October "Toby" Wyatt Character in Dread Romantic | World Anvil

October "Toby" Wyatt

Toby sat at a table in Dread Romantic's storefront, a battery operated recorder sitting directly before her. Mavis and Olive sit across from her, with Cory just off to the side.   She's been answering questions, most were about her history, her business, and the events before Dread Romantic's arrival. Now, they finally ask about her gifts.   "There are a lot of charges to handle here." Mavis shook her head, reading over a notepad resting on the table. "Let's start with the Desecration. Why corpses? Why graves?"   "I can reanimate corpses. I can tell them what to do and make use of any knowledge they have if the brain is intact."   Olive smiles, then speaks, every sound of the word drawn out as if by wonder, "Woah."   Toby tries to hide her surprise, but clearly didn't expect the response. "Thank you? Not the best when it comes to the smell."   Mavis nods. "Or public health. That's going to be hard to argue."   "I never use it on anyone who's been dead too long, at least not anymore."   Mavis stops writing on the pad. "Stop the recording for a moment in the interest of confidentiality." Toby obeys, and Mavis continues, "Toby, this is the closest thing to a deposition we're going to have. This is your testimony. Keep in mind, everything you say is going to be heard by more than just us."   Toby nods and hangs her head low. "Sorry."
"Don't be. Be honest but don't offer more information than what's asked."   Again Toby obeys but it's Olive that asks the next question, "Why the recently deceased."   "When I say reanimate, I'm completely serious. All bodily functions that remain somewhat intact will resume normal operations, even cell growth. If the body is too badly damaged, it still reanimates, but there are limitations and it gets really gross." Toby pauses, "that's too much, isn't it?"   Mavis shakes her head. "That's different. You know what you're talking about and you are being very specific. You're adding depth to the answer to ensure understanding."   "I see." Toby takes a deep breath and waits for the next question.   "limitations?" Mavis asks.   Toby smiles. "My first reanimation was on a pile of bones. They can walk and do simple physical tasks, but beyond that, they just mosey around." She giggles. "I can't learn from them. They aren't useful to my work."   Mavis clenches her jaw. "What work is that?"   Toby's cheeks go red. "Is that relevant to the charges?"   "Yes."
The words take effort. Toby strains to let go as each spills forth, "While exploring, I discovered that I can… make things?"   Olive cocks her head. "Make things?"   "Yes. Like art." She smiles, "It's an odd hobby but I'm more connected to them. It's hard to explain."   "When you say make…" Olive gives a suggestive look.   Toby gives her reply with a genuine smile, "I make monsters."   There's a long, loaded silence that follows. Mavis is the one that breaks it, completely ignoring the implications, "Is this what drives that exploration?"   "Well…no. The exploration is its own reward. That's what really drives me."   Cory speaks then, "That's true but there's something else, isn't there."   Toby looks away from him. "No."   Cory gives a knowing nod, leans forward and takes a deep breath. He holds out the letter Toby sent and asks, "Who's Henry?"


October Wyatt is one of the touched, a woman, aged 27, and currently on trial for the murder of Shelby Kent, among other charges. She grew up in Iowa, her family having owned a funeral home for 3 generations. When the world ended, she would take on the role of the fourth.   Her hair is black, cut just passed the ears, her eyes are a striking green; her skin pale. She always dresses in black and is prone to being overdressed for any given occasion especially now that the world has ended. This in itself leads to envy among others in the town of Boring, most of whom left their Sunday best behind long ago.   Arguably her most striking feature is her smile with a prominent cupid's bow that is more disarming than she realizes. In fact, she doesn't catch much when it comes to social interaction in general. Most describe Toby as innocent at best. At worst, one could say she's socially inept and far too trusting; too inexperienced in the ways of the world due to her youthful and apparent naivety.


Toby is gifted with what most would call necromancy. She has an innate understanding of the dead, being a mortician. This led to numerous gifts few among the touched have. After a little experimentation, it's been discovered that Toby is immune to most if not all forms of sickness, for example, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.   Her skills include reanimation of the dead, and only the dead. The subject must be biological, multicellular, and the spark of life must be gone. The more damaged a subject is, the more effort it takes to reanimate it, skeletons being the hardest. Once animated, the subject can be controlled, and can act on its own accord if need be.   Toby can also see through the eyes of any reanimated subject provided the eyes are intact. She can also tap into the memories left in the brain under the same limitation. Other minor gifts include the ability to see and speak with the dead, she can detect the presence of living things and can also detect if someone is close to death and why.

Mouths to feed

These gifts come with caveats. The reanimated corpses are fully functioning, this means a fresh corpse would need the same level of care a living body would. Given the recently deceased are ideal for Toby, she does have to ensure they are fed, kept warm or cool given the time of year, and are tended to if injured or succumbing to a sickness. A body that won't die can lead to numerous problems despite the fact that the damage would not impact its animation.   Disease can spread, as can infections. Their bodies can eat themselves to nothing without food, limiting their usefulness. Toby also reports that the corpses have preferences and personalities independent of her and their previous lives. They can become "depressed" If certain trivial needs are not met like clothing, interaction with other corpses, and good hygiene. They even sleep on occasion, though it's unclear if it's needed or simply out of habit.   Toby spends much of her time seeing to the corpses needs, caring for ten of these corpses in the funeral home. She prepares their meals, dines with them, clothes them, and bathes them until they develop the ability to do so themselves. She sees them as companions rather than puppets to be controlled, and it would seem that they see her as a second mother.


Toby can communicate with the dead, and call them from the beyond if need be. This is arguably the most complicated part of her process. She has, on many occasions, reunited a soul with its newly healed and restored body, effectively bringing them back to life.   This has limits. She can't do so if the body isn't healed and the process of reversing lethal conditions in the body can be virtually impossible. Damage to the brain is the biggest concern, which after death begins in less than 12 minutes.   Her ability to command the dead does not solely apply to corpses. She can command ghosts, and drive them into their body, but only if the spirit is willing. Most are not. The ten corpses Toby looks after are those that were abandoned by their previous souls.


The ultimate goal of Toby's process is to release the individual back into the world. When Toby restores a soul to its body, it takes roughly three weeks before it can officially join the living. This rehabilitation involves testing to make sure the body is fit for use. Can it walk, communicate, survive?   Most attempts are a failure, usually due to some unseen problem such as loss of language, presence of disease, etc. This makes her particularly careful in choosing what to reanimate, as it can cause the soul undue stress and even more pain.


Toby also has a morbid sense of curiosity, likely due to her belief that a second end is nigh. She is so caught up in the idea, that she has taken to exploring the limits of her gifts, even though a reason was never needed to begin with.   These experiments usually involve a sense of necrotic creation, sticking bodies together in hopes of creating a new breed of undead to aid her when the time comes. It is unclear how many of these creations exist, but she has been successful more than once.
Toby shakes her head, "He was a former soldier." Toby opens her mouth to speak again then rethinks her words. "I can literally bring people back to life if their spirit wants to return and the body is well enough. Henry's soul did not want to return." She sounds almost disappointed by the fact. "This left a soulless corpse that's surprisingly full of life and personality. One that's developing at a rapid pace over time. He picked his name himself. Almost said it for the first time a week or so ago."   "Back up," Mavis takes a moment to process before asking her question, "you can bring people back?"   "Yes. Why do you think so many people live in Boring? I've been taking corpses out of functioning morgues for three years now, repairing the damage and offering their souls a second chance at life. I had a car but then we couldn't get a hold of gas. "   "Holy shit." Olive's jaw drops. "That's fucking cool. Like… how?"   "Once I know I'll be bringing them back, I work to repair the body and make it more youthful depending on age. I find them a home that hasn't been taken yet around town. Lots of suburbs. I explain the situation and help them acclimate in the weeks that follow."
Mavis shouts, "Stop the recording."   Toby obeys and hands it to Mavis who then erases the entire conversation. "Why do they hate you if you're responsible for their new lives?"   Toby nods in understanding. "They don't remember. After a few weeks, they forget. They have no idea they were dead. I don't really have the heart to tell them. They always look so happy when they first wake up." Mavis looks to Olive who takes a moment to realize what has Mavis concerned.   "Really?" Olive's eyes narrow. "No. No way."   "What?" Toby asks.   They ignore her question, Mavis uttering a single phrase, a command that sends Olive into a panicked sprint, "Olive? Get me a Lemon."


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Toby Wyatt

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Jul 18, 2023 12:58 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

That cliffhanger was mean!   I like Toby. Bless her, I don't think she thinks things entirely through.

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
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