They lowered the corpse onto the dinner table with more care than Vermillion thought necessary, and he was regaled with a foreshortened view, feet first, of the shabbily clothed test subject. Its nostrils felt noxious to him. They seemed, in a vile way, to be pricking at his conscience.

One of the men handed Vermillion a vial, and Vermillion nodded. Soon, he thought, there would be very little left to annoy him. He poured the contents of the vial into the corpse’s nostrils, in tiny pours, wincing all the way; reassuring himself with the thought that, were the experiment to fail, they could always find somebody else.

They didn’t have to. The resurrecting elixir had worked.

“What did you see?” Vermillion asked the large, flaking body, which had stirred only slightly, as if being woken from a nap. Vermillion looked interested for the first time that evening. What had previously been a corpse seemed to be rearing itself to speak. How did it formulate thoughts? he wondered. Did it even have language? Whatever the case, Vermillion would wring the answer out of it in some way… he needed a picture of the afterlife. He was the richest man in the known world, and had everything a man could imagine: but could he have something they couldn’t? Impatient, he asked the question again: “What… did you see?”

“Anything I wanted to.”