April 2022

“Rising” refers to the reanimation of a person who has died, anywhere from 8-48 hours after their death. Only observed in humans and two species of great ape (chimpanzees and bonobos), rising results in a slowing of active decay, a resumption of movement, and in most cases, the ability to see, hear, and speak. Sensation appears to be greatly deadened but not absent, as is the sense of smell. The sense of taste is completely absent, and indeed the GI tract is largely non-functional other than occasionally expelling matter that was left in the system pre-mortem. While ingestion can occur, the material simply sits in the stomach until it is regurgitated or rots. Cognition can no longer be measured, as an EEG will show a flatline or sporadic and seemingly random impulses, but in most cases the risen seem to retain all memories of their life and full intellectual function of a sort.

What causes rising is currently not well understood. The use of modern embalming chemicals seems to increase its incidence, accounting for the perceived increase in risings since the early 1800s, but it has been argued that preservatives simply increase the chance of a successful rising, as in pre-modern mortuary systems bodies would have been buried or burned too quickly to rise. One thing that can be conclusively proven is that embalming chemicals can delay the onset of rising, stretching the 8-48 hour window of an un-embalmed body to days, weeks, or even months. Careful research indicates that risings have taken place throughout history, though in most cases the risen were detected almost immediately and destroyed.

Traumatic injury also seems to decrease the chances of rising, as those killed in a severe automobile or airplane crash are 90% less likely to rise. However, once rising takes place, traumatic injury seems to have little effect on the risen, as they are able to remain motile and communicative even up to the point of being completely skeletonized. Immolation or systematic destruction by dismemberment seem to be the only ways to destroy a risen body. Eyewitness accounts and anecdotal evidence indicates that such destruction is as traumatic and painful for the risen as it would be if inflicted upon the conventionally living.

Obviously, the mechanism of rising is poorly understood, and this is not helped by a total ban on studying the process, even in apes, passed by the International Medical Foundation in 1956 and renewed in 2016. The advocacy organization Association Internationale des Ressuscités (AIR) holds that rising is a scientific, quantifiable, and researchable process; it is simply one that is not understood at present. The official position of many other organizations, including the Universal Church Council, the Imamate Consultorium, the Ecumenical Rabbinical Society, and Buddhist Unity, is that the risen are unholy abominations possessed or influenced by infernal powers.

The religious position, one which is shared by many secular people and institutions, has led only 61 out of the 195 internationally recognized sovereign entities to grant risen the same civil rights as they possessed before their rising. The remaining 134, including China, India, Brazil, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and 26 states in the United States, regard risen as legally dead. As a result, there are generally no laws protecting risen or their property in those jurisdictions other than general statutes about desecration or grave robbing. Indeed, as in 16 states in the United States, many jurisdictions criminalize the risen themselves (under the aegis of so-called “body autonomy” laws) and any risen encountered are subject to harassment, imprisonment, and summary cremation–the latter of which is particularly horrifying to activists. In one oft-cited piece of precedent, the US Supreme Court, in Davis v. Doe (2015), ruled that the risen are not citizens and have no rights explicitly granted by the Constitution in a landmark 8-1 decision.

As a result, many risen are forced to exist on the margins of society, either attempting to pass as traditionally living or banished to shantytowns or imprisoned for menial labor. Still more are forcibly cremated or interred, with the latter often leading to clashes between cemetery guards and groups of risen and their allies attempting disinterments. As horrifying as cremation is, many risen activists consider forced interment to be worse, as it imprisons a sapient being in a dark box without recourse and is considered a particularly cruel and extended torture.

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“The difficulty we run into with a quantum zoo is that animals from different universes have wildly different requirements,” says Laurie Scuggs, senior assistant quantum zookeeper.

“The Brunner’s Purple Mugthorpe is one of our most popular animals, since it’s bright purple and its mating song sounds like K-pop,” Scuggs continues. “But it breathes in pure argon and exhales copper cyanide gas, so we have to be very careful.”

The quantum exhibit has seen its fair share of controversy in recent years. It was even temporarily shut down after a toddler was allowed to get into the enclosure of a Zaxxian iome, a primate-like creature that liquefies bone and drinks it through a proboscis. Many point to the iome’s killing by a flying squad of city police as ending ther enthusiasm for the quantum zoo project altogether.

“I know they are extinct in their own dimensions, but breeding them here to reintroduce them in another universe just seems like a bad idea,” one zoo patron says. “I think we should take care of our own universe first.”

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“Now, I’ve been working as a psychopomp for 70 years,” Obol says. “I’ve seen the reaping of souls go from putting coins on closed eyes to cryogenic suspension in a generation.”

Responding to a field call, Dr, Obol is on his hands and knees, pulling the soul out of a stubborn cow with a set of old-fashioned reaping chains. “The thing I like about this job is that it keeps me busy, it keeps me on my toes, and I never know what’s going to happen,” he says.

“This cow, for instance, it’s her time. But she’s stubborn, won’t give up the ghost. Some psychopomps might give up at that, go in for an expensive wasting illness or even a chess game. But not me, I’m not afraid of getting my hands dirty.”

The community has come to appreciate Dr. Obol’s unique manner. “Those other reapers, they’re all menacing and silent, dark figures cloaked in the raiment of the grave,” said a local farmer. “Dr. Obol’s different. He cares. Why, he chatted with my aunt even as he collected the should from her body and bore it to the hereafter.”

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And yea, the way unto the land of milk and honey would be opened by a buzzing bush, one whose flower-laden boughs attracted bees by the hundreds. Being wise in the ways of honey as they were, these bees would act as the Hive for a great Queen, and in so doing lead the faithful and sting the unrighteous.

This was all so until the prophet did swat at one bee of the buzzing bush, finding it irksome, and was set upon by their number. For in so swatting the bee, he had upset their Swarm and their Queen, and the land of milk and honey was therefore set apart from him, a land he would see only after forty years and even then not enter. For although the prophet had built a lot of buzz, it had been of the wrong kind.

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Mockingbirds will raise a hue and cry if they see a hawk
Screeching to anyone who will listen before leading an assault
I saw one the other day attacking a hawk perched near its nest
Its cries had attracted only one other bird
And its dives and slashing attacks did not seem to faze the hawk
The raptor sat there, unbothered, as something smaller and weaker broke against it
There are times in my life when I have felt like the hawk
But now, and for the recent past, I feel like the mockingbird
Throwing myself, screaming, at those who would eat me
While they blithely sit there, growing stronger even as my strength flags

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The sound of clattering plastic led to a figure seated in shadow, his suit neatly divided into 20 portions, from spotless to scarred.

“I knew I’d find you here,” Mole-Man, the Subterranean Crusader, said as he drew near.

“Yes, the site of the gaming tournament that made me the man I am today.” Worrying a d20 in one scarred hand, the speaker leaned forward, revealing a face that was also broken into 20 variably-scarred pieces. “Do you want to see what fate has in store for you, Mole-Man?”

“I make my own fate,” the Terrific Tunneler growled. “But roll it if you must, d20-Face.”

The dice clattered to the table. “19. One higher and you’d have been dead instantly, due to double damage.”

“I don’t think it works that way,” Mole-Man said.

d20-Face was already flipping through his manual. “Hang on,” he said. “The encounter table value for 19 refers to another table. You’ll meet your fate just as soon as I get the initiative sorted out.”

“Just tell me where the school bus you kidnapped is,” Mole-Man sighed.

“We’re in here!” a voice said from the other side of a nearby door. “He threw us in here with a 5e starter set and now he won’t let us leave!”

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They say that he lurked near playgrounds and beaches. Always dressed in neon, the latest trendy clothes at the time. Always friendly. Ask any question, make any request, and the answer was always “totally.”

But it didn’t take long for the cracks to show. Greying roots showing through the dye. Skin cracked on the edges of the wrap-around sunglasses. A well-practiced boniness of the fingers.

Mr. Totally was a lot older than he said he was. And he had been at this game a long, long time. Your best option was to turn and run, straight to your mama.

Was Mr. Totally responsible for the spate in disappearances from 1984-1993? No one knows for sure. Only that the disappearances stopped when he, himself, vanished.

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“Look, I don’t know what’s so hard about this,” the angel said. “You got mine and I got yours.”

The demon cast a laconic look at the two souls in question, one in black leather with a mohawk and the other in modest white head to toe. “So you’re saying no one who’s a little punk can possibly make a pact with celestial powers?” it said. “Now, that’s just putting folks in a little box.”

“He SAYS it was a mistake,” the angel retorted. “He meant to contract with the dark powers, and all the good works we require of him are, and I quote, ‘cramping his style.'”

“Standard buyer’s remorse,” the demon responded. “If I tried to trade every soul with you that claimed they wanted celestial instead of infernal powers, we’d never get anything done.”

“What about your soul?” the angel cried, exasperated.

“Oh, they use the power of their position to enforce their own moral code on others,” it said. “Clearly a case for infernal affairs.”

“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” The angel pulled at its hair, wings beating in frustration. “Me stuck with an obvious heavy metal demon fanatic while you take my nice white-collar soul.”

“What I’m enjoying, my friend, is that our respective souls are surprisingly well-suited to their predicament and that we ought to perhaps regard the circumstance as a happy accident.” The demon beamed. “And also watching you squirm.”

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As customers at LexBank LLC know, we pride ourselves on the accessibility of our menu options at our drive-thru ATM. This is why we offer, at customer request, options not only for English and Spanish, but also Vietnamese, Somali, and more.

As such, you will notice a new option beginning the week of May 9: chuk’Kuhn, the holy script of the chameloids. For those who are unaware, chameloids are alien imposters from beyond the moon who infiltrate other societies to live among them. Chameloid language options will be available from that date to service this new and important demographic.

LexBank LLC has been asked why this is the case, as surely shape-shifting aliens can read and write Earth languages if their goal is to blend in here to avoid the Omnipurge. Our response is the same as when we added the Basque language option: it is more important to be inclusive, even if that language option is only for a single chameloid battle-thrall whose linguothalamus is damaged.

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CRAWFISH LIVE OR BOILED the roadside stand said
Baskets on the curb, waterlogged, laden with those who await their fate
Excess water, in rivulets, running down the gentle slope of the hill
But in that weak flow, movement. An escapee
Pitched over the side and finding refuge in the flow
Inching downhill to the drainage ditch, and safety
A moment’s notice will doom it
A customer’s tires will crush it
And yet as I sit there, transfixed, waiting at my light
I am in its corner, rooting for the impossible escape
If it can persevere despite the odds, and win
Perhaps there is hope for us all, yet

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