I’m a mortician and I don’t entirely believe in ghosts. I am of the sane mind to believe that once we die we are gone and there’s nothing else to it. I want to let you know, though you do investigate the strange and supernatural, this was not a ghost. And I hope that fact does not make me a murderer. And I hope god will forgive me for what I’ve done.
It all started when I got a boy named Malachai Childs. He was young, maybe in his early teens, 14 or 15 give or take. He apparently died in a house fire. I remeber receiving him so clearly because of the man who dropped him off. He was very very old, with sagging pale skin and bright liverspots. He was bald but he wore a paperboys hat. He had a sort of old fashion way of talking which became very clear when he told me the boy was his son.
I was instructed to embalm him with a variety of ancient techniques, ones I did happen to know thankfully. He did have some obscure instructions like putting a gold coin under his tongue and removing his eyes completely. Odd but not unheard of. Sometimes people have strange family traditions I’m not here to judge.
I told him the process would take four days, he said that was fine and that he would send me the information for his wake. I didn’t need to go, but I guess if he was inviting me. It struck me as odd how he said it though. He called it “the waking process.”
I started my work pretty quickly after. First thing on my itinerary was to drain him which I got right to doing. I hooked up the bottle of Formalin and left to grab a few more matietals. He was a small, skinny thing so I didn’t expect him to take too much. I recalled the technique the father wanted me to use and while it was going to be tiring to inject all the fluid in by hand, it shouldn’t be that big of an issue.
I grabbed the Trocar and stuck it into his neck, digging out that small cavity. To my amazement no blood had trickled out. I probed for a second before shrugging my shoulders and starting to pump the body with solution.
Very quickly the Formalin had changed to a dusty brown color, hundreds of specs flooding the bottles. I was a bit stunned… what was I to do here? What was going on? I examined the liquid and… yeah sure enough microscopic bits of torn flesh and dried blood was filling up my bottle. I was a bit in shock.
The next day, I started looking into what this meant, finding no answers. Closest I could come to was what you could find in dehydrated animal carcasses, but that sort of study hadn’t been done on humans. So there I sat in my office with a small testing bottle of this weird shit, a little boys body in the other room, and an inkling that something is about to go wrong.
And then I heard a knock. A low, rythmatic knock with an almost childish pattern.
Da dun dun
It came from the room where I kept the bodies. My stomach started doing backflips as I slowly stood up and began to move. I heard it over and over again as I walked down the halls. I felt like I had never moved slower as my hand reached the door and… i noticed the floor. A strange puddle had formed at my feet. Not if water or even blood, no it wasn’t blood, but a dark dark substance. So dark I felt like I may fall into it.
I took a deep breath before slowly cracking open the door. And I didn’t see anything. Like actually… I didn’t see anything. There was nothing but void, like the room had glitched out. The knocking grew louder, more frantic before I heard it at the door next to me. I screamed and fell backwards.
That broke the pattern and the other knocking stopped, just some lady knocking on the morgues door. I looked to the room again and it was normal.
At the door was a younger woman in a white shirt and corduroy dungarees. Her hair was an ashy brown with a few blonder streaks, probably from age or stress. She had a calm smile and friendly air about her. She introduced herself as Katherine and said she was inquiring about Malachai. I asked if she was his mother and she got this… sour look about her.
We had coffee and I told her about the strange things I’d been experiencing. She excitedly asked about ghosts and spirits which I quickly shut down. “Ghosts don’t exist, when you die you die and that’s all there is to it.” I explained to her the chemical process of dying and how our brains shut down and she just shook her head.
“I disagree. Our brains and body’s are far too complicated and powerful for us to just disappear when we die.”
“It’s all a matter of our brain and how it shoots off different signals to keep us moving. Once we stop doing that… we’re done.”
“Mm, so what Malachais doing is just like… excess signals? Is that how he keeps knocking out a little nursery rhyme?”
I got quiet and she smiled a little. She told me there was a few people who were way too invested in this boys death and to be careful about who I allow to see him. She said how she was so sorry he died and she wished it could’ve gone another way. I asked her what she meant and she sighed.
“He was killed for no reason, at least that’s what it looks like right?” I got a nasty feeling in my stomach and asked her to leave. She’s face fell a little but she nodded.
“Just make sure he gets back to his family ok? There’s gonna be some real no good folks trying to get in on this…”
When she left I went home, content I wouldn’t be able to get this job done in time and just deciding to rest.
It was the hardest part for me. Usually I am fine when family’s want to pull the organs from their dead relatives, usually for science or organ donors or stuff like that. But for this case… the thought concerned me more than anything.
His body was mauled and twisted with burns from presumably a fire. Kathrines words stuck with me, how he was killed for no reason. And I couldn’t help but notice the blast marks on his legs.
The skin almost curled around the scalpel and I gazed down at his putrid insides. I began to dig around feeling quite Ill as I went to replace his organs with saw dust. It wasn’t long before everything was almost complete and I began to sew the boy back up as I felt something move. My eyes turned down to see the boys leg twitch. Hard.
It was the fourth and final day and I was not going to finish this. That was fine, I’d talk to the family and say I won’t be able to complete my job, give them a refund, and take a break from my mortician business for a while. I stuck the old gold coin the family gave me into the boys mouth. I read the inscription earlier “nam qui de tenebris natus est” didn’t want to know what it meant.
I sat in my office, waiting for the family to come pick him up. And then I heard it. That terrible terrible knocking. I stayed put, sat in my office defiantly. I didn’t want to see what it was making that sound.
It kept going. I swear I sat in my seat unmoving for an hour at least with nothing but that terrible noise. That was when it started to moan. It groaned out in a childlike, confused tone. Have you ever heard a child have a meltdown? That blubbering pleading sounds where their little bodies just cannot stop crying. Where they had too much emotions and it can only escape by the means of sobs.
I covered my ears. I’m not a heartless man. I promise I’m not evil. But in that moment I knew that whatever had been in my care the entire time was alive. Alive with no beating heart, no blood, and a gold hunk of metal in its throat. It cries out panicked against the tight metal confines of the box I housed it in. And I wasn’t going to let it out.
The crying went on for several hours before I heard another knock on my door. It wasn’t unlike the knock of Kathy, but harder. I immediately leapt from my seat and threw open the door. There was seven or so folks all dressed in black. One was the man who dropped him off in very priestly robes. He asked for the boy and I told him where he could stick it.
I pointed to the lockers and gave him the key, told him I’m not going in there and he can fuck off. I ran back to my office and locked the door, curling up by my desk. About an hour and a half passed mostly filled with screaming and disgusting noises before I got a knock on my door. I glared at the man outside who spoke softly. He was black with long white locks, he looked even older than the man who dropped Malachai off. To my surprise he wasn’t wearing robes and…frankly I didn’t remeber seeing him walk in with the group.
“If I may… I um- I was told his eyes would be removed prior to his rising?” My mouth fell open before I cursed him out. He was quiet and paitient even if he said there was no need to be rude. “It’s important they’re out before he’s taken home, please, I need them quite badly.”
The way he said it made me sick, like he was taking them from this boy as some sort of trophy or prize. But something also told me he wouldn’t leave until I did.
I nodded, stomaching my reservations before being lead to the operating room. I come in to see all six men holding the boy down as he violently trashed on the tray, the coin lay in a puddle of spit and blood on his chest and the man who brought him in was covering his eyes. The older man looked to me sheepishly and gestured for me to get on with it. I walked over and stood above the boy. The moment he saw me he started begging for help, begging for me to not do what I was asked to do.
I’ll spare you the details.
At the end of the incursion the boy was place in a body bag, his throat too worn to keep screaming. I was a wreck, sobbing violently over the two round wet orbs that sat in front of me. Once the men in black suits left it was just me and the older man. He walked over and placed a hand on my shoulder. He told me it was ok and he was sorry I had to go through that. He picked up the eyes and popped them into a bag before shoving them into his pockets. He lead me out into my office where he placed a large stack of money on my desk. Along with it was two small business cards. ‘Sculptor and Prop Artist, Ivan Zardina’ and ‘Painter, Concept, and Colorist; Kathrine Alexander.’ Apparently the two worked together at the Hewitt Theatre but I didn’t really look more than that.
He left without saying much else and I was left to ponder my own actions.
Can you forgive me? Can anyone? Should anyone? I need to think about what’s going to happen next.