Eyes closed, I let the rune form in my mind, flow down my arm, and slip from my fingertips onto the lid of the wooden chest. I’d tuned out the sound of traffic and the pinging of whatever ran through the pipes. Nate’s labored breath was my focus, a wheezing metronome, winding down too fast. I finished warding the box and turned to him.
“This next part is going to suck.”
“Because it hasn’t so far?” He laughed. It devolved into a coughing fit.
“Not like this.”
“At least if you kill me, the pain will stop.”
I didn’t know if that was true, but he didn’t need my opinion on the afterlife. Or un-life, in this case. Watching my brother die would be devastating. Killing him again if he rose would be worse. And harder.
“Hey, Seth? You know what you’re doing, right?”
“Magic is my thing, remember?” I couldn’t lie to him outright, but dissembling was okay. “I’ve got this.”
“I just wanted to be sure.”
I wanted that, too, but I’d never tried to remove a zombie curse before, and the source of my lore was sketchy, at best.
“Keep looking in my eyes, okay?”
He screamed as I withdrew the knife and tossed it in the box. When I closed the lid, Nate collapsed. Black goo oozed from his wound. I packed it with ritual herbs, laid him down in the circle, covered him with sigils, and settled in to wait, machete in hand.
NOTE: This is is out of the regular story time-line, taking place some time in the future.