Why I Left New York, and Returned with an Army of the Dead

    The cable car to Roosevelt Island, surprise guests at the Comedy Cellar, skin—just a few of the things that I left behind in my old life. It feels like a dream now, after a year in the suburbs and two months dead. I look back and think, Was that me? Did I take that skyline, that laughter, that heartbeat for granted?

    Now, in unlife, I’ve come to take them back. A legion of the lost and damned have followed me to Chelsea Piers, where I once Zumba-ed. Every minute, more of my soldiers crawl from the river into the sunlit world of the living. But my return prompts the question: Why depart in the first place?

    After all, everyone leaves this life eventually, but no one leaves New York. Unless you’re a “quitter,” “failure,” “conspiracy theorist,” “disease vector,” “actively puking blood,” or any of my so-called friends’ other insults. That’s the funny thing about leaving—you learn who never wanted you there at all.

    And I had plans here. I wanted to raise fleshy children alongside others of their ilk. But I also wanted them to breathe free, something the gutless textbook-worshippers running this city wouldn’t allow. They preferred muzzles, lockdowns, and informants. I couldn’t go through a mundane round of seasonal flu without my own mother’s nursing home treating me like a leper. My city was dead.

    Or so I thought, before I understood true death. In Florida, I enjoyed a month of pure, sun-drenched freedom. I lived, laughed, and coughed with people who understood that life was fleeting—very, very, infuriatingly, fleeting.

    Some might ask, “How, exactly, did you die?” That’s my business. You should focus on the skeletal horses thundering through the streets. Their riders breathe fire, which is your business.

    I’ve come to liberate my favorite place in the world. I could have sat idle by the throne of God, like billions of sheeple before me. I could have ignored the call of the black gate, and watched tyrants lock down everything vital about this great city. Plenty of others have challenged the barrier between life and death and failed. But, like anyone who’s moved to Manhattan with only a small parental loan, I was used to leaps of faith.

    I also heard rumors of a new booster. So I returned, with havoc in tow.

    It hasn’t been easy. Without nerves, I can’t feel the winter air during a ferry ride, or the snap of mortal bones under my grip. I can drink the tears of the living, but I can’t taste them. But this isn’t about me. It’s about saving you.

    I can already hear the intelligentsia’s usual accusations. Doubling down. Myopia. Forbidden magic. Ignoring the science. Defiling the kingdom of God. I’m done defending my rights to anyone else, or my wights. Anyone against skeletons marching down Second Avenue can take it up with the skeletons. Myocarditis might kill you before they do.

    Sometimes, when you love something, you have to leave it. After that, if it doesn’t get the message, you have to break death’s chains and set things right. Sure, God’s petty reign might be older than time. But He’s no New Yorker. ♦

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