Jasfoup raised the corpse's head and shifted the arm to twist it onto its side and reveal the chest. He began to unbutton the blouse.
"Here," said Mandy, batting ineffectually at his arm. "What're you doing? necrophilia still illegal, you know."
Jasfoup shook his head. "Don't flatter yourself. Look here." He pointed to the front of the blouse where specks of blood had dried into the cloth. "There's a fresh wound under here." He teased away the blouse to reveal a series of incised lines in the dead flesh. "Do you remember what this bloke looked like? The one you were snogging?"
Mandy shrugged, her whole body rippling with the motion. "He was average," she said. "Tallish, middle aged... Arabic, or something. Egyptian, maybe. He bought me a couple of Bacardis so I kind of owed him."
"Did you owe him your life?"
"Don't be facetious." Mandy stared at the crude drawing cut into the skin over her sternum. "What is that?" she said, her face creased with puzzlement. "I don't remember letting anyone do that to me."
"It very fresh." Jasfoup used his phone to take a picture of it. "Last night, before you died." He looked down at the screen, sending the image to Winston, who knew about such things. "It looks Vodoun. but I don't recognise it
"How can you tell it was before I died?" The ghost reached forward to trace the line curving over her breast.
"See the beads of blood along the cuts? That means you were alive when it was done." Jasfoup looked up. "No!" he said. "Don't touch it."
Too late. Mandy felt her spirit being drawn into the corpse. Her stomach lurched like the first drop of a rollercoaster. She took an involuntary step toward her own corpse. "What's happening?"
"Your spirit is being drawn back into the corpse," said the demon. "How curious. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not." He stood back to watch what happened.
"Will I be alive again?" Mandy was dragged another step forward. The corpse radiated cold as if it had been out all night in a snow storm.
"I honestly don't know. I've never come across this before." Jasfoup drew a flaming sword from his inside jacket pocket. Mandy wondered how he didn't set fire to his suit. It didn't even occur to her how he kept a three foot blade in a four inch pocket.
Her spirit self touched her material self and she felt her whole being drawn into it like a cheap special effect from Star Trek. It felt so cold! She gave an involuntary yelp.
Jasfoup raised an eyebrow.
The corpse twitched once... twice... fingers clenched against the crimson velour of the sofa cushion and relaxed again. The chest pulled in a lungful of air that rattled across dry lips and teeth. whistling into lungs that had been still for hours. The stomach heaved and expelled its contents: the remains of a bottle of red wine, two Bacardi's and an undigested kebab on a bed of cabbage and onion.
Muscles tensed and the corpse heaved itself upright, bile still dribbling from the edges of a lipstick-smeared mouth. The eyelids rolled up revealing colourless irises and pinprick pupils though the gaze seemed fixed on a point in space somewhere to the left of the television.
Muscle groups across the torso and legs tightened and relaxed as the creature sought to wrest control over limbs that would rather remain dead but over the course of several minutes the zombie stood, wreathed in the sudden stench of released bladder and bowels. It had no use for them in its present state
It took one step forward... two... its head swivelling as it tried to locate the nearest food source, the body following the head until it was facing the door to the street.
Jasfoup stepped forward, his flaming saber held in prime. "On the whole," he said, "I'm coming down on the side on 'no, you're not alive'. You look a lot like a zombie, in fact. I'm afraid I'm going to have to cut off your head and salt the body."
"Nooo? Please don't." Mandy's speech was stilted as she tried to make involuntary muscles work. How difficult it was to have to think about the muscle groups to form words from a flow of air. "I 'ill me."
"Honestly? How curious." Jasfoup sheathed his sword again. "Never did like zombies," he said. "So if you even look like you're going to bite someone I'll rip your head off and spit in your neck, okay?"
Mandy found the muscles required to nod her head and stood still, swaying slightly as she fought to remain upright. She'd taken balance for granted and now it was getting its own back.
Jasfoup looked at the mess on the settee. "I'm afraid you'll have forfeited that warranty after all," he said. "Mind if I have that kebab? I'm famished."