Part 55 – State of Play.

Amadeus flicked through the notes, looking at line upon line of messy scrawl and furrowing his brow in consternation.

“Where did you say you found it?” He looked up at Adelaide.

“Under my parents’ bed,” Adelaide shrugged, “the picture on the front really scared me when I was a kid, so my mum hid it away.”

Amadeus looked at the monster that someone had scrawled on the front. He smirked.

“Yeah I can see how this thing could give you nightmares,” he said.

They were sitting in Rick’s house, in his lounge. Rick was a fashion designer and the place was filled with dummies with Rick’s designs placed on them. Lee had complimented him on them when they’d sat down and Rick had grinned nervously and said it was hard to sell designs with so many successful human designers around.

“Can’t we go home while you figure this out?” Lee stared at the window, which had the curtains pulled, “Francis’ parents are worried about him already. If it turns out I’m missing too they’ll flip their lids.”

“No,” Sam was lying on a lounger, their face previously still as a marble bust, “we are doing something ground-breaking here. No one can know.”

“Can we at least see the Source?” Francis was sitting on one of the arm of the sofa. He was clearly jittery as he’d fallen through it a couple of times and was now drumming his fingers against the side of the sofa, occasionally grimacing as they slipped through.

“Oh yeah,” Amadeus grinned, “let’s see here shall we?”

He lifted up the plastic bag from next to him and placed it on the table in the middle of them. An expectant hush fell. Sam, who had already seen the Source, didn’t even look over and continued to stare up at the ceiling

Swiftly undoing the knot, Amadeus pulled the bag down. Adelaide, Lee, Francis and Rick craned forward to see what it was that was in the cage inside the bag.

“Is that it?” Adelaide said after a while, “A… pile of bones?”

A pile of old looking and mouldering bones lay at the bottom of the cage. A weird, apelike skull sat on the top, the only recognisable one of the bunch, which seemed pretty jumbled.

“Not what I was expecting,” Rick said quietly, “is it… dead?”

“Was it ever alive I think is the question,” Francis replied, “and how was it the Source if it was? What did they do, get bitten by it? That’s a hell of a lot of biting.”

“I think it was living once,” Amadeus sat back, “and I think somehow it… infected people. Something like that. That’s why the scientists at the facility use hazard suits.”

“Wait, it might have been dangerous?” Francis looked up at him.

“Obviously not to super-humans,” Amadeus said, “besides, its hardly likely to do anything now, is it? The hazmats were just a precaution.”

Francis nodded, mollified.

“Once the infection, or whatever, got into the population it continued to spread,” Amadeus continued, “some people are immune, I think the majority actually. Some aren’t though, and so they become like us.”

“Well not like you,” Adelaide grinned, “you were made, weren’t you?”

“Oh yeah,” Amadeus said, “well I think a strong enough dose will overpower anything. I was injected with the thing’s blood, though I didn’t know what it was at the time.”

There was a silence. Everyone looked at the Source cage, waiting for something to happen. Perhaps unsurprisingly, nothing happened.

“So,” Adelaide frowned, “not exactly the most interesting Source of all super-human power in the entire world, is it?”

“Well no,” Amadeus sighed, “but we might be able to get it going again.”

“Get it going?” Lee grimaced, “What are you, a necromancer?”

“Necro-what?”

“Necromancer, like, you know…”

“Wizard capable of reanimating the dead,” Francis said. He shot Lee a look and for a brief moment a smile flashed across his face.

“Yeah,” Amadeus raised his eyebrows, “I think the answer might lie in here.”

He picked up the Source notes again and began to squint at the writing. Lee stood up hurriedly and moved across the room towards the door. Adelaide considered things for a few moments, then moved to follow him.

“Considering you’ll be busy reading that,” Lee said, “we’re just going to, you know, head home. Come on Francis.”

Francis shook his head. Adelaide grabbed him by the shoulder and his eyes opened wide. Falling through the sofa with a thump he sunk a few feet inches into the ground.

“Ow.”

Reaching up Francis put his hand on the table to pull himself up.

“Careful,” Rick said, “needle!”

“Owwww!”

Francis’ eyes filled with tears and he shook his hand frantically. Rick gasped. The needle was embedded up to the head in Francis’ flesh.

“Phased into it,” Francis said through clenched teeth. Reaching down he gripped the head of the needle and gave it a sharp tug. With a whine of pain he held it up, now red with his blood.

Reaching out Francis handed the needle to Rick. As he did so three tiny ruby droplets fell from it. They landed on the skull in the cage below. Steam began suddenly to rise from the droplets, a hissing sound filled the room.

“Wait, what?” Amadeus looked up. Rick, who had been reaching to take the needle, flinched and drew back.

The hissing continued and suddenly something began to spread across the skull, tendrils of a fibrous substance that began to worm their way down the side and curl around the bones, which rearranged themselves underneath the skull, clicking and clacking with a mind of their own.

Adelaide drew close and stared, Francis and Lee joined her. Rick continued to back away and Sam leapt up from the couch and peered at the Source.

“Is it…” Lee trailed off, “are we… are we necromancers?”

“We might be,” Amadeus said.

“If I knew what that was,” murmured Adelaide.

Flesh, skin, and blood vessels wrapped themselves around the thing in the cage, which began to move with short, sudden jerks. Two points of light glared into being in the sockets and started to get larger and larger until they burned with a terrible radiance. A sound suddenly started to resonate throughout the room, low and rumbling. A growl.

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