Vigour Mortis

It's the year 1873 and young Jonah Adamson is heading down a dark path. After a run in with the police, his family's lawyer hands him the story of infamous body-snatcher Terence Mortis, a man that gave literal meaning to the term "resurrection man". Before too long Jonah begins searching for the secret to Mortis' success, with terrible consequences.

‘An elderly pauper once told me, when I asked him how he felt about his poverty, “I carry my life on my face, in my bones and through my thoughts, I don’t need a load of possessions to show myself how I’ve lived.” Surprisingly wise words from one so dishevelled, I believe.’

‘Sounds like the drink-fuelled ravings of an old lunatic to me,’ Jonah smirked as he rapped his fingers on the polished table. ‘What are you doing questioning beggars anyway, Jonesy?’

A grave expression crept across the face of the already stern man sat opposite the youth. ‘That man was my father. He was what some would refer to as a businessman yet he was nothing of the sort; my father was a criminal, pure and simple. He was the most despicable, heartless bastard I have ever had the misfortune of meeting, yet he was also one of the wisest I’ve ever known.’

The office they were sat in was one of the more dull and monotonous examples of a room Jonah had ever seen. The wood panelled walls were a matching colour to the faded mahogany bookcases, the pine table he was sat at and the thinning brown hair of Derek Jones, the family lawyer.

The pale sun that poured in from the open window pierced the November fog and settled behind Mr Jones, making his shorthair appear more as a halo or divine aura than a permanent part of his scalp. His jet black suit was immaculate, not even the cravat he wore was creased more than the barrister deemed necessary and the heavily bleached shirt seemed as consistently stiff as the collar that scraped his jaw. Although the man was well into his fifties, he appeared younger as he was of a dour and joyless disposition and it was rare for him to exert himself in any form of facial expression. His main signs of age, however, were in the dark rings around his eyes one would associate with insomnia and his sagging cheeks and jowls.

‘You may think of yourself as something of a rebel or hellion with the petty crime you have committed, Master Adamson, yet you are almost cherubic in nature compared to the man my father was,’ Mr Jones continued in his bored sounding voice.

Jonah ceased drumming his fingers on the table and placed his open palm gently on the surface. ‘Look, Jonesy, I didn’t do it out of any misguided wish to appear rebellious, alright.’

‘I may be in your father’s employment,’ Mr Jones grimaced faintly, ‘but that doesn’t give you permission to use such familiarities with me, young sir. Now please, do enlighten me as to your reasons.’

Had Jonah had a good excuse he would never have been in this office to begin with. The truth was embarrassing beyond comprehension for him, yet it was always met with the same reaction; disbelief and annoyance. ‘I’d been at my dad’s whiskey. I didn’t have much of it though, I’ll admit that. After I had a glass or two I went out to meet a few of my friends in town. Only problem is… well, I guess I can’t hold my drink and I needed to take a p-’

‘You needed to urinate,’ Mr Jones interjected. ‘The real problem is that you were travelling through a graveyard at the time and decided to perform that… bodily function upon a tombstone. Now, desecration of a grave in that manner is only considered a trivial misdemeanour, yet the family of the deceased you unwillingly desecrated could have taken this to court. Luckily they were dissuaded through an apology and a money settlement.’

The barrister straightened his suit jacket and cleared his throat as he rose to his feet. ‘Before you consider turning the churchyard into your personal lavatory again in future, I suggest you read this.’ He turned to the bookcase on his left and pulled out a weathered, leather-bound tome. It landed with an almighty thud on the table, causing Jonah to leap in his seat slightly. ‘This should provide an insight as to why your father wasn’t so keen for you to be around graves, and why you should think twice before committing any crime; trivial or no.’

Quiet laughter shook Jonah’s shoulders as he looked up at Mr Jones. ‘What is this? Some child’s fairy tale? A horror story, trying to scare me into a certain moral path?’

‘I’d prefer to think of it as a few words of warning; an attempt to dissuade you from a terrible path.’ A thin, haunted smile spread across Jones’ gaunt features, making him appear as a well-dressed ghoul.

Jonah snatched the book from the table and made for the door in silence, eager to leave the lawyer’s presence.

The End

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