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Chapter 3

So there we stood. Me in
my Jimmy Choo’s and entirely not-dead and he in his dusty clothes and
entirely very-alive. And we both realized I was in one hell of a
mess.

“So, it’s been how long
since the earthquake?” Maybe I heard him wrong. Maybe he was
exaggerating. Maybe there was still a chance.

“A day and a half.”
Short, sweet, and to the point. Fine time for him to pick up THAT
habit.

Sighing, I looked at him.
No passport, no ID, and missing more than a day after an earthquake.
Could I be extremely lucky and the cruise ship remained anchored
looking for missing people? What were the chances that I was not the
only missing person? A ton of us came over for the day trip. I
couldn’t be the only one missing, could I? Besides, I was lucky
enough that some weirdo decided to resurrect me from the dead, so
maybe my luck would hold out. Knock on… uh… stone. Yeah, stone.

“Hey, look, it was pretty
messed up after the earthquake. Maybe your ship didn’t leave.” If
it wasn’t such an obvious problem, I might just think he was a
mindreader. All the same, it felt nice to hear my thoughts voiced
out loud by another person.

“Yeah, but I also have no
identification. That’ll make it harder to get back on.” I
wistfully thought about that darling coach purse lying under the
rubble of the shop. Hey, I mourn the loss of good accessories. What
girl doesn’t?

“That might pose a
problem. But, there’s something else.” Coach purse forgotten I
returned my gaze to the man before me. What other problem could
there be when you had no Amex, ID, not to mention the whole dead
thing.

“Why do I get the
feeling…”

“You might not like this?
Yeah.” Oh great, he finished my thoughts. Annoying much? “So,
you see, the thing is…”

“Band-aid, dude. Rip it
off fast.” Guess he lost that short and sweet from before.

“What? Oh, right?”
There went the finger pushing the glasses up his nose again. Was it
bad that I started to find that endearing?

Off came the band-aid. Be
careful what you ask for. Unfortunately, he was right. I did not
like what he said next.

“The ceremony. It, um.
Well, I don’t know exactly how or what it does. I don’t know if
there are any side effects or…”

Side effects? Geeks
performing this ritual may cause upset stomache, gas, bloating,
headache, dehydration… that sort of side effects? Well, I felt
fine and a quick glance showed no bloating or swelling.

“What. Do. You. Mean?”
Breathe. I needed to breathe. Or wait, maybe I didn’t. I suppose I
could figure that out later. Right now I had other scores to settle.

“Well, I don’t know how
long the effects last. There was little information. In fact, there
was no information.”

“Are you saying I might
die? Again?” No way. I was far too young (and hot) to die twice.
Not an option. Moving on?

“I don’t think so. I
don’t know. I don’t know what it means for you. Like what can hurt
you or what happens to any injuries or…”

“Well if I died from a
roof caving in on me… and I seem Ok to walk… what does that say?”
Oh, maybe I was like the vamps in movies! You can’t beat the
ability to survive accidents with hardly a scratch. Ok, so the
downside is a fascination with blood. Was that really so bad a price
to pay for immortality and near invincibility? Well, maybe I did not
like the idea of an all liquid diet, or at least not one of that
particular liquid.

“True. But, we have no
real way of knowing what could happen. We should probably make sure
you are um… really OK.”

“And by really OK you
mean…” I left the sentence unfinished on purpose. He looked
thoughtful, but remained silent so I cleared my throat. “You mean,
what?”

“Well, you probably want
to see how much you can do. How much energy you have. What your
limits are.”

“Look, I’m real thankful
that you didn’t leave me… dead. You know? But, I don’t know that
I want to be your own personal lab rat.” I mean really, did he
seriously think I’d be all like ready to hop into his maze and…
well… whatever? Oh thanks for saving me, let’s go party? Not!
Well, maybe. Depends on how happening the party is.

I noticed him shifting his
weight from foot to foot. “Um, I’m sorry. It isn’t like that. I
mean…”

Ok, so maybe I needed to be
nicer to my savior. Especially given the fact I currently needed his
help to get anywhere. Like back to civilization. “Hey, this is a
bit much to take in. How about we figure this out so we can both get
on with our lives?”

He nodded and swallowed.
“Yeah. I’m sorry. I probably should have been better prepared. I
just didn’t think…”

Ok, so I could buy that. I
mean, who really plans that in event of earthquake they’ll just
happen to resurrect some dead girl? Yeah, that sort of thing happens
every day, right? That’s what I thought.

“So what do we do now?
Cause it seems to me like things aren’t so cool right now. I’m
trapped here with no passport, no ID, no AmEx. I’m dead and you’re
clueless about what that means. Some vacation this turned out to
be.”

My sarcasm was not lost on
him. He raked his hand through his hair for about the millionth time
and blinked. “We’ll figure it out. We just need to…”

“We need to what?”

“First, we need to get
out of here. Then we need to run some simple tests and we can
probably find most our answers out and go from there.”

I totally got aboard the
get out of the creepy temple bandwagon about two seconds after I woke
up. Not my idea of an ideal hang out spot. Dust, dirt, spiders,
hundreds of years of creepy history. Looking back on it now, I still
shudder thinking about that place.

“Super. Let’s jet.” I
looked around, but had nothing since all he grabbed out of the
collapsing shop was the most important thing… me. “Hope you got
some ideas because I’ve got nothing.”

“That’s fine. I know a
place.” He turned toward the doorway leading to the long hallway
and took a few steps towards it, but I stopped him.

“Hey, what about all the
candles?” Guess this dude wasn’t a boyscout. Abandoning lit
candles? Sure, nothing here seemed likely to go up in flames, but
still. People might notice something freaky deaky happened when
affronted with burnt candles.

“Don’t worry about them.
They’ll just burn out. Let’s just go. It’s gonna be morning soon
and we probably need to be long gone.”

This guy had a serious case
of The Weirds going on. Then again, maybe the idea of whatever
security busting our butts put him on edge. Mexican prison sounded
like a bad place to be for anyone, alive or dead. I do not know what
the typical punishment for ancient creepy raise the dead sacrifices
might be, but it probably was not a good one.

We high tail it up the long
hallway and out of the Temple. Standing at the precipice, I peer
down into what should be the shadowy gloom of the middle of the
night. Only it is not so shadowy or gloomy. Nifty night vision to
the rescue! I always thought I had stellar vision, but this is
fantastic. Yay for carrot eating as a teenager and adult. Go salads!
Stay thin now, have great vision when dead. Ad slogan for the next
year?

The steps leading up the
side of the Temple were quite steep, but we clung to a chain running
from top to bottom. We proceeded in silence to the base of the
Temple and towards the nearby cover of trees. Once hidden in the
safety of the tree line, we came to a halt.

He whispered to me, “Just
follow me along the edge of the woods to my truck. Probably no one
out here, but then again you never know. Looters like to take
advantage of disasters.”

The truck was a rusty pile
of junk, just the sort of thing you would expect to see in Mexico.
Crooked bumper, peeling paint, and cracked vinyl seats greeted us
when he unlocked the doors. I climbed into the cab to ride shotgun
glad no one could see me. I liked my cars low and fast and sporty.
This so did not fit the bill. Then again, there was a reason for
vehicles like this in Mexico.

He popped the truck into
gear and we bounced off in silence, leaving the ruins behind. We
eventually hit a dirt road that I would barely consider a path for
wild animals and we bumped our way along that for a while. The sky
turned lighter with pre-dawn and I think this may be the first time I
ever saw the sun rise. Sober that is. Anyone that spent more than a
few weeks at college pulled an all nighter at some point. An
all-nighter with your good friend Absolut. Or, in the case of the
test time maybe a high from vast levels of caffeine risking an
overdose to stay awake cramming.

Eventually we pulled up to
a ramshackle house where he parked the truck. I did not know where I
was, but what do you do? Currently he was it for my ability to get
around and ever possibly make it back home. With options pretty
slim, my main crankiness wore off and become more of a gloom.

“Come in. This is where
I’ve been working and sleeping for the last eighteen months. Just
excuse the mess.”

Boy he wasn’t kidding about
the mess. When he swung the door open to this place I realized the
truck was far better off than what lay before me. Books and paper
stacked up haphazardly on any horizontal surface and a sink full of
dishes from who knows how long welcomed me from the neatest areas.
The worse parts of the room looked like maybe the earthquake did some
extensive damage and we might want to call in FEMA, Mexico or not.
Then again, FEMA might run in fear. This was worse looking than the
video footage from Hurricane Katrina.

Little paths ran through
the mess of clothes, paper, books, and objects so I picked my way
through the room. He came in behind me and locked the door.

“You could single
handedly wipe out unemployment in this country. Ever think about
hiring a few dozen people to clean this place up?”

“I know it looks bad.
But I swear, there’s a method to the madness. I know, I research
badly. It just sort of takes over and then…”

“And then what? Paper
breeds like gerbils? Good grief. How can one man create all of
this?”

“Well it started with the
first artifact I dug up. It’s over there.” He points to a chipped
pot on the end of one counter.

“And so then it just kind of went
from there. Before I knew it, I had this.”

This is why God said Adam
needed a woman. Could you imagine the pit Eden became in the short
time under Adam’s care? Anyone figure out why men can’t organize
anything? They are all born slobs. “You couldn’t, I don’t know,
get a notebook to put some of this paper in? I mean there are really
easy and cheap things you can do. I’ll bet you a taco that Lisa
Frank probably has a low paying factory around here somewhere to make
all that junk for pre-teen girls. Go raid it. Hit a salvage sale.”

“Lisa Frank? Gah, my
sister lived for that stuff.” He chuckled, a sound low in his
throat that sent a thrill up my spine.

“Get yourself some purple
tiger notebook and boom, a little better organization. Though in
this case, you might need a truck load.”

I watched as he pushed
aside three textbooks so thick they made War and Peace look like a
teen novella. Awful lot of work so that I could sit in a suddenly
cleared chair. I wonder how that’s gonna impact to his precious
organizational system straight out of Pigsty Living Quarterly.

The chair became host to my
butt and he turned his attention to his own sitting space. Maybe he
should think about things like this before he goes about resurrecting
girls from the dead and inviting them back home. Sometimes men just
don’t think ahead.

Once seated across from me,
yet another book gets dropped onto the mountain between us I suppose
once was a coffee table. Currently it looked like Everest to me. The
book, older than any I had ever seen, teetered on the top of the pile
precariously.

He flipped to a place about
three-quarters of the way into the book and pointed to a picture.
Upside-down, I could not tell what I was before me. It looked like
some sort of bad drawing on a cave wall or something equally ancient
and nonsensical.

“I don’t get it. What is
that?” Simple question.

“These drawings are found
near the site where I found… the instructions…” He faltered
and I jumped on it.

“You mean this is related
to whatever you did? But how? I don’t get it, I’m sorry.”

He sighed, more from
weariness than anything else I thought. “It is. I think this
shows someone performing the same ceremony. The next part of the
story continued to a wall damaged by… well we don’t know what.
Might have been an earthquake, invading army, or just time. Who
knows. At any rate, this is the best we have.”

“What about whatever it
was that you found out how to do whatever.” Oh yeah, that was
clear and technical. So much for that A in English. His blank stare
told me all I needed to know. He thought he resurrected a moron.
“You know, where ever you got your instructions from. Surely it
said something?”

I mean maybe it’s just me,
but if I was writing some sort of book about raising the dead I would
want to leave instructions. Come on, how hard is this? “Becomes
mindless zombie. Wants to eat brains.” “Becomes ruthless
killer. Goes for the jugular. Turns to dust in sunlight.” “Don’t
feed after midnight. Will turn into evil gremlin.”

“Not really. It just
said what to do and I did it and now here we are. It actually ended
there.”

“So let me get this
straight. You found some crazy dude’s instructions on how to do weird
voodoo crap. The last entry is, ‘Dear diary, this is how you raise
someone from the dead.’ Then there’s nothing else. You didn’t think
maybe there was a reason?” How stupid was this guy? He better be
glad I wasn’t some sort of mindless freak or jumping his bones or
goodness knows what else. There must be a reason for no more
information. Like the people got eaten by monsters of the forces of
darkness or something. Hey, I was back from the dead. That sort of
thing opens one’s mind to a whole lot of options.

He cleared his throat and
shifted his glasses back up his nose. “Well, no. I guess I didn’t
think about it. See, I found it, translated it, was trying to decide
what it all meant, and then the earthquake happened. I figured why
not and…”

“Let me guess. Now we’re
here. What the hell do you do?” Seriously, what did he do?
Obviously nothing involving common sense. Or he lived so sheltered a
life to realize these things might not want to be messed with.
Natural order getting mucked up and all that. Note to me, buy this
guy a whole lot of horror DVDs when I return to civilization.

Once more, I was
grateful. Without this guy, life as I knew it would be kaput. I
owed him big time for that. At the same time, though, I just cannot
get over how ill prepared he was. Did he think it wasn’t going to
work? If not, how would he explain the dead chick he carried away?
If it did work, what then? Ahhh, well, we saw that now didn’t we?

Some people just never
learn to plan ahead. A hard lesson Fate decided to cram down our
throats continuously over the next few weeks.

— Lady O

*Author’s note* I hope you enjoyed this latest installment of Juan of the Dead.  Sorry it is a day late.  It’s been one of those weeks where nothing works right due to lack of sleep.  I blame my husband’s job.  Hopefully chapter 4 will be right on time.  I’d love to hear from you about this latest chapter and I hope you stick around for more.  I’ve already got the next couple of chapters formulating!  Until next time, watch out for crazy dudes and earthquakes if you go to Mexico!

Originally posted on ladyozma.vox.com

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