There’s not a hell of a lot to do on a Saturday in Ginsley. It’s a small farming town where people would rather shell out for cable than functional indoor plumbing. 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 coupled with intense inquisitiveness has proved lethal for many a man (just ask anyone who has stuck anything some place it most definitely did not belong), but in this case I guess it was exactly the opposite. For a little excitement I’d recently been using the extra money 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 abuses 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 the dead”, but it was a kind of Monkey Paw situation. Things would come alive alright, 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 again, 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.
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 days 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 damn it 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 that boy. 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 eight years my junior. He was simple, but he was good company. My only company once Pepper was gone. Loyal as a hound he was and 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 well-to-do 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. 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, hell I’d never even heard Tony use the word science before. Course I wasn’t having any of it, and when I wouldn’t give it to him she was furious as a Soviet bull.
I heard the yowling from my spot on the porch but by the time I got over there it was too damn late. I told you those cows came back healthy as ever, and that bitch was strong enough after death even at sixty years to pitch a cast iron pot at the poor bastard’s head like she was Nolan Ryan. Thankfully she wasn’t strong enough to survive the fall down the stairs, tripped over her own fat 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 I suppose, but it depressed the hell out of me to see the physical evidence. I‘d get to wondering about if I should have brought Tony back and it just reminded me of how alone I really was. That’s not to say I’m miserable; 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.
I’m damn near dying now, by the time you read this I’ll be done, and 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 hell 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 own puppet to be retired. Now you’re probably asking yourself why I’d bother telling all this if the potion ain’t even around anymore.
You just think I’m some delusional old coot 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 damned 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 Thank you to The Diamond for the use of their location.