Saturday, 29 March 2014

Heroes and Villains II - Deep Among The Dead

Deep Among The Dead

The Death Kingdom was no less intimidating, though the welcome was warmer. Admittedly, it was rather unsettling for me passing through gates of bone as ghosts waved me through. Muzzled zombies smiled weakly at me, one going so far as to wave gently, perhaps afraid his feeble arm would fall off. A vampire or two passed, looking distinctly unimpressed at my presence.

It turns out the vampires were on guard duty and had been awake for seventeen hours. Synthetic blood stopped them from swooping on me, and Death Kingdom's permanent darkness kept them alive. They pointed me towards DeathWorld.

I'd never met the Skeleton Master before, but I'd heard of DeathWorld. A death themed amusement park, it had been a crippling commercial failure. The resulting period of economic depression had almost ruined the Death Kingdom. Fortunately for the Skeleton Master, most of the undead required no sustenance.

I found the Skeleton Master just outside the Hall of Uglies. Inside, a series of distorted mirrors added horrific features to those brave enough to peer inside. Extending a slender boned hand, he smiled, a welcome relief after the misery of the King of Stone.

"You know, human, I really wish I could have a cup of tea..."

We sat inside one of the Waltzer units, which had been redesigned as "The Corpser".

Skeleton Master: Not been used in years. We don't get many visitors these days.

Mindsweeper: Misunderstood?

SM: Oh, absolutely. I've tried to raise our profile, you know, let people know we're not as evil as they think we are.

M: Like last year's "Skeleton Master Will Rule The Entire Planet" campaign?

SM: That was intended as a joke. The press got hold of it, and well...

M: Blown out of all proportion?

SM: Exactly.

M: I do admire your sense of humour though. I thought the dead horses were a nice touch.

SM: Dead horses?

M: On the carousel.

SM: Oh yes, I couldn't help myself. It just seemed to work. A kind of kitschy approach to death, take a little of the sting out of it.

M: But you get so few visitors...

SM: Yes, but the initial problem was that they weren't customers. They didn't want death rides. Said we were making a mockery out of something intended to be taken far more seriously.

M: They weren't fans of DeathWorld?

SM: No. Couldn't see the humour in it. I suppose it is easier to see the funny side of death after you're dead. Well, undead. You know what I mean.

M: So how did you go about ending the financial troubles?

SM: Well, after we powered down DeathWorld, our electricity bills… died a death, you might say. As everything remained stationary, it became easier to get photographs. Of course, our rates for photography permits here in Death Kingdom are, to be quite frank, extortionate.

M: People pay though?

SM: Yes. Very reliable source of income. Our economy has improved significantly. We can afford synthetic blood, so the vampire attacks on visitors have been cut by around ninety three percent. That's cut down on the negative press we've been getting. You might say that we're no longer dying on our arse.

M: What about those jealous of your expansion?

SM: Oh, like the religious types who initially opposed us? Our fire pits are full of them. That alone cut what was left of our energy bill in half. We have energy stockpiles and our wizards can animate the bones should we need more guards.

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