Meanwhile, In New York...

Meanwhile, In New York:

He wished the men and the revenant would leave. He did not like being watched while he worked. He did not like it at all. But they did not leave and they would not. So he had begun the procedure under their watchful eyes. He had sawed off two of the limbs…

“Why are you doing that?” the revenant had asked him. He had shrugged.

“Because it has to be done.”


The man shrugged again. “At least two have to go. That’s the rule.”

“You can’t leave him whole?”

The man shook his head. No. He didn’t answer, though. He was tired from the process of sawing off the leg. He looked up, after a while, wiping sweat and flecks of blood off of his forehead. “It would be better with three, or even four. And the head. But I suppose you want the head to stay.”

“Would it be him without it?”

“Hard to say.”

Silence. He decided that he would saw off a third limb and did so. That took a while, too. It had to be done manually, that was what the Lieutenant had always impressed on him. Whatever the process was, however, it worked, however the souls were called back into the body, fusing the body together, causing it to reanimate but be more docile, however that worked, it could not be done if the disintegration of the body was done by machine or with lasers or mechanical saws. It all had to be done manually, no power involved.

It was tough. But he was strong and he got the third limb off, the other leg. He left the arm on, the left arm. It was tricky replacing left arms and he tried not to do so anymore. Left hands were always evil. Left hands were where evil resided.

He looked up at the small box, the metal case with its gold lining. He wondered again where she had gone. He wondered if the left hand would win. He regretted caving in and saying that he would use that hand. But the money. The money had been so much! And then he hadn’t gotten any of it because before he was sure she was trained she’d left.

And she’d been so beautiful, too. He could almost, then, see the appeal when he’d created that one. She had come out perfectly. And then she’d run off. Too perfect, he thought. And that was the end of the reverie because it was on to the other part of the tasks. It was on to sprinkling the dust on the corpse, which lay dismantled on the table in front of him, the stumps of legs dribbling blood, the left hand looking as though it should be holding something. The eyes closed and the face peaceful in its repose. He took the green powder from a jar, grabbing a handful. Unlike some practitioners, he did not just waft it over. He carefully sprinkled it down over the centerline of the body, and then brushed it off to either side, rubbing it into the naked body on the table.

Then the yellow powder, with which he was equally careful. The body in the right light would glitter a little, until the powder sunk in.

He did not know, either, what the powder did. The lieutenant had impressed on him the importance of the powders, of which he had a large stock left to him by the Lieutenant (at least five large barrelsful) and he was not imaginative enough to wonder what he would do when it ran out. He had not even used the first barrel so far despite a thriving practice.

The salve was next, rubbed in carefully into every part of the skin until the body looked coated in oil, gleaming and slick in the light of the basement. He washed his hands so they were not slippery and walked back. He took a brighter light and perched it over the table, above the body’s forehead. He took a small scalpel.

“What are you doing?” the revenant asked. He jumped. It had been quiet for nearly an hour, the length of time he’d been doing the powder and the salve.

“Taking out the chip,” he said.

“Won’t that cause problems?”

“Got to be done.”


“Because I always do it.”

“But why?

“Because that’s the way it’s done.”

“It will keep him from sharing.”


“That’s not good. His daughter will figure it out right away.”

“I do things the way they’re supposed to be done.”

“Will he reanimate with the chip still in?”

“I don’t know.”

“What? How can you not know?”

The man was sitting on a stool, hands dry and cracked from so many washings and so much blood and tired from the cutting. He was not arguing and was not offended by the revenant’s questioning. He was merely tired. His eyes flicked over to the half-finished order from the night before. This would be several nights and days in a row without rest, he realized. I should call and postpone that order. He’d never done that. But he didn’t want to make mistakes.

“I don’t know,” he said now, to the revenant.

“But this is what you do.


The revenant stalked around and fumed. He heard its breath hissing in and out through its lips. He saw its eyes flaring, the torn-apart eyelids that were one mark of a revenant, because when they opened their eyes into their new horrid half-life the eyes were never cut open gently or unsewn – the revenants simply ripped the threads and sometimes their eyelids, so that all revenants had a tattered-looking face.

The revenant looked at one of the men. “Get me Supervisor,” he said.

The man went to the screen in the basement and waved a hand. It flickered on and the man furrowed his brow. Images and numbers flickered on the screen and then there was a woman’s face on the screen. It was Ms. Hold – one of the computer-generated proxies that people could select when they did not wish to be bothered. Ms. Hold informed them in the generic voice she had that Supervisor did not wish to be disturbed. As she did that, one corner flickered with an image of the person the man assumed to be Supervisor, and underneath the image the word “DOING THINGS” appeared in the status bar.

“Override,” the man said into the screen. Ms. Hold’s CGI features were implacable. The man looked back at the revenant, who could not operate the screen himself, of course, because there were no electrical impulses flowing in his body between his nerves. Zombies could not share or use screens because they had no chips. Revenants could not use screens or share because they did not move or think or act using nervous impulses conducted via electrical means; their bodies did not produce electricity, the man knew from the classes the Lieutenant had given him, and the electric currents in the body, combined with the chip, allow access to Sharing and screens.

How do they move and act?” the man had asked the Lieutenant, as they’d been sitting in a trench underneath a sky cut by periodic bursts of gamma explosions and hot with ray gun beams. What makes them go?”

“Spite and fear,” the Lieutenant had told him. Spite keeps them moving, to spite the living who created them, and fear of stopping moving. Spite and fear are powerful motivators.

Now, the revenant in his basement, powered by spite and fear instead of electricity, shoved next to the man and said a word. Ms. Hold did not react. The revenant elbowed the man and the man repeated the word. Ms. Hold’s eyes popped open.

“Interrupting,” she said, and a new man appeared on the screen. He was sitting in a leather chair, looking off to his right, and sipping from a coffee mug that glowed slightly red. He looked at them, annoyance and surprise on his face.

“Why are you bothering me?” the Supervisor said. The revenant explained the problem.

“Put him on,” the Supervisor said, and the revenant grabbed the man’s shoulder and pulled him, a move that was unnecessary because the man was already leaving behind the body and coming to the screen. He wanted this done. He wanted this job over, to finish his new job, and then to sleep for a while.

The Supervisor eyed him up and down. “You don’t look like much,” the Supervisor said. The man did not react. He knew it was true. “Still,” the Supervisor said, “You’re supposed to be the best and know what you’re doing. What do you recommend?”

The man’s opinion was almost never asked. For example, nobody had ever asked him about the left hand on the last one he’d made. They’d just told him.

“I always remove the chip,” he said. “I always do.”

The Supervisor considered. He looked in his screen so that he was looking at the revenant. “He’s the expert,” the Supervisor said. “He may come across as a moron, but he knows what he’s doing. Do what he says.”

“Yes, Supervisor. I apologize for bothering you.” The Revenant saluted.

The Supervisor gave a magnaminous wave. He was wearing the same kind of polo shirt the others were. Behind him was a large symbol or logo that matched the logo on the polo shirts, and the man could see it clearly in its enlarged form: A white-metal gate with a bar across it. “You did the right thing. It was a big question. Rather have you ask than screw it up. Good work. Now, is there anything else?”

The Revenant said no. The man, though, spoke up: “There is something else.”

The Supervisor looked surprised, again, and said “So you can think. Well, what is it? What else?”

“I need limbs,” the man said. “The only limbs I have are women’s limbs. Do you want me to attach those?”

“No. No, no, no,” the Supervisor said, his voice trailing off as he thought. “Already bad enough this thing won’t share. Can’t have it going around with breasts and shapely ankles.”

The man was going to clarify that he was not doing the torso on this one, but the Supervisor interrupted him. “You’ve got no men’s limbs at all?”

The man shook his head.

“What do you need?”

“Two legs and a right arm.”

The Supervisor considered. “Awfully hard to get that on short notice without drawing attention to things.”

“I don’t want police attention.”
The Supervisor laughed. “They haven’t told you?” The man simply stood there. He couldn’t say if they’d told him something unless he knew what the thing was he was or was not told. So he didn’t answer. The Sueprvisor did not clarify. Instead, he said “Well, I suppose they wouldn’t. You don’t need to know. And the other two groups might find out and send their own guys. Might even dress them up as cops. I forget whose month it is to do that.” He thought again, then took a sip of his Red Drink, and then said “Well, nothing we can do about it. Use theirs,” he said, and pointed at the men behind him. The screen clicked off and the Revenant turned and shot two of the men standing there, dropping them to the ground swiftly and silently.

To the third henchmen, he said “Start cutting” and pointed to the two dead men.

The man went back to the table and began cutting out the chip.

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