Tex and Wilbur: (A Short Story)
The two immortals rode into town, stopped their horses, and then, stone-faced, took in the scene. They got off their horses, tied them to posts, ambled forward. The immortal called Wilbur, a former Confederate soldier, squatted, laid hands on the first dead man he came to, closed his eyes, concentrated.
When he opened them again, his friend and partner, the other immortal known as Tex, a former Union fighting man, said, "Can you raise him?"
"Nah," Wilbur said, shaking his head, closing his eyes again. "There was no injustice in the way he died. He wasn't murdered. Died of natural causes. Hole in his heart."
There were dead bodies everywhere, of all kinds: men, women, boys, girls, babies. They were in every manner of repose: laying on their sides, stomachs, backs, curled up in the fetus position. They were in alleys, streets, hanging out of windows, in doorways, in their beds, on the floors. They were in their homes, in the saloons, in the barber shops, in stores, in churches, in schools, everywhere, all dead.
When Tex and Wilbur finished checking the bodies, Tex said, "Anything?"
Wilbur said, "No, nothing."
"No sign of murder?" said Tex.
"No," Wilbur said. "You were with me. You saw me lay hands on all of them."
"So they all died of natural causes," said Tex.
"Yeah," Wilbur said. "Sickness of one kind or another."
"Hmmm..." Tex said.
"It's a goddamn waste," Wilbur said. "Not one client here."
Tex had a faraway look in his eyes. "Nope. Not one client here..."
Tex and Wilbur made camp outside of town. As they huddled by the fire, sipping their coffee, Tex said, "In the morning we will have to start burying those people."
"We?" Wilbur said. "Bury who?"
Tex jerked a thumb. "The people back there, choking that town like weeds."
"Its none of our business," Wilbur said.
"We can't leave them like that," said Tex. "It wouldn't be right."
"Look," Wilbur said, "there must be over a thousand of them back there. Even if I wanted to, we don't have that kind of time, just the two of us."
"Still, we can't leave them that way," Tex said.
"You're not being realistic, Tex. To do what you're saying would take us weeks, months."
Tex conceded the point, but he insisted that they could not just leave the townspeople the way they were, strewn about like garbage. Tex insisted that they at least make some kind of dignified provision for the dead.
Wilbur said, "What if other people come?"
"What if they do?" said Tex.
"What'll we tell 'em?" Wilbur said. "And whatever we tell 'em, what if they don't believe us?"
Tex lit a cheeroot. "Depending on how many of them there are, who they are, what kind of people they are, and what their intentions are, they would just have to join those poor townsfolk."
Wilbur snorted in amusement. "You know, it would be funny, in that scenario, if another necromancer came along and found out we'd killed them."
"Whomever they might be," said Tex.
"Whomever they might be," said Wilbur.
If such a thing did indeed happen, as Wilbur very well knew, those particular bodies would never be found.
What Tex and Wilbur did in the morning was this: They dealt with the corpses depending on what each situation presented. If a body looked like a single, derelict man or woman, whom no one probably would have fretted much over in life---of course, this was a judgment call---the two immortals would bury them, together, in a space they had marked out as a kind of common grave, for all the "singles."
As for men and women, who looked like couples, and people that seemed to belong to family groups, Tex and Wilbur took pains to arrange the corpses in some kind of congenial way, as if they were posing for a family portrait, or perhaps a picture, that newfangled pho-to-graphy. If Tex and Wilbur found them in their homes, no problem, they set the bodies up in their parlors. If they were in the street, Tex and Wilbur set them up on the nearest storefront or some such.
Tex and Wilbur went into places and found the bodies of what had obviously been randy old cowboys along with "ladies," to stretch the term, who had clearly not been their wives. Nevertheless, Tex and Wilbur gave them, in death, the pretense of respectable holy matrimony that had eluded them in life, with their cowboys as husbands.
When they came across children by themselves, Tex and Wilbur placed them with either a man/woman couple or larger family group. Tex and Wilbur smoked cigars all the while they worked, to prevent the odor from overcoming them. Tex, ironically enough, had been a mortician's assistant before the war. And so, the two immortals grabbed some things from barber shops, pharmacy stores, and saloons to concoct an embalming solution, to preserve some of the bodies somewhat.
When they were finished, Tex was satisfied that they had done right by the people of this town. They rode off, Wilbur wondering how long it would be before anyone else found this...literally dead town.
Tex and Wilbur rode in a northwesterly direction for three days, stopping over in Oregon Territory to meet with one of their contacts. He was a territorial judge named Uriah "The Heap"---cause he was so fat---Stimpson. Wherever he was sent, Judge Stimpson always managed lavish accomodations for himself. The three of them met in His Honor's office, where "The Heap" presented Tex and Wilbur with the finest Havana cigars and Napoleon brandy.
Tex and Wilbur told the judge about the strange town they had come from, about what they had seen, what they hadn't seen, what they had done about it.
"The Heap" turned to Wilbur. "Not one sign of murder? Couldn't you dig up one client, so to speak?" He laughed.
Wilbur liked the judge and laughed despite himself. No, they had not turned up any sign of overt violence, and again, they hadn't come up with a single client!
"It's like somebody gave a signal," Wilbur said, "and they all just dropped dead at the same time."
"You think its some kind of demonic spell?" the judge said.
Tex said, "You'd know more about that than we would, but I don't think so. Anything's possible, of course, but all those people died of specific, individual natural causes. Why would a demon bother making their deaths look natural?"
The judge had a faraway look in his eyes. "I suppose you're right... but, maybe..."
"Maybe what?" Tex said.
"Maybe its a combination of natural and supernatural causes," the judge said.
"How so?" Tex said.
The judge got up---which was rare for him---and walked around the room. "Sounds like the people were poisoned by human means first. Then a certain kind of demon catalyzed the action, made it worse, maybe, and more immediate."
"What kind of demon?" Tex said.
"A shiatsu demon," the judge said. "It doesn't tend to take independent action. Shiatsus prefer to amplify human evil."
Wilbur said, "If these people had been poisoned, I would have picked that up. Deliberate poisoning is violent."
The judge said, "Well, the thing is that the poisoning might very well have been deliberate in an unpurposeful sort of way. People are behind it, alright. But responsibility is so hard to pin down, its so hard to know who authorizes what, its almost as if no one did."
Tex arched an eyebrow.
The judge was a progressive trust buster by inclination, somewhat in the mold of Theodore Roosevelt. He told Tex and Wilbur about business entities known as corporations.
"Cor-por-ations?" Wilbur said.
"Yeah," the judge said. Corporations were/are big business entities. Extremely big. But with too much concentrated power. Tendency to form monopolies. Block out competition. Hoard money. Buy politicians. Devour the world.
"So, probably what happened," said the judge, "was that some big business outfit operating around there was playing fast and loose with waste disposal rules; some mining company or something like that, I bet. They dumped their waste without treating it, right in the local water supply, making the people sick. Then a shiatsu comes along, saw what was happening, and it would have amused him, the demon, to speed up the effects of the poison and harmonize the effects among the population, so that they all dropped dead at the same time."
"But the cor-por-ation would have been the first evil?" Tex said.
"Yes," the judge said.
"With this... shiatsu demon being powerless but for the initial action of the cor-por-ation," Wilbur said.
"Powerless..." the judge shook his head from side to side, "by preference... yes."
"I guess that's it, then," Tex said. "Can't kill a corporation."
"A corporation is not a person," Wilbur said.
"No, it is not," the judge said. "One wonders if there's any humanity at all..."
It came to pass that in 1886 the United States Supreme Court came to a decision in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, which provided cor-por-ations with legal anthropomorphization, as a natural person under the U.S. Constitution, entitled to the protection of the Bill of Rights.
Ths development made Wilbur smile. Upon learning of it he immediately withdrew into meditation and consultation with the higher powers, for the better part of the day. Tex was all over him the moment he emerged.
"Do the spirits understand?" Tex said.
Wilbur smiled and nodded. "Oh, they understand, alright. Not only do they understand, but they authorize."
"That means we'll be ratcheting things up," said Tex, "...significantly."
"Let chaos reign, brother," said Wilbur.
Wilbur was in meditation.
Tex was in the living room, watching television---a fifty-two inch, color projection TV, thank you very much. He was watching the inaugural address, also smoking, enjoying the smooth, smooth taste of Gatorsville Lite Menthols, with a picture of an alligator on the package.
Wilbur emerged, ready. Tex turned off the set, thinking to himself that that Ronald Reagan fella might just do a nice job as President of the United States. They took the elevator down to the lowest level of their facility, which was a space the length and width of a football field, and they needed every square inch of it.
There was a fleet of top-of-the-line, superbly conditioned, automatic-geared, stolen cars, procured for Tex and Wilbur by one of their contacts; each was stocked with laser-sighted rifles and other semi-automatic and automatic firearms, and night vision visors supplied by another contact, all in exchange for the pure-grade cocaine and marijuana Tex and Wilbur brought over from Copenhagen and Brussels.
There was one hundred body bags laid out on the floor in rows of ten. Another contact, a necrophiliac, working at the county coroner's office had helped them smuggle out these cadavers, these particular people who had been victims of the greed of Cintronexium Atlas Corporation.
The Cintronexium Atlas Corporation was a monster multinational conglomerate that did everything from selling greeting cards to running nursing homes, selling insurance to building submarines, from selling frozen foods to drilling for oil, and a lot more. One of their divisions produced automobiles. One of these lines had faulty brakes.
The corporate board had known about the problem, but had perhaps convinced themselves that the problem wasn't really as bad as it was. In any event, they did not care to absorb the expense of a recall and here we are---one hundred dead, soon to be revived people who were direct victims of Cintronexium Atlas's recklessness.
Tex had made sure that he and his partner, Wilbur, were well compensated for their work. These assembled people were not their clients, per se. Tex and Wilbur would not be seeking a fee for services rendered from any of them, which would amount to chickenfeed compared to what they had already extracted from one of the numerous secret accounts of the Cintronexium Atlas Corporation. This was, of course, money that the corporation had stashed overseas to avoid taxation.
Tex had hacked into the computer systems of Cintronexium, mystically, of course, for this was one of his special talents. He sat down, put his hands on the monitor of their personal computer, closed his eyes, and concentrated without even needing to turn on the power of the computer. With Wilbur watching over him, Tex shut his mind and body off completely from the physical world.
He entered the electronic universe of data, searching for that corner of it which called itself Cintronexium Atlas Corporation. He found the hardware that managed a little tax evasion account for the corporation and the computer at headquarters which gave it its instructions. Tex caused the appropriate hardware at headquarters to direct the computer in the Cayman Islands to move several million dollars out of there to an account in a London bank.
After Wilbur had revived the dead people, Tex stood before them and told them who they were, what had happened to them, who was responsible, where they were, and what they were going to do about it. As he spoke, one-hundred-one sets of eyes glowed blue.
Tex then said, "To Cintronexium Atlas, my friends! Let me show you the way!"
The revived one hundred got in their designated cars with their laser-sighted rifles, semi-automatic and automatic firearms, and night vision visors, which Tex had taught them how to use by way of the mind-stream he had just performed, and prepared to hit the road.
Tex and Wilbur, fully loaded, got on their vintage choppers with big longhorns across the handle bars. A whole wall opened up and the strange division rode out.
Wilbur said to Tex, "God help Cintronexium Atlas, brother."
"That means there is no help for them, brother."