Part 16: Journal of The Nameless One: Part 12Journal of The Nameless One: Part 12
The Mortuary (Music)
That familiar sensation of warmth pumping thickly into my cold veins was the first thing I felt as consciousness slowly trickled me. My joints creaked and cracked, my limbs ached, and countless spots along my flesh itched as the wounds knit shut. The final stages of my unnatural healing would no doubt leave more scars.
Then there was the chill of metal against my back, the rank stench of blood, flesh, and preserving fluid. There was the cold air of the room that kissed my now-warming skin.
Gods damn it.
"Hey, chief," a familiar voice piped up. Relief washed through me that Morte was still here. Relief, then memory, then anger.
"Morte, I told you to run. You could've been killed!" I croaked. I spat out the last vestiges of congealed blood.
Morte chuckled, "Hey, guess I'm a fighter after all. A fantastic fighter, really. I stood my ground, you know, there were thirty of those filthy thugs around me, and you were yelling something, trying to shoo me away. But no! 'I'll save you, chief! I never abandon a friend!' You should've seen it. I dove into the crowd and bit off their heads one by one, and..."
I put a hand up to stop him, feeling those itching spots across my body, "Ugh, what happened after I went down?"
"Oh, I ran like the Lady was after my ass. When I came back it looked like they were too pissed off about the guys we delivered to the Dusties to really loot you. They just stabbed you a bunch of times."
"That explains a few things," I grunted, still aching from the hundred or so wounds. I slid off the slab slowly.
"Yeah, but I've got some bad news, Chief. I snuck around a bit, and it looks like our old blood-eyed pal is gone. And frankly, I don't quite trust the other Dusties."
I blinked, "So we're locked in again? Oh that's just bleeding great."
"Good news is I scored us a couple of dates with a couple of those grey-skinned gals. Zombie Workers #11 and #91. I think they're sisters."
"We have so much in common-"
"Morte!" I hissed, "Can we just try to get out of here?"
We made another round about the floor, trying to pick up any tools to help with our escape. I sifted through logbooks, picked at a few odds and ends, sighing. A few charms were scattered about here and there, a bit of gold, but no keys or information of real importance. I knew I was trapped again.
Until I came across him.
The corpse looked much like any other, but his skin was fresher, his gait a little more determined and less awkward. The number "821" was carved into his forehead, and his lips had been stitched closed. The faint smell of formaldehyde emanated from the body, musk and pungent. And yet...
I walked up to the creature, "So... seen anything interesting going on?"
The zombie blinked in surprise, "Eh? Wut?"
I crossed my arms, "Why are you disguised as a corpse?"
The 'zombie's' eyes grew wide, and he tried to respond behind stitched lips; he had a peculiar half-frightened, half-angry expression plastered on his face. "Hoo YU? Wut yu wunt?"
Let's just say I had woken up in a bad mood today, and I wasn't going to take any cheek right now. Except maybe from Morte, "Why don't you tell me what you're doing here before I call the guards." I leveled a piercing gaze at him.
The zombie's expression crumbled. "Nuh-nuh-no! Dun't cull th' gards!" He looked frightened. "Muh-muh-me spy un Duhstees, say wut I see. Nuh-Nuthin' more."
I furrowed my eyebrows, and the muscle in my forehead twinged. Gods, did they try stabbing me through the skull too? "Spy? For who?"
The zombie fell into a frightened silence. He seemed unwilling to say anymore.
"C'mon. Who are you watching this place for?" I pressed.
"Hold on..." Morte sounded surprised. "This berk must be an Anarchist. Heh. Posing as a zombie's got to be a first for those addled sods."
"Anarchist? Are they another faction?"
Morte nodded, "Anarchists... they're a faction that wastes their time peeping on authority figures and looking for ways to tear down anything that stinks of order or control." Morte snorted. "The Anarchists think every berk across the Planes'll be free and happy to seek out their own 'truth' once the establishment is burned to the ground. They want to establish a new order -- no order at all."
I tried to work out the logic in my head, but found there was none, "That seems pretty... contradictory."
The zombie was watching us both fearfully as we talked. He was still silent... but something in his expression told me Morte's guess was right on the mark.
I turned to the zombie, "The Anarchists, huh? That who you're watching this place for?" He turned away, starting to glance around fearfully.
I gave him a reassuring smile. After all, I knew what it was like to have to hide from the Dustmen, "Don't worry. Your secret's safe with me. What have you seen the Dustmen do, anyway?"
The fellow visibly relaxed, "Nuthin'. They do nuthin'. Can't find nuthin'. Dead, dead, juhst dead people, Duhstees do nuthin'." Even bored to tears, his eyes narrowed in conviction. "Still I watch."
"I don't suppose you know Pharod?"
"Fuh-AROD?" The zombie frowned briefly in thought. "Me... heer he live in Hive somewhere." He shook his head. "Not know where." He frowned again. "Dushties vare-ee mad, thay not LIKE Fuh-arod."
The man certainly didn't have many friends. I needed to know more, though, if I was going to meet him, "Why don't the Dustmen like Pharod?"
"He'z a cullector. Bringz deaderz to Mortuaree, sellz 'em to Dustmen. Bringz LOT uf deaderz. Dushties not know where he getz deaderz. Think he'z puttin' berks in deadbook."
I raised an eyebrow. It was hard to parse his words through those stitched lips of his, "What?"
Morte was always happy to fill in the silence, "He's saying this Pharod berk has been selling a lot of deaders... corpses... to the Dustmen. Sounds like this Pharod's been selling so many deaders that the Dusties think he's been putting Hivers in the dead-book before their hour's up... y'know, killing people."
I considered that note I stumbled across my first hour here. Seemed like something truly odd was going on with the man. I couldn't wait to meet him. I sighed, "The guy sounds like a saint. What about Soego? Can you tell me anything about him?"
The Anarchist grunted, "Guide. He at Mortuary frunt door. Wut yu wunt wi' him?"
"What do you know about him?"
He shifted his weight and his lips narrowed, threatening to pull the stitches, "So-ehgo. Actz strange, not Duhstie, not Anarchizt, eyez changed..." he shrugged. "Likez ratz. Strange."
Rats? What? "Well, what do you know about Dhall?"
He shrugged, "Scribe. Old. Yellow."
I chuckled, "Well, that's all there is to him, I suppose." Something came to me then. Deionarra. She had mentioned portals that I might escape through. "Do you know a way out? The portals?"
The zombie nodded. "Yu wunt out, go tuh arch on firzzt fluur, nurthwezzt ruum... Yuh need fungur-bone, shape of crook..." He held up his index finger and bent it into a crook. "When yuh have key, guh to arch, jump ta sucret cryp and ken escape frum here. Secret escape route." He nodded eagerly. "Yuh can rest there."
"Ah, one problem, chief," Morte said quickly, "There's a memorial service going on right now on the first floor. Some high-up berk kicked it. There might be some guests coming in and we'd get spotted easily."
"I could always lie my way past them."
Morte looked me up and down, "Yeah, but you hardly look dressed for the occasion. I mean, come on. The bone sash? The demonhide kilt? That's so last century."
I paused, turning back to the zombie, "How did you get to look like that?"
He grinned as far as he could, lips parting slightly to reveal just a bit of yellowed teeth, "Me gud at duh-guise. Me ulso gut scars. Me wuhr lots of embalming fluid. Me make GUD zumbie." The Anarchist giggled through stitched lips, then tapped his head. "Duhstees stuh-pud."
Morte rolled his eyes, "Yeah, they're the stupid ones all right."
The sarcasm was evidently lost on the zombie, who nodded eagerly. "Stuh-pud Duhstees. Me make GUD zumbie."
I winced, "Doesn't that hurt?"
He looked at my scars. "I ask yu same question. Me, it not hurt much." He pounded his chest with one fist. "Me TUFF."
I grinned, a horrible idea forming, "That disguise is pretty good. Can you disguise me as a zombie?"
He looked me up and down for a few moments, mumbling to himself, then nodded. "U-huh. Me need jar uf embalming flew-id." He pointed at the scars on my chest. "N' some needle and thread."
A little more rummaging amongst the shelves and I was able to come back with what he needed, as well as a handful of coins for myself.
"Here you go."
The zombie took the items from me and set to work. I tried to hold still. First came a set of the worker's robes, stinking of blood and formaldehyde.
"I can't believe you're going through with this," Morte shook his head in disbelief, "How barmy are you?"
I shrugged, "Pretty barmy, I suppose."
A mask of bleached leather covered my head, making it look skeletal and grotesque. A layer of embalming fluid was liberally applied to my body, then several of patches of my skin were stitched up to grant a bit of a patched-up look. Working from my feet upwards, the zombie threaded the needle through my scars, then finished off the disguise by stitching up my lips. I winced a bit at the needle and thread as they pierced the tender skin, but the zombie's fingers were deft and quick. I sucked the blood from the tiny wounds.
"Hey, can you make the stitches on the lips any tighter?" Morte piped up.
"Stuwh vit, Murte-"
The zombie held up his hand. "Curful! Talk pulls stitches out, ruin diz-gize. Zumbie no talk. Yoo got to talk? Talk slow, curful."
I tried again, slow, careful, "Mmph... mmm. I... understand."
The zombie frowned. "Diz-gize wun't last long... um-balming fluid dry up, stitchez fall out." He examined me again. "Prob-lee not last ousside Mortuaree. Uhnd no running! Yoo run, yoo ruin whole diz-gize."
I nodded, "Fanks."
I feel so pretty.