by Johnny Foxx
Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's "Reanimator"
|March 3, 1972
I leave this journal partially as an admission of guilt, but also as a record of events that have been known only to me for far too long. To whomever may discover this, I must warn you, that what follows is a tale of unspeakable crimes against nature, and utmost depravity. It is not for the feint of heart. What’s more, please do not judge me too harshly for the story I am about to tell you. I was young and naïve, and began this horrific journey with only the benefit of humanity in mind. But, as the old saying goes, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
My name is unimportant. All that really matters is the terrible deeds I partook in, under the delusion that it was for the greater good. It all began in 1952, in a quiet, idyllic town in the United States. I was in my sophomore year of high school, and had recently moved to this quaint suburb with my mother and younger sister. My father was away on the other side of the globe, serving in the conflict that would come to be known as the Korean War.
My mother had gotten a job as a waitress at the local diner, and I was able to get myself a paper route in the morning before taking my bike to school for the day. It was during this year that I had been assigned a new subject, chemistry. It was in this class that I met Henry North. That was when the terror began.
I had been assigned to Henry as a lab partner for the year, and to be frank, I didn’t much care for it at first. I wasn’t exactly popular in school, but Henry was what most at the time would consider a social outcast among the school student body.
He had greasy black hair that was always untidy, and abnormally pale skin with cold, penetrating eyes. I was never given a choice in regards to working with him for class. If I had been, perhaps everything that followed would never have happened. We rarely spoke to one another, except when necessary to complete our assignments. His voice was often soft and quiet, almost a whisper at times. I can scarcely recall him ever raising his voice, even when the local jocks would harass him for his awkward appearance and antisocial behavior.
If I’m being honest, Henry was actually a great partner in regards to the class subject. He was practically a prodigy, and even offered to help me with my studies, much to my surprise. I distinctly remember debating with myself on whether or not to accept his offer, as it would involve spending most of the evening over at his house to study.
Looking back, I curse myself for accepting. If I had never gone to his house that night, all the horrific events of the next twenty years that followed could have been avoided. It started out like I thought it would, with Henry guiding me through various text books and taking notes, with his mother occasionally checking on us and asking if we wanted anything to snack on. His father had left years before, leaving him and his mother alone. After we had finished studying, and I was preparing to leave, Henry asked if I wanted to see what a marvel of chemistry can really do.
I asked what he meant. “Aren’t you curious what a master chemist could really accomplish?” He said with a strange glint in his eyes. I would see that same glint countless times in the future, and it would take me many years to finally recognize that it meant trouble.
But being the foolish boy I was, my curiosity was piqued. Henry lead me to his room and opened his closet which had a second door on the inside that lead to the attic. Before we entered, Henry turned to me suddenly with a deathly serious look. “Can you keep a secret?” He said. I assured him I could, and until this moment, I have kept that promise, and told not a single soul of what transpired that night.
We climbed the stairs to the attic, where upon turning on the light, I saw a sort of makeshift laboratory, with beakers and test tubes strewn about, all connected to each other through plastic tubing, each one full of various chemical concoctions. I asked him what this was all for.
He explained that he had gotten a chemistry set as a gift from his mother about a year previously, and after extensive preparation and research, he had discovered a way to “reactivate” vital organs that had ceased to function, as long as they were intact, simply by injecting a chemical compound he had discovered directly into where the brain meets the spinal cord. In other words, he claimed to have discovered a way to revive the dead.
Of course, I immediately called his bluff on this, and thought this was some kind of morbid practical joke. But his expression remained serious. Seeing I obviously didn’t believe him, he simply walked to the corner of the attic and retrieved a shoebox, before bringing it over to me and opening the lid.
I gasped in shock. Inside the box was a dead cat, still with some dirt matted in it’s fur. I asked him where he had gotten the feline corpse. He said it was a neighbor’s pet that had died of an unexpected illness. Early that morning, he snuck into the neighbor’s backyard and dug up the poor thing before refilling it’s grave and sneaking it back to his impromptu lab.
“Why on earth did you do that?” I asked half accusingly, half appalled. He didn’t answer. Instead went to a table at the other end of the room, and came back holding a syringe filled with a glowing blue liquid. “This is the chemical I told you about, that can raise the dead. I call it the Lazarus Compound. To be honest, I’ve never actually tested it. This will be my creation’s first trial. All I ask is for you to let me prove it works. My calculations all indicate it should. Just wait here for ten more minutes, that’s all I ask. If the test fails, we'll never speak of this again.”
Every part of my conscience, every fiber of my being, told me I should have left at that moment. But, for whatever reason, I decided to humor him. Maybe it was out of pity for him, or perhaps it was morbid curiosity. Whatever it was, I stayed and watched as he injected the solution into the base of the cat’s skull, and sat in down on the attic floor.
For what felt like eons, we stared at the poor feline cadaver, waiting with baited breath for any sign of life. Until finally, I could see the cat’s body slowly rise and fall, as it began to breathe very lightly, but clearly. Then it opened it’s eyes, and for a brief moment, it seemed to look around in confusion, as if wondering how it ended up in this strange attic, then it stared up at the both of us before getting on it’s feet and let out a somewhat hoarse but unmistakable meow.
Needless to say, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Here was a creature that just that morning was dead as stone, yet here it was alive and kicking, plain as day! Henry and I looked at each other, me with a look of bewilderment, him with a look of triumph. We said nothing, but I know that we both were thinking the same thing.
This was a beginning. The beginning of something truly incredible. Little did we know in the years to come, that it would turn out to be equally as terrible.