That the Dead May Walk

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This Weeks Prompt is: 8. Hor. Sto. Man makes appt. with old enemy. Dies—body keeps appt

The Resulting Story:The Duel

Mr. Lovecraft has given me an excuse to discuss the living dead. The process of reanimation is a recurring one in folklore and fiction. We discussed Frankenstien’s monster previously, as well as the Vampire or at least the Greek variant. But now we enter into the general topic of the dead that walk, specifically the walking corpses. This means, for the time, we will abandon ghosts, and I will not be doing anyhting on vampires for the coming story. No, we’ll discuss here and in the story, the revanent, the zombie, the draugr, and the ghoul. As well as the appointment that might have been made.

The revenant is, typically, a body animated by passions. Typically, such a revenant is a wicked man, a sinner, and unbeliever. Hence the passionate revival that they attempt to continue their sins, and spread illness and diesease as they go. The dead are to be exhumed and the corpse destroyed. Our appointment set up makes the revenant a good choice, as an appointment with an old enemy is no doubt emotional. The revenant is sometimes explained as being like a ghost, moved by unfinished business at some level.

The zombi or zombie, however, has a rich and confusing back ground. Arguably, the notion of cannibalistic undead traces all the way back to Ianna’s threat in the Epic of Gilgamesh, to free the dead, and have them overpower and devour the living. The term itself is, famously, from Hati and involves a bokor, or evil sorcerer in Voudun tradition.But the conception of a horde of monstrous creatures scampering over each other like mad cannibals is…well, suffice to say modern and ancient. The Night of the Walking Dead owes a great deal to Iannna’s threat and to My Name is Legend. The zombi of the Hatian tradition is not a simple brute, when directed by a bokor. If used in this prompt, the zombi, it seems must possess some intelligence. Whether the original mind or another, we shall see.

Part of the tradition, of man eating or cannibalistic undead, can traced to the Arabian Peninsula, with the ghoul or ghul. A ghul is malevolent spirit, that can be sent back to death by a stern blow to the head. Ghuls revive, however, if a second blow is delivered (so only hit once children). The not only eat, but robe and drink blood of victims, leading them into deserts in the form of hyenas. The term also goes back to the story of Vathek, a gothic tale with much to recommend.

The draugr is a Norse nightmare, however. Like revenant, it is an animate corpse, but often far worse. Draugr possess magical might,able to discoprorate, change size and shape, and any other horrible wasting tricks it has learned as one of the dearly departed. In several sagas, a Scotsman named Gramr takes the form of a draugr after death. And wrecks havoc for a number of days before being discovered. Draugr often guard lost land or treasure as well, determined to grip it to the last. They might, therefore not fit the appointment idea.

But what kind of appointment? For an enemy, there are a few options. Firstly, there is of course a simple meeting. A dinner, a date in some bizarre sense, or some sort of legal settlement. All of these lend an air of surreal to the proceedings (especially if there is a competition involved, since a lawyer who is not of the living arguing habeas corpus has a charm to it). The more exotic, however, is the old style of the duel. Dueling was a common European pursuit, but has a few interesting implications. Duels, like the dead, are things of passion and death. Fatal in their resolution, an undead opponent (particularly a revenant) is perfectly in his element with steel hitting steel.

But what would move a man to rise again? What passion? Love? Lust? Hate? Rage? Despair? Whom is his opponent? Where will they cross blades? I have found my own creature to raise, to tell that tale of tragedy and horror. What might yours say?

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4 thoughts on “That the Dead May Walk

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