Raise the Dead

A chalk circle around a dead mouse won’t stop the ants from coming to feed on its little furry brown corpse. Ants not crossing a chalk line is just something someone made up. My mother imparted this false truth on me one day. “Simone, ants will not cross that line,” she had told me one day as she chalked around our kitchen window sill.

It seems ants in Detroit don’t know that chalk lines hold some mystical power. It May be that these ants evolved and adapted like a lot of people in our city have had to do. Regardless, these city ants will march right across that damn line without a care. However, a chalk circle and some blood will bring a mouse back to life if you’re the right kind of freak.

I stumbled upon my ability quite innocently enough when I was eleven-years-old. Our tomcat, Mr. Bojangles, had decimated a poor mouse and was playing with its dead body on the sidewalk in front of our building. It’s not Mr. Bojangles fault, his lot in life was that he was reimbursed with one square meal a day and a dry place to sleep for carrying out the task of being a mouser. He was doing the job he was designed to do. But it broke my heart to see these poor mice being ruthlessly murdered and then seeing their little bodies batted around. As such, I shooed Mr.Bojangles away from this particular victim.

Having watched one too many episodes of Grey’s Anatomy with my mom I thought I could save this mouse using skills I had garnered from the TV program. So I tried to suture the mouse back up with mom’s sewing needle and thread which in hindsight was probably a cruel act of torture.

I can just imagine what was going through that mouse’s mind. “Aaah a cat got me, tore me to bits, scratched and clawed me, bit me and ripped me open! That’s got to be the end of it. Time to shuffle off this mortal coil oh wait….some little girl is trying to sew me back together! Ouch! That bloody well hurts. Please stop! AAAAHH!”

Poor damn mouse. Needless to say no number of episodes of Grey’s Anatomy will ever make me, or anyone else for that matter, a surgeon. My eleven-year-old surgical skills couldn’t save the little critter. I’d used the stoop in front of our apartment building as an operating table and I didn’t want the ants feeding on the corpse while I was performing surgery. So I had drawn a chalk circle around his body having heard from my mother that ants won’t cross a chalk line. That, as we discussed earlier is pure and utter horse hooey.

Meredith Grey never had to deal with ants in her operating room on Grey’s Anatomy. These ants were determined. If only I had a McDreamy to help me during this procedure. He could peer out at me over his mask from across the OR table with those playful, flirting eyes. Of course, I would staunchly tell him, “Derek, stop looking at me like that and manage these damn ants.” But, I was flying solo for this operation and as a result, I accidentally pricked myself with the sewing needle while trying to flick ants away from my little patient. A single drop of blood fell from my hand into that chalk circle where the mouse lay and when the blood hit there was a fizzle and a pop and the smell of burning hair. I felt a tingle race through my entire body as if some jokester had shaken my hand with one of those toy buzzers – except I felt it all over. The mouse still looked like hell after having been torn apart by Mr. Bojangles and sewn back together by eleven-year-old me but it jumped up and ran off regardless.

That was five years ago and it was the first time I found I could raise the dead.

5 thoughts on “Raise the Dead

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is an updated version of something I submitted last year for this workshop. Should be under YA Fantasy – I probably messed that up lol 🙂 Enjoy.

  2. tukkerintensity says:

    This is an updated version of what I submitted last year for this workshop. It should be under YA Fantasy – I probably messed that up when I was submitting. Enjoy.

  3. Wilmar Luna (@WilmarLuna) says:

    I have not read your submission from last year. As a first time reader for your update, this is great!

    I really enjoyed the voice you established and especially found it humorous and lighthearted. I’d love to give some critiques here, but honestly this is a very strong opening. My only nitpick is that the mouse sounds British when it says “That bloody well hurts.”

    Since you’ve established that the protagonist is in Detroit, I’m not sure where the mouse got his British accent from. Not that it’s a big deal but it seems inconsistent with the setting.

    Lastly, I’d be careful with the pop culture references. If someone has never watched Grey’s Anatomy (which I haven’t) and they didn’t know who Doctor McDreamy was that reference would be totally lost on them. (I knew who he was but I’m also a pop culture junkie.) A quick google search would obviously remedy that problem but still, it’s important to be aware that there are readers out there who will not understand the reference.

    I think the last line is an EXCELLENT hook and leaves me wanting to read more. I enjoyed your entry very much and wish you the best of luck completing your novel.

    Great job.

  4. Noelia says:

    I really like the story you got going here. Please keep writing! What I really like is that I’m not left confused as to what’s going on. I love a story that’s straight forward and just jumps right in.

    Okay here’s my short list of critiques
    The first sentence is quite long. I would recommend cutting it out completely so you can start with the shorter second sentence. And on that point, I would recommend going through the story again. Take out anything that doesn’t serve a purpose to the story or is repeated without adding.

    In the very beginning it is made clear that the mother tells the protagonist about chalk circles against ants. However, it is repeated in the third to last paragraph where it’s written “So I had drawn a chalk circle around his body having heard from my mother that ants won’t cross a chalk line”
    You can cut it by just saying that they drew a chalk circle around the body. This was not the only redundant thing I saw so just watch out for that.

    I think it’s funny how the protagonist views the mouse as having a British like speech. Yea it takes place in Detroit but it would be weirder if the mouse had the same speech pattern as the protagonist. When reading, I could hear the mouses’ little voice in my head which is hard to do as a writer so props to you! The one complaint is that “that bloody well hurts” sounds a bit awkward. I would only change that, I like the rest of it.

  5. twiggy says:

    Hi!

    I really enjoyed your story. It had a humorous tone that contrasted with a rather dark subject matter, which I really liked. The last line especially had me hooked. 😀

    Simone was a fun protagonist. I could easily hear her voice, and she seemed like a relatable character. It was really cute that she tried to save a mouse from her cat, and it showed her sense of compassion. That she was using a tv show for guidance in surgical procedure was also really funny. I’d be really interested to see how she learns to handle her abilities, if there are others with the same abilities, and what kind of consequences it would have.

    The only thing that threw me off was the Grey’s Anatomy references. The first mention is fine, because it explains why she thought she could perform surgery. But I thought it got a little excessive in the last paragraph, and it wasn’t necessary to explain anything that hadn’t already been explained by the chalk barrier not working.

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