|I wake up on a slab in what looks like the aftermath of a pretty
kinky dungeon scene. Resembles a weird morgue with a severe lack of
attention to hygiene. Feel like I have been run over by a herd of
big critters, beaten senseless, taken apart and put back together.
Can't remember a damn thing. Note to self: avoid those tequila shootouts.
Before I can even take stock of the damage, a bizarre floating
skull comes over and engages me in conversation, poking fun at my
predicament. Morte, it seems is either a disembodied skull trapped
here with me or the remnant of a bad mushroom. At least he seems
to be an informative hallucination, pointing out that my back hurts
because it is covered in tattoos. I don't even remember the tattoo
parlor. Conveniently, Morte can read. Must be a useful skill for
a skull. Unfortunately, that probably means he isn't a bad dream.
My back indicates that I used to have a journal and that I need
to talk to some guy named Pharod. I should have gone for the rose
on the ankle, I think.
Nice advice that my back has, I seem to have been relieved of my
possessions - journal and clothes included. To add to the fun, I
am locked in a room with a bunch of mindless zombie slave labor,
no weapons, and no memories. Yay. Should be a fun day…
Morte tells me that killing the corpses should net me a key to
one of the doors and that there may be a scalpel I can use laying
around the room. Note that Morte the Brave has not attacked any
of these key holding zombies himself. Next time I wake up in a scene
from Brazil, I want a sidekick with a little more meat on him and
a whole lot more weapons. Nice stuff going on here - corpses without
skulls, skulls without corpses, embalming fluid, bloody slabs. Some
days, a near corpse should just go back to the slab and sleep in.
Roaming about the room, I manage to come up with the scalpel and
a couple of rolls of bandages. Hopefully, I won't need 'em, but
given my current condition, I am not taking any chances. Common
sense says that I should take the zombies on one at a time, so I
march right up to the first one and search him for a key. No key,
but I kill him for the bandage he has and the experience of killing
someone who is already dead. Start to wonder if I missed a dosage
earlier in the week I can't remember.
Nice cataloging system, too. Zombies are marked up with identifying
numbers - right on whatever is left of their bodies. Check my bod
- no numbers that I can see. Find a few big ass scars. Decide I
don't need to know my catalog number that badly. Leave Zombie #569
and head over to ol' #825. Bump him off and snatch his bandage as
well. Boy, and they say nothing good comes of killing…
Glancing around, I discover the last zombie in the room, #782,
gripping a key in his mouldering paw. Don't you just hate it when
what you are looking for is in the last zombie you kill? Oozing
with skill at re-killing the dead, armed with the equivalent of
a sharpened metal toothpick and some dirty bandages, Morte and I
head for the doors. Three in the room, one that opens, guess which
one I check last? A pattern is developing here, and it isn't an
Brimming with optimism, we step (well, I step - Morte kinda flows)
through the threshold. Closing my eyes briefly, I imagine a happy
scene of half naked babes leaping from cakes, balloons, presents
and cheap wine. Morte, ever the cheer-bringer, chooses this moment
to inform me that there is a cult of corpse collectors call Dustmen
who want to bump me off and ship me into zombie-hood. Yikes!
He also recommends that I quit killing zombies. I bite back snide
remark about how it was okey dokey when he needed something. I start
to seriously reconsider our alliance when he implies that the female
zombies in particular should be left intact. If skulls had eyebrows,
his would be waggling lasciviously. Ewwwww…
Since my memories do not seem to be raging back and my old journal
doesn't seem to be laying about anywhere for the taking, I decide
to start a new one. Wouldn't want to forget one precious moment
of this adventure, no-siree-bob. Besides, Morte has some great lines
that I might want to steal - NOT!
There are a few more zombies hanging around in this room (#594,
626, 965), but they are not nearly as forthcoming since I am now
constrained from brandishing my mighty scalpel in a threatening
manner. Decide that a zombie is not a compelling career track after
watching #965 walk round and round in a triangle pattern for a while.
It seems that if a zombie is given a task and no one gives it another
one, it just keeps on and on in the same useless pattern. Zombies
are obviously the middle management of the morgue.
Picking up on the triangle thing, Morte launches into a diatribe
on "The Rule of Three" which seems to dictate that stuff
will happen in threes. He does not seem convinced, but I am gonna
file the info away anyhow. Eventually get bored watching zombie
turn left. Note to self: car races are interesting because of the
beer. Move on to next room.
Now, this looks promising - lurching zombies and a tubercular scribe.
Trying to ignore the wheezing in the middle of the room (difficult
since the old guy is plopped down in front of an enormous book),
I decide to explore (OK, troll for goodies) before exposing myself
to disease. Manage to take a bandage off of one of the zombies,
a little cash and some nifty Fist Irons from one of the tables and
a Receiving Room Log Book (missing a page - probably the good parts).
I remark to Morte that my zombie conversation skills seem to be
improving and approach another zombie, ready to chat. Just my luck
that he seems to have his mouth stuffed with a note and stitched
up tight. Wonder briefly if I have found Jimmy Hoffa. Extract note
and read touching last wishes. Fold note up to stuff it in my pocket,
discover that I don't have a pocket. Look at folded note realize
that I have created one of those little paper pouches. Thrilled
that I seem to have a skill revered by 12 year old girls, I unfold
the note to discover a triangle shaped earring. Check navel. Relieved
to find no piercing, I stick the earring in my lobe for safe keeping.
Life just keeps getting better…
Having run out of zombies to interrogate, I approach the decrepit
gentleman wheezing in the middle of the room. Ever polite, I ask
how he is doing. Typically, he mistakes my good manners for sincerity
and starts to tell me. All in all, it is a pretty illuminating conversation.
Evidently, I am not only Nameless, I am Restless. I arrived in a
corpse cart owned by my buddy Pharod (can't wait to meet him) and
have spent most of my life in this little piece of heaven. Swell.
Amidst long ramblings about Dustmen philosophy which I dutifully
record, Dhall (yep, phlegm has a name) tosses out an interesting
tidbit about some chick on a slab in the building. Seems that she
came here with me at some point. I ponder this, digging for some
memory. It is gonna be really bad if I have forgotten something
like a girlfriend. It is gonna be worse if I have forgotten a wife.
We don't even want to talk about the possibility of having forgotten
both. Resolve to have Morte check for tattoos of women's names.
Old guy tells me that there is always a chance that I can sweet
talk one of his compatriots into just opening the door for me. Uh
huh. He promises that he won't tell anyone that I am not actually
dead since that would really piss off the Dustmen. Oozing gratitude,
I take my leave before contracting whatever is taking Dhall over
the threshold into the Long Night.
Now having a mission to find my missing babe of unknown relation,
I move to the next room and discover…. (drumroll) A zombie! What
a surprise. This one, however seems to be clutching a stack of books
with an out of place page. Quickly putting two and two together,
I deduce that this may be the missing one from the Receiving Log
I snatched earlier. So much for that theory that near death affects
intelligence. Discover that logs of corpses can be fascinating reading
and are highly recommended for those suffering insomnia. Stuff page
in pack and move on.
Next room seems to look a lot like the other preparation rooms,
with the exception of the fact that this one seems to have a woman
in it. Thrilled, I straighten my loin rag, run my finger through
my hair (disposing of those disconcerting little clumps that come
out) and hope the stitching isn't too obvious. Approaching with
my best patter, she completely ignores me. Great! First living chick
I meet in the dungeon and she is deaf with demon blood and talons
for hands. (Information gleaned from Morte, that little ray of sunshine).
I am sure Mom would love her - if I could remember Mom.
After a very brief conversation, I have my first quest since rising
from the slab. All I have to do is fetch a little embalming fluid
and a needle and thread. Wheee…. Nothing like starting at the top.
Wonder where you would get embalming fluid in a mortuary?
Since I am now a man with a mission, I embark on a thorough search
of the room and its inhabitants. I must say, these zombies are the
giving sort. The first one I approach donates the thread and needle
from his own skull to the quest, revealing that some zombies have
more than one number assigned to them, depending on whether you
look on the decomposing skin or directly on the skull. Decide to
postpone lunch until this image disappears. I do seem to be doing
well on the scavenger hunt, though.
Notice that the second zombie seems to be even more unstable than
most of the lurching undead up until now. Being the helpful sort,
I prop him up a bit, slip and rip off his arm. Not the best first
impression, but I take the arm, pack it in ice and stuff it in my
pack, just in case. Doubt that I can pass it off for embalming fluid,
so continue the search.
Moving into the next room, I am starting to despair of ever having
a scintillating conversation again. Morte looks as offended as a
denuded cranium can. Resigned, I approach the next zombie and lo
and behold, it speaks! Not a zombie at all! He's a whiner with a
serious speech impediment (due to that mouth stitching and decay).
After a few minutes of threatening and cajoling, he fesses up that
he is a member of a faction called the Anarchists who believe that
all factions should be eradicated and that he has mutilated himself
as a disguise. Decide not to alienate new buddy with the stupidity
and paradox of his deeply held beliefs. Morte looks disgusted.
Non-zombie offers to disguise me as well for some thread and embalming
fluid. Must be really hot items in the mortuary. But, hey! Quest
number two. Things are really looking up now. Nameless Guy - Gofer
to the Creepy! Then he tells me that he can provide me with exit
info in exchange for a key from the demon-babe in the other room.
I inform him that her name is Ei-Vene and that continuing to insult
people will just get him sent to zombie diversity training for a
Returning to Ei-Vene, I decide to hang around and watch for a while.
After a bit, a memory starts returning. I am stitching some stuff
into the chest cavity of a corpse numbered 42. Hmmmm….we do a little
mutual arm crossing in the memory, then I am back in the horrible
present (not that the past is looking like a real treat). Trying
a new approach, I ask nicely for the key and am rewarded for my
efforts. Miss Manners would be proud.
Bypassing the Anarchist for now, I decide that I really need to
repay the nice corpse preparer for her kindness and find some embalming
fluid. Heading south, we come to another corpse preparation room.
Since they are all starting to run together, I put together a little
map of our travels and name this room the Southeast Preparation
Room. Morte is stunned into silence by my originality. Snooping
about, we find an abundance of riches - not one, but two jars of
embalming fluid. Hang on kiddies, Daddy's bringing Christmas home!
Being thorough and hoping for more thread, we also discover that
bashing locked stuff causes it to disgorge goodies like jewelry
and bandages. Cool!
Back to Ei-Vene, holding her quest goo like champagne on a tray,
she takes it from us and goes back to work without a word. A bit
miffed, we hang around waiting for a suitable display of gratitude
for our efforts as she uses our hard earned swag to fix up a newly
arrived corpse. Also, since I am basically the near-dead and Morte
is dead, we aren't really in much of a hurry.
Once Ei-Vene has finished up with the zombie-du-jour, she turns
a critical eye to me. Flattered, I strike a suitably manly pose.
She obviously thinks I am a zombie and takes her work seriously,
making nasty comments about the job that was done on me. Trying
not to be too insulted and grateful I haven't encountered a mirror,
I let the scene play out. Oddly enough, she grabs me. Encouraged,
I stand frozen in anticipation.
Needless to say, I am a bit startled and very nervous when she
reaches for her needle and thread. After stroking one of my scars,
she pokes me through with a needle and starts stitching. Not exactly
the stuff of a Penthouse letter. (I am a zombie in a small mid-western
morgue. One day a couple of really hot coroner twins showed up to
apply for a job…)
In for a pound at this point, I decide to stand still, play zombie
and let her finish. Morte just hangs there, gaping at the scene.
She stitches along and covers me with embalming fluid. Morte makes
gagging noises. I consider pointing out he doesn't have a throat.
While normally I would agree with him and find this pretty gross,
when she is finished, I feel a bit better about things. I really
think I am getting the hang of this mortuary experience…
Stay tuned, boy and girls! Next installment - "Nameless
Guy and Skull Mount Stairs in Search of Fame, Fortune and a Piece