By Amanda Castillo
The inevitability of death orbits in the very fabric of your existence from the moment you’re born to the day death comes. History proves time and time again how precious our actions are and that it’s up to us to take our place before our time runs out.
The morgue creaked all the time. Sometimes it creaked because the pipes were old, or loitering kids broke in, creeping around trying to become the next paranormal investigators.
Working as a medical examiner there I didn’t expect anything odd to occur. Granted, that should’ve been my first thought. Dead bodies are practically the pinnacle of horror movies, right? But real life is real life, those are just stories that keep wimps up at night. Besides, I’d been working here for months and there was nothing that fazed me. Bodies were locked up and the only thing that remotely bothered me was the one light on the sixteenth floor that no one would dare change.
So when the morgue creaked one night, it didn’t catch my interest. I could probably attribute the sound to a pipe or the heater—which I’d asked to be turned on hours ago. But then followed a loud bang, a crawling on the walls, like someone dying to get in. If I’d had half a brain at the time I wouldn’t have been bothered. It could’ve been kids breaking in, playing some prank. I mean, just last week I’d scared off some kids that tried to “hold a séance.” This would’ve been nothing new.
A body lay in front of me, ready to be autopsied. The other bodies were lined up and locked behind metal doors. I opened the door; peered down the hall. Nothing, as expected. I laughed out loud to myself, amused that I, for a quick second, truly believed something was out there.
Within the hour I’d finished excavating the man’s body and had samples ready to be tested. As I stitched the body up with a tight seal, another creak flooded my ears.
I put the body away as soon as I finished—there were still more bodies to go. The mother and her two kids. I’d put sheets on them so I could work on one body at a time. This is until I noticed one of the sheets resting flat on the table.
The mother was missing.
Now, I don’t want to brag, but I’m great at my job. I’m meticulous and make sure to keep track of everything I do, so as to not make the slightest mistake. Maybe I’d forgotten to bring the mother after all. I moved onto the children, making small incisions. I tried not to stare for too long. I mean they were kids damnit. They didn’t deserve to die so young.
Just as I’d moved on to the second child, I heard the creaking. But this one, it was right behind me. I turned around.
The mother stood before me. In all of her naked, uncut glory. Her skin was pale, only tinted with purples and reds where blood pooled. Her face drooped, flesh loosened by pallor mortis. A smear of red stained her lips and she cocked her head to one side, inspecting me like fresh meat.
I held my tongue and gripped the scalpel tightly in my hand. She leaned in, her mouth emitting a foul stench. Her vocal cords were shot, but the air that left her body came out as a low groan. Her pearly white eyes looked between me and the kids, then widened.
Her mouth hinged open. The snap of her jaw detaching made me almost defecate as a shrill, inhuman scream escaped her body. Her bony hands wrapped around my neck before I could scream in reply. Her body had probably only dropped a couple of degrees considering I held the bodies for well past seven hours. But it felt like dry ice, latching onto my skin.
I struggled against the weight of the…thing as her eyes bore into mine, a soulless expression behind them. She leaned in, to eat me it seemed, but in a turn of events she didn’t. She hurled me across the room.
In between trying to place whose blood was which, I can vaguely remember the dead mother sinking her teeth into her own child, blood spraying everywhere and organs spilling out, like something from a horror movie. I then thought, I have to be dreaming because things like this don’t just freaking happen. Right?
Snapping out of my daze only to find myself holding the last stitch of the man I’d just put away—the mother and her two kids laying right beside him—meant I was dreaming, right?
I stitched up the man and shoved him into his respective box at lightning speed. It was worth a damn award.
I ran to the bathroom and hurled up everything in my stomach, it wasn’t really a lot. I didn’t eat before I worked for more reasons than one. I couldn’t begin to comprehend what transpired let alone if any of it was real. It couldn’t have been.
Yet as I rose from the floor, I finally got a glimpse of myself in the mirror.
A ring of purple around my neck, and a line of blood trickling from the corner of my head. Now I believe. There’s something completely off with the place.
Amanda Castillo is a class of 2020 Girls Write Now alum and a Publishing 360 Mentee from the Bronx, NY. In their sophomore year of high school, they joined GWN where they got to write and hone their craft. It was there she met her mentor, Miden Wood who was a screenwriter for Nickelodeon. She made Castillo fall in love with screenwriting and visual storytelling. Now, Castillo is a Junior studying Media Arts Production at Emerson College, looking to continue writing and telling stories with characters that represent the world around her. Her GWN mentor currently is Kate Mulley.