I was about to start an examination when Doctor Chang phoned to let me know three new residents were coming my way. He typically gave more notice, but I could manage something despite not having my usual prep time. Three eager residents showed up before I even hung up the phone. They told me Doctor Chang had sent them to retrieve a ring for a grieving widow: a classic excuse to justify a trip to the hospital morgue. I rested one hand against John Doe 901-8A’s chest, and waved the trio over with the other. Using the gloved hand that had touched the corpse moments prior, I introduced myself and offered them a handshake. I could see them cringe, but they were too polite to refuse. I stalled Miss Jackson, Mr. O’Neil, and Mr. Carter with chit-chat while their attending doctors got into position. Once I could see the tops of their heads peeking from the hallway, I knew it was time to get the show on the road.
I promised I’d retrieve the missing ring as soon as I finished with John Doe 901-8A’s autopsy. Waiting for the students to consider their options, I assembled my tools. I knew one of them was going to offer to help: young doctors are notorious for taking advantage of any opportunity to get their hands dirty and to show off. It was Miss Jackson who did as expected, and proposed they assist me. I played dumb, pretended that I was surprised and very relieved to get their help, and motioned towards the box of latex gloves on the counter. In order to keep the students from getting suspicious, I began with simple and normal requests: handing me my scalpel, removing the corpse’s shoes and socks, and filling out part of a mandatory autopsy form. All the while, I performed a Y incision on the man’s chest to get to his organs. The fun part happened once I felt the students were sufficiently comfortable with my authority. I was going to convince them they’d be hearing a dead man’s final breath.
At first, everything went off as it normally would: I explained that I was going to remove oxygen from John Doe’s lungs by pressing on them, and if they listened carefully, they could hear it as it made its way up his throat and out his mouth. I didn’t put any pressure on them to do so, mind you. It had to be voluntary: I’m not a monster, after all. To my great delight, they all enthusiastically agreed to listen to the biological phenomenon. Now, normally I had enough time to set up an air nozzle near the corpse’s head, which I would use to send out a gust of air towards the intended victims. It usually startled the living daylights out of them. This time; however, I didn’t have the luxury of properly setting up the prank, so I decided I’d go with a cheap “BOO!” jump scare instead. The result would likely be the same.
“Come closer,” I requested, pointing to my patient’s face.