After you’ve been dead for about a century, you run out of things to do.

The last of my followers crumbled to dust decades ago. Nobody’s much impressed by the cantrips and magicks I can summon anymore, since they have brighter flames available on their cell phones. Cell phones! If I concentrated my hardest, at my absolute most powerful, I could have exchanged a few words with an agent in Philadelphia. Now, half the folks in town are on the horn with people across the world, and I just don’t get it.

Those old robes have rotted away too, and the stuff that people wear today just doesn’t suit my need for ostentation. Back in the day, you needed to be colorful just to be seen at the head of ten thousand troops; a dark suit and shades really can’t cut it. So I usually just wear a jogging suit. It complies with the terms of my parole and keeps me from getting nicked for indecent exposure, such as it is.

So what’s there for an old lich to do? Nobody’s impressed by my tricks, and even if they were, I’ve got no desire to rule such lazy, entitled people. So I mostly pass my days with community service and outreach.

Obviously, they don’t want these wizened, mummified old hands spooning out soup to the homeless. Even though the runes of blue fire etched into my palms are strictly hypoallergenic, their rules apply to all the undead, and I sure can sympathize with not wanting zombies near anything edible. But thanks to the eldritch energies that will power my husk for another few millennia, I have a great ability to speak with and understand the dead. So I mostly work as a translator.

Liches are pretty rare–the only other one in the city, Lady Vermilda, hasn’t left her penthouse since 1887–so I’m very much in demand by people who want to understand the risen corpse of Uncle Lester now that his jaw’s fallen off. I get a lot of requests to talk to ghosts, too, but most of the time there isn’t even anybody there but an overactive imagination. If you want someone to speak to your vivid imagination, try a politician.

But the one thing I do enjoy, as much as anything can be said to be enjoyable in this endless purgatory, is sitting down to chat with the newly dead.

Now, what souls do once they leave the body, I don’t rightly know. Nobody does, other than the ghosts, and they ain’t telling. Can’t be that great, I figure, if they came back screaming, but they never answer when I ask. But it can take a while, sometimes months or years, for the soul to depart toward that great unknown. Some never do, naturally, and rise from the grave. Not liches like me–we have to do that part ourselves–but zombies, ghasts, wights, skeletons, what have you. Even the occasional vampire, though those guys kind of suck. We can’t all have romance novels written about us, I guess.

Peaceful Rest Meadows is the biggest cemetery in town that’s still accepting applicants, and I’ll usually go there to kick around and chat up the newcomers. Most of them have nothing to say, being just empty husks, but I get a few who need someone to talk to. Like I said, I kind of like talking with someone who has about the same going for them that I do, and I can claim the “after-death counseling” on my community service sheet. It’s so old the dang thing is written on vellum, but I still have a hell of a lot of hours to work off.

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