The doctors and students never suspected a thing, but I knew the truth: We’d stolen a dead man’s final breath. I nervously finished the autopsy, the disgusting taste lingering in my mouth. Aside from the puff of cold air that had escaped the man’s lips, there was nothing out of the ordinary with my patient, yet there was something about him that put me on edge. Unfortunately, my childish actions had already sealed our fates, and things were about to take a drastic turn for the worst.
My alarm went off, waking me for the first time in years and leaving me in a momentary daze. Usually, I was up a dozen minutes ahead of time. I sat in bed, running a hand over my sore neck. My throat ached, as though I was coming down with the flu, yet the rest of my body was perfectly fine. Although I had brushed my teeth thoroughly several times since the incident in the morgue, I could still make out the aftertaste of rot in the back of my mouth. The subtle flavor was enough to convince me to use the god-awful mouthwash I’d purchased a few months ago. The powerful, alcohol-imbued liquid stung my mouth, but succeeded in diminishing the unpleasant taste.
I drove to work, picking up a cup of coffee along the way. The unpleasant egg-like taste made drinking it almost unbearable, but I needed the caffeine to wake me up. As the rest of the world prepared for a pleasant evening at home, I had mountains of paperwork and several autopsies to look forward to. The beauty of working the night shift was that I rarely got interrupted when I needed to focus. When I arrived at the morgue, my fellow medical examiner gave me a helpful status update, and left me to my own devices. There was a body waiting for examination in Cooling Unit 5. According to my colleagues’ notes, an invasive autopsy would not be necessary.