“I can’t do this anymore…”
Josh whispered to himself as he sat limply, back against the wall in the cold confines of the hospital’s morgue. His white lab coat, which he wore loose and open, was splattered with blood and other liquids he had acquired during the mad rush of emergencies that came one after another. It hung limply around his rather average frame, the protection doing little to stave off the cold.
Who cared though, he was just an intern.
Josh leaned back, putting a hand on his head, groaning as he re-lived the past few hours. He’d only been an intern for a few months now, so he’d been on overnight duty in the busy hospital before, left alone with a few of his other interns. They all did their best to try and act like they knew what the hell they were doing, but in the end they were just newbies with fancy degrees and a shit-ton of debt.
He hadn’t slept right in about 3 days, getting maybe a total of what, five hours? No… four. It was hard to remember these little details. He should be out in the on-call room right now since things had finally slowed down, but he couldn’t summon the courage to attempt sleep. What if a call came in and they couldn’t awaken him? No, no it was best just to stay up.
Or perhaps, give up.
Josh raised his knees up, circling his arms around them as the chill of the morgue permeated into his bones. He liked it down here at night. It was quiet, and the cold helped him think, helped him focus his mind. He didn’t mind being around the corpses either, as they were all locked away in their shelves, awaiting their turn to undergo the mortician’s knife so they could piece out all the ways he, or some other doctor, had failed to save a life. At least the poor bastards were at peace now, something he just couldn’t remember how to feel.
“Why did I ever think I could do this? It’s just too much!” He moaned, burying his face into his knees.
“Jesus Christ kid, you whine any louder you’ll wake the dead.”
Josh shook, his heart thundering in his chest, gaze flying around the room wildly before locking eyes with an alluring figure leaning over an autopsy table, a smoking cigarette held between her fingers. She gave the poor intern a wry smile before taking a drag of the cigarette and blowing out a puff of smoke.
“Y…you’re not supposed to be smoking in the hospital.” Josh stammered, trying, and failing, to look… presentable? Not look like an idiot? Well, either way he was failing miserably.
“Oh blow it out your ass Doctor Killjoy, none of us here are getting any deader.” She replied flippantly before she taking another long drag of the cigarette and blowing out a puff of smoke, the smell of which caused Josh’s nose to scrunch up.
Josh narrowed his eyes, appraising his visitor. She was tall, maybe 5’10, wearing a black sweater and gray, muted pants, both of which hugged her incredible curves in ways one would figure to be indecent in a professional setting. To offset this, she wore over it a large, loose lab coat that looked like it had never seen an iron before.
She puffed the cigarette again, and he noted immediately that her lips were a pale purple, cheeks nearly the color of the lab coat she was wearing, as was the rest of her skin. Her black hair was a stark contrast to this, pulled into a long pony-tail that draped down her back and kept the hair out of her eyes, which sparkled blue with a strange light.
She was a Wight, one of the undead, and the one of the resident morticians of the Hospital. Her name was Morticia, and Josh had heard of her reputation before. She was a sort of night owl who had died during medical school and decided that after she came back through whatever strange means brought the dead back to the realm of mortals, being a mortician was the way to go. It was odd that he’d never seen her down here before, but it wasn’t like he was here all the time… or else she never got his attention.
“So kid, what’re you doing down here anyway? I thought most interns used the supply closets for their little cry sessions.”
Josh looked away before muttering, “Who says I’m an intern?”
Morticia barked out a laugh. “Because the only poor saps who sit by themselves, lamenting about how everything is “just too much for them” are the interns and the psychiatric patients, and I don’t see you in a gown.” She thought for a moment before shrugging, “A shame though, because then I’d get to see what I assume is a cute little ass.”
Josh looked up, a little taken aback by the sudden comment. He’d been trained in school to deal with monster patients, how to avoid their lusts and predations. Thankfully MD’s only saw the more human of the monsters like Succubi, as opposed to Veterinarians who ran the whole gambit of strange creatures like Ushi-Oni and Dragons. Of course, then there were the botanists who got stuck with the Alarunes and those nuisances known as Matango.
There were rules that governed how one should deal with them, which varied per situation, but some were fairly constant. Rule number one was to never be alone in a room with one, and rule number two was never show them fear or exposed skin.
Josh took in a deep breath and said, perhaps with a little more trepidation than he had expected, “Of course, if I were dressed like that, then my ass would be quite cold here, wouldn’t it?”
She laughed again, before taking another drag of the cigarette. “You’re alright kid. What’s your name?”
“Fuck me, what’s one hell of a last name.”
Josh looked down and grumbles. “You didn’t have to go through school with a name like that.”
“Bet they called you dingle berry and the like, huh?”
Josh glared at the Wight, her unnatural skin shining against her equally unnaturally white teeth. She must paint them or something because with that smoke they would be stained with miserable ease. The perks of undeath he guessed.
He rubbed at his head again, not really feeling like getting into this. “Yeah, sure, whatever.”
“Jesus kid, I’ve seen corpses that had more spunk than you. I don’t remember seeing your name on any autopsy requests tonight though, so what the hell’s up your ass?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.” He said, pulling himself in tighter.
The sound of heels clacking against tile flooring echoed in the small room and Josh felt a grave cold finger lift up his chin. He took in a sharp breath as he stared into the eyes of the Wight, realizing that he had only just glimpsed the true depths of those blue orbs before, that they shimmered with some malevolent force animating her beyond the mortal veil, making his very soul tremble in response.
The undead weren’t often treated by Doctors for the various injuries they sustained because frankly, they scared people. They reminded them that death wasn’t just the end, that there could be something else there, and if they stared long enough into this void it would stare back, and they might not like what they saw.
That was how Josh felt as a hot wind of smoke and ash washed over him, carrying the words, “If you want to stay my little realm, you better start talking.”
His blood ran cold and he recoiled, as she reached out to stroke his chin, her touch sending chills and shivers down his spine. He breathed out, in a shaky voice, “W…what are you going to d…do to me?”
A slow smile crept across her face as she began to trace a slender finger across his chest. “Do to you? Nothing, Dr. Dinglemeyer, I wouldn’t dream of doing anything untoward to one of our lovely young interns, because they listen to what their seniors have to say, don’t they?”
Josh gulped and licked his lips, a tingling sensation spreading through him at her touch. He did his best to ignore it as he said, “I… I come down here sometimes to be alone, to… to think when things get too heavy upstairs.”
Morticia put the cigarette to her lips and took a drag before blowing more smoke in Josh’s face, once again causing him to flinch. She stayed there, crouched in front of him before waving her hand in a gesture to continue.
He began slowly, gathering up momentum as he spoke, words flooding out of him. “Things have been really rough these past few weeks… what with my brother’s wife getting sick, so I’ve been helping him take care of his little hell-puppies while she recovers. Of course, then I found out that my dog has heartworms because I haven’t had the time, or money, to get the prevention and now I have to deal with the treatment, oh but did I mention that my senior clinician is breathing down my neck at all hours of the day for inane bullshit that makes no sense? Ah, and of course, this is all while being on night ER with student loans looming over me like the spectre of death itself.”
He paused and gave her an odd look after that statement, but she merely quirked her lip. He sighed and bowed his head, speaking quietly. “I thought I had everything under control, but my fourth case of the night was this little Red Oni, maybe… 4 years old? She was hit by a truck, had massive internal bleeding, and her right arm was crushed, the radius and ulna just…obliterated.”
He took a deep breath before continuing. “The look on her parents’ faces as I had to order an amputation…” He whispered before speaking up, voice hollow “You know, I thought I had gotten over this in medical school, thought I had seen enough of what was to be seen to be able to deal with it, but… but I can’t. I can’t keep living like this.”
He trembled, all his cares and bone deep weariness finally catching up with him. At the corner of his eyes, tears began to form, slowly streaming down his cheeks. He didn’t even care that he was being watched, that he was showing such vulnerability to someone he barely knew, and a monster at that. Josh shook like this for who knows how long, the only sound in the morgue his soft breath and falling tears.
Then he heard the sound of air being sucked back and a small flash of red light appeared before him, the cigarette flaring into life before Morticia slowly breathed out again, washing him in the sickening warmth of tobacco. She became deathly still, only her mouth moving as she asked slowly,
“So you want to just end it all, huh?”
Josh blinked, his blurry eyes unfocused as he struggled to comprehend what she just said.
“I…end it all? Like… like suicide?” He stammered, his head spinning at the implications.
“Sure, it’s not so hard. Take some pills from the pharmacy, and just… drift off. It’s not so bad you know, being dead. It’s actually quite nice, and you have plenty of time to just think about things as the world passes by you, locked in eternity.”
Josh was silent for a moment, actually contemplating the thought. The bliss of eternity, free from the pains and struggles of the mortal coil. He could rest… truly and utterly rest.
He bit his lip before closing his eyes. It sounded wonderful, like a dream, but if he did that, then he would condemn others to a nightmare. His dog would surely die, while his brother, already burdened by the pain of his wife’s sickness would be crushed underneath it, and his patients… those he struggled to keep alive, would be foisted upon another intern, weighing them down in turn.
Besides all that though, he didn’t really hate living, hell he loved it! Perhaps thinking about ending his life instead made him realize just how much he wanted to live it. It was merely the weight of responsibility pushing him down, forcing him to contemplate, when in truth his struggles were merely temporary, fleeting ticks in clock that was his life.
Morticia smiled, eyes twinkling, “Ah, you get it now, don’t you?”
Josh nodded his head, slowly standing up, Morticia helping him, her cool hands feeling oddly nice on his skin, despite the chills he felt inside the morgue. He took in a deep breath and then mussed his hair before sighing out,
“Life is about the adversity, the struggle… and even if things get heavy, those worries are only fleeting, so we can always look forward to the joys that can be found.” He chuckled, “Hell, an internship is only one year right? What’s that compared to the rest of my life? I can sleep when…”
“You’re dead?” Morticia said, cutting him off with a sad smile. She pulled out a little canister from her coat pocket and smothered the butt of her cigarette before closing the container and poking Josh’s chest again.
“Well, looks like the kid had himself a revelation in the realm of the dead after all. Good for you.”
He took her hand with his, the warmth of his fingers spreading over her pale flesh, making her quirk an eyebrow at him curiously. He moved the hand back to her chest before letting go and speaking, a new resolve sounding in his voice. “The name is Josh.”
She smiled broadly and put her free hand on her hip while continuing to hold the other to her chest. “Well Josh, I think it’s about time you head back up. They’re probably liable to send a search crew for you soon and I don’t need more people thinking this is a good place to hide out. They might stop me from having a smoke.”
Josh smirked and shook his head, lifting his hands up in a gesture of surrender. “Alright, alright, I’ll return to brave the struggles of the world of medicine.” He moved past her, heading for the exit when she grabbed his arm, her unnatural strength keeping him in place, and he slowly turned about to look at her with a raised eyebrow.
“Hey, you know… as long as you don’t tell anybody about this, you can ah… come cry down here whenever you’d like.” She wrinkled her nose in a cute little gesture. “As long as you don’t complain about the smoke.”
Josh blinked before looking down at her arm, then back up to her shining blue eyes, glowing with a life that transcended death, and he smiled.