His eyes opened with a thunderous crack only he could hear. He gasped with lungs that had not held air in years, and still held no air as he choked on darkness, the pressing, crushing darkness threatening to consume him-- no. That had already consumed him. He flailed wildly with brittle arms and brittle legs that struck out, unable to move much, but moving more than they had in centuries. The darkness around him shifted, slowly. Somewhere above, wood splintered and broke, and he pressed himself upwards against the weight.
It was dawn when his gnarled hands broke the surface.
* * * * *
She didn't know why she'd woken up.
She didn't know how long she'd been asleep.
There were vague recollections, memories that had been fresh when she was still in the ground, but faded with the rising sun once she was out. Memories of a family whose faces are blurred around the edges, and of a fever that swept through the town.
But that was all a long time ago, a time growing farther away by the second. She looked down at her arms and saw by the weak light that the flesh was returning, covering her dry bones again.
Around her, others were making the same journey from the dirt in a morbid rebirth, experiencing the same return, the same fleeting memories, the same miraculous healing.
They were alive again.
And, like her, they all felt the same sudden craving.
* * * * *
It was fitting that he had slept like the dead. It was also fitting that wakefulness should come to him with difficulty. With a moan and a groan, he tried to heft himself up, only to wind up rolling awkwardly to the side. His cheek met with the jarring sensations of strange prickliness and chilling dampness. He reached out blindly for the blanket and found there was none, only more cold and wet. That was enough to finally rouse him, and he forced himself into a sitting position.
The necromancer blinked blearily into the morning light and tried to get his bearings.
He was. . . Outside. Sitting on wet grass in the shade of an enormous oak. Orange and brown leaves carpeted the ground around him, damp with early morning dew.
Why was he outside? And why, among the leaves, were there so many mounds of loose dirt?
He rose, legs wobbling, and tried to steady himself on a nearby tombstone. Nausea hit him like a punch to the gut, and he tried very hard not to vomit. Hunched and miserable and supported by the grave marker, he tried to remember what happened last night.
They'd been at a party. There was some recollection of jello shots. Of Terra scarfing them down like candy, and him trying to keep up with her.
No fucking wonder he felt so bad. Trying to keep up with a fairy drinking was like trying to ride a hurricane, and in his experience it tended to end up with a comparable amount of property damage.
"Pretty crazy, right?" said a voice behind him.
He turned around and saw a nothing but cemetery and dangling feet. Then he looked up and saw a young woman sitting in the tree, her thick white hair floating around her head as though she were under water.
"Hey, Terra," he said. "What d'you mean?"
She she chuckled and jerked her head, gesturing behind him.
He turned with a frown, wondering what she was looking at. it took him a moment to realize what he was seeing, and his jaw dropped.
Off in the distance, just beyond a short partitionary wall separating the cemetery from the hillside, Two dozen-- no, more than that, had to be-- over two dozen corpses in various stages of decomposition spun, snapped, waved and jiggled unpleasantly in unison.
"Did- uh. Did I do that?"
"Noooo," she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "They all just decided to do that on their own."
She slid down from the branch and floated gently to the ground, landing delicately on one foot.
"I probably should've stopped you," she said, "but I wanted to see what would happen."
They watched the bodies wave their arms to the sides, their hands curled like claws.
"So what are they doing?" she said.
Tom winced and rubbed his temples. "Ever see Michael Jackson's 'Thriller'?"
"Wanna know what I just heard?" she said cheerfully. "'I was just that drunk, Terra. Thank you for finding me and helping me fix this.' To which I say, 'no problem, Tom. You know I'm always happy to help."
They headed for the hill, Tom leaning on her shoulder and aching every inch of the way. He didn't know what he'd done the night before, but he just knew he'd be covered in bruises by lunch time.
"Thanks, Terra," he said meekly.
"No problem, Tombo. I'm always happy to help."
"You realize we're gonna have to rebury them."
"Oh no we don't," she said. "They crawled out, they can crawl right back in. Go on, tell 'em."
His head pounded. "Why me?"
""Cause you're the one who called them up! Go on, go on."
"Ugh." He tore himself from Terra's side and clambered over the short wall. It was only knee-high, and clearly decorative only, but it still gave him trouble.
"Okay, everyone," he said once he was in front of the undead mob. "Listen up." He let a little magic flow with the words. "You're all going to go back into the ground. All of you. You're going to pull the dirt back over when you do, and you're-- oh for the-- will you all just stop dancing?"
Reluctantly, the rhythmic shambling ceased. Disappointment hit him in a silent mental wave.
"Jeez," he called to Terra. "They really liked the dancing,"
"Dance with death. The dead can dance. Isn't that a song or something?"
"Don't know. Okay everybody, back into the ground! Come on, chop-chop!"
Sadly, the group of dancers trudged back to their graves. If they'd had the vocal capacity, they'd've been groaning and muttering like school kids.
"I feel kinda bad for them, now," said Terra. "You're such a buzzkill."
"Me?! You were the one who woke me up. Besides, they can't just dance like that. Someone would have seen them."
"I guess. Still wish there was something we could do for them, though."
Tom thought about it as he watched the undead bury themselves. Once everyone had gone under again, he took back the spark of not-quite-life he'd given them all for the night. Six feet below ground, they were once again empty husks.
"You know," he said as they walked to Terra's car. "I don't think that really counted."
"I mean, I apparently went all crazy necromancer last night, and I don't even remember it. I didn't get to have any fun. There wasn't even music, so you can't call it a proper dance."
Terra's face split into a wicked grin. "And Halloween's coming up."
"Got any plans for the thirty first?" he said.
"I was going to throw a party."
"I'm throwing a better one."
They drove off, leaving the temporarily quiet cemetery behind them.