A smile on my face, I greeted doctor Chang courteously. He and I had a sort of childish camaraderie, wherein we frequently pulled pranks both together and against one another. His gloom-ridden features told me that his visit was not going to be a pleasant one. He was, as one would expect, quite distraught about the deaths of his two residents. In lieu of comforting him — something I was not particularly adept at, I answered his questions regarding his students, and shared my findings with him. Since the autopsies had revealed nothing suspicious, there wasn’t much to tell. Doctor Chang, in turn, confided in me something quite disturbing: the third medical student, Mr. Carter, had not shown up for his shift. Intending to lighten the mood, I assured Doctor Chang that his student was not among the corpses in my morgue. Little did I know, he soon would be.
After Doctor Chang left, I went back to work, updating my dossiers. As I took a stroll towards the filing cabinet near the cooling units, I began hearing that noise again. I immediately called maintenance, claiming there was an emergency. They arrived promptly and performed a thorough inspection. When they approached me, waiting outside in the hallway, they warned me that Cooling Units 5 and 8 had been opened. They theorized that I’d heard the sound of air escaping the capsules. I; however, was certain I’d closed the doors properly this time. I began feeling quite nervous as the men left the room. Almost as soon as they were out of sight, the sounds started again. I ran to the cooling units, and pushed against their doors: they were sealed shut. The sounds, I realized, were like that of someone breathing. Were Renée and Brandon’s bodies somehow breathing inside of the vacuum-sealed chambers? The hairs on the back of my neck and arms rose, and I took a step back. From the corner of my eyes, I saw Cooling Unit 5’s door slowly swing open.
“SON OF A BITCH!” I screamed, my voice strong despite the stinging pain in my throat.
Though I tried to convince myself it was all just my imagination, triggered by misplaced guilt from the deaths of people I knew, I am not afraid to admit that I ran out of the morgue with my tail between my legs. I did not speak to a soul, bolting straight for the washroom to splash cold water onto my face. Who on earth would be dumb enough to believe me anyway? Corpses don’t breathe, and they certainly can’t open doors. I took a deep breath, but as the air reached the back of my mouth, I felt a severely unpleasant sensation. Pulling my cheeks away, I looked into my mouth, and nearly screamed: my molars had turned black and rotten, my throat resembled a warning label on a pack of cigarettes, and my tongue was almost grey. The nauseating scent of decomposition trickled out of my mouth and into my nose, making my eyes water. Maybe what I heard from the bodies was my imagination, but the physical changes in me were quite real.
On my way back to the morgue, I picked up a few heavy-duty locks from the janitor’s closet. It was just for my own peace of mind. Using the locks, I secured the cooling units. If nothing else, the doors wouldn’t “accidentally” open anymore.