A Cure For The Living Dead
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Content Warning: Self Harm, Gore

Everyone craves change.

The reverend rednecks of the run-down south revere a regressive form of change— they beg to bring it all back to "the way things were", remodeling their current reality regardless of repercussions. The progressives that reside within the coasts and cities also call to convert the status quo, to transfer the tyrants, to angrily alter the apparent errors of all administrations. The shining street signs always sing of shifting your prosaic possibilities with just one small promising purchase, and you always adjust the amount within your savings account in response. Likewise, the homeless and penurious hunt a permutation in their own poor prospects, though their profits may not not prove as plentiful as those which are granted to men who wear wallets and watches. They may instead develop into drug-diseased dwellers, desperately diving into downers and dope, derealization and disinfecting self-destruction.

The craving can be caught consistently even amidst more than these categorized classes, for it falls all the way down to the personal personnel: every common man wishes to warp his routine, switch his scenery, swap wives and upset pre-established lives. We take vacations to view "something new", though we never bother to voice why we venerate this so-called vivacious vitalization. We buy boisterous things which bring only fleeting temporary joys— these jaunts at first seem jubilant, but soon the seeking snare of swinishness swarms us once more, and again our lives start to bore and sore, until the next time we can “shake things up.” It is rare, if ever, that we really realize how we have done naught but moved things around again.

I myself am not immune to the impressive imagery of alteration; the influenza influenced each and every error of my arduous career, though at least I am now intelligent enough to identify these intense ideas when, again, they invade and interrupt every individual inquiry of mine.

But I do not tell you about my thriving thoughts because they are central to the sequential story ahead— instead this ramble rumbles on only so that it may contextualize my careless actions. I can only hope it might shed light on the cruel condition that has come to curl across me; for you see, the creature which converses with you now is hardly the man who knew this body beforehand. I was instead a scientist, a socialite, and a being of mass and tissue quite comparable to your own. I am no longer any of these things.

It was around three years ago when I began the paralyzing process— during this time I was a successful salesman and scholar who specialized in gross anatomy. I would wager my time by tuning tonics and elixirs based on my burdensome studies, before bartering them to busy bystanders and wealthy businessmen alike. It was an admissible lifestyle, and one that would've comforted and carried me well into the elder years of my existence…

…But it wasn't enough.

First, there was boredom. In small doses and when managed properly, boredom can be a negligible thing. But one can only outlast languor if they have already been acquainted with it— and I had not been. I grew up as a bastion of the bourgeoisie, and so the wealth which seldom wavered from my wallet was not a new sensation, and if anything, the goods that were given to me from my growing profession were hardly comparable to what I had gained as a younger man. I had come to face a paradoxical problem: I felt as if I was somehow making more than enough to survive, yet not nearly enough to live. A thought grew in my head that if I did not make more money, I would surely be worse than dead. That was the earliest sign of the aforementioned infection that is the influence of change… and I was simply too caught up in the awe of its control to consider its calamity.

These thoughts would only fester further as I spent more time with my tedious occupation, and soon whatever satisfaction I once saw began to vanish. Stagnation can do funny things to a man; he might waste his days watching pointless things, like the drying of paint or the changing of spring. The monotony did bring me to my knees, and when I was not withering my soul, then my body would be broken instead. I rarely ate, rarely slept, rarely contemplated any means of crushing the cruel depression which had overtaken me. I had instead allowed the sickening sadness to run its course through my veins, and it would poison them stronger than any venom I had ever seen.

One day during my dire despondency, I met a man on the street who spoke with strength and salesmanship. He preached of a practice that was apparently long forgotten: a powerful kind of science that was both "potent and prevalent", at least according to him. I did not know if I could believe him at first— he looked to be a cantankerous old man with no real erudition behind what he peddled, but rather a mere vessel voicing a product with which he had no familiarity to feign. But soon my sneering disbelief would die down, for he revealed to me that the science he sold was an atypical form of anatomy. As an analyst of this field myself, I became intrigued with his wild words, and would go home in search of more studies on the supposed subject.

The books I bought that elaborated on the old man's rumors and ruminations were often vague and conspiratorial in nature, but sometimes contained small nuggets of truth buried beneath the balderdash. It was with these waning widgets of wisdom that I was able to study the science, and accumulate the hard evidence and core methods of the supposed skillset. It deviated from the typical tropes of anatomical analysis in many ways— enough to convince me that the minds behind it were either uncovering something brilliant, or afflicted by something mentally maddening.

I would go on to waste many an hour locked within my study refusing to take up the tasks of my profession, and instead took to pouring through dusty books and manuscripts which spoke further on this impressive incarnation of anatomy. The art of "ancient anatomy"— as it was so called— was said to have been the greatest science of its kind… It was powerful enough to change the very fiber of the human soul, strong enough to last a lifetime, and yet mysterious enough that my suspicious sources never seemed to speak of why it had been cast from common use.

This obvious obsession overtook whatever remained of my optimistic outlook, overriding my priorities and overloading me with obduracy. Not long after, and my overwhelming intrigue would lead to unordinary action.

I spent a year yearning for learning more about the mystical mastery of ancient anatomy. My library must’ve lamented this lust, for it was lined head to toe with nothing to show other than a multitude of books to bolster my obscure fixation. During this time I destroyed all other documents within that depository— anything unrelated to my new knowledge was not necessary. These titular titles in particular were most often torn, trashed, or burned.

My health hurriedly became heavily horrid as well, and in my self-negligence I started to reek like hell whilst further starving myself. It was a cynical cycle— I destroyed my dismal life to pursue a new, all without yet realizing what I had come to lose. There was even a fleeting (albeit poignant) moment where I did consider dousing my derangement, as I was steadily making less progress on truly understanding this demanding magic. I came to wonder if it had all been for nothing, and if I had nullified my life simply due to this nonsensical need for something new…

But then…

A breakthrough!

I can't tell you exactly what made it happen. But I suspect that some flavors are only savored once we have grinded our tongues to nothing, and so the surprising sights which swiftly seized me might've operated under similar circumstances. That is to say: once my mind was muddled at such a massive magnitude, the mystery behind the history of the study became plain to me. I knew then how the knowledge worked, where it would've awoken, and why it wandered away from widespread use. What was once a wisdom so weird became a truth so tride, so trustworthy, that I thought myself foolish for never fully fixating on it during the early days of my dull drudgery.

The immediate awareness was heavenly, immaculate. I felt like a higher being, and like an arbitrate angel I would soon exact my god-ordained powers onto the imperfect nature of my environment. But first something important needed to be done: the trial run.

An exorbitant elixir could be crafted using the calling signs of these ancient arts, a puissant potion of peculiar parts that parted the plain membranes of the skin in order to ordain a more original oddity. In that way it was wayward from the more wonted approaches to anatomy: I was not shuffling over stacks of stale autopsy aftermaths, nor was I indulging in irrelevant ideas such as "standards", "practices", and "tools." I was creating something cosmic with this considerable concoction, and with it I could conjure results of far more merit than the average monotonous memoir. In order to secure this supernatural soup I would need to spend the small amount of savings I had remaining, but I was certain that this would not matter— The subsequent sea of praise and prosperity from my peers would be more than enough to cover what had been culled from my account.

Once my wonderous mixture of maggots and memorabilia began to settle within the writhing broth of the bowl, I knew the stew had finally been brewed. My initial subject to be exposed to the amalgam would come in the form of a dead rat I had found on the city streets; its body was still warm when I happened across it. Covering the carcass head to toe with the tonic, I observed from afar as its now animated body arose from the floor of my abode and began to contort and contrast, twisting violently as an aggregate of the elixir pulsated beneath its skin, no doubt flowing through its veins and aggravating its atrophied muscles. Before I knew it, it was groaning and growing, skin peeling back and blooming into a being of form so altered and alien that it may as well have been a new animal altogether. I threw my hands up in ecstasy upon the existential instance before me— It had changed, and therefore I had succeeded. I completed this cheerful celebration by smashing the stygian creature with the nearest hammer.

After that, my chaotic cycle came to a crashing culmination. I transformed into an arbiter of agony, and would exert my egregious toxin onto any varmint I could vanquish, be they alive or dead or somewhere in between. The basement of my now-decrepit domicile was drenched with the miasma of melting meat, as the decomposed cadavers of executed test subjects began to break apart and fizzle into piles of untold ooze. In retrospect, I could not regale a tale of why I was inclined to torment these piteous pests… perhaps it was simply a distraction for me? A prudent way to push this prevailing need for change, even if it was enacted on entities other than myself? I wish I could tell you what I had thought, but my memory of these malicious measures is mired and mutable at best.

But I do remember the ensuing irritation. The aggravation at my imitations of divine power, the disappointment at the diabolical results of such impersonations; the flailing, screaming fetuses of festering flesh that followed in my wake. Yes, they had changed, but the alterations were not adequate enough for my evil eye. Still I yearned for more significant sights— something so substantial and extensive that it could cement me as the prince of permutation for all eternity, so dishonorable and devilish that it would inspire dire deliberation upon anyone who dared to view it.

I knew then that I would never satisfy my sensational craving if I spent my time carelessly carving up the carcasses of critters, that I would never feel the fruits of my labors if I continued to toil over these languishing lifeforms. There was only ever one way this excursion would end, and it thus became a case of commitment, not research. With that realization readily revealing itself, I had finally finalized the most ultimate of my experiments. It would not prove an easy task, nor a pleasant one, but it would be the only way to satiate my slowly suffering psyche:

As my unstable hands shakily carried the compound to my parched mouth, I drank the remainder of my solution.

Almost instantly, malevolent members of malignant, malformed muscles began to break through the barriers of my body. Breaching the surface of my suffering skin, satanic segments of sinew grew to significant sizes, spreading across my stained back like the sorrowful wings of a smited seraph. The pain was plainly palpable, the parting of my external epidermis punctuating the piercing peeling feeling like a cruel kind of period to a sentence composed of only punishment. I reeled and retched in response, rolling around the hardwood floors, a frightened fallen figure flailing in fear and faltering fortitude. Though I initially yelled in aimless agony, my vehemently violated voice would come to a very hasty halt: the hateful drink had dissolved my lungs and fused them with the rest of my fluctuating physique, successfully silencing my scared screaming.

I wanted all of this, of course. From the moment I saw that mutated rodent, I had decided that I too needed to enter a land of atrophy and pain, a world so separated from my current state of life that to live it would mean experiencing something indescribably unique and intensely individual. I saw it as transforming into a brand-new breed of bastard creature, not quite man nor beast, but rather an evergreen evolution— a branching path of lifeform made out of unmatched experiences and intense, immense emotions. I have since come to resent these demented determinations of mine, as I now know this metamorphosis would not be one of any revolution or enlightenment, but rather only simple and constant torture.

So many nights have come to pass after those terrible actions of mine, and yet I still await for this awful ailment to alleviate. My modern mornings are most often naught but woeful mournings over what has been burgled by the broth— to call my careless defacement a mere disfiguration would be a disastrous understatement. It was something much more than that: a grand demolition of normalcy, a cavalcade of spasms and stings that stretched all across my strange, misshapen lump of a skeleton. My evenings are all the more execrable, reduced to nothing but bleak musings and animalistic twitches. The weakening waning of my once-strong wits is undeniably obvious as well, as what was once a product of poor personal faculties has now developed into something far more parasitic, primal, and paranoid in nature. I can feel my once-enormous intelligence as it slowly slips away, the folds of my brain likely crumpling and collapsing just as much as the rest of me.

This regrettable rampage has also rendered me a recluse, as my mangled mass has molded itself into something entirely unearthly in composition. To walk the streets below may not prove a death sentence, but perhaps the contrary— it could guarantee me a life of tests and trials, a thousand days dedicated to the pricking of needles alongside the puzzled proclamations of professors much lesser than I. Worse than that— I would become a freak, a sideshow slideshow of wriggling appendages, budding eyestalks, and jagged rows of regenerating teeth pockets. I can see the circus posters now; the audacious names they would come up with in order to designate the meaty coffin that surrounds and assaults me at all times. Beneath the posters, inside the tent, you would no doubt hear the cracking of their leather whips as they carted me betwixt each horrendous hippodrome. No matter the outcome, my human rights are forfeit, as I'd have to be human in the first place in order to retain them…

No, I don't want any of those lives. More so, I can't confidently say that I'd like to live at all under these cautious circumstances. I continue to involuntarily convert my complexion at all times, and I know deep down that these doomed distillations will only deepen and darken with each concurrent change. Even now, as my corrupted voice confers with yours, I can feel the remains of what was once my jaw as it begins to loosen and decay. Soon, so very soon, that mandible will decouple from my skull, clatter to the cold ground, and shatter into a million shiny shards. And with that, my speech— the final anthropoid piece that I still possess— will be gone forever.

You are the first fellow I have spoken with ever since my catastrophic compulsion over change has commenced. Although I am sorry to have alarmed you with my appearance, you must understand something— I saw you from the window of my bedroom several nights ago, feeding the frenzied squirrels of the sodden streets below. I could see in your eyes that you carried compassion with you, a love for creatures of the small and incapable kind. Do you share that love with my pathetic persona? That is to say, could you take it upon yourself to commence a most caring act upon me, much as how you had saved those starving Sciuridae?

Within the halls of my cursed chambers resides a can of flammable material, tucked away just inside of a cupboard with which I myself cannot open. As you can see, my hands are now confined within the contours of crude claws; not nearly dexterous enough to interface with the complex lock I had once fitted upon the steel doors of the container. I need you to find the key to this gasoline, unseal the vessel that surrounds it, and please— begin dousing the house. You have to cover every inch of this place with a layer of slick, black oil. Take extra heed in drowning the library: I do not want even a single one of those books to endure the damaging diesel, for they contain the very instructions behind the construction of my nightmarish serum.

Once the house has been placated with petrol, I beg you to return to me in order to drench my body with the very same substance. You may wonder why I wish for such a smoldering fate, but to that let me retort with two considerations for you:

One. Consider what I have already experienced. Then compare it to the sensation of crackling flame. To put it bluntly; the difference is so vast, so infinite, that the latter will be almost unnoticeable when put against the former.

Two. Consider what may occur if I do not take this route, if I expire further and develop into something supremely unseemly. Better yet— think of what may commence if I am forced to find an alternative method of massacre. Would you rather witness me as I plummet into the city, my innards spiraling outward as the crazed civilians congregate around my curious corpse? This way, I will simply be buried beneath the ash, never to be seen again, your eyes hopefully being the first and last to gaze upon my cacophonous configuration. If you still need yet another reason why this death is the least dim, I offer you this thought:

Say I somehow find a gun, or something similar. Assume I can manage to use the device properly, even with my many afflictions, and that I succeed in ending things. I have only truly ended my mind, correct? The flesh still remains, ever growing and adapting. It sustains itself, my concoction feeding and fueling it much more than my fleeting feelings ever could.

Now, you have a body without its owner. You have the potion overtaken, controlling every last whim of what is now essentially a machine. And all that machine will do is continue to expand and consume, moving without the restrictions of a human who was at the very least more obsessed with themselves rather than the world around them. By belating this benign begging of mine, you will inadvertently create a creature without moral nor master, and it will do as it wants without any consequence. Maybe it will make more members— the brew becoming a self-replicating virus, spreading from being to being as it carries the knowledge of its own formula along with every organism that it overwhelms, my cadaver becoming the patient zero to a plague unlike any other? Can you picture an army of me? Do you even want to?

That's enough envisioning, my friend. I hope you now understand what needs to be done, and that you will agree to assist me during these dastardly times of mine. I will wait for you here, in my blighted bedroom. I will watch the wicker of my windows candle as it flickers and fades, before melting away entirely.

It has started to remind me of myself, in some senses.

When you walk back to my whereabouts, I must also implore you to hand me the match which we will use to ward this wretched malison of mine. I must be the one to commence this cleansing conflagration…

For it will be the last change I ever enact.

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