Rivers of the Dead: Book Two

2~10: Sobriety is for the Living

Ethan spent nearly every waking minute doing research. His grades were slipping, his parents, teachers, and counselors were all worried, but he was determined. Every night he'd come home from school and sit behind the computer, scouring the internet for answers.

Liz hardly spent any time around him anymore, not because she didn't want to, but he generally ignored her calls. He was too busy, and she didn't want to teach him anymore, anyway. She thought he'd gone too far, and, he had to admit, it was possible she was right. Magic had become the sole focus of his life.

He swore to himself that it had nothing to do with addiction to the energies itself. His driving force remained freeing Caleb from The Underworld, and he'd researched everything from Necromancy to Ancient Aboriginal Dream Magic seeking answers.

Finally, in a dusty, unused corner of the internet, he found an answer. He'd excitedly called Liz up and asked her to meet him at her house. Jake would be there, too, he knew. They'd been dating for two months now, much to Liz's chagrin. Ethan liked Jake, even if he was a bit of a creep. It hadn't taken long for Jake to slip Ethan the spell combination that had made him eternally young, and Ethan had already cast it.

It seemed like child's play compared to the level of magic he'd been researching lately. Eternal youth seemed much easier than soul transposition and resurrection. He was so close to bringing Caleb back, he could feel it, and he was certain this spell would mean the end of his searching.

He barely bothered to say hello as he walked through Liz's front door and found her sitting with Jake in her living room. "Hey, I think I've made a breakthrough," he announced.

"Really?" Liz asked neutrally. "What's up?"

Ethan nodded excitedly. He held up a notebook stuffed with extra pages he'd added, folded printouts of spells he'd studied along the way. He called it his 'Necrocalebicon' and carried it with him most places, studying the energies contained within. "I've been studying a lot recently, and I think I know what to do. I might be able to summon Caleb's soul directly. I'd just need his body to put him in it. Then I can do a restoration spell to bring his body back to life."

Silence greeted his rehearsed revelation. "You just need his body?" Liz asked incredulously.

Ethan shrugged and grinned, "Yeah. That should be it."

"Fuck, man . . . graverobbing, huh?" Jake asked, laughing nervously.

"Jake, I see that look on your face," Liz said, her eyes narrowing dangerously as she placed a vice-like grip on Jake's thigh. "Don't you start encouraging him."

"What the fuck, Liz?" Ethan said, glaring at Liz. "I thought you were going to back me up."

"On grave robbery?" Liz asked, standing up and staring Ethan in the eye. "You want to dig up Caleb's body, and I'm the insane one?"

"We don't even know if he's there," Ethan said dismissively.

"Ethan says in encouragement of this plan . . ." Liz said, throwing her hands up in defeat. She walked away to stare out the large window, watching the quickly approaching twilight. Ethan stared at her like she was an alien, especially when she rounded on him again and shouted, "You are fucking insane, Ethan! What the hell are you thinking? Do you even realize what you're saying?"

"How can you not see the beauty in this?" Ethan asked, brandishing his Necrocalebicon. "We can bring him back. Hell, if this works, we can bring anyone back! We can master death itself!"

Jake stood and put himself between Liz and Ethan. "Hey, dude, I think Liz might be right. I hate to say it, but you might be going a bit too far."

"Fuck, ever since you two started dating it's like you're both against me." Ethan shook his head and turned toward the door. "Fine. I'll do it alone, then."

"Ethan," Liz said firmly. "You're going to shut up and listen. You've gone off the deep end."

"Liz, no," Ethan insisted. "You said you'd let me do this when I was ready, and I'm ready. It's been five months, and I've been working my ass off to get strong enough. I can do this." He turned to go again.

"Ethan . . ." Liz begged, catching his arm. He turned to face her, his eyes flashing against hers. Hers were filled with sorrow and agony, and she pleaded with him as a tear fell from the corner of her eye. "Please don't."

"Why not?" Ethan asked. His features softened in response to the pain in her eyes. "Please, just give me a good reason, and I'll hear you out."

"Ethan, leave him buried. I've been thinking about this a lot. You have to let him go, you can't . . ." Liz paused and looked down at her feet, her cheeks coloring. "You shouldn't bring the dead back to life."

Ethan ripped his arm away from Liz's grip and snorted derisively. "Look who's talking, and look whom she's talking to."

"Ethan, bruh," Jake said, moving between them again. "I think you should listen to Liz, she—"

"Oh, Mr. Fountain of Youth is going to advise me on the perils of magic, is he?" Ethan snapped. He looked Jake up and down, sizing him up. "Fuck you, Jake. I thought you were going to help me out."

He walked forward and put a hand on the doorknob, but before he could turn it Liz shouted, "Ethan!"

"What!?" He asked, spinning around angrily. "Either let me leave, or help me. Those are your choices."

"Look at yourself!" Liz screamed. "You're a mess. You never sleep, you barely eat . . . all you do is magic, and it's killing you. Do you think this is what Caleb would want you to do?"

Ethan's entire body trembled with rage. "Don't."

"Don't what?" Liz snapped.

"Don't presume to know what Caleb would think. He's the one who got himself sacrificed for me. I'm the one who's supposed to be dead, remember?" Ethan growled, the sound more beast than human. "So fuck you and fuck your morality. I don't give a shit any more about the rules."

"Ethan . . ." Liz said dangerously.

And then he felt her, summoning all of her energy, ready to throw it at him and force him to listen. He sensed her, and he turned, and with a flick of his wrist he sent Liz flying sideways into the wall. She dropped to the floor with a heavy thud, dazed but conscious.

Jake stepped between them, his hands raised in surrender. Ethan let his mind drift across Jake, looking for any sign Jake would use his magical abilities to attempt to stop Ethan. But there was no surge of power, only Jake's calm face and his terrified eyes. "Hey, dude . . ." Jake said, trying to play cool. "I'm not going to try anything, okay? I just want to . . . to try and talk some sense into you."

"Fuck off, Jake," Ethan said, and tore the door open. He stormed out into the night, eager to forget ever having asked either of his friends for help. Bringing Caleb back was all that mattered. If they couldn't see that, they weren't worth knowing.

Jake rushed to Liz's side and gently helped her up. He checked her head for damage and found no outward signs of injury. Liz groaned as Jake helped her into a chair and handed her a pillow.

"Are you all right?" He asked.

"Yeah . . ." Liz groaned, holding her back and adjusting the pillow for added support.

"Is the . . ." Jake choked on the question. "Is the baby all right?"

Liz shook her head and closed her eyes, breathing out softly. "I don't know," she answered quietly.

"Fuck," Jake said, his face contorting with rage. "I'll kill him."

Liz put a staying hand on Jake's arm. "No. He didn't know. He wouldn't have thrown me like that if he knew I was pregnant."

Jake bit his lip uncertainly. "Are you sure?"

"No. But I have to believe in him. No matter how far gone he is, I have to . . ." Liz looked out the window to where she could still see Ethan's quickly disappearing form walking away from them. "For his sake, and for Caleb's."

 

End of Part 2


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