Summary: After an alchemy experiment gone wrong, a boy and his pet-god end up in twenty-first century Europe. Length: ~2,600 words.
Thump. Morgue leans back in his grandmother’s rocking chair and watches the world spin. It has not stopped since Lugnor hit him with a spade. “A test of mortality,” Lugnor said, “if you can get hurt, perhaps, so can I.”
Thump-thump. Dust motes circle above Morgue’s head like millions of little diamonds which glitter at odd angles then disappear. When he makes a grab for them, his hand comes back with nothing. Thump-thump-thump. The sound of Lugnor stamping up and down the stairs is beginning to grate on Morgue’s nerves. Breathing in deep and closing his eyes, Morgue tries to remember a time when Lugnor did not irk him like this.
At the beginning of the last century, Lugnor’s visits to the mortuary were the highlight of Morgue’s second life. Living as a revenant had taken some getting used to: the voicelessness, the unbeating heart, the whispers in his head that used to keep him up at night, the not-being-alive yet somehow alive enough to disqualify him from claiming afterdeath benefits. Aside from the goodly mortician, who had signed the adoption papers, Lugnor was the only bright thing in Morgue’s deathless life. He can still remember, even though it makes him cringe now, how embarrassingly smitten with Lugnor he was.
Caw hurls the 143rd corpse onto the platform, his face contorting in disgust. His hands are all slippery, reeking of human stench. He cannot, for the love of his future, understand why he’s picked to intern for a lowly Mortician when, taking Caw’s rank into account, he could have chosen any prestigious job. Instead here he is, hauling corpses after corpses onto the Body Dock, before the waves manage to wash them up on Bone Beach and scare the sunlight out of the tourists.
Where do these dead humans come from anyway?
It isn’t until he takes off his hat and calls it a day (night, whatever) that he notices a barrel bobbing in the middle of the black ocean. The Mortician never told him about floating barrels, and for the three months Caw had been labouring his haughty arse, a barrel is the last thing he expects to see.
The moment Liam falls into Neverearth, the Mirths take him in. Berndt Mirth, a brother only in title, tells him that his attempts to return to his past life is more trouble than they are worth. And he would be lying to say he hasn’t once thought the same, back in Dolemrok, when he had been upset and alone with a dying mother, three siblings and an estate to look over. He had been barely of age when father abandoned him to serve the country. He couldn’t understand it then.