Underneath the San Francisco National Cemetery the Necromancer inspected his new recruits. It wasn’t a bad harvest this year; most of his crew was relatively fresh so they still had muscle on their bones and didn’t smell too horrible. He just wished there weren’t so many old people. In this country not enough fit young men had been struck by Death. Then again, in other countries most of the young men either died from disease or starvation or had various limbs blown off so it was a bit of a trade off. However, if tonight’s plan went off without a hitch there would be plenty of fine young men at his disposal to assassinate the Twice Blessed son of a Charmed One.
The Necromancer had never been a particularly ambitious sorcerer; he had always been pushed, bullied and threatened into doing another demon’s bidding. His existence was tolerable but of course the fatal flaw of every creature living in the Underworld was the desire for power and respect. If he assassinated the Twice Blessed One he would have prestige beyond wonders. No one would force him into dangerous situations where he barely escaped with his life. Still, he couldn’t let himself get carried away; too many other demons and warlocks had boasted they were going to kill the Charmed Ones and their offspring only to be killed by them themselves. Going after anyone with the last name Halliwell was generally considered suicide and the Necromancer wouldn’t have bothered trying if it weren’t for a vital piece of information he heard whilst scuttling around the Underworld. Nevertheless, he couldn’t afford stupidity; timing was everything.
What better time to implement this plan than Halloween? Humans walked around freely dressed as monsters, ghouls and demons. No one would notice a few extra dead people.
“Please tell me you’re wearing boxers underneath that.”
Wyatt Halliwell descended the stairs with the bed sheet he was wearing swishing too high above knee-length. Chris grimaced as he waited for him downstairs. Wyatt had taken the easy route out for the Halloween party – he had just wrapped a sheet around himself and declared himself a Roman conqueror. However, it wasn’t as if Chris had put much effort into his costume either – he had just borrowed their father’s robes and drawn a lightning bolt on his head. He hadn’t bothered with a wig or dying his brown hair black and he simply punched out the lenses of Aunt Phoebe’s old rectangular glasses instead getting a pair of round ones off eBay. He was carrying a drumstick for a wand – he was going to carry around a twig but Mac had heard and leant him a drumstick. The only two things Chris had in common with Harry Potter was that they both had green eyes and they both attended a magic school.
Wyatt winked as he reached the bottom of the stairs. “Wouldn’t want the ladies to miss out on a fantastic view.”
“Wyatt, the streets are filled with children. You’re going to get arrested for flashing someone.”
“Well we’d better hope it’s not too breezy tonight.”
Wyatt regretted his words as soon as he was out the front door. The chilly October breeze blew uncomfortably around his nether regions but they were already late and he’d look stupid wearing jeans and a toga. Streetlights popped on as children in costumes scurried from door to door to get candy.
Once they reached the end of the street Chris said, “You know you don’t have to drag me to Mac’s party. I can go and hang out with the cousins or something. It’s not like I really want to go or anything.” He gestured to his half-assed outfit.
Wyatt laughed and wrapped an arm around his younger brother. “Well I promised Mom that I’d take someone with me to make sure I didn’t do anything stupid. It may as well be you.”
“Great,” Chris said as he pulled away.
It was a half-truth – if something did go wrong, which seemed inevitable to a Halliwell, he’d have back up. But the main reason Piper had wanted them both to attend this party was so that they could act like ‘normal teenagers’. Wyatt had been raised from birth with the knowledge he was to become the next King Arthur of the magical kingdom. It was a lot of responsibility, even for a witch. He had to learn how to be patient and courteous with all members of the magical community – especially when he wanted to tell them to shove it and solve their own problems. On top of that he had just dropped out of medical school.
It was funny how in the magic world Wyatt had his destiny set out for him but in the mortal world he was completely clueless with what to do with his life. He thought he could be a doctor like his father was. However, Wyatt soon discovered he couldn’t stand the sight or stench of the rotting organs the school had preserved in alcohol. Then there was the dissection of male reproductive system. The lecturer had been far too casual about slicing the poor corpse’s dick and taking out the testes vas deferens and so on for the student’s viewing pleasure. Wyatt had promptly vomited then fainted, coming to the epiphany that he hated corpses beyond reason. Becoming a doctor wasn’t an option.
Chris had worse problems. When he turned fourteen Valkyries kidnapped him, claiming he had murdered one of their sisters – before he had even been conceived. Naturally, Chris didn’t remember the event so they summoned a sorceress to retrieve his memory.
The memories Chris received weren’t exactly his. An alternate version of Chris had travelled back in time and killed the Valkyrie on his bid to prevent a future where Wyatt had turned into an evil warlord. The Other Chris died to ensure this didn’t happen. Wyatt couldn’t imagine himself as an evil conqueror of another world but the evidence was in Chris’s face. Chris may have looked like an ordinary seventeen year old from the distance but he had the hardened gaze of someone who had lived in a warzone. He had all the tics of someone who had suffered Post Traumatic Stress. As a result, Chris had difficulty making and keeping friends and it was the main reason Piper really wanted him to go out tonight.
So that was the real reason Wyatt was dragging Chris along to this party. By no means would it make up for being an evil douchebag in another universe but it was all Wyatt could think of.
The best thing about the fit young men of this country was that they were so incredibly stupid. It had been easier than the Necromancer thought to snag unsuspecting victims into his fold; on Halloween so many of them got drunk so they were easy prey for his elderly zombie crew. So far the Necromancer had obtained a drunken werewolf, a frozen Jack Dawson and a Hamlet. He decided that these three would do; he didn’t want to risk exposure to magic and he didn’t want to draw too much attention. The Necromancer had learned from a source that Wyatt Halliwell was attending a mortal Halloween party. Good – he was away from his parents and away from that Book of Shadows which always seemed to save him at the last minute.
The new recruits were the most likely candidates to fit in with this party – after all he had caught them passed out of similar parties. He sent the rest of his crew back to their graves and instructed his newly created zombies only to seek out the Twice Blessed One – he couldn’t have them causing mass hysteria and frightening him away. Zombie Werewolf gnashed his teeth defiantly. The Necromancer slapped him up the head. He may be the lowliest sorcerer of the Underworld but he was still King of the Zombies. He directed them to the door and waited outside.
Chris was bored. He honestly would have preferred to stay at home and watch ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ again. As soon as they entered the party guys slapped Wyatt on the back and girls rushed up to him to give him a hug. Chris was ignored. His ears throbbed with the shitty dub-step music that pounded through the house and he couldn’t be bothered starting a conversation because he would be shouting over it til he was hoarse.
Bang! Bang! Someone sledge hammered the door with his or her fists. One of the guests, a Sea Captain, opened it up to reveal Hamlet, Jack Dawson and a grisly looking werewolf. For some reason these three had added blood to their costumes as well. These three were serious cosplayers – Zombie Hamlet looked like he was holding his guts in.
“Gnarly outfits dude!” The Sea Captain said, slapping Zombie Jack Dawson on the back. Zombie Jack Dawson gave him a feral snarl and the Sea Captain backed off, making the crazy gesture with his hand as he did so.
“Hey, I don’t remember inviting you three!” Mac yelled waving around his beer. He was wearing a Tarzan loincloth. “And you guys are spilling a lot of fake blood over my floor! You’re cleaning that up!”
There was an unnecessary amount of fake blood coming out of Zombie Hamlet’s stomach. It was quite a discourteous amount considering the footprints it was leaving on the floor.
Wyatt and Chris sidled up behind Mac to act as bouncers. As Chris got closer he was hit with the metallic smell of blood. He gagged – he knew what they were.
In the Other World necromancers had become very powerful sorcerers as the death toll had skyrocketed from the war. The Resistance had to defend themselves from zombie hordes on a daily basis. Chris and other members of the Resistance had taken to burning deceased members on their side ‘Supernatural’ style so necromancers couldn’t get a hold of their bodies. You learned to recognise a freshly Undead person pretty quick in the Other World.
Chris turned to Wyatt and saw that he realised the same thing. He stood stock still as the zombies crept forward. It was dimly lit and none of the other partygoers noticed there was something seriously wrong with these gatecrashers.
“Wyatt!” he whispered urgently.
Wyatt didn’t respond immediately. Now that they were closer to the zombies Chris could see Wyatt’s eyes widen as they examined the actual guts coming out of Zombie Hamlet. Zombie Werewolf looked like he had a slit throat and Zombie Jack Dawson’s left arm and neck were on unnatural angles.
Wyatt gagged a little. Chris rolled his eyes. “Wyatt they’re actual zombies. We need to get them away from people.”
Wyatt merely nodded. For a guy who had ruthlessly taken over the Other World and who was about to become King Arthur of this world he wasn’t a very inspiring leader. He just looked like a scared kid.
Chris had seen Wyatt fight off his share of demons and warlocks in this lifetime. Why zombies would frighten him was beyond him. Zombies could be fast, ruthless and dangerous but they weren’t smart – they didn’t adapt quickly to attacks in a fight.
If Wyatt wasn’t going to help Chris would have to take control. Fortunately they were still near the front door and he subtly telekinetically pushed them out. He ran after them and slammed the door behind him. Then he orbed himself and the three zombies away from Wyatt and the innocents in a swirl of lights.
Mac looked confused. “What just happened?”
He opened the door to find that Chris and the zombies had disappeared. “Where’d they go?”
He eyed off the beer he was clutching. “Must have had too much.”
Wyatt was ashamed. He had let his little brother take care of him when it should have been the other way around. Chris from another lifetime had given his life to save Wyatt from becoming a monster and Wyatt still hadn’t made it up to him yet.
Wyatt didn’t know what it was about dead people that held him paralysed. Partly the stench and partly the way their dead eyes stared at you, he supposed. You couldn’t help a dead person. A dead person was dead and there was nothing the Twice Blessed could do about it.
Sarah Parkinson had been under Wyatt’s care when demons struck an electric ball through her chest. He remembered the way her blue eyes turned cold and grey as the life was sucked out of her. His entire life Wyatt had been trained to help people but there was nothing he could do to make her better. He had all the power in the world and he was helpless. Wyatt hated being helpless. A zombie was just a horrible undead reminder that you couldn’t truly reverse death, an undead reminder of failure.
But he could still help the living. He sensed his brother had taken the zombies to the Halliwell Manor; he supposed it was to fight on a familiar battleground and minimise the risk of exposure. Wyatt excused himself from Mac and went to the bathroom. He disappeared in a swirl of lights and reappeared in the Halliwell attic.
Chris had opened a trunk that housed a number of weapons the family kept after killing the demons that possessed them. At the moment he was swinging around a gigantic spiky iron hammer that was far too big for him. Zombie Jack Dawson ran at him. Crunch! Chris had broken Jack Dawson’s other arm. Zombie Jack Dawson spun around and – Crunch! The blow had concaved Zombie Dawson’s head and he crumpled to the floor.
The other two zombies whirled on Wyatt. They were in their full undead glory now, nothing to hold them back. Saliva frothed and dribbled around their mouths, mixing in with the blood to give it a pink tinge. They flew and Wyatt threw his hands up.
Zzzt! The zombies bounced off, shocked by Wyatt’s force field, his defence mechanism since he was a baby. The zombies were surprised but not dead. They got up and glared at the electric blue sphere surrounding Wyatt. Then they raised their hands and forced their way through. The electricity burned through their hands as they pushed through but the zombies didn’t care for pain.
“Wyatt, are you a witch or not!” Chris screamed. He wasn’t going to be able to help Wyatt outside of the force field. He tried to telekinetically pull the zombies away from his brother but they were too far into the force field. He snatched up a darklighter bow from the trunk and aimed it at the back of Zombie Hamlet’s head that was still outside the sphere of protection. Thud! Zombie Hamlet fell face down but Zombie Werewolf had gotten through.
Zombie Werewolf was a grotesque sight up close. The force field had burnt his flesh so it was red and bubbled with blisters. He smelt horribly like barbeque. He leapt towards Wyatt.
Wyatt orbed to the other side of the room. The force field disappeared and Zombie Werewolf whirled around. He ran towards Wyatt but - Wham! He ran into Chris’s giant metal hammer. Zombie Werewolf crumpled but he didn’t give up. He snatched the metal hammer and jabbed Chris forcefully with the handle. Chris fell back.
“No!” Wyatt threw up his hands and the zombie telekinetically flew away from Chris and into the wall. Wyatt made a choking gesture with his hand and raised the zombie to he ceiling by his neck, cutting off the blood supply to the head.
“Headshot,” Chris wheezed, crawling to Wyatt’s side.
“What?” The blood boiled in Wyatt’s head. He wasn’t really listening.
“Headshot,” Chris repeated. “It’s the only way to kill a zombie.”
“That’s ridiculous, this guy is already bleeding from the neck!”
“I didn’t make up the rules, just do it!”
Wyatt telekinetically picked up the war hammer Chris had dropped and threw it at the zombie’s head. The zombie’s head smashed into wall and Wyatt let the hammer and the zombie drop to the floor with a crunch of the floorboards.
“What a mess,” Chris quipped. “No ten points for Gryffindor I suppose.”
“Headshot,” Wyatt muttered, looking away from the mess. “Freakin’ ridiculous way to kill a dead guy…”
“Said the guy who was just terrified of them a second ago. Seriously, of all fears to have, yours is of zombies? Zombies aren’t even intelligent!”
Wyatt looked away. Chris stood up.
“Sorry. I should have realised. You couldn’t stand to look at corpses in the Other World either. They were all reminders of people you couldn’t save,” Chris said gently.
Guilt settled in Wyatt’s empty stomach. “I’m sorry. For everything. For the Other World, for this…”
“Wyatt, it’s okay. None of this was your fault and that future didn’t happen anyway. Besides, if I didn’t live out that future I wouldn’t have the plethora of knowledge I have now and be as kickass awesome demon fighter I am today.”
Wyatt laughed. It was true. Half the time they managed to survive their battles was because of Chris’s twenty-two additional years of magical experience.
“So let’s go find the son of a bitch who is actually responsible for this mess. Necromancers are usually found around cemeteries…”