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I did think about it, and I decided that killing someone was out of the question.
I’d done it once, but that’d been an accident. I couldn’t kill on purpose.
What’s more, I didn’t believe in magic.
Okay, at a stretch I was prepared to half-believe in ghosts. Half-believe.
But that was where I drew the line.
As for raising the dead? – Never!
It’d be a cold day in hell before I’d entertain that possibility.
The voice in my head fell silent and I was left alone with my guilt and fear. I carried on reading the Encyclopaedia Infernal, if only to take my mind off my misery. Its contents might have been nonsense, but it was diverting nonsense.
For instance, at the end of the chapter on raising the dead, there was the following story:
“It is said that in 1499 Leonardo da Vinci purchased the dead body of a young man called Giuseppe. He wanted to dissect it in order to make some anatomical drawings. When the body was delivered, he had second thoughts because he found the corpse impossibly attractive. So much so that he couldn’t bring himself to take a knife to it and cut it open. Instead, he kept it intact, and began to dwell on the idea of having a relationship with Giuseppe.
He became so obsessed with the idea that he decided to do all he could to make his dreams come true. He stored the cadaver in a cold cellar, packed it in ice to preserve it, and devoted all of his time to studying how he might bring the corpse back to life. He read all the writings of every alchemist, magician, mystic, and charlatan that he could lay his hands on.
Eventually, he found the information he was looking for in a work by Thales of Miletus. Thales had made a study of the secret practices of the ancient Egyptians. One of these was the resurrection of their dead Pharaohs. It entailed the use of the procedure set out in the previous pages of the Encyclopaedia Infernal, and, as you will have noted, it obliged Leonardo to kill three people in order to bring the young man back to life.
Leonardo was good friend of a man called Piero Soderini who was, in that year, a leading light in the Florentine Republic. Leonardo persuaded Soderini to allow him to execute three prisoners who had been sentenced to death by the Courts of the republic. Leonardo killed the prisoners (it is said he was compelled to do so in a violent manner, this being the tradition of the Florentine state at the time). He harvested their Life Force and used it to resurrect Giuseppe.
For a brief period, he and Giuseppe enjoyed a passionate relationship. However, passions that run high in one direction are prone to run equally high in the other direction, often at a moment’s notice.
Inevitably, they had a falling out of some kind, and Leonardo regretted raising his handsome young lover from the dead. They came to blows, and, in spite of Leonardo’s extraordinary strength – he was reputed to be able to break horseshoes with his bare hands – he barely escaped with his life.
He fled, and got a job as a military architect for Cesare Borgia in Venice. In this role, he benefited from the protection of Cesare’s army, which kept him safe from the wrath of his former sweetheart.
Giuseppe’s fate is not known. It is rumoured that he committed a serious crime and was sentenced to death, and that it proved impossible to kill him. It is also rumoured that he aged slowly, if at all.
He is reputed to have reappeared centuries later in the Russian Imperial Court, calling himself Rasputin. By this time his powers were waning because of his great age. Even so, his assassins had to poison, shoot, knife, beat, and finally to drown him, in order to kill Giuseppe (if it was indeed Giuseppe).”
That was food for thought.
The story about Leonardo and Giuseppe was compelling, even though it was nonsense.
When I’d finished reading it, I turned to a chapter on summoning up Demons.
I still had a few hours left before I’d be needed by Victor and Dorothy, so I decided to raise a demon, just for a laugh. They say idle hands are the devil’s workshop and perhaps that is true.
The demon-raising ritual was simple: all I had to do was draw a pentacle on the ground, stand inside it, raise my arm, and speak certain magic words while looking in a mirror. The mirror was evidently a door to another dimension, or symbolic of such.
I went outside and hunted in the garden for a suitable pebble with which to draw a pentacle. I soon found one made of a chalky limestone, about the size of the palm of my hand. Then I copied an illustration provided at the end of the chapter as best I could.
I began with a circle on the drive about three feet in diameter. Then I marked out five equidistant points on it, and drew lines connecting them to create a five-pointed star. Finally, I copied magical symbols from the illustartion and inserted them into the spaces within my drawing.
As I didn’t have a straight edge or any kind of a compass, I had to draw it freehand. And since I’d never been much good at drawing, I made a holy mess of it. The arms of the pentacle were wobbly and unevenly spaced. But at least there were five of them, and what I’d drawn approximated to what was required, however crude it might have been.
I placed a mirror on the windowsill with the book open next to it then stood in the centre of the pentacle.
While looking in the mirror, I raised my right arm solemnly in the air as if swearing an oath. Then I read the magic words from my book – with some difficulty as I had to look in the mirror at the same time – and spoke them out loud.
And, in spite of my doubts, I found myself half-expecting a demon to appear.
Raising Dave is © Copyright 2017 by Jack Strange. Permission to publish this story has been granted by the author.
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