A Necrotic Christmas

By: David Ihnen

NOTEA Christmas exchange story for Phil Guesz
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This story is Copyright by David Ihnen. Please do not distribute without permission.

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I sat on the couch, finishing an array of runes that covered most of two sketchbook pages. I was enjoying the delight of my son with his new MP3 player. Even at fifteen, he sat by the tree surrounded by the shrapnel of wrapping paper and packaging. Tree lights flashed, causing myriad decorations to sparkle. It was christmas again, I thought. But this time it was time to remember.

"Chris." I said softly, tilting my lapine head peering at him out of one eye. The motion came naturally now - having such a wide field of view had advantages, but I never felt like I could see anything head on clearly. He smiled up at me.

"Thanks dad, its awesome!" The palm-sized unit was covered with a screen he could manipulate with his fingertips. The headphone dangling down his front was making a tinny sound I could recognize as They say its your birthday by The Beatles. I had chosen and loaded the song before wrapping it for the occaison. Not his generation, but I couldn't resist.

"Happy birthday, I'm glad you like it." I told him. "You're fifteen now. That's old enough to know."

He scrambled up to sit beside me on the couch. "You're going to tell me?" he exclaimed.

I looked at him seriously. "This is going to hurt - both me and you. But you need to know where... what we came from."

His eyes flickered to my drawing and his eyes widened. You don't grow up an active necromancer's son without being able to recognize certain things - like the pattern of your life energy drawn in excruciating detail.

As he watched, I completed the runes with a few small marks. I pulled an ant from the farm on the end table with a chopstick. I spoke to him seriously, doing my best to show him both eyes.

"This must go all the way through to completion. This will hurt. Are you sure you want to do this?"

He had told me often of his desire to know. I had done my best to explain why I could not tell him. But I had promised him when he was old enough... and he was now. I had promised.

He nodded. "Yes"

I crushed the ant against the paper in a small clearing in the midst of the mess of runes. I almost instantly felt the death as a tickle behind my ears. The sparkle of life energy puffed outwards in the field of the pattern. The filter chose the memory energy, and the collector pulled it into the paper. With a ripple the drawing took on life, throbbing in sync with our heartbeats, waxing and waning with our breath. One page mine, one page his. I made the last mark to unlock and one more to entangle our memories. I braced myself for the memory of that night, pulling my son close.

Dizziness surged through my head again. I blinked and then swerved, narrowly avoiding the curb. The rough city street was slick with ice beneath the wheels of my patrol car. Christmas lights blinked from the shops, holly and wreaths dangled from the lamp posts. Christmas in suburbia. Everything was pristine, sort of.

I was wearing my blues, taking on extra beat duty late christmas eve. I was actually a detective, I was out as a favor so a patrolman could stay home for a goose with his family. It happened again, I could sense the direction it came from, roughly ahead of me. Dizziness surged but I kept the car going straight this time. As a necromancer I recognized it - it was death. But on a scale I had never experienced.

I left the downtown area and headed into the industrial district. It hit me again, so hard I slammed on the brakes while I fought off a surge of nausea. What the hell was going on? I caught a glimps of the purple glitter of life energy dimly in the windows of a warehouse ahead. I called in my location with a request for backup as I parked.

Dispatch told me that nobody was nearby, but put out the call.

Yet another explosion of life energy sparkled in the warehouse, this one so large I could see the purple sparkles shoot beyond the walls before they slurped back in. I swallowed back down some bile. Life energy isn't constrained by physical walls, its constrained by runes.

The door opened to a twist of its knob and I called out. There was no answer. Beyond a small office I found myself on a catwalk. It overlooked a hangar-like space. The floor was covered with runes. At its fundamental the layout was a by-the-book dispel-filter-collect sequence. But each portion had an unusual number of layers. My eyes snapped to the dispel - it had been reinforced well beyond normal limits. The runes vibrated, twisting around each other in a eye bending dance. The filter rings - there were about two dozen of them, all but the final few burned out. From what I could see in their dissapated state, they had strength and physical form signatures. Understanding that only one filter can apply to each death, I knew something pretty complicated was going on here, and almost complete.

A forklift zoomed into the room through a doorway on the far side. It carryied a large crate that was deposited at the center of the pattern. I blinked as the shape within moved - it was a massive bull. A huge deformed person, a monster, got out of the forklift. It was covered with shaggy fur, apelike arms tipped by enormous clawed hands, and a small ugly head. I drew my pistol. He charged the crate ripping off its side almost casually. The snapping of bone was loud as one massive hand drove into the bull and ripped his heart out. It even managed to cramb it into his mouth, blood spraying.

The death was amplified because it was violent, sudden, and done with bare hands. With such a strong dispel, the energy surge hit me like a hurricane.

A full minute later, when I stopped puking and the world stopped spinning (Being necro-sensitive is a curse sometimes), I got on the radio.

Dispatch assured me backup was on the way... but still ten minutes out.

I was swearing about that when I heard her scream.

The monster was dragging a woman into the circle. Where he had been big before he was massive now. He had the powerful head and horns of a bull, hooved feet clopping on the floor, clawed hands large enough to crush my head like an apple. His penis was obscenely aroused, as thick and long as his thigh. It oozed some kind of dark viscous substance as he walked, dragging the woman along with him.

As they came closer, the purple shimmer I could half see behind her motions was testament to the last stage of pregnancy. There are many sources of life energy in the world, but the life energy in a mother with an almost to be born infant is practically a holy grail. I didn't think or hesitate. I aimed at the monster's head and unloaded my glock until the trigger clicked on empty.

That only got his attention. None of the bullets hit him, they were swept aside by some kind of protection runes. He stared at me, his eyes still glittering purple sparks from the recent death. He smirked at me, tossing the woman to the floor at the center of the runes.

Once I looked, it was obvious. The protection rune forms were drawn in every stray floor space. Judging by the pile of corpses, each powered by a rabbit. I could see the dozen burned out rune clusters that had misdirected my bullets. There were far too many for me to defeat. I sprinted down the stairs and ran straight at him.

He watched me with a sort of bemusement on his twisted bull's face. He hovered over the woman, his turgid obscenity eliciting shrieks from her flailing form. She was helpless in his grasp. I could see blood running down her side from a nasty slash where his claws had grazed her.

The runes flared and slowed me, then threw me back, long before I even got close. Shaking it off, I found myself amongst rabbit hutches. I spotted a hare cowering in the back corner of one of them.

I heard the woman screech dispairingly, a glance told me the monster had finally started to rape her. This had to stop now. He would be even harder to stop once he had killed her and her child.

I fumbled in my pocket for my scribing instrument. I drew urgently but precisely in space I cleared by shoving a hutch out of the way. Dispel drawn tightly, twice turned for power, filter for rabbit form, but not all of it, that was critical. Too much and the transformation would go too far, I would have no thumbs. I scribed the collectors and set the focus back on me. I winced at the ragged, continual screams of the woman, but more at the slorching, grunting noises between them. She was so far gone now, I probably couldn't save her. But the child, I could still save it if I could just get in! This would have to do. I had no time to make it perfect. I snagged the rabbit, crouched in the middle of my pattern, and wrenched its head off. Blood sprayed all over my uniform and face. I spit some out, its ironic that I hate blood.

As the focus of life energy from a death, its actually pretty pleasant. The tingle blew through me as the energy rushed away from the dispel. The filter flared, burning out as it pulled out the form energy. The purple cloud swirled once around me as the collector delay fizzled down. It was about that point when I realized I had drawn the form with the permanent rather than the temporary modifier. The delay finished and the cloud snapped in.

The energy enveloped my body like a warm blanket. First I felt the fur, my uniform suddenly constrcting around me. The energy wormed into my flesh. I started shaking, twisting helplessly as it worked its way through my muscles. They were suddenly too long or too short, yanking my limbs too far. It penetrated my torso. I convulsed orgasmically several times as the sensations overwhelmed me. My bones changed, joints popping as they settled into place. I shuddered a deep breath through... a bunny nose. My ears layed back at the death shrieks that filled the air. The woman! The child! I tried to stand up, stumbling in the tatters of my uniform. I kicked boots off my paws, found my gun. I ran, or rather hopped towards the monster, teeth bared.

This time the protective runes, fooled by my form, barely resisted me at all. She died with a gurgling scream as I entered the circle.

The explosion was phenomenal - my vision blurred. I stumbled and face-planted into the floor, dropping my gun. I kept shaking my head to clear it, scrambling dizzily to find my balance. I kept trying to get up but could not understand how I was sticking to the ceiling. With a lurch the universe righted around me a moment later. I found the gun under my paw almost simultaneously. I hopped two steps and I was at the Monster.

The energy was still rushing into him. He thrashed on the floor in obvious ecstacy, making an obscene mess with his grotesque body, some of it splattering across my fur. The side of the woman's body was ripped open. I could see the child layed bare inside, miraculously unharmed.

I took in the situation. Bluing child. Thrashing monster. Final filter tuned for life reinforcement. He was going to kill the child just so he could live longer. Disgusting!

Then I did something I can't believe to this day. Disregarding the danger I scooped up the infant from his mother's oozing entrails. I bit off the umbilical. Cradling his gore encrusted body against my furry side with one arm, I aimed directly at the monster. He was finally coming back to conciousness, eyes focusing on the gun. I unloaded the magazine into his face.

The next thing I remembered was the scariest sound I have ever heard - the cry of a newborn infant protesting the world.

With a sigh the runes on the pages unraveled, out of energy. The book returned to static, now chaotic symbols. I held my adopted son with my warm lapine arms and paws as he cried into my fur. Our tears flowed freely, soaking me to the skin. "I love you" I whispered over and over, "I love you Chris, I love you."

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