#BookbedFictory 029: ‘A Second Chance’

by Celestine Trinidad
This year’s Fictory is for a cause. We donate P100 to a chosen beneficiary for every fic submitted this July. Participate here if you can. You may also submit a story anytime of the year. Enjoy this one!

Prompt: A necromancer doesn’t know that he can bring back the dead using magic, he just thinks he’s a really good doctor.

Alunsina glared down at the young man on the floor, his arms and feet bound with magic, stronger than any metal chain. He met her gaze with a puzzled look, which made her roll her eyes. Oh, Bathala. Another one of those men who pretended they were innocent.

“I really think that these restraints are unnecessary,” he said. “I would have come to your station—do Diwata police also have stations?—anyway, I would have come with you willingly.” And then he had the audacity to smile at her. “I really would have, if you had at least told me what my crime was.”

“Don’t play dumb,” she said. “You know very well what you did.”

She started listing his crimes. Dr. Jonathan Basilio, a seemingly normal human doctor; but she knew what he really was: a necromancer. He raised the dead and made them do his bidding, and what made him more despicable still was that he did all that without even bothering to hide it, like it was something to be proud of. 

He should have known that justice would have caught up with him eventually. The Diwata police, guardians of the three realms, did not tolerate abuse of magic of any sort, and they did not punish wrongdoers lightly.

When she finished, she saw that he was still looking at her with that expression of mild bewilderment on his face. And then to her complete and utter surprise, he started laughing

She clenched her fists, and the magic binding his arms and feet tightened. “You think this is funny?” she hissed. “How is manipulating dead people funny, and using them for your wicked purposes—”

“Ah, I’m sorry!” he cried out. “I thought…I thought you were joking. You really believe I could do that?” 

Now she was confused. He sounded…sincere, which was…unusual, to say the least.

“Like Marilyn Cabahug,” he went on. “You said I raised her from the dead? Well, her heart did stop beating, but I did what any doctor would do when that happens. I did ACLS.”

She gaped at him.

“Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support,” he explained patiently. “Do the Diwata also do that, or do you use magic on everything? I did chest compressions and provided ventilation, and epinephrine for—”

“I know what it is,” she snapped, even though she really didn’t have the slightest idea. “Okay, the circumstances for Jaybee Medina were similar, but what about Edgardo Macalintal? Wasn’t he already dead for eight hours before you revived him? And weren’t you going to examine him to find out why he died?  Perform a—uh, what do you call that—”

“An autopsy,” he supplied. “Well, yes. I was there to observe the procedure because he was my patient. There’s a rare condition called catalepsy, where a person’s vital signs drop to very low levels, so they are nearly undetectable. That’s probably just what happened. I thought I saw him move his hand when he was on the autopsy table, so I jumped in and started CPR. Oh, that’s cardiopulmonary resuscitation—”

“I don’t care what the hell you call it,” she growled. “It’s necromancy, plain and simple. Lady Magwayen was already expecting them, and she was already supposed to ferry their souls to Sulad. Edgardo Macalintal was actually already in her boat when you pulled him back. And then you commanded them to do all sorts of things for you—”

“I’m sorry, I was just really hungry!” he protested. “It was a really toxic duty night, and I hadn’t eaten since the morning. Mr. Macalintal asked me what I wanted, so I joked that I really wanted a cheeseburger—”

“But that’s not all you asked them to do!”

He frowned. “Well, they asked me what they were going to do now that they were alive again. All I said was maybe it was a second chance for them, a chance to do things right this time.” His eyebrows furrowed. “What did they do?”

That had her pause, for a few heartbeats. “Well,” she said finally, “Marilyn Cabahug reconciled with her father, who she had cut off all communication with ten years ago. Jaybee Medina donated all the money he had embezzled from his company to various charities. And Edgardo Macalintal—” She sighed. “He confessed to the murder of a young girl, which he was able to cover up before because he was mayor of the city. They all died soon after accomplishing these things.”

“Oh, thank God,” he said. He looked back up at her. “I really didn’t know I was doing it, I swear. I really thought I was just doing my job.” He grinned, wryly. “And may I say, being exceptionally good at it, too. There goes my professional pride, then.”

She stared at him, considering. He did violate the laws of magic, but he really didn’t seem to be aware of his abilities, and—as much as she hated to admit it—when he raised the dead, he did give them another chance at life. Another chance to be good; to make things right, as he did say.

She sighed again, and released his bonds.

“Thank you,” he said, rubbing his wrists.

“You still have to come with me to Kalangitan,” she said. “I mean, to—to the station, fine. You won’t be charged anything, but you’ll have to be trained how to control your abilities, so you won’t abuse them.”

“I see,” he said. His expression brightened, suddenly. “Will you be training me?”

“What? No,” she said, disconcerted. “They’ll probably assign a teacher to you.”

“Oh, well,” he said. His smile faded a little bit at that. He stood up. “Let’s go, then?”

What a strange, strange man, she thought. Humans still could surprise her, after all. She thought she had seen everything in this job, but she was wrong.

“Yes, let’s go.” For some reason, she suddenly found herself smiling. ☁️

Celestine Trinidad is a licensed physician (particularly, a pathologist) based in the Philippines. In her spare time, she writes speculative fiction, romance, and children’s short stories. Some of her other stories have been published in other print and online venues, such as The Digest of Philippine Genre Stories, Alternative Alamat, and the Southeast Asian Fantasy volume of Insignia, and her first novel, Ghost of a Feeling, which is part of the Romance Class books, is available on Amazon.


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