A preview of a world in progress

“Honest, guv, with my own eyes I seen ‘im stand up and walk out, breathing and all! I swears it!”

Sergeant Shambles regarded the ghoulish fellow carefully. He spoke in a slow, raspy slur, a voice he took pride in; speaking at all with a broken jaw was quite the trick. “Is it?”

Constable Lurch said, “Right! How do we know you didn’t mortify him yourself?”

The ghoul looked between them with something approaching pleading in his dark eyes. “I swears it!” he repeated. “‘e was up on his plates, fleshy and blood, and ‘e up and left!”

Shambles rolled his head around to glance at Lurch, then rolled it back to stare at the ghoul. He pointed, and then his arm fell off. “Bloody—Lurch, pick that up. Look here, you, this looks bad for you. Thank you, Constable,” he said, taking his arm in hand. “Ghosts don’t turn flesh and blood, and you know it, right? Here’s wot I think happened, right? You mortified him, then you ran to get some coppers so you could say you didn’t do it, right?”

“No, sir! I seen ‘im vivified, sir, and that’s fact!”

“Vivified!” Shambles rasped, then producing a curious huffing sound. Dust escaped from between his rotting lips. “Have you ever heard such an idea, Constable? A ghost, vivified?”

“Wasn’t there those unsolved vivifications in Transylvania Street, sarge?” Lurch said. “Them was ghosts.”

Shambles thought for a moment, swatting at a circling moth with his detached arm. “Alright, Lurch, run downstairs and send a messenger for an inspector. Tell him to bring the mortician, too, for my arm.” The ghoul visibly relaxed, but Shambles menaced him with his detached appendage. “Don’t you go thinking I believe you for an instant, you rascal.”

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