by J.P. Sullivan
"Yes, I can bring your wife back from the dead," I told the farmer, who had reasonable
doubts about my abilities. "Just realize that it might not be what she wants."
"She wants to see her children again," he said. He'd told me his name, but I'd forgotten it.
Honestly, it's better that way. He had a smith's build, muscle on muscle, more beard than chin. I
could tell at a glance he'd never had a crooked thought in his life. People like that are awfully
hard to negotiate with. Thankfully, I have flat rates.
"She signed the consent form?" The local chapel smelled like soot and incense. They
hadn't cremated her. That triples the fee and gives me a dreadful headache besides.
"I know I'm asking for a miracle," the farmer said. "You can really do it for ten crowns
It's not a miracle, I might have said. It's a clever utilization of certain natural laws, an
inversion of a subtle current and a trick played on God. Miracles assume His blessing, this
process having none of it. But you start throwing around a word like 'resurrection,' and people get
all kinds of ideas. "Did you bring the form, or not?"
He produced it. And there it was, in hill-country chicken scratch, her name on the
appropriate lines. There's a correct way of doing everything. Why should reanimation be any
I said the words, laid the hooks and lines and rock salt circles. Not all of that's important,
but the ceremony is part of the service. Like a funeral, it's for the living.
The church was empty of clergy. They couldn't have run off too long ago; one of the fires
was still lit. Every rider on the hill looked like a foreign raid, with the war on. For all I knew,
they hid from me.
"I don't like this," said the farmer.
"Don't worry," I said, hands at the dead woman's brow. "I don't like it either."
Then I was in the elsewhere.
White light rippled across the surface of calm water. Grass rustled in warm and silent
wind. Overhead was a sky more blue than the one God painted, lit by suns numbered seventeen.
My stiff clearly died with a guiltless conscience.
"All right," I said. I was smoking a pipe. I've never done that in the flesh; smells bloody
awful, if you ask me. But this me knew how to do it, knew just how long to hold it in and just
how deep to breathe. It smelled like an old man's fireplace. I noticed I had an old man's hands.
For a moment I looked into the water. My face had lines and furrows and a hard earned tan. My
eyes were green like hers were green. People see in me what they want to see, and the situation
here wasn't hard to read.
So I said, "It's time to go back, Michelina."
"I just got here," she said, relaxed as can be. "The angels haven't come for me yet."
"Time moves differently here," I said. "It's been nearly three days." Which was cutting it
razor thin. If a keeper showed up--well, best not to fret over it. I only needed a few minutes to
work my technique. Getting in is easy. Getting out requires time.
"I have so much to tell you," she said, eyes welling up. "Can you sing to me like you used
"What do you want to hear?"
She asked for Lulaj, Stari Hulaj. I don't speak that language.
"You were very ill, Michelina." I crouched before her with the creak of an old man's
bones. "But you're getting better." I took her hand. This, too, was part of the service. "Your
husband misses you very much. Someday I'll sing for both of you."
"He's a fool," she said. "And lazy. I never should have married him and I hope he goes to