Copyright © 2016 by Casey Chaplin
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Published in Canada.
Photo credit to John Reed.
The intensity in his eyes would generally suggest that he was a focused and determined individual; a person with the utmost intelligence and determination. He could have been a doctor, or a lawyer, or a doctor lawyer in space even. Unfortunately, in the case of Mortimer Blake, that simply wasn’t true. In fact, he was a rather dimwitted and passive individual, but in his mind, he was that astronomical defender of justice doing surgery. He took a deep breath, and held it for a moment to build up his nerve, he then exhaled slowly and meticulously. Narrowing his eyes he brought it into focus, it was all he could see, it was all he could think about, and at that moment it was all he could care about.
“Alright excessively large Tostito, it’s between you, me, and this jar of salsa now,” Mort said. He took another breath. “You WILL fit. I’m not losing another good chip to this jar… too many innocent have fallen already to this plight. No more I say, no more!” Mort glanced down to his feet where hundreds of broken tortilla chips lay. It was a right snack food massacre.
Another breath and another internal pep talk and Mort was ready to conquer his demons. He raised his hand with the chip high above his head, holding it there for a second; the anticipation was building like a train steaming along a track, and Mort could hardly contain himself. He must succeed, there couldn’t be any failure… Do or do not, there is no try! He swung his arm downward towards the jar of salsa with a far too small opening and –
“What the crap are you doing?” A voice rang out. Mort looked up in a panic like he was just caught masturbating causing him to lose control of the chip, and in the surprise of the moment, he crushed it in his own hand. The air in the room became so tense it could be cut with a knife. Mort stared down at his hand in a saddened disbelief. He closed his eyes and breathed heavily for a few seconds, and then he raised his glare. If looks could kill…
“What the hell, man? That was my last good solide…uh, chip,” Mort said shifting his gaze around the room now. “Too many good men lost…” He whispered under his breath while looking at the fallen crumbs at his feet.
Chip’s seen Mort do a lot of strange things over the years, so nothing really surprised him any more… however that was unique to say the least. All he could do was stare blankly as Mort glared at the ground and whispered something. He shook loose the cobwebs and sat beside Mort on the couch, who immediately perked up, sniffed the air, and looked over at Chip with an expression of curiosity and disdain. He looked rather like a prairie-dog sitting atop its mound on the watch for predators – or something to fuck. Instead he only found his smelly roommate, which was sort of like a predator and something to fuck.
“Dude… you smell like…” He leaned in closer to Chip, uncomfortably close, and sniffed again.
“Man, you smell like death. What the hell?”
In a flash of frustration Chip jumped from the couch, landing on many of the broken chips, Mort looked down and let out a slight whimper of pain.
“Goddamn! That is me, isn’t it?” Chip said looking at Mort who appeared to be mourning the loss of his own mother.
“Mort!” Chip shrieked.
“Huh, oh yeah, you smell like a corpse man, what were you doing all day?”
“Nothing! I got up, went down to work at the book store, stood there for six and a half hours and now I’m home, nothing out of the ordinary happened.” Chip confessed.
“Well man, you reek. When did it start?” Mort asked.
“I dunno man, around one, one-thirty people started giving me this look like…like…”
“Like you smell?” Mort finished. Chip shot him a look, returning the if looks could kill favour.
“Yes, like I smell… Did I become the smelly guy everybody avoids like over lunch or something?” Chip questioned.
Mort stood up and got even closer to Chip than before. He sniffed the air, and moved nose to nose with Chip.
“Yes… yes you did,” Mort said and pulled away, “You should seriously leave the apartment now… I can’t concentrate on anything with that stench. Please… go… now,” Mort said as he began to usher Chip towards the door.
Chip, while being pushed along by Mort stopped and turned around. “Ok, ok. Geeze I’m going… Subtlety was never your strong suit, was it?”
“Nope, now go on stinky, air yourself out. I’ve got an enemy to conquer,” Mort said as he fixated his gaze on the salsa jar sitting on the table.
“Mock me will you…I will win,” Mort said aloud. Chip tilted his head and raised an eyebrow. He wanted to say something, he truly did, but there were no words. Chip stood in the doorway dumbfounded. He just blinked, shook his head and walked out of the apartment. Mort in turn sat back on the couch and folded his hands on his lap. He leaned back and started to contemplate his plan of attack. He reached down and grabbed the last corn chip from the oversized party bag. All its comrades had fallen; will that one be the hero? Surely, it must be.
Mort hoisted his hand up high, muttered a few words of encouragement, and struck the chip down on the rim of the jar. In an almost slow motion effect, the chip shattered into a hundred small pieces and fell to the floor like a whole grain thunderstorm. Mort’s eyes opened wide and his jaw hit the floor in disbelief.
“NOOOOOOOOOOO!” Mort yelled out before burying his head in his hands. “Why God, Why…? He was a good man! HE WAS A GOOD MAN!”
The echo of an epic NOOOOOOO rang through the hallway outside of the apartment. Chip stopped and glanced back at his door. He thought about turning back, but used his better judgment; that and he had other things to worry about… like smelling of a dead body. He couldn’t comprehend it, he noticed the smell too, but it didn’t seem that intense to him; at least not as pungent as the reactions he received warranted. But still, it was a pesky stench that came from nowhere, and didn’t seem to want to leave.
Chip and Mort’s apartment happened to be on a pretty quiet street as far as they were concerned. They lived in a lower-class part of the downtown core where the foot traffic was rarely more than a local, sometimes a bum wandered through, but it was mostly squirrels, which Mort fed causing them to stick around. It was annoying when the clamoured against the balcony window, but God damn if they weren’t just the most adorable things.
Chip couldn’t be more relieved that they lived in an area where foul smelling creatures and people frequented – like rodents and the homeless. New York City. The Big Apple, but like any fruit, it was complete with worms and rot.
Though Chip lived in a pretty low-profile part of town, he did indeed live downtown, which meant it is busy in other parts, parts close to where he was situated. In fact just two blocks up there was a street riddled with small shops and cafes; and with shops and eateries comes homeless people and garbage filled back alleys, a place he might be able to wander around unnoticed: blend in with the stench if you will.
It was a warm day, too, which didn’t help. With every step Chip took he felt more and more sweat bead up on his forehead, only making him feel even dirtier and ranker than he already did. He felt a slight wave of anxiety pass through him when he strolled by a certain shop. Any other day of the week Chip wouldn’t give this place a second glance. It was the weirdest store; they sold all sorts of weird crap: voodoo dolls, magical incense, spell books… If it were odd, strange, or queer, they sold it. Pssh, magical incense… what crap. Who the hell gets conned into buying that junk. Chip always thought to himself as he walked by.
As creepy as the store was, the guy who owned it was creepier – Older fellow with a beard riddled with salt and pepper, and a bit of grey and white. The salt and pepper was surely from the sandwich Chip always saw him eating. There was often a dash of mustard too. Nevertheless, Chip felt even more uneasy than ever. Flavour-saver took notice of him as he walked past. Of course, the man had to be standing outside his shop when Chip meandered on by, and he must have caught wind of poor ol’ Chip. The way he just dropped his sandwich and bolted inside, all the while fixating his gaze upon him was just rude, Chip thought. But as over exaggerated as it was, it was indeed understandable. Chip smelled like death, there was no way around it.
After scuttling past the creep-show shop, Chip felt excessively uneasy. It was bad enough that he felt he was drawing attention to himself, but now there was proof; he had to get off the busy streets. Why he wandered that way was a mystery; after all, why would he want to hang out in a busier part of town than where he lived. There were plenty of alleys with dark shadowy nooks and crannies for him to duck into. He could have stayed home and had a shower, which in retrospect, seemed like the best idea in the world…. Nevertheless, he felt drawn to the area he happened across.
Chip and Mort’s apartment was a cozy little place that had just enough room for the two of them. Since neither of them were really social butterflies, the apartment worked. They lived in a sort of odd couple harmony, though they weren’t really a couple. Chip was the ever present conscience, and Mort was like the retarded kid who had to be reminded not to stick a fork in the wall socket. Regardless of his intelligence, Mort was a whole heartedly good person who would never harm anybody. He was a good friend, if not a little too honest at times.
The apartment in question however, still reeked of Chip’s death cloud, but Mort didn’t seem too bothered. He had other things to worry about at that moment, like giving his fallen soldiers a proper burial, even if they did fail miserably at their mission. Mort couldn’t lay all the blame on them however; he couldn’t have been a very good general if everybody under his command bit the dust, so to speak.
“Yeah, I know, it’s weird right… wait, did you… you did know… You clever sonofa… Yeah, sorry, I keep forgetting she actually was… sorry. Yeah, ok. I gotta go; I’ve got some stuff to do. Bye,” The ending of every phone call was so ominous, Mort thought. If you lingered too long on the line everything was punctuated with dread. The infamous clicking of the receiver switching off, and then the alarming dial tone, which sounded suspiciously like a flat line on a heart monitor, Mort always thought put the perfect stamp on the end of a diabolical conversation. The stuff that went through that lad’s head was incredible. Like the time he locked himself in his room to contemplate why Playboy was for boys, and Playgirl was for girls. It didn’t make sense to him, and the amount of energy he spent thinking about it scared the crap out of Chip. He never did come to a conclusion.
Nevertheless, he did have something to do, and he knew exactly how to go about it. Mort threw the portable phone on the couch and scurried into his bed room, once there he set his sights on his closet. He rifled through it looking for something like a blood hound sniffing out drugs; he wasn’t going to give up until he found it…
“FOUND IT!” he squealed out his excitement. From the closet he produced a brown box with a lid and rushed to the bed, dropping the box and ripping off the lid as if it were the first Christmas present he’d ever seen. He tore through that box with a purpose; he had to do it just right.
He had to be dressed as a solider himself to properly perform the ritual of passing… for the tortilla chips – it only seemed right in his mind. It was the purpose his great grandfather had for his World War II uniform, surely.
Chip thought about calling Ellie, the girl with whom he was entirely enamoured, and lucky enough to call his girlfriend, to see if he could go there for a little while, but he used his better judgment. After thinking about his situation for the briefest of moments, he figured she would dump him at first sniff. But, he didn’t know where else to go, he didn’t even know if he still smelled, though he assumed he did. It had been a while since he passed anybody on the street, and he didn’t really smell anything anymore, although that could have just been a tolerance he built up. He needed to test his stench level; he wanted to know if he still was still an olfactory assassin, so he took a right down an alleyway. He noticed a bum slouched over on his first lap of the block, and if it affected him, then it would hit everybody.
He eyed the bum from around the corner of a building, making sure he didn’t make himself come off too obvious when marching in front of him waving his stank around. Everything seemed kosher, so Chip went on his way. He started off slowly, somewhat tentative at first a little nervous about being in a dark-ish alley as the sun was beginning to set. It was like the start of every good vampire movie (Good being the key word – not these sparkly vampire movies…). Nevertheless, there were much more real threats to be weary of, like muggers, rapist…rats; oh how Chip hated rats.
And so he trudged on, passing by the slumping homeless man, he made sure to slow down as he moved by to give him the full effect, but he didn’t react. The bum didn’t even flinch. The smell must have dissipated as quickly as it appeared. But, just to be sure, Chip stopped and stood right in front of the man, pretending at first to tie his shoe, and then with a fake yawn and stretch, lifting his arms high above his head, armpit pointed directly at the guy. Nothing, not even so much as a cough or a deep breath, Chip figured he was clean and ready to head home. Little did he know however was that the homeless guy was already dead… but even worse than that, Chip still smelled…bad.
Chip never knew what he would find when he walked through the front door of his apartment, most times it was nothing, sometimes it was something, but this time, well not even Chip was ready for what he was about to see.
As Chip walked through the threshold of the door, he was totally unaware that he would be standing on the precipice of reality, about to fall into the realm of the totally insane. Approximately fifteen feet to Chip’s right stood Mort, dressed as a World War Two solider saluting to nobody. Chip needed a better look. As he circled around, he noticed an abundance of tiny little crosses erected from toothpicks on the floor.
“What the hell…?” Chip said in astonishment.
“Shhhh!” Mort turned and motioned with his finger over his lips. Chip stopped dead.
The two stood in silence for a moment or two longer; Chip confused and Mort solemn.
“Annnnnd…. OK,” Mort said and turned to Chip. “What’s up?”
Chip was dumbfounded, “Uh – err…what?” Was all he could muster, though he did manage to make a motion with his hands towards the make-shift graveyard.
“What, oh, this? It’s a monument to the fallen. The brave that sacrificed so much for the cause of my hunger; poor little fellas,” Mort answered; Chip just blinked.
“How are they standing there…the little crosses that is?” That was really the only question Chip could think of that would have a reasonable answer.
“Glue,” Mort said before turning and marching into his bedroom.
“Right, glue, of course,” Chip said to himself. He walked over and plopped himself on the couch, eyeing the mess of Chip’s and crosses on the floor. It was like a freaky little shrine to snack foods.
“Hey, Mort… What happened to the salsa?” Chip yelled out.
“Assisted suicide!” Mort yelled back from behind his bedroom door.
“Assisted suicide…?” Chip whispered to himself. “What?!” He yelled out.
“Yup, he could handle the onslaught anymore. Victory was mine and he knew it.” There was a pause, Chip didn’t respond as he was still trying to make sense of the situation.
“I threw it out the window,” Mort said as he emerged from down the hall.
“Ahh… Wait, why?!” Chip said as he jumped to his feet and rushed to the window. He peered out and saw an explosion of salsa on the concrete below; it looked like a crime scene with broken glass and chunky red stuff smeared all about, like somebody threw a head in a glass jar from the roof.
“You are one strange dude,” Chip said as he turned from the window and walked back to the couch.
“Yeah, and you’re one stinky dude,” Mort said as he held his sleeve over his face.
“What!?” Chip said jolting sideways to look directly at Mort. “Still?”
Mort nodded his head feverishly, afraid to leave the stink protection of his cotton sleeve.
“What the hell, man? I have no idea what it is. The homeless guy didn’t react,” Chip said as he stood up.
“Homeless guy?” Mort muttered, confused, from under his arm.
“Never mind, I’m gonna have shower, maybe that will help,” Chip said as he made his way down the hallway toward the bathroom.
“Can’t hurt!” Mort yelled to him. “Goddamn, he stinks,” Mort said to himself while waving the air around him like a crazy person.
Chip turned the off the water and stepped out of the stall and into the fog steamed room that awaited him. He sniffed both his arm pits and smelled nothing. He wiped off the mirror, which caused a squealing sound, a sound which Chip hated. He proceeded to check himself out in the mirror looking for anything out of the ordinary. He didn’t notice any weird things in the shower; no green tinged water from some dead rat-sized parasite that attached to his back, silently numbing him while it leeched off his lifeblood. Nope, nothing like that anyway.
Chip had an over active imagination, but he never could have imagined what was happening to him.
Satisfied with his shower, Chip dried off and re-clothed – with fresh clothes of course. He contemplated burning the garb he had on earlier. He was certain he smelled like a corpse no longer; well, he at least prayed he didn’t smell like death any more. And if there was a God, he would have to listen to that request, right? Starving kids in the world, or a smelly man – surely the stink was much, much worse.
Chip opened the door of the bathroom, only to be met by Mort standing inches from the threshold; Chip jumped back, and a small yelp may or may not have escaped his lips. The two exchanged an awkward glance after the possible yelp, and then Mort leaned in and sniffed Chip’s personal bubble.
“Nope, still stink,” Mort said and backed away, making his way to the living room.
“Are you kidding me?! It’s no better?” Chip pleaded.
“Well, now you smell like fruity death; does that help?” Mort asked as he sat on the couch, looking for the TV remote. “Speaking of fruity, what kinda shampoo are you using? It has potential to smell awesome… ya know, as long as the rot smell goes away…”
“Oh shut up,” Chip said, following Mort to the couch. “I just wish I knew why this happened,” Chip finished by plopping down beside Mort.
“You and me both man..,” Mort said sliding to the opposite end of the couch.
“Well, too bad, you’re stuck with me for the night,” Chip stated.
“Oh, no I’m not. You have a girlfriend, and said girlfriend has an apartment, I think you should go spend the night with her. I mean, what I have I done to upset you? Why torture me?” Mort asked.
“Are you nuts?” Chip started. “I can’t see her like this. She’ll dump me on the spot.”
“Welp, she chose you, now she has to deal with the consequences.Get out, go, now. Go see her,” Mort said grabbing Chip under the arm, ushering him off the couch.
“Great, I touched you. Now my hand’s gonna fall off or something,” Mort joked.
“Haha, very funny…But you can’t be serious, I can’t go see Ellie like this man,” Chip added.
“Sure ya can! What if this smell never goes away, hmm? I mean, what, you’re never gonna date again? That means there will never be any little Chip’s running around. She has to accept you for who you are, and what you smell like, or ya know…it was never meant to be,” Mort said as he exhaled his last breath. He was wearing it kind of thin near the end.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right…” Chip conceded.
“I know I’m right. And if it doesn’t work out, I know a girl… Latisha. Wonderful woman, no sense of smell as far as I can tell, and she’s black…” Mort paused and met Chip’s eye, a small smirk crept onto his face. “That way you guys can have…”
“Don’t say it…” Chip implored.
“Little chocolate Chips!” Mort finished, looking rather satisfied.
“I hate you, Mortimer Blake,” Chip said.
“Eh, I try. Now go, before I yak all over you.”
“Fine! Jesus, maybe I’ll just sleep in a dumpster or something.”
“Couldn’t hurt. Now go. See ya when you don’t smell like death anymore,” Mort finished and closed the apartment door. He somehow managed to guide Chip out of the dwelling during his diatribe on Chip’s stench.
When the door was closed, Mort flipped out his cell phone and dialled a number from his contacts. He waited while it rang for a moment.
“Yeah, he’s on his way..,” Mort said, and then slipped the phone back into his pocket.
Chip had only been home about an hour before Mort kicked him out, but in that hour it had become wicked cold, though just being out of the shower didn’t help either. Chip swore he would blame Mort if he froze and died during the night, after all, he didn’t really have a place to go. There was no way in Hell he was going to head to Ellie’s house, and he was pretty sure no hotel – scratch that – no reputable hotel would let him stay there smelling like a dead horse. Chip figured he’d probably end up walking the streets until the early hours of the morning in anticipation of Mort fell asleep, then he’d just sneak his way into the apartment unnoticed, like a super ninja. The smell couldn’t possibly wake somebody up; after all, the homeless guy didn’t wake up… even if he was already dead, but Chip didn’t know that.
Wandering the streets alone in the twilight hours on a weekend was always unnerving to Chip. He didn’t exactly have the alpha-male, macho tough guy mentality. He was often afraid of being out at night, especially alone. The streets were deserted at that hour, even if it was only about 9:30 pm. Most, if not all the little shops were closed, and the cafes didn’t have too many occupants. It was a far-cry from an hour or so ago when Chip had been standing in the exact spot he is was. The streets weren’t bustling with people, the lights in the windows were dim, and the occasional street lamp flickered announcing that it’s about to die. Everything was totally different…except for one thing. The homeless guy in the alley-way remained.
The grizzled old man hadn’t moved. He was still perched against the wall of a building; his head slumped over with a hood covering most of his face. Chip thought this to be rather peculiar, even hobo’s move once in a while, right? Against his better judgement, Chip slowly lurked down the alley, making sure no muggers or rapists hid in the shadows waiting to pounce on some helpless prey, like himself.
With every step taken, Chip argued with his conscious; one side argued it was his humane duty to check on the geezer, the other side protested saying it was just an old bum and the world would be a better place without him. Chip didn’t much like the logic of side B, no matter how sound it was – he was just too good natured.
As he approached the seemingly lifeless man, he noticed something change within him, and beyond him. The smell seemed to disappear clearly proof of God and miracles. Chip thought it was his imagination, but regardless, it still seemed to be dissipating with every step. When he got within about five or six feet, he felt a strange sensation within him that he couldn’t explain; it was like a butterflies in the stomach feeling, but times a hundred. Chip felt like they would burst out of his stomach Alien style and fly away. Of course, that didn’t happen. That would be impossible. Instead Chip raised the dead, which was totally plausible, apparently.
Upon closer inspection by Chip, he noticed the man was deathly pale, motionless, and if he had a mirror, he would have stuck it under his nose just for good measure. Chip determined that the man simply died of old age, or some other natural cause. But what wasn’t natural was what happened a second or two after Chip checked the bum’s pulse, he gasped for air like a maniac.
Chip jumped backed, shocked and scared – he may or may not have yelped again. All he could do was clinch to the adjacent wall like it was his mother and watch the dead become undead. The old not-so-dead guy clawed at the air in front of him, gasping and groaning for any bit of oxygen that would agree to flow into his lungs. And then, out of nowhere, he stopped just as suddenly as he started. If a corpse coming to life wasn’t confusing enough, the glowing green eyes definitely put the situation into the realm of mystification.
The thoughts that flowed through Chip’s head were many: Did he merely miss the pulse; was it just really faint because the old guy was nearing death; did he crap his pants when the bum gasped for air; or most importantly, did he just raise the dead? He couldn’t have, that was foolish. He dismissed the thought… but how could he explain the glowing green eyes? Chip’s mind was playing tricks on him, he was sure of that.
“Your mind wasn’t playing tricks on you, I’m sure of it,” A voice rumbled from down the alley.
Chip’s head shot to the side so hard, he swear he heard something rip. “What the hell?!” Chip yelled half to himself and half to nobody, “Who are you?” He said with his voice cracking on who.
“Bill. And yes, you just raised that guy from the dead, as I thought you might do,” Bill said, “Follow me.”
“Follow you? I don’t even know you, why would I follow you?” Chip pointed out.
“You know me, I’m Bill,” Bill refuted.
“Well, yeah, I know your name. But still, I don’t know you; you’re stranger Bill, that’s all.”
“Shut up, Chip and come here. You’ve seen me before.”
“Wait, what – how do you now my name?!” Chip said, sounding very demanding; he was quite proud of himself.
“Just come here!” Bill shouted in his husky voice.
“No, you come here!” Chip shouted, realizing the poor choice he had made as he finished saying it. Why in Hell would he want Bill to come to him in a dark alley with a dead-ish body laying beside him.
“Fine,” Bill said.
“Damnit!” Chip muttered under his breath, but before he could make a break for it, Bill was standing just to the left of him.
“OK, I’m here, now can we go? This alley gives me the creeps… and the dead bum doesn’t help either,” Bill said and Chip jumped. That time he yelped.
And so they were off, Bill guiding chip from under the arm – a lot of people seemed to be grabbing him there lately, must be an easy point of access or something. Once out of the darkness of the alley and into the dimly lit street, Chip recognized his escort; it was none other than the creepy creepstore owner that always creeped him out. The familiarity would usually make things better, but in this case, it made them much, much worse.
Chip's imagination ran wild. He was certain, 100% that flavour-saver would add him as one of the delicacies in his beard. Chip was about to be eaten... well in his mind anyway.
“Relax, kid… I’m not gonna eat ya,” Bill said in a humoured tone.
“What… err, who, why?” Chip sputtered out. He felt that was good enough to get his point across.
“Boy, you have A LOT to learn. Your world’s about to be turned on end,” Bill said.
“Wonderful,” Chip stated. “Still didn’t answer my question.”
“That’s ‘cause you didn’t ask one… as I recall, all you mustered was something along the lines of what…err, who, why?” Bill smartly remarked.
“Smartass,” Chip said under his breath, Bill shot him a nasty little look as he dragged him to the front of his store.
“Well, here we are, kid. We’ll answer everything you’ll ask… in there,” Bill said.
“We…?” Chip questioned as Bill opened the door.
The door swung open slowly, revealing a well lit little shop, and a familiar figure standing at a book shelf.
“Hey Chip, still smell like death?” Mort said with a goofy smile on his face. Bill wasn’t lying, Chip’s world was about to be turned on end, and it started with Mort… as was often the case when something odd happened in his life.
“What?!” Chip shouted in disbelief. “What the hell are you doing here, Mort?”
“Eh, ya know… browsing ol’ Bill’s wares?” Mort responded nonchalantly.
“Browsing his wares?! What the hell is going on here?!” Chip yelled, spinning around to look at Bill, and then shifting back to Mort.
“Sit down, kid… You’ve got a lot of learning to do,” Bill said putting a hand on his shoulder.
“Kid? I’m 24, how old are you, 40, 50 max?” Chip said in defence of his age.
Bill chuckled, and gave an oddly compassionate look to Chip. “I’m four-hundred-and-twelve.”
Chip sat down. In fact, Chip nearly fell down. He looked over at Mort for some kind of assurance, but he just stood there and shrugged and continued to pretend to look at the crap scattered throughout the shelves.
“How the hell can you be four-hundred-and-twelve? That’s impossible,” Chip said trying to rationalize the situation, and then another thought entered that frazzled noggin of his. “And how is it you know what I’m thinking?”
Bill let out a deep belly laugh. His bushy beard bounced out of turn with the rest of him, it swayed right, while his rotund gut bounced up and down. It defied physics. That greatly disturbed Chip.
“Son, I can read your mind; it’s impossible, right? But I know your every thought, sometimes before you know it.”
Chip glared at Bill hard, as if to say I’m calling your bluff, what am I thinking old man. Bill caught on quickly.
“You realllllllllllly need to get laid, kid if you’re thinking about that,” Bill said with a snarky tone.
Chip’s eyes widened, and then he sunk into the chair, hoping it would open up and swallow him, which at that point in the day seemed entirely possible.
“Ok…fine,” Chip said quietly all the while turning increasingly red. “But what’s going on?” The question was more directed to himself more than his counterparts.
“Well, Chip. You’re a necromancer,” Mort said, turning to look at Chip in a dramatic fashion. He thought that was pretty epic and felt pretty darn good about himself.
“Oh, yeah. A necromancer,” Chip started off calmly, but that was about to change. “WHAT!? Alright, what kinda crap are you guys smokin’ ‘cause I don’t want any. Like really, a necromancer? Mort, I didn’t even know you were into Dungeons and Dragons,” Chip fumed.
“No, seriously buddy…you are. Did you touch that homeless guy outside? Did he touch that homeless guy outside?” Mort asked Chip than Bill. Bill nodded and Chip didn’t say a word. He may have been having a small heart attack at the moment. He wasn’t sure; it was probably just a mental breakdown, or gas. Either seemed far more likely, especially gas. That can sneak up on a guy. Regardless, Chip didn’t even believe what these two were saying, so why would he be having a mental breakdown? More likely than not, it was just being in the shop that weirded him out.
“And he came back to life, didn’t he, just for a second?” Mort said, sounding slightly excited.
“Aye,” Bill chimed in. Mort sauntered over to Chip, trying to look calm and cool. It didn’t work, it just looked like he had gas. It’s contagious.
“Dude, you just raised the dead!” Mort exclaimed, hugging Chip.
Chip pushed him off and stood up from the stool (It hadn’t swallowed him after all), and he began to back away slowly, but bumped into Bill.
“Where ya going?” Bill asked rhetorically, “We’re not done here.” Chip felt as big as ant and slithered back to the stool.
“It’s still impossible. The guy just had a of bit life left in him is all…” Chip tried to reason, more to himself than to Bill and Mort.
“Nope, sorry Chip. He was long dead, a few days anyway,” Mort said.
Chip raised an eyebrow, “And you know that how…?”
“Well…” Mort started, but Chip interrupted, “Oh God, you killed him didn’t you?!”
“What, oh, hell no. I just borrowed the body,” Mort corrected.
“Oh, that’s fine then…” Chip paused, “Wait, what? Borrow from who…where…what?”
“I know a guy at the morgue. He’s been dead, well, undead for years. He owed me one.”
Chip felt weak in the knees, it was a good thing he was sitting down. He wondered if he could faint while sitting…
“We used him as a test for you. Bill here knew, somehow that you were…special,” Mort said, as Bill grunted with content to Chip’s left.
“A test…well, it didn’t work. Coroner made a mistake, sorry to disappoint,” Chip stood up again, took one glance at burly Bill and sat back down looking like a scolded dog.
“Were the eyes glowing green?” Mort asked.
“No,” Chip lied.
“Yes,” Bill corrected.
“Traitor,” Chip blurted.
“Wimp,” Bill said. Chip stood, but remembered what happened seconds earlier, and sat down.
“Touché,” Chip said quietly.
“And the smell, God damn, Chip, you’ve smelt like death since I put that guy there. It’s kinda like radar…a deadar, if you will.” Mort felt clever for coming up with that, Chip was also rather impressed, more so with the grammar though. Deadar was kinda lame.
“Deadar, like…I can sense the dead? Really…you’re not telling me this, it’s ridiculous.” Chip stood by his point that everything happening in that moment was impossible.
“Well, it started as soon as I dropped that body there, you started to stink,” Mort said.
“But it went away the closer I got…”
“That’s the aura releasing into the body. The smell is like a hormone. When you get close to a dead body, you’re body reacts the same as a horny dog walking past a bitch in heat. So when you get close, that hormone releases and enters the next closest dead thing. It’s kinda like how my mom met my dad,” Bill chimed in.
Chip and Mort both look horrified; eyes wide and jaws gaping.
“So I orgasm bodies to life?!” Chip said when he snapped out of the trance of gross.
“Sure, and soon enough – with the proper training, you won’t even have to touch the bodies to bring them back… Like how it is with your sex life,” Bill said with a chuckle.
“HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. So funny. Where the hell did you find this guy, Mort?” Chip said.
“Oh God, don’t ask. It’s a really long story, one that gives me nightmares for a week. Remember that night you caught me with the blanket and the fake plastic sword?” Mort said.
“Yeah…” Chip answered cautiously.
“That was the night we met.” Chip raised an eyebrow at that. He didn’t bother to dive deeper into Mort and Bill’s history. In fact, the less he knew about the entire situation, the better off he would be. All Chip wanted to do was get out of this creepy shop, away from the creepy owner and his increasingly creepy friend.
“Anyway, well, it was a nice meeting fellas but I think it’s time I take my leave.” Chip stood up again from the stool, took another look at Bill, thought about sitting down again, but instead took a step or two backwards. He was desperately hoping there was a back door to the place.
Bill looked at Chip with a degree of intimidation, Chip looked at Mort with a large degree of fear, and Mort looked at Bill with a degree of contempt. Bill rolled his eyes and stepped aside motioning that the way was clear for whomever to pass.
“Chip, this isn’t like Columbine or something. You’re not our prisoner, you’re my buddy, who happens to have a special power, and now, has a really weird life. It’s all good man,” Mort paused and motioned to the door, “You can go. I’ll see ya at the apartment.”
Chip looked quizzically at Mort, than fearfully at Bill as he wandered towards the front door. Bill eyed him the entire way, and Mort gave a goofy little wave. Chip slowly opened the door, gave a fake little smile, then bolted out of the door and into the street – Before the door closed a crash of garbage cans clattered, and the screaming of a cat echoed through the night. Mort turned his head and looked at Bill.
“Well…that was cliché, wasn’t it?” Mort asked.
“Yeah..,” Bill started, and Mort narrowed his eyes. “I dunno about this kid, Mort… I mean, he’s like a wiener,” Bill said honestly.
“Oh come on, give him a break,” Mort said in his friend’s defence, “He just found out he can raise the dead, what did you expect? Oh Mort and Crazy Beard Guy, thank you so much for changing everything in my world and turning me into a freak,” Mort said sarcastically.
“Well, technically, we didn’t turn him into anything. He is what he is,” Bill stated.
“Beside the point!” Mort snapped, “He never would have known about this, he would have just gone on his whole life with this hidden…thing-“
“Ability,” Bill interjected, Mort raised an eyebrow, that was apparently the theme for the day.
“Yes, ability. He would have lived a normal life… I mean, how often does somebody hang around a dead body? Two or three times in a lifetime? He would have been normal,” Mort said, sounding remorseful.
“We need him, Mort. You know that..,” Bill said, sounding strangely sympathetic.
“Yeah, I know… he’s too valuable an asset. But he’s still my friend, and I don’t like this at all,” Mort said before walking out of the storefront and into the back.
“Where are you going?” Bill yelled out.
“To get some Tostitos!” Mort yelled out; Bill raised an eyebrow.
A Necromancer? Chip thought to himself as he walked down the cold dark street. The thought was rubbish, and he couldn’t quite believe it, though the alone time was beginning to sway him slightly. It still appeared to be more like a really well thought out practical joke. But then that would mean Mort was the mastermind behind it; he instantly dismissed the intricate joke scenario, but that only left one option.
Chip always felt he was special, or at least different. But he always thought it was his divine ability to fold underwear perfectly; not the ability to raise the dead.
The wind blew sharply and Chip accordingly shivered; he looked up in hope of some answers from some celestial source, but to no avail. All he got was momentary blindness from a street lamp that hung directly above him. He looked away and rubbed his eyes. It just wasn’t his day. Maybe he needed to call Ellie. After all, he didn’t smell any more. Actually, that sounded like a wonderful idea. A little foreplay always cheered him up.
Chip pulled out his cell phone and realized it was on silent, unfortunately the biggest clue was the six text messages and one voicemail. Chip skimmed over the texts, at first they were nothing, just simple hey, how are you? messages from Ellie, but then they took a turn for the vicious. Hell hath no fury… The messages progressed from cheery to volatile exponentially – Chip was afraid to listen to the voicemail – it was left after all the text were sent, and based on the anger portrayed in the in last text by various emoticons, the voicemail would surely be much, much worse.
He dialled the number and the automated voice came on; Chip never realized how cold and ominous the recording sounded, like Stephen Hawking if he were a she, and she happened to be on the rag.
Chip dialled in his password, selected one as prompted by the demonic recording on her period, and listened. The tirade was epic; filled with accusations of infidelity, questioning Chip’s honesty and reliability, and ending with a blubbering incoherent mess of words that sounded like a long string of curses and profanities. All in all, it was a very mean message. But it took Chip’s mind off the whole Necromancer thing for a while. He had more dangerous things to deal with: A pissed off girlfriend.
On his way to Ellie’s house, Chip had to come up with an excuse. Clearly he couldn’t walk into her apartment and say: Hey, I have the uncanny ability to raise the dead. Mort and some guy with a crazy ass beard told me so. That might not go over too well; actually, castration might be on the menu if he told her that. The news of becoming a Necromancer would have to wait for another day, preferably when she’s either a sleep or drunk, or both.
Ellie lived approximately thirteen minutes and twenty-eight seconds from Chip’s apartment. It was a rough approximation that Chip very thoroughly timed out over three weeks when they first dated. Ok, so it wasn’t so much an approximation as it was an exact measurement. But he wanted to know how long it would take to run there in case of an emergency, so he merely cut a minute or two off his thirteen minutes and change and came up with eleven minutes and six seconds. Although he never actually ran it, he was sure, it was all very scientific.
However, on this occasion, it took a bit longer. Chip was both scared and confused, so he slumped along at a very pedestrian pace; he was in absolutely no rush to get to Ellie’s place. Why was it that bad things always came in droves? The smell, the whole raising the dead thing and having your bestfriend know about it… Actually, how did Mort know? That was one question that slipped Chip’s mind at the time. Amongst all the confusion and the denial, Chip didn’t bother to ask how either Bill or Mort knew about his condition. It was just another headache for Chip Adams. He told himself that he was going to stop thinking about this whole supernatural business and focus on fixing things with his girlfriend. Priorities.
Ellie’s apartment was located in a very upscale condominium, well upscale for the area: It had a buzzer to get into the lobby. Chip, for some reason found this very uppity. His apartment didn’t have one, Hell, his apartment barely had a front door.
Chip’s gut turned to knots when he approached the intercom on the door. He had to call up to her before she could open the door, thusly, she would know it was him. Based on the messages left on his phone, that can’t be a good thing.
Chip hit the buzzer and the waiting began. He stood there transfixed on the small speaker-like panel on the wall, his body language had nervous written all over it. His arms were crossed, and his shoulders shrugged; a passerby could have easily mistaken him for somebody with a bad case of explosive diarrhoea. He looked pained and distressed, and then the speaker let out a lowly little voice.
“Hello?” Ellie’s soft and sleepy voice said into the intercom.
Chip paused for a moment, frozen in time contemplating his next move.
“Shit,” He said louder than he wanted.
“Excuse me?” Ellie’s voice said from the little box on the wall.
“Sorry, it’s Chip, can I come in?” Chip waited, but nothing came from the other end. She wasn’t going to let him in, he knew it. It took all he had to go to her apartment, and even more to actually go through with calling up to her room. He hung his head and decided it would be best to leave.
“Sorry, who’s there? I left the kettle on the stove.” Chip’s heart dropped. He had to go through it again.
“It’s Chip,” He mumbled into the speaker, and without any words from the other end, a buzz sounded and the door clicked signifying its ultimate unlocking. Chip’s heart sunk even lower than he thought possible; it was no longer in his torso, but rather on a string on the ground in front of him which forced him to kick it with every step. It was much like some odd Greek mythological punishment. He endured that imaginary punishment up six flights of stairs. Sure, there was an elevator, but today felt like a stair taking day: Whatever delayed the inevitable at that point.
The door at the end of the hall always seemed daunting, it just so happened that this was also Ellie’s abode making the terror multiply by 2.3, that seemed like a proper number in Chip’s mind. He was certain what waited beyond that door was more horrifying than anything he could imagine. He pictured chains hanging from the ceiling equipped with a devilishly devastating meat hook, and an uber pissed off Ellie in a leather Dominatrix outfit. He more or less envisioned much of the movie Hellraiser as what laid beyond that door, but sexier. Ellie as a dominatrix was a pretty hot thought.
He approached with caution, even contemplated turning tail and running like a scolded dog, as he was sure Ellie would devour his soul. It’s a well known fact that scolded dogs lose their souls. However, before his imagination could run even further, the door swung open and there stood a silhouette of somebody who may or may not have been glaring down the hallway; it was safe to assume she was probably staring down the hallway. Chip froze on the spot; he felt a bead of sweat form on his forehead.
“Shit,” He muttered very quietly to himself. The form just hung in the doorway for a moment, as if the atmosphere would not allow it to move until Chip either ran, moved closer, or screamed like a girl. The latter being the most likely of the three.
It was at the ultimate moment of suspense that the shadowy figure in the door way moved out into the light off the hallway. It was only Ellie, it was always Ellie. Chip knew that, of course, but that was exactly what he was afraid of.
“What the hell are you doing just standing there like an idiot?” Ellie shouted from the doorway. Chip snapped out of his trance, he shook his head and tried to speak, but nothing came out. He moped his way down the hall.
He started off slow, to kill as much time as possible, but it was a futile act as it just made Ellie more irritable.
“Hurry the hell up!” She yelled again, not caring if her neighbours could hear or not. Chip broke into a jog.
“Sorry,” he muttered when he broke the threshold of the apartment.
“Why didn’t you call me to tell me you were coming over?” Ellie asked from the comfort of her oversized couch. Chip loved and hated that couch. It was like a big comfortable trap that Chip always wanted to get caught in, but never leave. No other couch could live up to the standard of that couch. He hated it for that. He did not sit in said couch.
“I didn’t feel like being yelled at over the phone…again?” Chip said, just standing there like an idiot.
“Stop standing there like an idiot,” Ellie said. “And what do you mean again?” Chip found an arm chair in which to take solace.
“Well, your messages…?” Chip said frightened.
“Messages, what messages? I didn’t leave you any messages,” Ellie said very matter of factly.
Chip raised an eyebrow at her. “Yes you did.” That was the best refute he could come up with.
“Did not,” Ellie said in an equally weak attempt.
“I have them right here!” Chip jumped from the armchair; he was really grateful now that he didn’t sit in the Big Comfy Couch. He fumbled around his front jean pocket looking for his cell phone – it took a fraction of a second longer than it should have, which induced a cock-eyed reaction from Ellie. Chip returned the look as he produced his cell phone; it was nearly a moment of eureka for him.
“See, look… I have it right…” Chip flipped through his inbox, but nothing. He checked everywhere in his phone but couldn’t find the texts. Ellie got up from the couch (with ease, which Chip could never understand) and wandered over to Chip to comfort him. He was clearly losing his mind.
“No, El. They’re here, and they were mean! The voicemail! Here, it’s gotta be there still,” Chip pleaded.
Chip held down the 1 key as was customary to when one was dialling his voicemail. The wonderful lady who sounded like an evil female Stephen Hawking on her rag asked for his password, which he produced granting him access to the world of missed calls. There was one saved message; Chip hit play with great excitement. This truly was the eureka moment Chip had been longing for, but it was short lived… The message produced nothing but static.
Chip’s eyes widened and Ellie’s eyes turned sad.
“NO! Goddamnit, somebody’s fucking with me. It’s like a Mission Impossible tape or something. This message will self-destruct in five seconds, or something like that,” Chip said.
“Honey, it’s just static… not the end of the world.” Although, it may well have been as far as Chip knew.
“No! It was you before, I swear to it. Why would I lie?” Chip said.
“I dunno, long day… hearing things maybe?” Ellie replied. Chip thought about that for a moment, perhaps a moment too long as Ellie noticed how deep in thought on it he actually was.
“No!” Chip snapped out of the thought process, “I’m not that far gone,” He said. Ellie reeled back slightly in surprise, but shook it off with a shake of her head.
“Aww, maybe you just wanted to see me that badly that you thought you heard my voice in that static,” Ellie said sounding overly sweet, no doubt on purpose.
“Yeah, yeah…” Chip paused and processed the thought for a second. “YEAH!” He shouted out, spooking Ellie a bit. “That’s exactly what it is!”
“Huh?” Was all Ellie could muster.
“Somebody wanted me to come here so they could follow me… follow me right to you! Oh fuck, I lead them right to you didn’t I?” Chip said frantically.
Ellie shifted her eyes once or twice, “What? Lead who here, honey?” She said as calm as humanly possible. Chip couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t freaking out like he was. Chip freaked out a lot.
“No, Ellie, we have to get you –” The front door produced a knock. Both Chip and Ellie looked towards it. One terrified look, the other curious, yet calm (guess who was who.).
“Hmm, I wonder who that could be?” Ellie said as she wandered over to the door.
“NO!” Chip yelled out and grabbed her arm with enough force to spin her around to look at him. “You didn’t buzz anybody in. You have to buzz somebody in before they can come up, right?” Chip asked, but made it sound more like a statement.
Ellie leaned in nice and close to Chip’s ear. He loved when she did that, regardless of the situation. “And if it’s somebody who actually lives in the apartment…?” She stated. Chip leaned back with a puzzled look on his face.
“But… if they live here, why would they need to follow me?” He asked in what Ellie thought was a very adorable way. She caressed his cheek with her hand and walked towards the door, “It’s probably the super or something. Relax.” At her touch, Chip melted, and so did his worries for a moment. He did what she asked and just relaxed. She was right; it was foolish to think that somebody would follow him to her. Why would that even be the case? Sure, he was a newfound necromancer, but he just found this evening, how would anybody else know? And the bigger and better question, why would anybody care? Chip totally had nothing to worry about.
He watched with caring, and of course, relaxed eyes which drifted to Ellie’s butt for a moment, as she sauntered over to the door to open it up. The handled clicked its quiet click as the it turned releasing whatever it was that held doors shut. But a fraction of a second later, the door flung open, sending Ellie reeling backward to the ground.
It took Chip a second to realize what had just happened. He stood there like an idiot.
Two men burst through the door and stood over Ellie, looking excessively daunting. They look to be identical twins, or something like it. They both had huge slopping foreheads, much like a Neanderthal; they both had huge bulging biceps that looked sort of cartoonish, as well, and their legs were teeny tiny little things. In any other situation Chip probably would have laughed at these too, but in that situation, he nearly crapped himself.
Following the two goons through the door was this well dressed man in a dark red suit with slicked back hair and…a cape? Chip looked stunned, but more so at the cape than anything. The man stopped and guide the too buffoons aside so he could stand in between the two. He looked down at Ellie and smirked, she returned the smirk with her middle finger.
“Ooh, feisty,” The man said, “Grab her!” He said in a British accent that Chip missed the first time. They seemed to be totally ignoring Chip, though he didn’t exactly make his presence known.
“Ahem?” Chip coughed. He realized too late that it was a weak attention getter.
The man looked up however and over at Chip. “Yes, yes, I’ll get to you in a moment, please don’t interrupt.” The man rolled his eyes. “How rude,” he said to no one really.
“Oh, sorr-” Chip was about to apologize, but thought better of it. “Wait, no, what are you doing? Who the hell are you?”
The man shot him a look that nearly did kill him. It was such a powerfully evil glare that Chip stumbled back a step or two as if hit in the chest with a violently thrown beach ball. Nothing too crazy or anything, it was that evil a stare.
“I said wait your turn, runt!” The man yelled out and threw his hand towards Chip. A weird gesture, Chip thought, and then he realized he couldn’t really move. He was frozen on the spot, but not by ice or anything, he was being held by some unseen force. Chip thought that to be really unfair.
“Mmhmm mmmmh,” he couldn’t speak either.
The evil British guy in the red suit smiled then turned his gaze back to Ellie who still sat on the floor; she looked more pissed than anything. The evil Brit took knee and crept awfully close to Ellie’s face before whispering to her, just loud enough for Chip to hear.
“Thanks to your idiot boyfriend, we’ve found you. You’re not an easy lass to track down, must be your new aura.” The man stood up, “Take her to the car,” He said to his own private Neanderthals.
The two oafs grabbed her under either arm and carried her out of the apartment. Once they left, the Brit turned his attention to Chip. He casually strutted over to the statue formally known as Chip.
“Foolish boy. You don’t know who you’ve just led me to, do you?” Chip tried to respond, but with no luck; he was frozen, and there were no two ways about it.
“Oh, right; frozen. I don’t think you’ll be any sort of a problem, besides I want to hear what you have to say. I do enjoy a good whiner. You lot are all the same: No, don’t take her, she’s my everything, I’ll kill you, etc…” He mocked, snapped his fingers, and Chip became an animate object again.
“You sonofabitch. I swear, if you don’t let her go I’ll…” He realized he was saying exactly the same thing the Brit had just said. Chip tried to think of something else to say to him, “Well, what the hell else am I supposed to say?!” He said giving up on a clever come back. The Brit paused to think on that for a second.
“Fair enough. But no matter how you say it, or how many times it’s said, it never comes true. Just do what’s best for you, kid and leave it alone… It’s for the best.” And with that the British asshole in the dark red suit walked out of the apartment, and Chip just stood there, reeling with anger, confusion and dread. He needed sit to calm himself down. He plopped into the Big Comfy Couch; he always expected a creepy little puppet to crawl out of a crevasse or something, but it never did, thankfully. If it happened at that moment, Chip probably would have just accepted as it would have fit into the theme of the day, which seemed to be: The day of Weird Shit.
All he could do was sit there. He felt useless, even more so than usual. He felt weak and powerless, and worst of all, he had no idea what just happened. He didn’t know where to start. He couldn’t exactly call the cops; what would he tell them? It would be utterly ridiculous – they would probably throw him in jail, or at least the loony bin. So with the cops out of the question, there was only one person he could go see: Mort.
There was one important detail however, at some point after the Evil Brit’s tirade; Chip’s eyes had turned a bright glowing green that appeared to be smoking slightly. He had no idea.
In the fashion of Kramer from Seinfeld, Chip burst through the door of Bill’s shop. He was extremely grateful it wasn’t locked, as he ran into it at full steam. On the other side sat both Bill and Mort. Chip had only been gone a little over an hour, so Bill and Mort were sort of surprised to him back so soon. Mort had figured he went back to the apartment to lock himself in his room for a few hours and cry. He’d done it before after watch The Notebook. Bill on the other hand thought he would have killed himself, well tried to. It’s a tricky thing for a Necromancer to kill himself, what with the whole bringing things back to life ability. However, after the initial shock of having somebody, especially Chip, burst back into the shock, it was hard to reach another level of surprise; but somehow the two pulled it off when they noticed Chip’s eyes.
Chip opened his mouth to tell them about what had happened at Ellie’s apartment. He had it all planned out; he would tell them about the two brutish ogre type characters, and the jack ass Brit. But he had to pause and raise an eye brow at Bill and Mort sitting there dumbfounded and slack jawed.
“What…?” He said very inquisitively.
Bill and Mort looked at one another, exchanging the awkward you tell him – no you tell him looks. And then Bill narrowed his eyes at Mort and nodded furiously as if to say He’s you’re friend, you tell him or I’ll squash you into a puddle so fine not even the necromancer would be able to bring you back. Mort rolled his eyes and stood up from the stool on which he sat.
“Well, Chip old buddy… Don’t freak out…” Mort slowly approached hold out his hands in a calming gesture.
Chip’s eyes widened. “What… Why would I freak out?” He asked cautiously.
Mort took a deep breath and said, “Well, your eyes…they’re green.” Mort reared back, bracing for a shit-fit, but got quite the opposite. Chip merely tilted his head like a curious dog.
“Haha, Mort you fool, my eyes are brown,” Chip said very matter-of-factly. Mort looked back at Bill, who ushered him towards Chip with his hands. Mort looked around the room and found a mirror. Chip watched him closely trying to figure out what he was doing. When Mort returned with the mirror, he held it up in front of Chip, who was sort of smirking at the situation. He stopped smirking when he saw his reflection.
The shit-fit Mort had anticipated duly came.
Chip threw his arms in the air as if to say I give up; you win, and slowly backed away from Mort and the mirror.
“I give up, I just give the hell up man. You win, I… I…Damnit, I don’t even know what the hell’s going on man,” Chip confessed
“You’re a necromancer,” Mort said so nonchalantly, like he was saying Happy Birthday. It was really nothing for him. That annoyed Chip slightly; why and how could Mort be so calm? The even better question is how in the name of all that is sacred and holy did Mort know what a necromancer was? He still thinks the moon is made of cheese and that all cats are girls.
“He wants to know how you know all this, Morty boy,” Bill chimed in from the back of the room. “And you really think all cats are girls? Wow…just… wow.” Chip peered around his friend to stare at weird beard.
“Yeah, I know right?!” Chip blurted out. “Wait…You…stop doing that…whatever that is. What is that anyway?”
Mort took a deep breath and put a hand on Chip’s shoulder. “Well… he can read minds due to the fact that he’s a Djinn who’s about three or four hundred years old.” He paused for a reaction, but Chip’s expression was just a simple glazed one. “And I’m –” Chip interrupted, “A three-thousand year old sex demon,” He said very sure of himself.
“Yeah- what, no, Chip. I’m twenty-four...But I have an uncanny ability to use the art of Voodoo.”
“Voodoo?” Chip questioned.
“Yes, voodoo,” Mort responded.
“But you’re white.”
“Racist. But, if you must know, I’m 1/24th Colombian on my adopted grandfathers side.”
“What the hell does that have to do with voodoo?”
“Nothing. I’m just stating facts here, Chip. C’mon, keep up!” Mort finished with a clap, which startled Chip.
“Right. And he’s a…?” Chip asked motioning towards Bill.
“A Djinn,” Mort finished. Chip’s glazed expression returned as it had moments prior. He had no damn clue what a Djinn was.
“Djinn are a very rare and very clever bunch. They’ve been in almost every cultural story out there…they’re kinda like a badass genie.” Mort checked over his shoulder and then leaned closer into Chip, “Just don’t ask him for wishes. He’ll kick you in the balls and say bet ya wish I didn’t do that.” Chip pulled back to meet his friend’s eyes, which were very wide at the moment, as if to say yes, seriously, I know from experience. Chip eyed Bill. Bill eyed Chip. There was a mutual eyeing going on and Mort was caught in the middle.
“Oh yeah!” Mort blurted out, “He can read minds, too… or did I already say that? I should really get this short term memory thing check out.” Chip’s eyes widened, and widened, and widened, Mort thought his eyes were gonna pop out of his head or something. Bill smirked, looking satisfied.
“Anyway..,” Chip said, “I came here for a reason…” Chip started searching his memory banks for the reason, which he knew was of great importance.
“Well you burst in here like a snowball falling out of hell,” Mort said.
“I know… What?” Chip said.
“You’re girlfriend was kidnapped by a…sexy maid?” Bill said with a perplexed look on his face.
“What?” Mort asked.
“NO! What, sexy maid? No, a crazy evil British guy with two cavemen looking guys took her. They knocked, she opened, he froze me, and they grabbed her and left.” Chip decided it was best to give the Coles Notes version of the story. Regardless, it caught the attention of both Mort and Bill.
Chip knew instantly that something was up, and it wasn’t Mort’s intellect. Mort only had this kind of look on his face when something was awry. He raised an eyebrow yet again and looked over in Chip’s direction, “okay, Chip I need you to tell me everything that happened exactly as it happened.”
Chip looked at Mort with a look of confusion, “I just did.”
“No no, we need every detail down to the last.”
And so Chip told him everything, about the knocking, about not feeling right about the situation, about the evil British guy, and the other two Neanderthals he brought with him. Mort and bill hung on Chip’s every word, however they looked somehow unsatisfied.
“And..,” Mort said expecting more.
“And? What else do you want from me, I’ve already told you everything I know,” Chip explained
“But that’s just what you told us 10 minutes ago!” Mort argued
“I know. Because that is exactly what happened.”
“Well… That’s sorta useless.” Mort stroked his chin as if he were in a state of actual thinking; Chip knew this was just for the dramatic effect. Mort spun on his heels and looked directly at bill, which had somehow produced a sandwich. Both Mort and Chip had the same look on their face when they noticed the magical sandwich appear from nowhere. Mort shook his head and got back on topic, “Bill, I don’t like where this is going. How the hell is he here, I thought you got rid of him.”
“Well..,” Bill paused to take a bite of his sandwich, “I thought I did,” Bill said with a full mouth.
“You thought you did?” Mort exclaimed. Bill just shrugged and took another bite of his sandwich, “well he’s a tricky bastard to get rid of, you know being supernatural and all.”
“Wait, what?! You know this guy? How the hell do you know this guy? He just stole Ellie, and you know this guy?” Chip said, beginning to act frantically. He began to pace without even realizing it, this was something that Chip did often and Mort had noticed, he figured it was some sort of neuroses; Mort didn’t even know what neuroses was. He saw it on a word of the day calendar, but couldn’t be bothered to read the meaning, it just sounded cool.
“Well when you’ve been around as long as I have; you meet a few unsavoury characters,” Bill said.
“Oh, just a few unsavoury characters, eh?” Chip said, the eh must of come from some latent Canadian he had in him. Chip suddenly felt a little uneasy being around Bill, not that he had felt particularly good before; there was something about his familiarity with the evil British guy that made him even more so uncomfortable. Chip narrowed his eyes and took a step towards the front door.
Bill merely nodded at Chip’s sarcastic comment, Mort shot Bill a look and then shot Chip one, shooting looks and raising eyebrows continued as the theme of the day.
“Okay, okay, okay first things first – where the hell did you get that sandwich, Bill?” Mort said, pointing a finger at bill, “why didn’t you get me one?”
“Wait, what? Forget the magical sandwich for a minute! I think there are bigger issues at hand right now,” Chip stated. Mort shook his head and snapped back to the topic, but still looked over his shoulder at Bill, who was smiling a shit eating grin. Mort really hoped the sandwich wasn’t of the shit variety. You can never know with Djinn.
“Yeah, you’re right. We have to find this British ass and get Ellie back, and I think that sandwich eating prick behind me knows where to find him.” Chip peered around and narrowed his eyes at Bill; Bill rolled his eyes and took a deep breath. “Fine,” he said swallowing the last bit of sandwich. Mort looked sad at the departure of the final piece of said sandwich.
“Well, where are we going to start?” Chip said with a sense of urgency.
“Yeah, Bill, where are we going to start?” Mort said; but what he really meant was don’t think you’re getting off the hook for the sandwich.
Bill stood up and walked over to the book shelf on the far side of the room, he stood there for a moment studying its contents, until finally after spining all the books with his finger, he picked one out.
Chip and Mort stood with anticipation of what Bill was about to say. Suddenly, the fact that he had a book in his hands made him seem wise. That thought was short lived.
Bill opened the book and pulled out another sandwich. Chip and Mort’s excitement dropped exponentially.
“Really? You really just did that?” Chip said in a state of shock. Mort looked rather impressed, but looked back at Chip and saw his disappointment; he thought he should do the same. Mort was the happiest depressed guy in the world at that moment.
“What, I was still hungry,” Bill said taking a bite of his sandwich, “a guys gotta eat.” Chip closed his eyes and took a deep breath, “can you help or not?”
Bill sauntered over towards Chip and Mort; he passed Mort who followed the sandwich with his eyes like a starving dog, and got close to Chip’s face. Chip felt that this was a total invasion of his personal bubble. He leaned back to avoid the arterial like spray of Bill’s chewing. His beard didn’t catch everything.
“Well..,” Bill said taking a bite of his sandwich, “I can help you help her.”
“Help me help her? What the hell does that mean?” Chip said taking several steps backwards.
Bill smirked and took yet another bite of his sandwich; Chip wasn’t even sure he had swallowed the first one. He questioned where it could have all gone if not his stomach.
“The dead know a lot,” Bill said forcing Chip to squint and glance over at Mort who happened to be drooling.
“Great, helpful, thanks,” Chip said sarcastically, “How about we stop talking in riddles and enigmas for just a second, Bill, and you tell me with one-hundred per cent clarity what in the crap is going on here?”
Bill sighed and looked back at Mort, who still had that starving dog look to him; he even began to shake with excitement over the prospect of some scraps.
“Okay lad, I’ll tell ya. The British guy, he’s called Mephisto,” Bill said ominously.
“Wait, you mean like the guy from Diablo II?” Chip questioned.
“Right on! Sweet ass game!” Mort yelled from across the room while looking for another magical sandwich.
Bill sighed and looked back at Mort and shook his head, “You won’t find one, kid… And yes, not to different from the character in the game. In demon form, he looks more like a Devil though. It was his idea, actually, the cocky prick. He has that kind of power, ya know; he planted the idea in the head of some game developer, and next thing ya know…”
“He made himself a videogame boss?” Chip finished.
“Sad, innit?” Bill said.
“Yeah… I mean, he’s not even the end boss…” Chip replied. Bill raised an eyebrow at Chip as if to say That’s what you find sad?
For a moment or two there was an awkward silence, each of the three had a different thought flowing through their heads. Chip was filled with dread, fear, and an overwhelming sense of incompetence. Mort shared Chip’s feelings of dread and hopelessness for he was a good friend of Ellies too, but his urge to find the magical sandwich trumped everything. And of course Bill, the Djinn knew what both were thinking.
The old man pondered over the situation for a moment. He was too old to be of any use to these two, he’d just get in the way and end up like Obi Wan Kenobi… or would he? Was there still some kick left in that old dog? He felt immortal, although he knew he wasn’t – he was just very, very old – and even though he’d probably out live the two other people in the store, he still felt his age catching up with him.
But he couldn’t sit idly by with Mephisto out causing havoc again. He put that good-for-nothing Brit in his place once, he can do it again. It was Bill’s stubbornness that got him where he is, and it would surely be the end of him, too.
A few moments past without even the hint of a murmur, and then Bill felt something deep within, something he had to let out, and with the roar of a mighty lion, Bill belched. Oh, did he ever belch. It was so large in fact that Chip would swear he saw a bit of magic sandwich fly from his gaping mouth and land on the wall behind him.
Chip looked shocked… and slightly impressed.
From across the room a slow clap began. Mort, standing there was a proud smile on his face was so impressed with the burp that the only way to express his admiration was through a round of applause.
“Enough! Ok, Bill… Tell me what I need to do,” Chip shouted forcing Mort to cease his cheering. Bill smirked at the new necromancer and said, “We need information, lad.”
It’s funny, isn’t it? You know, how things can change instantly; like how one second your slightly winded boyfriend shows up at your apartment going on about some voicemail that you didn’t leave, and the next second well, you’re kidnapped by a British guy with two semi-evolved men. Oh yeah, and the British guy left your boyfriend seemingly frozen in time when he tried to rescue you. Suffice it to say, it’d been a strange night for Ellie McDonald, and to make matters worse, she had awoken to a bland, grey room shackled to a chair bolted to the floor. Her first thought was to scream, her second thought was that she didn’t want to be that kind of hostage. Screaming seemed so cliché, besides screaming was probably pointless. A person who commits grand theft person is most likely not going to keep the package in an apartment with paper thin walls so the neighbours could hear everything.
She squirmed though, that was inevitable. The wiggling and shimmying didn’t do much, she had chains around both her ankles and wrists which were both looped through a ring also bolted to the floor. It seemed a little overkill for a 5’2, 110lbs girl… okay, 115lbs, but she had a big lunch. Nevertheless, the thought crossed her mind that her prison probably wasn’t intended solely for her, it was probably used before on much bigger and stronger captives. Though, she couldn’t quite understand why every link and every inch of the ring on the floor had some sort of inscription inscribed on them.
Ellie leaned in for a closer look, but just as she was able to make out some kind shape, the door crashed open, and strutting through was that pompous looking Brit who took her from that awkward and peculiar conversation with her boyfriend. Thinking back, that conversation may have had something to do with what was going on. This guy had impeccable timing, what with the conversation interruption and breaking Ellie’s concentration whilst investigating the shackles which bound her.
“Hello, luv,” he said in a sickly smooth English accent. Ellie hated that she thought he sounded really, really cool.
She refused to respond. The two locked gazes for a moment or two, maybe even three before the Englishman took a breath, sighed and knelt down to meet Ellie on the same level.
“It’s been a while, sweetheart. How’ve you been?” He asked. Ellie had no idea what the hell he was on about. She just raised an eyebrow.
“Hmm. This is indeed interesting, innit..,” he said in response. Clapping his hands on his knees, he stood back up and began examining her from a higher angle, as if it would reveal some new secret about his prisoner.
“No, you’re definitely the right girl. I think..,” he said half to himself, half to Ellie, and half to nobody. Yes, three halves. Deal with it.
Ellie however began to grow tired of his little game of one player Clue, and final said something.
“Who in the crap are you… Also, what in the crap do you want with me?” Covering all the important bases of crap.
“Me? Luv, I’m ashamed, and honoured that you had to ask. I’m Mephisto. You can call me Meph though.”
“Rather not, really. I’d really just rather you let me go,” she said in response.
“Well, I mean, what kind of kidnapper would I be if I just let me victim go when she asks politely?” He said. “To be fair, I do appreciate the politeness. I didn’t know you were a Canadian.”
“I’m not,” Ellie responded quickly. “But since you won’t let me go, how about you tell me what you want? I don’t have any money, so you’re out of luck on that one.”
“… Did you say aboot?”
“I think you did.”
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Chip was just an ordinary fella. In fact, there wasn’t anything special about him at all, or so he thought. It’s funny how life can change seemingly over lunch, and for Chip, when the smell of death began to emanate from his body, his life changed completely. After some convincing by his roommate, Mort, Chip reluctantly accepted that maybe, just maybe, he happened to be a necromancer – one who can raise and control the dead - which was a handy skill to have after his girlfriend was kidnapped by Mephisto, a former general of Hell’s army. The fact that the two events occurred on the same day must have been more than a coincidence. Chip teams up with his roommate, who also happens to be a voodoo witch doctor, and a djinn who runs a local shop to stop the demon and save Chip’s girl… who turns out to be the personification of Mother Earth. Suffice it to say, it was a complicated day.