For Terribleminds’ Flash Fiction Challenge Five Ingredients Make A Story:
“I don’t have any idea where that storm came from.” Mark brought down the newspaper he’d been holding over Janet and himself when the squall began. They’re come back inside to get Janet’s oversized golf umbrella, which she tended to take with her to scenes during inclement weather. More than one intern had spent a good deal of time holding it up as one or both of them bent over a fresh body.
“Me neither.” Janet shook out her long, red curls and turned towards the lockers. “Let me just get the…”
Mark stepped into the morgue fully after her. “Umbrella? Is that the word you’re missing?”
Janet didn’t answer him. She reached back and flipped on the lights. The examination tables, trays full of tools, bloody sinks waiting to be hosed that prompted the suggestion of drinks, and storage doors both opened and closed became illuminated under the harsh florescent bulbs.
“Where’s our John Doe?”
Mark blinked, silently counting the corpses he could see. Then he counted them again.
“Did Steve or Andrea come in here?”
Shaking her head, Janet started checking the storage units. “Doubtful. They’d still be here scrubbing, I think. Besides, Steve went home early today. Something he ate.”
Mark ran a hand through his short dark hair, more as a habit of thought than in the pursuit of dampness. It was a habit he’d tried to break, considering how often his hands were covered in gore. He began pulling back sheets on the corpses on the slabs while Janet continued checking the doors. Minutes later, they looked at one another with the same expression.
“This is impossible.”
“You’re telling me.” Mark put the sheet back over Mister Falkner’s sweet old face. “Corpses don’t just get up and walk out of the morgue.”
“Unless the zombie apocalypse has begun.”
“If that were the case, wouldn’t more than one of our guests be ambulatory right now?”
Janet couldn’t stop smiling. “Maybe John Doe is Patient Zero. He’s already on the loose, ready to spread his curse and craving human brain.” She extended her arms, rolled her eyes back, and shambled towards Mark. “Braaaaains…”
Mark laughed. “Have you been drinking already? Let’s check the security footage before we call up the CDC and Norman Reedus.”
The terminal on their desk had no answers for them. Approximately three minutes after they’d left the room, the security cameras all registered pitch darkness. Even though they were designed to record even in low light conditions, neither mortician saw anything on the monitor. The other feeds throughout the building were normal.
“I’ll call up the security desk. We should check to see if we’ve been hacked.”
As Mark dialed the number, Janet looked over the desk towards the box of personal effects that had yet to be collected. She stood up and walked to the box, and after a moment’s examination, reached inside for the notebook. It was old, bound in leather and singed along two of its edges. Inside many of the pages were burned. She suspected that someone had held it over a fire for an extended period of time, perhaps to persuade the John Doe to do something in order to save it.
Mark hung up the phone. “IT is checking the server logs now.” He paused, seeing Janet poring over the book. “What’s in it?”
“Some of it isn’t even in English. I think it might be Latin.” She turned the pages carefully. “Where did they find this guy?”
“From what I understand he was a transient. Hung around the library and the surrounding area. A couple of college students found him on the steps.”
Janet nodded. She remembered examining the body: a pair of stab wounds to the chest had been the cause of death. More than likely, he’d been jumped and shanked by one of his fellow transients over food or territory. They’d found no possessions on him save for this notebook and a wooden cross on a string. Considering all of the inverted pentagrams and inscrutable runes throughout the notebook, she couldn’t rule out the fact the two items were related.
“Listen to this.” She put her finger on her place in the notebook. “‘Despite the supposed righteousness of man, especially those considered saved by the Gospel or some other means, evil continues to permeate the world. The descendants of the Nephilim either perpetuate or police that evil, struggling to maintain a balance between man’s salvation and annihilation. This is their task, their curse, and their burden, the high price of their power and immortality.’ That’s crazy, right?”
Mark shook his head. “Too much moonshine, or something.”
The lights went out. The monitor in front of Mark blinked out of existence. For a moment, neither mortician spoke. Mark slowly got to his feet, quite unsettled at how perfectly dark the windowless morgue had become.
In front of Janet, a line of light appeared. It was as if it was being drawn with an invisible finger, sketching the outline of a doorway next to the desk. When it was complete, light poured from the opening in the middle of the air. Mark glanced around, and felt Janet take his hand. In the darkness, illuminated by the portal, they saw yellow eyes, dozens of pairs of them, staring at them in silence.
A hand reached out of the doorway. It was dark-skinned, shot through with glowing blue veins, its fingernails sharpened into talons. It gently took hold of the notebook. Janet let go, and the hand retreated into the doorway. It winked out of existence, and a voice rang through the morgue.
TELL NO LIVING SOUL.
The lights snapped back on. They were alone in the morgue. Still holding his hand, Janet turned to Mark.
“I think we should go drink now.”
Mark didn’t take his eyes from where the portal had been, and the eyes that had watched them from behind and beyond it. He stepped back towards the door.
“Good plan. I like this plan.”