Over the weekend, I slowly fell apart. At least that’s what it felt like. My Maryland bridge, which I’ve had since we lived in Maryland in the 1980’s, was re-glued in early December, but it’s gotten so twisted that it got loose again last week. I’d called the dentist on Wednesday, because I live in fear of it coming out, but she was busy and it came out on Friday night. So I spent the weekend gap-toothed and trying not to open my mouth where anyone could see.
On Saturday morning, I was sliding around between my dresser and the closet in my socks on the hardwood floor, when I felt like I’d twisted my foot, and then it started to hurt. Sometimes I twist my foot at water aerobics and it hurts for a minute and then stops, so I didn’t think too much of it. I drove to Columbus, where we had lunch and then walked around between a few stores. My foot hurt when I got up from lunch, but I walked it off a bit. By night, though, it hurt too much to bear my weight and it had swelled up too much to go into a shoe. So I spent Sunday afternoon at the ER getting it x-rayed and wrapped.
I had been reading Dead Beat, by Jim Butcher, on the advice of a friend who alerted me to necromancy in this particular novel of “the Dresden Files,” the adventures of a tough-as-nails paranormal investigator named Harry Dresden. No matter how badly Harry is beaten up or tortured by the bad guys—who are in this case necromancers—he always finds a way to go on fighting. I guess I’m going to have to try to emulate him if I want to get out of the house in the next week.
It seems that Harry himself has been brought back from the dead—near the start of this adventure, he goes to his own grave and describes it:
“My headstone is simple white marble, a vertical stone, but it’s engraved in bold letters inlaid with gold: HARRY DRESDEN. Then a gold-inlaid pentacle, a five-pointed star surrounded by a circle—the symbol of the forces of magic contained within mortal will. Underneath it are more letters: HE DIED DOING THE RIGHT THING.”
At the grave, Harry learns that something big is going to happen on Halloween night, and to him this means that “aside from ruining my birthday, it meant that black magic was going to be brought into play sometime soon, and at this time of year that could only mean one thing. Necromancy.”
He soon learns that the would-be-necromancers are looking for a copy of a book that would give them, as his helper skull Bob puts it, “a new round of necro-at-home lessons to expand their talents.” When one of Harry’s friends says it doesn’t sound that bad to bring the dead back to life, he tells him “you’re assuming that what the necromancer brings them back to is better than death.” He explains in more technical terms, later, that “magic is closely interwoven with a wizard’s confidence….magic is essentially a force of creation, of life. Grevane’s necromancy made a mockery of life, even as he used it to destroy.”
After all this denunciation of necromancy, Harry sees one of the opposing wizards use her magic to heal, and this makes fighting her more difficult for him:
“if she’d been acting altruistically, it would mean that the dark energy the necromancers seemed to favor might not be something wholly, inherently evil. It had been used to preserve life, just as the magic I knew could be used either to protect or destroy. I’d always considered the line between black magic and white to be sharp and clear. But if that dark power could be employed in whatever fashion its wielder chose, that made it no different from my own.”
Later in the adventure, though, Harry faces the healer wizard again and this time he is more sure of what he must do:
“I don’t know about something as big as trying to murder death. But I know that you can tell a tree from what kind of fruit falls off it. And the necromancy tree doesn’t drop anything that isn’t rotten.”
High jinks ensue, with Harry riding around on a reanimated dinosaur and a bad guy who can zap into one of the good guys zapping over without anyone noticing, at least at first. Good prevails, however, and ultimately necromancy is defeated. If these characters can heal up from their various and almost-fatal wounds—as they do– then surely I can be patient enough to have a tooth glued back in and sit around with my foot up on ice for a few days.