Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dead Man Stew 1

Hey.  Here is a new story, or the start of one.  Dead Man Stew is a tentative title, I need to think of something more clever than that.  This is the third story to feature Noir Bedarte, Necromancer with Heart of Gold.  In the first story, Noir did what he does, collecting bad people and helping out the deceased.  In the second, its Christmas Eve and Noir gets dragged (literally) into dealing with a house haunted by a hive of poltergeists. 

Here, Noir and his dead buddy Bert get stuck.  Noir helps out a old friend, but will ghosts from the past throw off his plans?

Anyway, comments welcomed.  This is a rough draft, which I have outlined to be seven parts.  If you enjoy it, let me know.  If you don't, let me know.  Either way, I learn from it.  Enjoy!

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Bert shook his head in the negative.  "Nope.  She's dead, Jim."

"Great.  At least we are near Newport."  Noir replied.

"Depends on your definition of 'near', boss."  Bert slammed the hood to the old black cadillac closed.

"You're undead, Bert, you don't get to complain."

"Sadly, you think the living would be willing to share that little bit of providence with us dead folk.  Still, going to take a while."

Noir shouldered a backpack.  "I used to backpack by myself before we met.  It'll be fine."

"That's pretty optimistic.  That optimism gonna pay for food or gas when we get there?  Because I know we don't have enough for either."

"Hey Bert, it could be worse."

Then it started to rain on them.

"Couldn't get worse, eh Necromancer?"

Bert and Noir spent the next hour walking southward in the rain.  Noir covered himself up.  Bert, still being of the dead variety, ignored it.  It was slow going, walking down along the coastal highway.

"You use to stomp around here?"  Bert asked him.

"Two or three years ago I traveled through here, more or less.  Aha!  Its still here!"  Noir pointed off to a old Victorian house overlooking the bay.  The faded grey siding looked cracked and aged.  Trees grew around it.  They were somewhat overgrown.  The place looked like it had been a bit behind on some of its maintenence.  But in the cold Newport rain, it looked like salvation.

"What's still here?  That ratty old house?"

"Not a house!"  Noir moved straight for the building, remembering the place from the last time he'd been in this part of Oregon.  "Its called the Sleepy Bear Inn.  The owner owes me a favor or two."

"Favors for what exactly?  You turn some dead dog into a zombie for him?"  Bert scratched his chin.  Noir could feel part of the artificial life circuit he'd put in Bert do that bit of mimicry.  Noir knew that Bert couldn't feel the need to scratch random itches anymore.  But his subconscious kept up the act, trying to live while he could.  "Or did you perform one of your other tricks for 'em?"

"She."  Noir quickly ran onto the front porch of the Inn.  He dive under for the cover.  Bert followed.

The porch's view of the bay had become obscured by the overgrown trees around it.  Noir nonetheless took in a deep breath.  He remembered how he'd seen her boat that day.  How he ran down, trying to get to the drowned bodies before first responders could beat him to it.

"Vickie drowned nearby.  Someone forced her under the saltwater.  I found him."

"By him, you mean sold the guy to your Dark Man?"  Bert asked.

Noir didn't answer.  Instead, he opened the front door of the Inn.  It creaked.  A bell jingled as he walked through it.

A woman's voice called out.  Noir, soaking wet, smirked at Bert.  "Hello?  Noir is that you I feel?"

A pale, slim woman greeted them.  Noir blinked at the sight of her.  Vickie's green dyed hair had changed very little, but her body didn't look like how he'd left it.  She nodded a head at him, her green flower dress cut low.  Bert whistled.

Noir gave him a glare.

Vickie smiled at Noir.

"Hi Vickie." Noir began.  He reached out with his senses.  Yes, it still was her.  But what happened?  What did she look so different?

"You noticed the changes then?"  She asked.

"You... wow."  Noir shook his head.  "Last I saw you, I mean-"

"I was a pear-shaped hippie girl with hawk for a nose."  Vickie snorted.  "And the glasses too.  Ugh.  I don't need those anymore.  Thanks to you, I mean."

"Right."  Noir didn't believe it.  It was indeed Vickie, the same essence.  He had no reference for this.  Undead kept the same shape as they died.  They couldn't grow or change.  At least, as far as he'd been taught.  His curiosity peaked.  Could this unlife he gave others evolve and grow on its own?  could it change them?  The possibilities flooded his thoughts.

"Looks good to me, lady."  Bert patted Noir at the back.  "If that's one of the perks, Noir sure didn't tell me about it."

Vickie's eyes widened.  "Oh.  So you are traveling with the dead now, Noir?"

"More or less."

Vickie waved them over to a counter.  "What can I do for the man who made me into a beautiful corpse?"

Noir gulped.  Bert spoke for him.

"We need dry rooms I think, or at least gas money."

"Yeah... we kinda struck it dry outside of here."  Noir added.  Something inside Vickie's essence shocked him.  It felt like a sort of vitality he hadn't felt before.  Underneath.

Vickie shook her head.  "Sorry guys... I have a room to spare, but as for money..."

She waved her hands around at the derelict Inn around them.  "I've got this whole place to run, and its going downhill.  I barely have enough money for the meals I promise my customers.  Its hard for a dead girl like me to break even."

Noir felt part of him warm to those words.  He fought them down.  He remembered Elle.  He couldn't let her down, even if it felt right.  Instead, he had an idea.

"Ok, Vickie, how about I offer my help then?"

"Help?"  Vickie tilted her head.  Her almost perfect face wrinkled into a smile.  "How would a necromancer on staff help me?"

"Necrokinetic," Noir corrected.

"Necrokinetic," Vickie repeated.

"Let me show you."

"This, I want to see."  Bert shook his head in disbelief.  "I want to see how you smoking a joint and whining about dead people is going to help us here."

Noir moved quick, taking one tray from the oven.  He checked the rice and beans on the pot.  "Good, almost done.  You get those all fried over there?"

Bert stared down at the mess he'd made of the small assignment Noir gave him.  "I ain't a cook."

Noir rolled his eyes.  "Its pretty easy."

"Says you.  Where the heck you learn to cook- what did you call it?"

"Bacalao a la Vizcaina?  My father taught me."  Noir moved deftly, finishing a half dozen dishes as he went.  "Codfish Stew, Bert.  Good for you."

"Right.  You know I don't eat, right?"

Noir laughed.  "Dead people.  You can still taste, right?"

"Riiight.  Your dad was a chef then?"

Noir kept working.  He frowned at the question.

"Noir?  You hear me?"


"What?" Bert blinked.

"Aita was a Doctor.  He owned a herd of a dozen sheep and few dozen ugly acres to keep them on.  I was in charge of the sheep, and most of the time, also in charge of the kitchen."

Bert slopped some of the things in his bowl into the pot.  Noir checked, adding some onions before moving on.  "What about your mom then, Noir?  You get to spend time in the kitchen with-"

Noir shrugged.  "Never saw her most of the time.  She was working up until the divorse.  One day they argued, I couldn't follow all of it... then I started to have to take care of everything.  He showed me how to cook, how to take care of sheep, and he made sure I didn't fall out of line during all of it."


"Don't- It isn't your problem.  My parents separated because of... I can't really explain it right.  Aita enjoyed being a Doctor, and my Mother didn't feel like being his whipping mule by the time I could walk.  And I... well, I saw horrible dead things.  They ignored me, their fighting just got worse and worse.

"But then she left.  Aita just would work late every day.  I had to get everything done by then or else he'd beat the shit outta me.  But hey, they left me alone.  I learned to talk with the ghosts that lived there...  Elle and I..."  Noir's voiced trailed off.  "Never mind."

"Never mind what?"  Bert looked at him.  "Elle who?"

"Don't you worry about it Bert.  No one important."

Bert took a tray of bowls filled with Codfish stew.  "Aita, that Puerto Rican?"

Noir sighed.  "No, it isn't."

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