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Crime Suspense Horror

Rachel Stone lays like the dead on a cold stainless steel table. She is at the Scarlet County Morgue, being wheeled into an autopsy room by Dr. Richard Carlisle. She is his last autopsy for the night, and for a good reason. Everyone has already left. He’s alone. He can perform her dissection uninterrupted. Her body is too fresh and too warm that it might raise suspicion by his colleagues if they see the glow in her complexion or the way the blood pours out of her body from her still-beating heart. This day has been planned for far too long now to screw it up. He needs this to go as perfectly as he imagined it.

He’ll never forget the day Rachel walked into his classroom, eager to learn everything she could about forensic pathology. She sat front and center, giving him the perfect view of her slim, radiant face, her rosy complexion, her big green eyes, and pouty lips. It wasn’t until she stayed after, alone, that he realized just how special, how beautiful, how vivacious, but most importantly, how perfect she really is, and he’s beaming with excitement as he gets his tools prepared for the autopsy of Rachel Stone.


I can’t move.

Why can’t I move?

Sleep paralysis. That’s it. I’m having a brief loss of muscle control. I was falling into REM sleep, and the sound of metal jangling, like keys, induced a mixed state of consciousness, temporarily paralyzing my body, while the sounds around me amplify tenfold.

If I think hard enough, I can wiggle my toes, maybe even open my eyes. So I try and fail, then try again, but I can’t. I try to force my lips apart; to make a sound, but I can’t do that either. Every part of my body is inanimately still, refusing to move. It’s like someone glued me together.

Then, I notice something. A smell. It’s repugnant, acrid. It almost burns my nostrils. I feel my eyes watering behind my lids, but they trap my tears, seeping back into my skull. A sharp hissing sound is next, floating through my ears, followed by cold air slapping my skin. Did I forget to take the trash out? Why is it so cold? I thought I closed the window…

“My name is Dr. Carlisle, it is 9:28 p.m. on Wednesday, January 24, 2021, and I will be performing an autopsy on a 24-year-old Caucasian female,” he says, speaking into his recorder. “Subjects name is Rachel Stone. She has red, medium-length hair and green eyes. She is 63 inches tall and weighs approximately 108 pounds. The cause of death may be due to myocardial infarction. She was found unresponsive in her home by her mother, Norma Stone.”

Dr. Carlisle? Dead? Autopsy? What? No. No, I’m not dead. I can’t be. I can feel the muscles in my stomach contracting to digest my food. I can feel the oxygen expanding my lungs. I can hear the humming sound of my blood as it flows through my veins, delivering the oxygen and nutrients from my food to all of my vital organs.

Surely, I’m still alive. I must be dreaming. A dead person can’t hear. They can’t feel their body performing the everyday functions that keep their heart beating. Right?

A gentle hand is on me. My body shivers, or at least, I think it does.

Dr. Carlisle did, in fact, notice goosebumps peak on Rachel’s skin; they were like miniature mountains. He smiles, continues. “Subjects skin shows no visible scars, birthmarks, bruises, swelling, or wounds. She has one tattoo, a pink flower underneath her right breast.”

He picks up the small flashlight and shines it in Rachel’s nostrils. “No swelling, fluid, or foreign substances in the nasal passageway.” He leans over her body to get a glimpse of the inside of her ears. “And her ear canals are clear as well.” He knew they would be. He knew everything about Rachel’s body. Not in a way a pervert might, but in a medical sense. She is perfectly healthy from head to toe. The whites in her eyes are bright, her skin is plump, warm, and her hair shines beautifully under the fluorescent lights. So, why is Rachel stone here? Well, he’s teaching her firsthand how to conduct an autopsy. It’s the most important part of his class, and he hopes she’s paying attention.

This isn’t a dream. I’m awake, living in a nightmare. I try to move again, but it feels like someone stuffed weights in my body. The first touch of real panic seizes my heart — it’s thumping, pulsing with such urgency I can feel it trying to tear through my chest.

Dr. Carlisle, I’m not dead! I’m alive! Listen to my heart. Can’t you see it beating? I try to say, but my voice echos back in my skull.

A whirring sound. A bright white light. It repeats.

LISTEN TO ME!

The sound of a pen scratching paper.

I’M ALIVE!

The sound of scraping metal, squeaky hinges.

PLEASE!

He pinches my skin. I flinch, but not really.

Dr. Carlisle places the caliper down, trading it for the recorder, and presses the button until he hears a click. “Subject has good muscle tone, low body fat,” he says. “Nothing remarkable to note externally. I will now move on to the internal examination.”

Internal examination? Internal? No-no-no-no-no. Show him you’re still alive, Rachel. Show him this has been an enormous misunderstanding. It happens all the time. He said it himself on the very first day of class. There have been times where an unconscious person has been mistaken for dead. They might have been dead on scene, but somehow they fought their way back to the living.

Maybe that’s what’s happening to me. Did I die? Did my body actually reject the idea of death? But that doesn’t explain why I can’t move. I should be able to move, dammit. Living people move.

He wrenches my body, my head flopping back. If I’m not dead now, then in just a few short moments I’m going to be as he cuts me open and my blood spills out like oil.

He slowly places me down, my head now elevated. Okay, brain, now would be a great time to activate your motor neurons. I assemble all of my strength, focusing on that mind-muscle connection trick everyone always talks about but never does when working out. I try to wiggle my toes, move a finger, hum out a melody, anything to get him to notice I’m still alive, and through hell and high water, I will get him to notice.

Okay, focus now, focus…

“Dr. Carlisle?”

Carlisle jumps in the direction of the voice, slamming the scalpel back into the tray as if he were trying to hide his crime. It’s his assistant, Isabella, and she’s standing in the exam room door, clutching her jacket close to her chest. Her face immediately turns apologetic.

“Jesus, Isabella, you scared me,” Carlisle says, huffing out a breath. “What are you doing here? It’s late. You should be home.”

“I forgot my lunch bag.”

He assesses her, a quick flick of his eyes from her head to her toes. He nods. “Very well,” he says, and Isabella fast walks over to the employee’s only door, swings it open, and retrieves her polka dot lunch bag. It’s not until she walks back out she notices who is lying on the autopsy table.

She let out a gasp. “Oh, my God, is that Rachel Stone?”

I know that voice. Isabella Delarosa. Dr. Carlisle’s PA. Oh, dear, Jesus, Isabella, I’m not dead! Do you hear me? I’m alive! I try to scream, but nothing comes out.

“Sadly, yes,” Dr. Carlisle says, and I feel him brush his thumb over my cheek. "Her mother called me, she was hysterical, and when I arrived at her residence, she was DOA."

“What happened?” There’s a slight catch in Isabella’s voice.

“Possibly a heart attack, but I’ll leave that for the autopsy to determine.”

“A heart attack? How is that possible? She’s in good shape, clearly takes care of herself. Good muscle tone, no swelling, low body fat — ”

“Heart attacks are not subjective to who they kill, Isabella,” he interrupts.

There is a loud scraping sound, it frightens me, and I think I feel myself jump. Surely, they saw that.

They didn’t. Because I didn’t jump. I can’t move.

Hellooooo? Is anybody paying attention? I’m alive! I concentrate everything on my eyes. I force them to open—or try to—but something happens. Something else. A small miracle. My hand, it moves! Hallelujah! My hand moves!

“Uh, doc?” Isabella says, her voice peppered with confusion. “Her hand, I think it moved.”

Yes! Now check my pulse! I’m alive!

“It’s just a postmortem spasm,” Carlisle dismisses. “You should know that, Isabella.”

I shrink with disbelief. I try to work my jaw loose, but it refuses to move. My words are still on my tongue. This can’t be happening; I’m about to be dissected, gutted open like a fish. Why can’t they see that I’m alive? How can the most decorated, well-respected pathologist not know I’m alive?

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to continue with the exam.” He pauses. “Alone.”

“Are you sure, doc? I don’t mind staying and—”

“Go, Isabella,” he demands. “I don’t need you.”

Isabella sighs and doesn’t say another word. I hear the soft patter of her shoes against the floor grow distant, then the whooshing of the door, the click of the latch, and then, silence.

Fear penetrates my bones. I hold my breath, hot tears pressing against my eyelids. I can’t give up, not now, not when I can feel my blood pulsing through my veins and my lungs aching to be heard. I make another attempt to muster all of my strength so I can scream. I want him to hear me. He needs to hear me. Why can’t you hear me?

Dr. Carlisle let out a breath, wiping the bead of sweat dripping from his receding hairline. That could have been bad. Very bad. The Succinylcholine is already starting to wear off, and he needs to make sure Rachel stays completely paralyzed, as well as silent, as he performs the internal examination.

He removes the paralytic from his lab coat and jabs the needle inside of the vile. He pulls back the plunger, flicks the syringe with his fingers to rid of any air bubbles, and pricks Rachel’s vein, letting the medicine fill her bloodstream.

Now, he can get to work.

Something cold pinches my skin, but I’m unable to react. Carlisle inhales a deep breath, holds it, and exhales. The smell of his onion breath was enough to wake the dead.

Jeez, someone get him a mint.

“Oh, my sweet, Rachel,” he whispers, caressing my hair. “We can finally be alone.”

Excuse me, what?

“I know you can hear me. Feel me. It won’t be long now.”

Oh my God, he knows I’m alive. Help! Somebody help! I scream, but the voice is in my head.

“I’ve been watching you for a long time, waiting for the perfect moment. Now, you’ll be a part of me forever,” he says, his breath swaddling my skin. I shiver. “You won’t be able to move, but you’ll feel everything.”

My heart is jackrabbiting in my chest. There’s a soft clanking sound, and I can feel something looming over my body. I don’t need my eyes open to know what it is. A scalpel. Before I can make another attempt to scream, the blade slices my flesh like a hot knife through butter. A sudden heat spreads through my body, up to my neck, pinching my cheeks. The darkness behind my eyes is now swimming in a flood of lurid red, and I can feel myself lose control over my bladder. Acid from my stomach is mixing with the scream bubbling in my throat. The white-hot pain distracts me from the feel of my piss-warm blood draining from my body.

Holy shit, this fucking hurts. I can’t die, not like this.

Dr. Carlisle presses the blade deeper into Rachel’s flesh, slowly unzipping her skin. The blood pools beneath her body and slowly flows down the drain. He moves the scalpel to the front of her right shoulder, presses the blade down once again, and drags it to meet the first incision, creating a v-shape on her chest. As he starts to create the last incision down her stomach, he stops, pausing a few inches above her navel.

It is a noise that stops him. A low, guttural noise. One that comes from Rachel’s throat…

I try to scream again. Help! I push it from my chest, force it. But something else happens. Another miracle. I feel the vibration in my throat. “Mmmm,” I moan. It’s subtle, but it’s there. I know he can hear it too. Why else would he stop?

“Shhh, it’s okay. It’s going to be all right.” Something cold pricks my skin again. This time I know what it is. A needle. “Everything will be all right. Dr. Carlisle will make sure of it.”

No-no-no-no-no-no. I can’t die. Not like this. Come on, Rachel, scream. This is your last chance.

He places the blade back on my skin. “Now, where were we?”

My heart is alive with horror.

And soon, it will be dead from murder. 

August 05, 2021 21:42

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