not, well, not anything. You can’t really be saved from neutral. From evil, yes. From good, sometimes. From neutral, no.
Matt wanted nothing to do with 42-year-old me. He wanted me out of his life as quickly as possible. But apparently there are laws governing resurrection spells and he needed to go through the appropriate agency. That’s how Resurrection Services got involved. I’m not the only resurrection “mistake” in existence. Go figure. And there are enough of us that a government agency was set up to help the “mistakes” get resettled. So there we sat, waiting for Resurrection Services to come and take me away. And did I mention the god awful clothing Matt had gotten for me? Gray overalls, a shapeless blue tee shirt and tennis shoes. Drab doesn’t even begin to describe it. I wasn’t exactly happy about any of it but what choice did I have?
The door bell finally rang and Matt ushered in an attractive young woman named Miss Cecily Jones. She had glorious red hair and very blue eyes. Lovely. What can I say? I do love the ladies. Men are very fine, too, but the ladies have always set my blood to humming. I had no idea where I was going but at least the trip would be pleasant.
“We have a long ride ahead of us,” said Cecily as we boarded the subway train a few blocks from Matt’s apartment. “I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have while we are traveling.” She tilted her head appealingly and gave me a friendly smile.
Be still my promiscuous little heart, I thought. Sixty years of oblivion had done nothing to dampen my libido. I took a breath and calmed myself. “Perhaps you could start by telling me exactly what I am. Am I alive? Undead? Vampire? Zombie? What?”
“Ah,” she said. “Honestly, we’re not entirely sure. You are certainly alive in the sense that you once again eat and sleep and pretty much function physically in the same way that you did, um, before. But some things are different. Your kind can’t reproduce, for example. You also appear to be immune to illness of any kind; though it is still possible that you may be susceptible to bacteria or viruses that we haven’t identified yet. Research is still underway at this point. We don’t know enough about you yet.”
“And how long have these resurrections been taking place?” I asked.
“Again, we can’t be sure,” she said. “We’ve been able to trace the existence of resurrection spells back several centuries when they were held secret by small groups of practitioners. But the spells didn’t come into widespread use until early in this century. The internet was responsible for that, of course. That’s one reason why internet access is so restricted today. We don’t want more problems like the large number of resurrections has caused us.”
“Internet? Oh, never mind. I’ll find out more about that later. Where are we going?”
“To a special community for resurrectees, informally known as Revenant Town. Though the number of resurrections has increased dramatically in recent years, your kind are not yet tolerated by most people in this country. It’s safer for you all to live together in a protected area. Don’t worry. You’ll be well taken care of.” She smiled, blue eyes glowing with warmth.
I reached over and covered her hand with mine. “I’m very glad you’re helping me with all this, Cecily.” I said. “I feel so vulnerable and frightened.” I squeezed her fingers lightly; adopting what I hoped was a grateful and needy expression.
To my surprise, she laughed and gripped my hand tightly. “Jane, I doubt you are afraid of very much at all. I’ve been around long enough to recognize a come on when I see one. And you are a player. A word of advice. Go slowly here. Be careful. You’ve landed in a very hidebound society. Now let’s get our things together. We get off at the next stop.”
I sighed and wondered what was in store for me. Hidebound? How does a resurrected, fun-loving proponent of women’s lib and free love adjust to that? I guessed I’d find out soon enough.
© Karen Kleis – All Rights Reserved
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