Abomination/Dead Man Walking
From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
They stopped me on the way to the convenience store. Bloody aprons and ivory trophies. I turned to run, but then there was stabbing pain in my back and numbness spreading down my spine. I got another ten feet before they shot me again and everything went black.
People who have the bad luck to run into Dr. Vahzilok's goons aren't supposed to ever wake up again. But I did. Twice.
The first time, I came to on the table. There was a light in my face and darkness all around. I couldn't move. One of them loomed over me, blotting out the light. He had a mask on; all I could see were his eyes. He started... cutting... cutting me. And I still couldn't move. I guess I finally passed out.
The second time, I woke up in the prison morgue. But I didn't know that: all I knew was that it was totally dark and I was in a tiny space. Like a coffin. I started banging and yelling. When the morgue attendant opened the drawer, I thought he was one of them. I grabbed him and threw him against the wall. He hit his head and didn't get up.
My hands were clumsy, thick-fingered. I tried pulling off the black leather gloves, thinking that would help. Then I got to the sink, and what I saw in the mirror told me the real reason.
My hands weren't my hands. Or my arms, or my body... my face was mostly intact, but the rest...
I roared and punched the mirror, shattering it into a spiderweb. My patchwork corpse reflected in a dozen shards.
There was a sound of thunder, somewhere in the distance, and the room shuddered a little. I went to the door and followed the sirens. When I got to the infirmary, it was chaos: people in orange jumpsuits were running everwhere, turning over beds, breaking into cabinets, threatening screaming nurses and orderlies. I wouldn't have thought anyone could ignore a zombie built like an 8 foot tall linebacker, but they did. All except one.
He was wearing prison orange like the rest of them, but his face was dark brown, real dark, African dark. And he was older than any of those punks, forty or fifty at least. Didn't have much hair left, just a tight fuzz around his ears and the back of his head. He stopped and he took a good long look at me, and then he grinned, a big pearly white grin in that dark face. I was expecting Jamaican somehow, but I got British instead: "Well now, you aren't just a dumb lump of meat, are you."
I shook my head, gagged out something at him, and tried to clear my throat. Something green came up, went SPLAT on the tile and started to hiss and eat into it. I let him do the talking as we made our way out into the yard.
My new friend knew a lot about the dead, though his methods were very different from Vahzilok's. I guess he talked to dead people pretty often. He told me the Facts of Death as we crossed the yard to the weird black helicopter thing that Arachnos had sent for him and a few other "special" prisoners, and I punched out anyone who got in our way. That was a pretty good distraction-slash-outlet.
"Actually, m'boy, for someone in your condition you're quite fortunate. You're no bodiless spirit, ghost or loa, helpless to do anything but observe and haunt; you have material form, and quite a capable and intimidating one at that. If you're properly preserved, you might..."
I dropped the last Hellion and turned to him, forcing words through someone else's uncooperative voicebox. "Just... want... go... HOME."
He smiled and put a hand on my arm, the touch almost too light to feel through leathery skin. "My boy, you have no home. Not anymore. Your loved ones have mourned and buried you. Your job has been filled. The ignorant and fearful would scream at the sight of you. The life you had is over. You can't go back."
I clenched my fists so tight the gloves creaked. "Not... fair."
"On the contrary," he replied, walking around me. "Death is utterly fair and impartial. It comes to everyone eventually."
I wanted to hit him, but I knew it wouldn't fix anything. Besides, he was right.
The Arachnos pilot didn't seem at all surprised to see us; he nodded respectfully to my benefactor and said something that was whipped away by the wind from the rotors. Suddenly the old man turned and shouted back at me.
"Come with me! Not as a servant, no, a companion! Start over, far from this tomb." He waved scornfully at the pyramid behind me. "There's nothing left for you here."
I thought of everyone and everything I would be leaving. I imagined how they'd react if they saw me like this.
I can't even know if the heart that beats in my chest is really mine, but I know it broke that day.
I got on board.
It only took us about a half hour to reach the Rogue Isles. I guess it wasn't too far, or the transport was pretty fast.
There were six passengers, plus me and the Arachnos soldiers in their black armor. One by one the others got up and went into the back to change into their costumes. This really hot blonde came back dressed like an evil lingerie model. I stared at her; she glared at me; I found something else to look at.
It was my friend's turn next. When he returned, he was decked out in a fancy frock coat and top hat, dress slacks and shoes. The front of the coat was open a little and I could see he wasn't wearing a shirt, leaving his scrawny old chest bare. "In my business, one must have the traditional accoutrements," he told me as he sat down, flashing another searchlight grin in my direction. All I had (besides the gloves) were these weird steel boxers, and I was starting to get the real bad feeling that they didn't come off.
Eventually the pilot's voice came over the intercom to tell us that we'd be landing soon on top of Fort Darwin (wherever that was) on Mercy Island (ditto). The inside of the copter-thing tilted as we circled the landing pad and finally touched down with a thump. One of the Arachnos guys opened the door and we all filed out...
... into what looked like EvilCon 2005. The upper deck of the fortress was swarming with people (and some things that weren't quite people) in costumes. I'd been to Atlas Park a few times and seen the heroes milling around the feet of the big statue in front of City Hall, and it was like that, but different. There were a lot more skulls and chains in this bunch, and a lot more black and red. To one side, the fort looked out over a town that made me think of Founders' Falls gone to seed; on the other was nothing but a hundred foot drop and ocean to the distant horizon.
I stopped at the base of the ramp and just stared, like some hick tourist (or a mindless zombie). That was my first mistake. By the time I got my bearings, my friend had disappeared into the crowd. I plunged in after him, expecting people to get out of my way when they got a look at me. No such luck.
I wound up face to... well, the woman in red on top of the low pedestal didn't really HAVE a face, just a round helmet that started at the high collar of her uniform and went up to a flat top. (These Arachnos guys, I soon figured out, were real big on the whole "faceless" thing.) I had no idea how she could see anything in that getup, but she turned and looked right at me.
I was about to grunt something angry, maybe even take a swing at her (and wouldn't that have been an awesomely bad idea?), when I realized she hadn't said it in a mean way. Her voice, filtered through whatever speakers she had in that helmet, sounded cold and strict; it reminded me of my fourth grade teacher. And wasn't that what the news people back in Paragon called the big zombies? Abominations. Yeah. That's what I was now.
"You seek purpose," she continued. "Arachnos can give you that."
I looked around again, searching the mob for a man in a top hat. Nothing.
"You have been abandoned. But Arachnos will never abandon you, so long as you remain useful. Serve loyally and be rewarded. Fail, and be forgotten. That is the way of things here."
What choice did I have? I was alone, cast adrift on this island, with no money and no place to stay. These people seemed to be running the show. And who else would hire a freak like me?
No choice at all.
I grunted and nodded. I couldn't see her smile, but I knew it was there.
Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?
The ones I really hated were the biters. I don't know if they're actually poisonous, but the fangs hurt like hell. Most of them didn't bite me more than once, though; I must not taste good. Or maybe it's that I tended to beat them to a bloody pulp before they got another chance.
I'm strong now, real strong. And I seem to get stronger the madder I get. Getting mad is easy - I just think about what's happened to me.
I can't taste anymore (considering what the inside of my mouth must be like, maybe that's a blessing). I just shovel food into my cast-iron stomach to keep me going. Can't smell either, though I'm sure I smell plenty. I sleep, when I can... not very well. The nightmares keep coming back. But it seems my brain still needs downtime, and this patched-together body needs to rest now and then.
I've gotten better at talking with practice, though my voice still sounds (if I can trust these ears) like ten miles of bad road. Kalinda's warmed up to me some, now that I've been working for her for a while; why, she must almost be room temperature. Just like me.
She told me to go see this guy on the other side of town. Snake hunter. Mongoose. First thing he did when I got there was tell me to rob a bank for him.
I shoved past him and went through the gate into the part of town that was walled off (or walled in, maybe). Things looked a little better here. I saw regular people on the streets, going about their lives. Businesses that weren't boarded up. Fountains with clean water.
It wasn't just like Paragon City, though. The people were clean, mostly, but their clothes weren't new. Everything had a poor and run-down look that reminded me of movies and news reports from Eastern Europe. Instead of cops on the corners, there were Arachnos soldiers - one of them took a shot at me, just for kicks, and I had to take his gun away and beat him unconscious with it. And of course, there were no heroes.
There were other differences that I began to notice after a few blocks. Dogs barked at me. Men saw me coming and crossed to the other side of the street or cringed as I passed. A girl with almost as many piercings as I had stitches told me that I totally reeked. A shopkeeper stood outside of a store I hadn't planned to enter anyway, pointing sternly at the NO SHIRT NO SHOES NO SERVICE sign. A mother grabbed her little boy and told him to stay behind her, protecting him with her body. From me.
Then it started raining.
People ran for cover under trees and awnings, but I stood there in the street and let the cold grey October rain come down. I wanted it to wash away the stinking meat and filth and leave me clean, whole, as I used to be. I wanted to melt away like a pile of dead autumn leaves, to be swept into the storm drains, to let go of this un-life and stop hurting.
Raindrops pattered on my scarred bald head and ran down my cheeks. It was almost like crying.
After a while the rain stopped. I was soaked to the bone. My mismatched legs carried me back to the gate, where Mongoose was waiting in the shade of the great wall. He had a smug, knew-you'd-be-back look that I wanted to wipe off his face along with a couple of teeth.
"Where you say bank was?"
And that's how I became a criminal.
Sometimes I think that if not for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all.
Yesterday Kalinda called me. (I have no idea how she got the number of this phone, which I took off some Marcone goon after I got to Port Oakes. All part of the freaky mystery that is Kalinda, I guess.) She said that I had to come see her immediately, that it was important, a matter of destiny.
I didn't really have anything else to do, so I hopped the ferry, cut through Mercy proper (where people know not to mess with me these days), and had just gotten to the big town square in Darwin's Landing when I ran right into the middle of a goddamn war.
There were more Longbow guys than I'd ever seen, and they weren't pushovers like the ones I'd fought before. They were tough and they had better gear. When they shot me, it really hurt. Made me angry. Too angry to wonder if maybe Kalinda had set me up. All I wanted to do was get my hands on them.
I wasn't alone. There were plenty of bad guys there, fighting with beams and claws and guns and robots. Someone tossed me a ball of glow that made me feel warm inside and closed up some of my wounds. I grunted thanks and kept swinging. I was getting into the rhythm now, riding the rage, the joy of smashing.
I punched out a Longbow sergeant and turned to look for my next victim. Then the crowd just seemed to melt away and there he was, right in front of me, in that famous red white and blue costume. Statesman.
I thought he'd be taller.
All the fight went right out of me. It was like I'd been dunked in ice water. What chance did I have against the Statesman?
He didn't give me a chance. He hauled back and hit me, one punch that sent me flying back thirty or forty yards into one of the abandoned buildings around the square. Might have killed me if I wasn't already dead. Still almost knocked me out.
But it didn't. I got up off the pile of bricks and broken wood I'd made when I crashed through the wall and waited for the dusty old room to stop spinning. Soon my head cleared enough to hear the creaking and cracking of the support beams.
Then the whole damn building fell on me.
So. Here I am.
I can't stop staring at it.
Sitting on the surgical tray, it looks like some kind of modern sculpture: an oblong organic shape with holes here and there, all steel gray and translucent white. It's the size of a fist - one of MY fists - which means it's the sort of thing you'd expect to be going into a cow, not a person. But I'm not exactly a person anymore.
It's a Wetware Engineering artificial heart, the "super" model. High-volume, rapid flow, rated for extreme stress. Less than an hour from now, Dr. Percy's going to be cutting me open and putting it inside me.
Right now she's puttering around the little operating room, getting everything ready, fussing with instruments and talking to herself about things I don't understand, as usual. Now and then she brushes her long flame-red hair out of the way. She's a looker, but I try not to think about that kind of thing so much these days. Besides, the doc and I have a strictly professional relationship. It's not even doctor/patient, more like "mechanic/guinea pig." She helps me keep this rusty old beater of a body running, and in return she gets a cooperative specimen of Vahzilok's work. Even so, sometimes I have to come up with more money or do some "favor" for her. Having big medical bills, no insurance and one hell of a pre-existing condition can be a real pain.
She and I hooked up - or got hooked up, I guess, by Desdemona the Glint who was probably just trying to get rid of my stinky ugly carcass as fast as possible - not long after I started stomping around Cap au Diable. (Which wasn't long after I dug myself out from under that building in Mercy, but that's a story for another time.) Like I said, it was a good thing for both of us: I needed someone to stitch me back together and replace the bits that fell off, and she was glad of the research opportunity I represented... and the large sums of cash I brought in. Spare parts were easy to find: all I had to do was go down to the docks, pick out one of my mindless cousins who was relatively fresh, and drag it back to the hospital after cold-cocking the bastard pulling its strings. I especially liked that last part. Usually I just pulp them, but one time I got both of a reaper's arms off before the shock and blood loss killed him.
Dr. Percey's one of the few people on these islands, besides the filth that did this to me, who know how to fix me. She may be a little weird, but she's no disciple of Vahzilok. That's how I know I can trust her... that, and the money I pay her. Now I'm putting that trust to the ultimate test. She could do anything to me while I'm on the table. I might not ever wake up again.
(Might not be so bad, the little voice whispers.)
She was the one who gave me the idea of upgrading this robot zombie body, ricing it out like a street racer. Someday - if I last that long and make a big enough score - I might be able to get my brain (the only part I'm sure is still me) transplanted into a clone or an android or something. But right now, all I can afford is little things. Like a new, stronger heart.
I was real clear with the doc that it couldn't be one that someone was already using. After what happened to me, I wasn't going to be the reason somebody else, even some hero, got cut up for parts. The only way I've been able to stomach using pieces of other abominations is knowing that Vahzilok's cutters got to them first, and nothing I did could bring them back. Considering some of the things I've done since I came to the Rogue Isles, that might be a funny place to draw the line. But it's all I've got.
So it had to be an artificial heart, top-of-the-line, and from a company I trusted (which eliminated Aeon right there). Not something I could bust into a Longbow base or a Thorn cave and take for myself. Between the heart and Dr. Percey's costs for the operation, it took almost every dollar I had to my name. But if it works as advertised, it'll be worth it: I'll have almost limitless stamina, and be able to keep moving and fighting non-stop, no matter what this place throws at me.
Something else I've learned since I came to the Isles: there's an endless supply of people and things around here that need a beating, and others willing to pay to see that they get it.
Now the doc turns to me with a smile, telling me to lie down so that she can start preparing me for surgery. As I do, I wonder if I'll see that smile again in a couple of hours... or if she'll be wearing it tomorrow when she sells my parts back to the Vahzilok.
Nothing to do but close my eyes, say a prayer, and breathe deep when she puts the mask over my face.
Still alive. Or something like it, anyway.
Dr. Percey - Shelly - knows not to have a mask on when I come 'round. Gives me bad flashbacks. So I get to see her face hovering over me like a redheaded angel as she says hello and other things that get stuck in the cotton around my head. Damn she's pretty. If only I was still a man.
Success. The operation was a success. I need to rest for a few days, but soon I'll be up and around again. Stronger than ever.
And when I'm well enough, there's a sorry-looking lump of reddish-brown meat in a specimen jar that I need to take out to a nice spot and give a decent burial.
I knew it was a mistake working for Crey.
Hadn't I seen the cages full of "test subjects" in their compound? Hadn't I heard the rumors? Back in Paragon City, they tried hard to keep their image squeaky clean, even though it seemed that every month there was a story (usually buried on page twelve) about some hero busting up some "rogue operation." Here in the Rogue Isles, with the likes of Lord Recluse and Dr. Aeon running things, I guess they thought they had a freer hand.
But a job's a job, and after I cut a swath across Nerva to Thorn Isle and back, work seemed to dry up. Beating on Longbow and Thorns was fun, but it didn't pay the bills. So I talked to a good friend, and he gave me a name, and pretty soon I was on the payroll as an independent contractor.
I hated it right from the start. I didn't have a problem working for "acquisitions" - I've stolen lots of stuff, some of it even for me - but the first thing I was sent to grab wasn't some gizmo, but people. Scratch that, not people: Rikti. The alien monsters that almost destroyed the world, killed a lot of people in my old neighborhood, and did to my friend Tim what Vahzilok's rippers did to me. (That's why we were so tight, see.) My new boss wanted them to help Crey understand their tech. I wanted to turn them into mulch. In the end, the paycheck won that argument.
Then she started sending me around to lean on people, rather than just taking their stuff. It was like I was working for the Family, not a biotech company. (And I would have liked to break Buzzsaw's legs and maybe a few other things, and her Freak bodyguards wouldn't have stopped me, but Mz. Uqua called me off; said she wanted to come to some other kind of "arrangement.") This might sound crazy coming from ME, but it made me feel... dirty.
The last straw was when she sent me after an Arachnos operative who'd been snooping around. Again, I've got no problem beating up Arachnos, or doing jobs for them if that's how it goes. But after I worked the guy over, I found out who his informant was, the next poor bastard Uqua wanted me to "deliver a message" to: my best bud, Tim Raymond.
I was already dialing her number when I got outside. It took me a couple of tries, 'cause I've got big clumsy fingers and I was so mad I couldn't see straight. When she answered, I didn't let her talk; I just yelled obscenities at her for about a minute, then hauled back and pitched the phone in the general direction of Primeva. Then I went to see Tim.
He wouldn't listen. He wouldn't believe that I'd come to warn him, not as her goon, but as a friend. I said I was done, through, that I wasn't ever going back to her. He asked me how I could live with myself.
Then he turned his back on me.
"Our paths no longer converge."
I haven't seen either of them since.
Past, Present, and Yet to Come
It is a popular myth that the suicide rate rises during the winter holidays. Certainly it is a time of stress and depression for some; a time of forced cheer and quiet anxiety, of short days and long cold nights, of great expectations and disappointing reality. Many find themselves isolated and alone, even among family and friends, and contemplate giving in to despair. But for all this, the fact is that no more actually take their own lives during the year's dark end than in any other month.
Dr. Percy had told the Abomination all of this while she was checking his sutures earlier today, and he thought about it as he stood on the balcony of Arachnos' citadel in Grandville, squinting against a frigid wind blowing in off the Atlantic. He knew from experience that a fall from this height, even a belly flop, would not kill him; he was too tough for that now. He would have to climb higher into the sprawling webwork of cables and jump from there to do himself serious injury, and even then, Dr. Percy or the Arachnos medics would be able to replace almost anything that broke... including his heart. (He was already on his fourth.)
He leapt from the tower anyway, synthetic sinews and reanimated flesh propelling him in a distance-eating long jumper's arc. He landed heavily on one of the platforms overlooking the plaza and was off again, hopping from platform to wall to rooftop like one of Galvani's frogs. His destination was a townhouse in old Grandville, a crumbling burg now known as the Gutter by comparison to the ultra-modern fortress that had been erected over it. During the winter, the sun rarely shone this deep into the shadow of Recluse's stronghold, and when it did, it was a thin and pale ghost of its summer glory.
Still, the rent was cheap.
The Abomination slammed down onto the sidewalk in front of the old building, putting some more cracks in the pavement and bringing it that much closer to total dissolution. Nearby civilians drew back in alarm as he rose from his crouch and strode up to the front door, pushing it open. The lobby looked like it hadn't been cleaned this century; the ashtray was overflowing with crushed butts and the grimy linoleum floor was strewn with food wrappers, crumpled newspapers and other loose trash. The walls were cracked plaster and wood veneer. The desk clerk, a scrawny man in an undershirt who rather resembled a plucked chicken, glanced up at the sound of his entrance and went back to pawing through a skin magazine. An Arachnos drone floated beside the desk, all shiny chrome and glossy purple-black, silently promising swift and deadly retribution for any assaults on the manager's person. Some wag had taped a pair of cardboard antlers to it.
Ignoring the cubbyholes behind him, the manager shook his head and turned to the next page. The Abomination growled (though he hadn't really been expecting any) and headed for the stairs. None of the tenants trusted the elevator, and it was only two floors up anyway.
There had been a time when he enjoyed this season, when he'd had a home and family to share it with, carols to sing and a tree to decorate with tiny lights and glass baubles. When a living heart quickened in his chest and his cheeks warmed with holiday cheer, and he could taste cookies and yams and hot cider with cinnamon. When all he'd ever stolen was a kiss under mistletoe. It seemed so very long ago... a lifetime.
Foxtrot Company, acting more like children than he'd ever seen them, had tried to include him in their celebration. Their youthful exuberance and casual materialism just made him feel more melancholy (and old). For their sake, he endured their earnest efforts to cheer him up; he didn't even get mad when one of them hung a pine-scented air freshener around his neck. (He had some idea what he must smell like.) They were good kids - which was pretty amazing, considering what they'd been through - but they couldn't give him the one thing he really wanted.
The Abomination reached the end of this typically gloomy train of thought and the door of his run-down apartment at about the same time. He hadn't been out of it much this past week except for the Foxtrot party and his regular doctor's appointment. He still had enough petty cash left over from his last robbery to cover next month's rent, and didn't feel like wrecking anyone else's Christmas unless they provoked him first. No one had done so recently; so that left sitting alone at home, watching pirated TV, and feeling sorry for himself.
There was a package sitting on the bed, waiting for him.
The Abomination stopped in the doorway connecting the tiny bedroom to the equally small living area and made a quick visual sweep. There had been no signs of forced entry, but that meant nothing: the pathetic lock was easier to pick than his teeth, and several of his allies (not to mention quite a few enemies) could get into places much more secure than this. Cautiously, he moved to examine the package without touching it.
The box was about two feet square (or cubed), wrapped up in a gold bow and ribbon and shiny dark brown paper. When viewed from just the right angle by the weak light of the bedside lamp, the latter revealed an embossed design of linked squares that seemed vaguely familiar, though he couldn't recall where he'd seen it before. He considered the mysterious gift for another moment before yielding to the impulse to pick it up and shake it; he could feel something soft shift inside, but there was no explosion or angry snowman jumping out to attack him. With a shrug, he tore away the bow and paper and lifted the lid.
Inside, nestled in a bed of styrofoam peanuts, was a teddy bear. The Abomination was seized by a strong feeling of deja vu. The toy looked just like one he'd had as a child, with tan fur, shiny black eyes and nose, and a stitched X for a mouth. In fact, he realized as he picked it up to examine more closely, it didn't just resemble Mr. BearBear - it was Mr. BearBear. The fur was matted and worn, with a faded grape juice stain on the back; the stitching was loose where the arms joined the body; and one of the button eyes didn't quite match the other. His clumsy gloved fingers roamed over the stuffed toy, long-forgotten details blossoming in his memory as he found them.
But this was impossible. Mr. BearBear had disappeared when he was only seven; he'd always thought he'd lost the beloved toy, or that his parents had finally and secretly gotten rid of the ratty old thing. Yet here it was, just like the last time he'd seen it.
There was something else inside the gift box, hidden under the teddy until he'd removed it. He turned to look... and nearly dropped Mr. BearBear in shock.
It was a photograph of a man, standing in front of an anonymous white wall and smiling as he raised a glass of wassail in toast to the camera. His face was one the Abomination knew well, but never thought he would see again. It somewhat resembled his father's face, particularly in the thinning hair and the lines at the corners of the eyes. The style of the clothes the man wore, however, was unfamiliar.
With a shaking hand, the Abomination first touched the photograph, verifying its reality, then picked it up. On the other side, in handwriting that he used to know, were the words "Merry Christmas" and a date more than a decade hence. The square of paper slipped from nerveless fingers and fluttered back into the box.
That night, he did not watch TV.
His butchered body did not have working tear ducts, but he could still cry. And cry he did, holding a childhood friend to his own stitched-up chest and pouring out in great racking sobs all the emotions within it - chief among them joy and gratitude for the vision he had been granted, and the promise that it held.
It was a greeting card this year, not a gift box, but other than that he wasn't surprised when it showed up on his kitchen table one morning. The front was the same dark brown, with the squared-off infinity symbol (much larger and more detailed than it had been on the wrapping paper) embossed in gold. Inside were two words in the same familiar handwriting - "It's time." - and below that, affixed to the card, a round brass button with the infinity design in copper.
As carefully as his thick fingers allowed, the Abomination plucked the button from the card. He expected the back to be sticky, but it wasn't. Written in tiny letters where the button had been were the words "think 'commbadge'". Feeling vaguely silly, he touched the button to his bare patched-together chest; it clung there like a refrigerator magnet. He gave it an experimental tap with one finger--
-- and a glowing portal opened up under his feet and swallowed him.
Exactly sixty seconds later, a similar portal deposited a dazed Abomination back in his small apartment.
He'd been angry at first, angry at the Menders and their evasions and excuses for why they couldn't (or wouldn't) simply send him back to undo his personal tragedy. Wasn't that what time travel was for, what "mending" was all about? Their talk of things like "true history" and the Carbon Law only infuriated him more. That had all ended with the final incursion, when he found himself standing, mute with fear and awe, over a bed in which a young boy lay fast asleep.
"Don't worry, he won't miss them." Lazarus had assured him with a smile. "You didn't. Except for the bear, of course."
Slowly the Abomination opened his leather-gloved hands and dared to look again at what he held. A small vial and a lock of hair - fresh blood, untainted DNA, vital components for any scientific or magical ritual to restore the dead.