There’s not a hell of a lot to do on a Saturday in Ginsley. It’s a small farming town with too many TVs and not enough books. It was on one of these quiet (some might say idyllic, but I’d opt for “stifling”) Saturdays that I found the book. Aggressive boredom and my intense inquisitiveness have often been a lethal combination, but in this case I guess it was exactly the opposite.
For a little excitement I had recently been using the extra money I’d set aside from the market to bid on those abandoned storage lockers down in Teslo (Storage Wars was big back then), and on Saturdays I’d indulge myself by rifling through the leftovers of strangers’ lives. I found the book in one of those bins, hidden among other pieces of crap and buried beneath a stack of early 60’s Playboys. If we’re being honest, I probably never would have found the thing if it wasn’t for Teddi Smith’s assets. It looked exactly how you’d expect a forgotten occult guide would: thick deep red leather cover, musty as hell, and rotted away so bad you could hardly read most of it. From what I could tell it was a kind of potion cookbook, but only one recipe had withstood the abuse of time
well enough to still be legible. The original Corpse Reviver was a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand it did exactly what it advertised, “reanimates a dead object”, but it was a kind of Monkey Paw situation. Things would definitely be alive again, but they were nothing more than dead bodies moving – and real aggressive too. It took us awhile to notice—an aggressive frog ain’t too intimidating—but when our sweet old Pepper died and we finally got to make real use of the CR, the son of a bitch went straight for Tony’s throat. Lucky we always did our work in the barn and that axe was at hand or he would have gotten me too. Had to cleave his head right off.
I’ll spare you the boring details but a few weeks of tinkering with the recipe gave me Corpse Reviver II and Tony back, good as ever. Pepper, unfortunately, was a lost cause… I’ve never been too good with a needle and thread. We had a good run, Tony and I. Once that concoction was perfected we spent the next 15 years using it for the good of the farm. That whole time we didn’t spend one penny on buying new animals! That potion not only brought a dead old cow back to life, but once she was up and mooing she was able to milk and birth as good as ever.
We had a good run, Tony and I. Once that concoction was perfected we spent the next 15 years using it for the good of the farm. That whole time we didn’t spend one penny on buying new animals! That potion not only brought a dead old cow back to life, but once she was up and mooing she was able to milk and birth as good as ever.
Saturday was always my favourite day to play God. I revelled in the idea that we both used the sixth day to create life and Sundays to do shit-all, though to be fair from what I’ve seen God’s been doing shit-all since that first Saturday We had it good until Tony’s wife died and he started getting emotional and greedy all at once. One of those things is enough to mortally wound a man but the two together only ever ends in destruction. He hounded me for hours with those puppy dog eyes, extolling her virtues and going on about how God had given us this gift so we could bring her back. I was dead-set against the idea, knew we were puppeteering fate enough as it was, but I loved Tony and he wore me down. I’m not what you’d call a “people-person” but I had always had a soft
spot for Tony. I can’t count the number of nights he would sit and listen to my ramblings, or better yet just let the silence do the talking for the both of us, cross-legged like a schoolboy ready for his lesson though he wasn’t more than five years my junior. He was simple, but he was good company. My only company once Pepper was gone. Loyal as a hound he was the closest thing to family I had. So against my better instinct we brought the bitch back. Of course he had to explain to her how it was that one minute she was nothing, a swirling echo all at once infinite and empty singing the heartbeat of the universe, and the next she was lying awake on her dingy kitchen floor, covered in flies. Tony had never been all too
bright and before he brought his wife back I truly don’t think the idea of selling the recipe had ever occurred to him. In fact, I don’t think he ever even took the time to reflect on the ramifications its existence had on science, religion or the very fabric of life. She did though. When she looked at their modest farmhouse all she saw was the lifestyle he had robbed her of. Death, it seems, had not quite been to her liking, and she was pissed as hell that her short time amongst the living had been cruelly deprived of the luxury she thought she deserved. So Tony started hounding me again, this time for the recipe itself. He wanted to sell it. Talked about how much better the world would be if we handed it over to the real scientists. Her words, I’m sure. I’d never even heard Tony use the word science before. I wasn’t having any of it, and when I wouldn’t give it to him she murdered the poor bastard herself in her rage. I could hear the yelling from my spot on the porch but by the time I got over there it was too late. I told you those
cows came back healthy as ever, and she was strong enough after death and at sixty years to pitch a cast iron pot at his head like she was Nolan Ryan. Course she wasn’t strong enough to survive the fall down the stairs, tripping over her own feet in her excitement to get to me, I suppose. All that drama exhausted me. Once Tony was buried I couldn’t bring myself to keep bringing the animals back. Couldn’t even really be bothered to take care of them at all. I got rid of the recipe altogether. I had the ingredients memorized and could have made it again if I really wanted to, but it depressed me to see the physical evidence. I ‘d get to thinking about how I could have brought Tony back again and it just reminded me of how alone I really was. That’s not to say I’ve been unhappy; I’ve sated my appetite for excitement and in my old age have learned to be content with a bottle of Jack, a fire, and my own thoughts for company. And now I’m dying. By the time you read this I’ll be done.
But I don’t want to come back. I don’t regret anything, not even what happened to poor Tony really, and I’m as proud as anything to have accomplished more than any of the idiots in this town have even dreamed of. But I’m tired. I don’t want to be a puppet-master anymore and I’m ready for my puppet to be retired. Now you may be asking yourself why I’m telling you all of this if the potion ain’t even around anymore. You just think of me as some ornery old man to be entertained but you should know better.
I guess it’s that God complex coming back into play. I figure if I created life, same as him, I deserve to have my story told too. Same pride stopped me from destroying the recipe completely. I wouldn’t trouble yourself with finding it though – I sold it to a bartender out west. If there’s one thing my curiosity taught me it’s that it makes one hell of a hangover cure for the living.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julia Sehmer is a student at McGill University. Her interests include wine, horror movies, and Oxford commas. She is currently (and always) reevaluating her life decisions and hopes to make her debut in the real world soon.
Thank you to The Diamond for the use of their location.