's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" Mr. Magic's Spectacular Home Re-Animation Kit "

Submitted by Prophet Storm

The advertisement seemed like a joke. "Mr. Magic's Spectacular Home Reanimation Kit: Raise the Dead in your Very Own House! Do you have a pet that died? A little brother? A parent? Well, with Mr. Magic's Spectacular Home Reanimation Kit, it'll be like they never left at all! Some assembly required. Just apply the mechanical parts and magic reanimation powder as directed and poof! Your loved one is back and rarin' to go!" The vintage-style image depicted an average family from the 50's. There was a little boy and girl and their mother and father. The little boy had a slightly mischeivous smile, as if he was hiding something, while the rest of the family had a slight glassy glaze to their eyes and their smiles were bright and wide, but eerily flat, as if merely smiling for the camera.

I decided that stuch an advertisement must be a joke, but for just five dollars and shipping, I decided that it was worth checking out. Maybe it was some sort of prank gift.

I ordered the Mr. Magic's Spectacular Reanimation Kit. Within a few weeks it arrived, in a plain brown parcel. The box had no brand name or even postage on it, but when I opened it, I saw the inside covered with colorful starbursts. There was a small bundle of metal strips, each foreshortened and triangular, with six holes. A second bundle consisted of bicycle-type chains of various lengths and size of link. A third contained a number of gears and simple machines--a self-contained worm drive and gear, a handful of compound levers with what looked like pneumatic or hydraulic pumps, and a slew of bicycle gears. The fourth and final bundle had an assortment of screws, nails and other fasteners. The bundles were tied together with a length of triple-twist twine, knotted in a double-bow style as one would tie a shoelace. There was also a small, cheap ziploc bag containing a fine white powder and a second full of a coarser, greyish powder. I re-wrapped the box, realizing I couldn't in good conscience really use it on any corpse I knew, so I left it to collect dust on my shelf.

Three years later, a cat died on my porch. It wasn't my cat, it didn't have a collar; it looked like it'd been a stray all its life. A macabre fascination fell over me when I realized that it would be the perfect opportunity to test out Mr. Magic's Spectacular Home Reanimation Kit. I broke the box out again and sat the components out on my porch. Unfolding the instructions, I saw one confusing image: a dead cat in the road and a pile of mechanical parts next to it. I shrugged and went inside to get a glass of water. As I poured the glass, I heard a faint scratching at the front door. I thought perhaps a dog had gotten at the cat's body, but when I opened the door, I found the cat. It was...reanimated, after a fashion. Nothing I'd send to the animal shelter, though.

The tiny little bundles of mechanisms were gone, the twine cut neatly. The white powder bag was still full, but the grey powder was all gone. The cat's eyes were bleeding slowly, and its back and stomach were both torn open like another animal had attacked it. Protruding from the wounds were active, seething machines, gears and pumps working feverishly. The cat moved with awkward jerks and twitches, but behaved like a cat, pacing in front of my feet and meowing with a whispery, shredded voice. Its throat was also perforated, and a tiny air pump was visible inside. It rubbed up against my leg, and its body was still ice-cold. I shuddered, and scooped it up in the crook of my arm to take it back to the backyard and shoot it.

As I carried it, I felt sharp metal lengths prodding my underarm and side, and it spat and hissed in its staggered, whispery voice. I tossed it to the ground once we got behind the house, dashed to the shed, retrieved my shotgun and loaded it. I opened the door to see it right there. Bam. I shot it, then shot it again, then again, then again. Eight shells later, it had stopped moving. I had a hard time looking at the creature's innards after I'd opened it, but when I did, I saw that the cat's skeletal and muscular structure were both totally replaced with mechanisms. There was also a large, bladderlike bulb that still throbbed as the machines rattled autonomously. I drove my foot down into it, rupturing the bladder and unleashing a nasty, oily fluid that melted the machines and started to eat at my boot. Yanking it off, I ran for the front door to pack up the box again and burn it.

After I'd burned the box and its contents, and buried the melted slag and scorched corpse from the reanimated cat, I spent a year in safety. Then I saw the box on my shelf again. I opened it, and all the mechanisms were in their places. I figured that whole adventure with the cat must have been a dream. Still, I felt the safest thing to do was to hide the box where no one would find it. I heard that the local church was going to be converted into a private school, and a building expansion was planned. I snuck in late at night, with the box and a shovel. About six feet down, I decided that the concrete would do a better job of burying the box than I ever would.

Shortly before the building was finished, I read a newspaper article concerning a 'zombie uprising'. An excerpt:

"...There were fifteen corpses that had apparently been reanimated and mobilized by purely mechanical means. They remained mobile and hostile until a central fluid cushion full of a caustic, oil-like substance was ruptured, at which point they stopped moving. Apparently, each corpse's skeleton and most of their muscular systems had been replaced with crude and practically impossible mechanical systems resembling, said one analyst, a child's primitive robotics set. The corpses, while mobile, seemed fixated on an unknown goal, moving inexorably westward."

The church is to the east of my home.

I think I hear something scratching at the door.