The Reburialists - J. C. Nelson Page 0,1

Two nights ago I was a celebrated hero. Last night I was an honored guest, and by tomorrow morning I wouldn’t be able to smile at a waitress in the city without getting spit on.

Women talk.

And that is exactly why I preferred my day job, my night job, my going-to-get-me-killed job. I sprinted down the stairs, met the driver at the front door of the hotel, picked up my bag of equipment from the passenger seat, and called back in to headquarters on my phone. “Brynner Carson. Give me the details.”

“Now you’re in a rush? Sure you don’t want some more time to work things out?” The strangled gasp from the other end sounded like a man’s throat being crushed, but I knew better. I’d seen Dale in person enough times to know he was just taking a cigar puff through his tracheal tube.

“I don’t think couples counseling will help. I’m on my way.” I strapped on my Kevlar and titanium body armor while the driver careened down cobblestone streets. “Situation report?”

“Like I said: Corpse woke up a few hours ago. Took apart three guards and half a cargo crew.”

We continued downhill into the port, veering past cranes and loading trucks. “Near the water?”

“Better. On a boat.”

“Bullshit.” Even on my first day working for the Bureau of Special Investigations, even on my first assignment, I knew better than to think you’d find a meat-skin going for a swim, or even a stroll on the beach.

Dale waited so long I thought he might’ve dropped the call. “No. And that ain’t the freakiest part. It knows you.”

My hands froze, leaving one boot untied. Freakiest part in this particular conversation was a series of contests. Freaky that a three-week-old corpse had reanimated and gone on a rampage? A little. Well, not really. More like just about every day working for the BSI.

Freaky that one had done so on a boat? Completely. Contact with living water could drive the Re-Animus straight out of the shell. That scored an eight on the scale of batshit crazies, where one would be the homeless guy at the grocery store, and at about five we hit dead things. “How can you be sure?”

“This one’s talking.”

I yanked my boots tight and shook my head. “Bullshit.”

“And writing hieroglyphics in blood.”


Dale laughed, a rumbling cough that sounded like he’d need to tweeze a piece of his lung out of his breathing tube. “And if you believe the cargo guys who got away, this one’s asking for you by name.”

That killed the friendly banter deader than the corpse had been a few hours earlier. Because meat-skins, or the Re-Animus running them, never spoke. Though I wanted to sleep in the sun for a month, I couldn’t let this one get away.

“Happy hunting. Don’t get dead.” Dale clicked out.

I rode the rest of the way in silence, wondering where my life went wrong. Probably around eighteen, when I walked into a BSI field office, signed my name, and asked where the nearest dead thing was.

The car pulled to a stop and I got out, a walking armory of wood and religious symbols from damn near every religion on earth, including a few that sane folks didn’t practice anymore.

The police stepped out of my way. Sure, the cops might handle normal criminals, but they left the dead to us. Donuts didn’t have a habit of ripping your insides out and playing with them. As I passed, they made the sign of the cross, which was fantastic, assuming the meat-skin I was up against had been Christian. Not a bad guess, for Greece, where Orthodox Catholics made up the majority.

I tore the cordon out of my way and walked up the cargo ramp alone.

I hated cargo ships, and not just because they housed warrens of steel boxes with narrow pathways, perfect for a meat-skin to hide in. I hated them because I could get seasick just standing on a boat. Hell, I puked in a canoe at summer camp.

At least it let me tell a lie, that my stomach was roiling because of the waves, not because I was hunting something that killed six men less than an hour ago. Something that might well be hunting me in turn.

Closing my eyes for one moment, I listened, threading my way through a forest of sound to find the one that didn’t fit. Dale hadn’t lied. Beneath the undercurrent of traffic and the splash of waves, a voice like gravel and coffins echoed in the hull of