NECRA AND THE POLITICS OF THE DEAD
The streets of Necra were thronged despite the banners proclaiming Unicorn Day. The banners were strung from building to building like Christmas greeting banners, but proclaiming that each member of the Dead could convert up to 10 new recruits on Unicorn Day. The tall red buildings in the town centre hinted at Victorian brick terraces, their ground floor rooms converted to shops and offices where the upstairs rooms used to be. Like so many things in Necra, the houses had been converted.
People seemed oblivious to Unicorn Day as they moved around, some aimlessly and inviting attention, others purposefully and cautiously as they moved from shop to shop, or home after necessary errands. It was dangerous for the living to venture out onto the streets during this day when the dead ruled. Not even Living Rights activists left their homes on this day.
Personally, I could not distinguish between the Living and the Dead. This sort of ignorance is highly dangerous in Necra, where a dagger in the ribs could enlist a member of the Living into the ranks of Necra's Dead Faction. The Dead were jealous of their living fellows despite needing them. Despite the Dead's ultimate reliance on the Living, extreme factions wanted to rid Necra of the Living altogether and Unicorn Day, with its hidden spiral-blade daggers, was the High Council's concession to the growing ranks and stronger demands of the powerful Dead Faction.
Since I could not distinguish who among the crowd was Dead and who was Living, I was relieved to get out of the crowd and into the Hotel Aera where I would be safe from the daggers of Unicorn Day. The Dead could only convert people on the streets, a concession the Dead made to the Living Rights lobby.
Once Necra had been Vivia, city of the living, and then some meddlesome fool had found a way to reanimate a body, but that body relied on some sort of emanations of a Living person in order to survive. Soon people were reviving recently deceased friends and family. They fed, benignly enough, on the energy given off by their Living friends. But the Dead were like a cancer. They did not age and in time their numbers grew as they brought back the people who had brought them back. Soon whole families were Dead. The Dead demanded rights, then equality and recognition as an ethnic minority. Soon the Living were the ethnic minority in Necra. To be Dead was to be 'perfect'.
The Dead continued in their suspended state as they had in life. They 'lived' at home, worked with Living colleagues and envied the Living on whom they depended for 'life'.
Beyond the iodized glass of the Aera's lobby, a scuffle broke out. A member of the Living fell. A new recruit of the Dead rose. Living tourists and visitors stayed safe inside the Aera's foyer while less foolhardy Necran's hid at home. The foolhardy, resident and visitor alike, took their chances outside and had nothing to lose but mortality and possibly everything to gain. Tourists flocked to Necra, intrigued by the politics of the Dead. The High Council had Dead Councillors. The Dead demanded proportional representation to swing the power balance in their favour.
Purist Dead wanted the Living eliminated. They gave no thought to how they would survive without life energy. Once Dead had lived at home with their friends, but more and more the Dead kept the Living as pets, as captives or livestock, to drink their energy. The Living dissipated this energy endlessly without missing it and it could support two or three Dead, but as more and more joined the Dead, the Living's numbers fell and it was becoming a status symbol to own one. The Living lived shorter, frailer lives as the demands on their energy grew.
Living visitors were safe inside the Aera Hotel. Only when you shook hands with the staff did you realise that they were Dead. Providing a safe place for Unicorn Day tourists allowed them to use our energy. Could they all survive when all of Necra was Dead and tourists were scared away? Would the Dead Necrans "die" without the Living, and would Necra itself be reclaimed by the Living and become Vivia again? Or would the Dead expand away from Necra to Paris, London, Moscow, New York until all Earth was Dead?
The Living could not rise up - in a fight, each Living death was a Dead recruit. The Dead simply got up again unless flamed, dismembered (and even then the bits writhed awfully) or crushed to pulp. Few Living could stomach that sort of carnage.
Around Hotel Aera, people thronged in a carnival of death and rebirth. Those outside dared the daggers of the Dead; some were pressed up against the windows of the Aera though they might as well have been a mile away from safety. Selfishly, each member of the Dead sought his or her ten recruits to the cause. Some of the Living sought escape, others sought conversion.
On a street corner not far from the scrum outside the Aera, one of the Dead poured petrol over herself and ended her non-existence.