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Excerpt from the Diagnostic and Necromantic Manual, 5th edition Regarding the Departed


4.200 – Reuniting with Departed Lovers, Pets, and/or Network-enabled Electronic Devices, Alternate Methods for

In some rare cases, the methods laid out by section 4.100 (Classic Necromantic Rituals) will fail to return loved ones—or their devices—to life.  In such instances, the practitioner or her client may feel the onset of despair.  As though caught in an avalanche in the Italian Alps, she may seem to hear the loved one’s voice fading away forever.  The sky may press in; the sound of passing helicopters may bring on a mixture of trepidation and relief.

These feelings are mere homonculi of the mind and can be safely discarded.  (Should these feelings be the work of actual homonculi, the practitioner may benefit by referencing “Demonic Mind-Parasites, Potentially Non-Fatal Methods for the Removal of” in section 3.402 of this manual.)

As ever, it is useful to recall that magic is—at its core—a system of symbolic transactions.  The universe and the practitioner’s place within it may be successfully reconfigured by novel and arresting metaphors, well-executed public happenings, or straightforward refusal to accept the reality and permanence of death.

The following suggestions were automatically generated during the mind-absorption process performed by the original owner of this manual.  While they may prove effective, the International Federation of Necromantic Practitioners hereby disclaims responsibility for any dimensional collapses, magically-imbued housewares, ruptured fourth walls, homicide charges, and/or heartburn which result from their use.

4.201 – Listing of Methods

4.201.1 – Compose a lament in the traditional style of your choice.

Relevant cultural norms and practices should be accounted for.  If possible, the practitioner should take the time to research these beyond her somewhat tenuous present understanding.  She may wish to ask the departed’s family or manufacturer for input, recalling their first-hand experience with the culture of the deceased.

Do not use iambic pentameter, as it may attract lesser demons and pedants.

4.201.2 – Using Meliglaf’s Mellifluous Menagerie, transmute a favourite toy/keepsake/accessory into a string quartet, ensuring that the violin is not played by too flashy or condescending of a performer.

The practitioner should also take care that she does not recall how they first met in a busy New York subway, the only two to stop and listen to an extemporaneous performance of the Helikopter-Streichquartett (sans helicopters).

4.201.3 – Cook a hearty breakfast for two.

One never knows.

4.201.4 – Transmit half-remembered promises to SETI as encrypted files so that they appear to be extra-terrestrial contact.

The following may be acceptable subjects: A child and a home and a family dog; a moonlit anniversary night spent with wine and song and a hot tub; a trip to the pet spa; the latest Bluetooth headset.

The resulting storm of speculation and subsequent disappointment at the hoax, combined with the repeated transmission of things important to the practitioner and/or client’s loved one, pet, or electronic device, will on certain days in certain months of certain years destabilize reality, allowing the practitioner to reach through the veil of death and retrieve him, her, or it.

4.201.5 – Call loudly from the western-most base of a mountain which overlooks a lake.

In some cultures, bodies of water can act as a gateway to the spirit world.  West is the direction in which the departed go. The practitioner can take advantage of these two facts by loudly and clearly calling out the name or model of the departed while facing west near a lake.  The mountain serves to reinforce the weight of her longing and regret.

This one takes time, so remember: persistence is key.

(Note that 4.201.5 should not be attempted in winter.)

4.201.6 – Write synonyms for heartache on your ceilings, walls, and floor until your cheap studio apartment appears to vanish behind the shadow they cast.

Do not mistake the shadow for clouds or for rescuers.  No rain will fall; no relief will come.

4.201.7 – Cast oneself from a skyscraper while singing the final lines from Verdi’s Aida, dressed only in a suit jacket and a tub of day-glo orange paint.

So unlikely a combination of events inverts the flow of time.  The practitioner may return to that breathless moment at the Met when she fumbled the ring from her rented tuxedo and proposed.

Time may or may not resume its normal course.

Provision of a trampoline or other device at the base of the building is recommended, or success will be a transient thing.

4.300 – Acceptance as Necromantic Ritual

If all methods in sections 4.100 and 4.200 fail, the practitioner may wish to stop taking refuge in the pretense of seeking to help a “client” and accept the reality of her loss.

In these instances it can be comforting to view natural death, as well as the rituals used to reverse it, as a symbolic transaction.  While the pain from such a permanent loss never truly vanishes, it can be made to lessen through daily rituals as diverse as meditation, consigning this manual to a fire, long walks on quiet beaches, or calling up unstoppable armies of the damned to wreak havoc on the world.  Laughter (mad or otherwise) can be cathartic.  In extreme cases, the practitioner may even wish to consult a psychiatrist.

Whichever method the practitioner chooses, she must be willing to accept that pain is universal, and that beauty can, like a sudden surge of snow, be deadly.


Previously published in the Sockdolager (Winter 2015). Reprinted here by permission of the author.

Stewart C Baker

Stewart C Baker is an academic librarian, haikuist, and speculative fiction writer. His fiction has appeared in Galaxy’s Edge, The Sockdolager, and Flash Fiction Online, among other magazines, and is forthcoming in Writers of the Future volume 32. Stewart was born in England, has spent time in South Carolina, Japan, and California, and now lives in western Oregon with his wife and children—although if anyone asks, he’ll say he’s from the Internet. His website is http://infomancy.net/.

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