It was 8:00 P.M. when the repairmen finished installing the boiler.
“Hey, Leo, let’s get the hell out of here, man. I don’t like being in the morgue’s basement when it’s dark!”
“What’s wrong, Charlie? You afraid of ghosts?”
“Later for you. I just want to get outta here! So hurry up, will ya?’
“Okay, keep your shirt on. Let me pack up my tools.”
As Leo stuffed his tools in his toolbox, he dropped a wrench and nicked a rubber tube.
“Damn! What the hell is this tube for?”
“C’mon, Leo. I wanna get out of here!”
Leo shook his head as he looked down at the nick. He reached into his bag and removed a roll of duct tape. Ripping off a piece of tape, he slapped it on the tube.
Ivan Dean’s family, girlfriend, and friends thought he was crazy for working the night shift at the county morgue. But they didn’t realize the benefits. First, you could play music as loud as you wanted. Second, you have time to read or study. Third, and no one bothers you.
As Ivan walked through the mortuary, he always spoke to the corpses.
“How are you doing, Mr. Johnson?”
He’d walk to the next draw. “Hi, Mrs. Hackett, still here, Huh?”
"Mr. Stahl, still here, huh?"
After he addressed all the corpses, he’d turn and announce. “Don’t worry, everyone. Ivan Dean is here to protect you.”
Ivan walked to his desk and found a stack of death certificates piled on his desk. He picked up the note left on top of the heap.
Enter the serial numbers from these death certificates into the logbook. Then, cross-reference them to the corpses and fix their name onto the proper drawer. When you've finished, unload the two pallets of supplies, and stock them. Have a good night, Mrs. Crimpski”
“Oh, great,” he moaned. “Out of all the nights.”
Ivan had planned to cram for his Psych final exam. Unfortunately, he was failing the course and needed a good grade to pass. Otherwise, his GPA would dip to a C+. Unfortunately, a C+ average wasn’t good enough to be accepted in State U.
Ivan broke a sweat but finished in a few hours. Splashing water on his face and washing his hands, he settled down to study. He pulled a Red Bull out of pocket, opened it, then took a swallow.
While reading his notes, the phone rang. Ivan jumped. He looked up at the wall clock. It was 12:28. “Who’d call here at this hour?”
Ivan picked up the phone. “Hello. County Morgue, Ivan Dean, Administrative Assistant speaking. May I help you?”
Loud static made him pull the receiver from his ear. He glared at the phone. “What was that about?”
In the mortuary’s basement, the tape on the nicked tube nicked came loose. A deadly, odorless gas began to seep into the air.
Ivan flipped from his notes to the textbook. He laughed to himself. “Funny how all this stuff makes sense when you study.”
Ivan read a passage three times and still couldn’t understand it. When he finally began to understand the concept, the phone.
Ivan glanced up at the clock and recorded the time. It was 3:31.
Ivan snatched up the phone. H could someone breathing.
“Say something! I can hear you breathing!”
“Are you ready?”
“Ready for what?”
The phone line went dead.
Ivan stared at the phone. He tried to recognize the voice. Maybe it was one of his friends pranking him. No matter. He had studying to back to.
As Ivan studied, he began to feel a little lightheaded. He picked up the can of Red Bull. “Whoo. You’re going to my head. Let me close my eyes for a moment.”
It took Ivan a few minutes to clear his head and resume studying. Then, he began to feel dizzy. He thought some fresh air might help. But the room was windowless. If he tried to leave the building, the alarm would ring. That would mean the police would have to wake Mrs. Crimski, and she would have to get out of bed, and come and re-set the alarm. But, of course, she wouldn’t like that and take it out on Ivan. Maybe even get him fired.
By this time, the fumes from the basement were through the building.
While Ivan thought about his options, the third draw in the back rolled open. Ivan shook his head and walked back to the drawer. As he approached it, the draw roll closed.
“That can’t be. I must be imagining these things.”
Ivan barely made it to his desk, but before he could sit, he heard a cat meowing in the corridor.
“It must be that Puggy. Let me go get that darn cat. He must be hungry.”
It wasn’t until Ivan walked into the corridor did he realize his vision was blurry. In the morgue, Mrs. Crimski demand that he could only use one-third of the fluorescent lights.
“Puggy! Pug.--” As he walked the corridor, he stopped. Someone was standing down at the other end.
“W-Who are you? You’re not supposed to be in here? “
The person didn’t move.
“I’m going to call the police if you don’t leave!”
The person asked, “Are you ready?”
Ivan dashed back into the office. He ran for the phone and dialed 9-1-1.
“Oh no, it can’t be busy!”
Ivan began to feel nauseous. Then, the room started to spin. He plopped into his seat.
Justa s Ivan hung up the phone. The shadowy figure opened the door.
“Are you ready?”
“Ready for what?”
“Ready to die!”
Ivan launched at the figure but went through it, banging his head on a file cabinet. As the figure moved closer, Ivan heard a screeching noise. He leaned up on one elbow. All the draws in the mortuary were open. The corpses were moving towards him. Ivan fainted.
“Mr. Dean! Mr. Dean!”
Ivan woke up swinging.
“Easy, Buddy. Didn’t a lady call for the police.?”
Ivan sat up in his chair
“How did I get into my chair?”
“That’s where we found you. The lady that called said you needed help.”
“A lady? What lady?’
The officer checked his momo book. “A Mrs. Hackett. She said you always protect them. Now they were going to protect you. You’re a lucky man, Mr. Dean. By the time we got here, the place was full of poisonous gas. If Mrs. Hackett hadn’t called, you’d be a goner.”’
As Ivan sat there, he thought, how close he came to dying.
Was the shadowy figure Death coming to get him? Was hs my life in order?
Was he ready?” Are you?