Meet the necromancer Siwatu, who in the far future sings the angry dead to sleep.
In a universe overwhelmed by millennia of violence, bringing rest to the dead is an essential but painful vocation.
Siwatu is one of the many characters you’ll meet in my new release Dante’s Heart: The Full Saga.
In one scene, Siwatu finds himself in a spacecraft’s hold, singing lullabies to pacify the ghost of a violent man:
“In his voice low and deep, he sings lullabies from Old Earth, dozens of them, in several languages, go-to-sleep-songs sung in the past over cradles and trundle beds and uterine vats and genetic memory tubes and even, gently, over the aching swell of women’s bellies, across all the millennia of human children who have cried and needed comfort. He sings until his body is covered in a sheen of sweat. He sings until the ghost stops whispering, until the ghost fades from hearing like water evaporating on desert sand. Then, though he is the only one left in the hold, he keeps singing as long as he can, until he is hoarse. Only when he stops at last does the pain become unbearable, the grinding as of glass shards just beneath his skin, up and down his spine. He hunches over his knees, his hands clasped tightly, his body shaking as he sits on the water bag. His mouth opens but his scream is faint, a breath, his voice used up. In their long line up and down his back, from nape to nates, growths tear through his skin and expand, engorged white fungi, mushrooms growing on a man as on the bark of a cedar. Siwatu retches until he is empty, then stays hunched and panting, the growths on his back mature now and still as though sculpted there in marble. He will cut them off later with great pain and will burn them and the sins of the dead with them, but they will burst out again next time he sings. His ailment that has no cure, the price demanded for his empathy for the dead. He sits there a long time in the silence, shaking.”
This illustration of Siwatu is by artist Chaz Kemp and appears in the book. Get your copy of Dante’s Heart here.