(Continuing from last week’s The Work.)
“Earl Grey,” she said, handing the tea cup to the dead man in her living room.
He took it, sloshing tea over the side, but didn’t drink, just sat staring into the bottom of his cup as though it held all the answers to the universe.
Eva slipped into the chair across from her visitor, studying him. The dim light of her living room blunted his pallor, made him look a little more alive. Well, aside from the autopsy scar and the milky eyes….
A spirit inhabiting a body after physical death. Vivens mortua was the Latin name. The living dead.
There were stories of them in every culture. Legend often saw them as just another kind of parasite, tangling them up with tales of vampires and zombies. In other stories, they were mischievous creatures back to wreak havoc on the living. In still others, they were considered ill omens, predicting death or great loss for whomever saw them.
But they weren’t flesh eaters. They didn’t wear red silk lined capes or dine on blood. And if they predicted ill omens, Eva had never heard of any coming to fruition.
Of course, she’d never seen one of the living dead either. Though she had heard stories.
Admittedly, they were little more than myths handed down through the generations. People getting back into their bodies and going about their business like nothing had ever happened. They were some of the most difficult to move on, convinced as they were that nothing had changed. Sometimes, it wasn’t until their bodies began rotting around them that they accepted their own deaths.
But no story had ever depicted the living dead as so….
The man fumbled his tea cup again, fingers flailing as they tried to right it.
Uncoordinated, out of sync.
This man…he fit together wrong. Like someone had taken slightly mismatched puzzles pieces and mashed them together with a hammer and glue. His stunted, unsure walk. The way he held his body. Not to mention the silver-grey mist that roiled from his form every so often, curling and dissipating like smoke.
A thought came to her. “Is this….your body?”
He looked up. “No.” His voice was low, raspy, decaying vocal cords struggling to produce sound. “It’s the body of the man who stole mine.”
A little short this week. I just started a graduate program and lost some of my creativity in the mishegoss of reading and homework.