The Ultimate Prank

Written in 2019 as the continuation of the Flash Fiction Month 2019 flash fiction Necromancer’s Necklace. This earned my first Daily Deviation feature on DeviantArt on 13.10.2019.

Lizbeth looked at the sky, its black velvet covering the land. She was writing her notes on the necromancer’s necklace she had acquired during her witchcraft studies so that someday a descendant of hers would be able to utilize it – and utilize it for good, not evil.

As she raised the recently deceased puppy from the dead, she felt even more convinced that utilizing the necklace for good correlated heavily with not using it. While the puppy was alive again, it was visible that its soul was already long gone. It would not bring any good to her daughter who mourned the loss of that cute ball of fluff.

With tears in her eyes, Lizbeth inverted the necklace’s spell and laid the puppy back into the small coffin her husband had crafted for him. Then she lowered the coffin into the small grave and buried it, setting a small headstone at the site of the burial.

She made sure to mark in her notes that while it hurt, raising the loved ones from the dead did not make the pain go away. Instead, it made the pain even worse.

I studied the notes grandma Lizbeth had left behind to learn to use the necklace she had left to me. Everywhere I looked, there were either cold instructions written with neat handwriting on hand-crafted paper, nearly-matter-of-fact notes about the ethical standpoints or notes about her own experiences, some of the last ones written on tear-stained handcrafted paper or paper that had just been picked from somewhere. One of those notes was actually written on a surprisingly well-preserved napkin. I could only assume that some spell had preserved it to this day.

As I read the notes, I understood why grandma had left the necklace to me. She trusted that my judgement would incline on using such a power only at direst of times, times when the power of an undead army would be absolutely necessary – and even then with utmost discretion. She trusted that I would read her notes and take them to heart so that I would not use it to prank anyone like I had first thought when I had learned of my inheritance’s true nature.

I was already going to decide against using the necklace in the funeral despite of training myself to use it without raising the whole cemetery from the dead when I found the last note grandma Lizbeth ever wrote: a secret part of her funeral plans.

In addition to a quick and simple funeral carried out soon after her death, she wanted me to use the necklace so that she would get to see which of the hypocrites who called themselves her family had bothered to attend. In her notes, she called it The Ultimate Prank. She had planned it all out and placed her trust in me to make the judgement that she herself wanted this.

A smirk rose on my face. I loved every single bit of grandma’s plan.

I would have the ultimate pleasure to deliver it for her.

Lizbeth looked at how few of her family bothered to talk with her whenever they did not need anything from her. It had been disappointing to notice that so many cared only for her powers, not her.

The dead had recently started to call her to join them. That was the warning sign she had been fearing to spot for some time – her time among the living was up. She wrote her last notes, detailing the end of the life of a necromancer and how to see it coming. Then she took pieces of clean, pure white paper, looked through the family communication and wrote the final version of her will, as she had agreed with her undead lawyer who would be able to make sure her will was carried out to the letter.

Once the will was ready, Lizbeth slept for a while, dreaming of the undead calling for her. She could swear the puppy she had buried at night many years ago when her daughter had been young was barking for her among them.

When she woke up, Lizbeth knew it was time to exact the vengeance only a necromancer could come up with on the selfish members of her family. She took the final pieces of paper she had crafted with her husband years ago before they had gotten married, back when her career had been fresh and they had been young, and started to write the ultimate prank.

She would have to trust that her granddaughter who bore the magic in her spirit would follow her notes once she would acquire the necklace she was entrusting her.

The day of the funeral came as quickly as grandma had wanted. I hid the necklace under my black dress, kept tabs on the dead to make sure that I didn’t accidentally raise any poor person from the dead nor raised grandma too early. The timing was not too important, but I had to get it done in the right window: when the priest was blessing grandma.

I waited, trying to hide my glee. The mere thought of the prank my grandma had concocted was deliciously mischievous. I could feel the taste of revenge she was going to get.

I had not told anyone that I was actually going to do something with the necklace. Those who knew of its true nature I had convinced that I would only guard it. In fact, I had left a replica to a locked chest at home to convince Mom that I hadn’t taken it with me. She had no idea of the plan grandma had left for me and it would serve her right to find out the same way as everyone else: when it was already far in motion.

I hid my face behind a veil. Few tears escaped my eyes as I was overcome with glee more than grief, but I did my best to play my part.

Then the time came. I let the magic flow to the coffin where grandma Lizbeth lay and initiated what she and I had prepared for: The Ultimate Prank.

“…And thus, she will return to the earth from…” the priest said.
“Whoooo daaaaresss?” came from the coffin. The priest froze in horror mid-sentence. I knew that he was aware of grandma’s nature, but he probably had never encountered an undead – especially not at a funeral!

I put my hand over my mouth to hide any trace of a smile and feigned shock.

“Whoooo daaaress to attempt to put me to rest when I still have a bone to pick?” came from the coffin again. The whole church was silent. My brother glanced at me, trying to keep his face straight, but his eyes betrayed his extreme amusement. I bit my teeth together and avoided Mom’s angry eyes.

The coffin opened and the priest backed off, horrified. Grandma Lizbeth got up from the coffin, her eyes slightly alit with the life she had reserved for this very purpose with her lawyer – an undead, I presumed – and straightened her funeral gown. She looked over the family assembled in the church, smiling. “So this is all the mass that never bothered to give as much as a birthday message if they didn’t need anything from me, all crying that their family witch won’t offer her services anymore?” She gave a laugh. “So, how does it feel to know that you’ll have to go to another witch and pay the full price? It’s been just days and how many of you have already gone to someone else instead of paying your respects? How many?” She looked over the crowd again. “Don’t bother to answer, I already know. Shame on you, James, Miranda, Lydia, Ollie, Gehrman, Rocco, Ashley and my own daughter, Helena. You are nothing but selfish wretches who want everything for free, no matter everyone else’s livelihoods.”

Many started to shift in their seats, most of the ones grandma called out seeming uncomfortable except for my mother who looked at her own mother furiously. My brother and I no longer tried to stop nor hide our grins.
“It’s good to know that so many of you bothered to come here so that you could get a taste of this,” grandma Lizbeth said and held her arms out. “The only time many of you came to me without asking anything from me in many years, and even now you would probably ask something of me if you had not already switched the witch.” She took a deep breath and grinned. “Does anyone have anything to say to me now that you got the chance?”
“You rock, grandma!” my brother shouted and waved.
“As do you and your sister,” grandma Lizbeth said and smiled at us both.
“I love you, grandma! Thank you for everything!” I shouted.
“Love you too, sweetheart. Take care of my heritage while I’m gone,” grandma told me. “And Debbie, Justin and Ben, take care too, and thank you for being there for me when the adults would not be.”

The three other grandchildren shouted their last words to grandma, each of them in tears.
“Anything else?” grandma asked.
“How dare you?!” Mom shouted and stood up. “How dare you pull something like this off when we did everything you asked to the letter?!”
“I dare easily, my dear Helena,” grandma told, her voice serene. “Because I did exactly as you asked to the letter and gave every single one of you a notable discount at the expense of my own livelihood. And how many times did you, my child, call me or send me a message just to keep in touch instead of wanting something during these last five years?” Mom was silent. “Exactly. Your own children kept in touch with me more. Heavens, even your aunt actually kept in touch more than you during her life despite of all the times we fought one another. I guarantee you, I dared with no effort and I am glad I did.”

Grandma waited for more words. None came. “I take it you don’t have anything else to say?” No one said anything. “Very well. Then it is my time to go. Thank you for my faithful grandchildren for being there for me and thank you to Kelly for making this possible.”

Grandma turned to look at the priest. “I apologize for the interruption. You may continue.” Then she climbed back to the coffin, closed it and gave me the sign to invert the spell. That I did with a huge smile on my face and tears of joy and grief running from my eyes. I could feel the last bits of her life pass on, more than satisfied with what we had achieved together.

Someday, I would do the same if need be. Hopefully, the rest of the grandchildren would be there to witness it.

Flustered, the priest resumed the funeral, even paler than usual. Most of the people were uncomfortable all the way through.

Once we got outside, my brother and I high-fived and hugged, allowing ourselves to laugh now.
“That was awesome!” my brother told.
“I know!” I said. “I’m glad grandma planned this! It was the best revenge ever!”

Ben and the others came to us.
“I had no idea grandma Lizbeth made you her follower,” Debbie told.
“It was quite sudden. It was in her will,” I told. “It was quite some quick crash course on necromancy that I took with her notes to make this possible.”
“Could you train me when you’ve learned more?” Justin asked.
“Perhaps,” I said. “Not sure, though. Necromancy is a power that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Grandma left lots of notes on the ethics of it and I still have lots to read. Check in with me when you’ve become of age if you’re still interested then and we’ll see about it.”
“You bet I will!” Justin said and high-fived me.
“What are you going to do now?” Ben asked.
“I don’t know. Probably read the rest of grandma’s notes, learn more and see about it. I’ll probably just keep the necklace out of the wrong hands unless I actually have to use it from now on and concentrate on other witchcraft. I’ll have to find someone to teach me once I feel I’m ready to commit myself to the career,” I told.
“Are you going to give us hefty family discounts?” my brother asked and winked at me. “C’mon, give one at least to me since I’m your bro and I’ve seen you in diapers.”

I guffawed. “No way! You can’t extort me like that! No family discounts to anyone. You saw where it led grandma.” I made sure my voice was loud enough for everyone to hear it. I knew that if I found some family members keepers, I’d give them a discount – but that wouldn’t be a family discount. It would be a keeper discount.

Once the funeral was over, the family communication to me from anyone but my fellow grandchildren was cut to a minimum – I was actually surprised it could go any lower. Mom wouldn’t talk to me for a week and I ended up moving out as I caught the attention of a sorcerer who wanted to teach me magic. Apparently, he was a good friend of grandma’s and thus had known to watch me due to her own recommendation before her death. After I found grandma’s letter of recommendation written about him among the important notes, I accepted his apprenticeship offer.

Today, I’m doing well as a sorcerer apprentice and I’m most certainly up for a good career in the future once I graduate.

So yeah, grandma’s ultimate prank truly played out in my favor. That must’ve been her plan all along – not just benefit her spirit but also me, who helped her achieve the ultimate act: raising herself and her spirit from the dead.

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