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Words for the Dead

Proof the Dead Can Reach You

What I'm about to share with you is what happens to man with no interactions, nothing to share, nowhere to go and nothing to do. After such a time, the human mind molds to its surroundings to the point where it doesn't even know it's alone anymore. This is a brief, yet never-ending look on the inside of a desolate life to some, but to one man, a carousel of very much unwanted attention.

Steven came into work when the sun was down, and left when it was down. He didn't have a front desk man to check in with, no assistants to issue orders to, and certainly no passerby to wish him a good day. All he knew was there would be a new body to examine and store, compliments to the delivery people who made the transfer prior to his shift. These bodies had no family, no friends or loved ones to claim them, maybe that's why he felt so intertwined with them.

This morning started like any other, he came into the office well before sunrise and drank his coffee while looking over the new body laying before him. This now dead body belonged to "Harold Stein". Harold was struck by a car while escaping a mental institution not far from the morgue. Steven wondered if he let the car hit him, giving him freedom from the white-walled prison that entrapped him. Pondering the case, he knew he would have dove into that car. The dead man's head was split open in the back, requiring Steven to sow it back up, something he had done time to time. Most people did puzzles or exercised, whatever floated their boat to blow steam off, sowing people back together is what relieved Steven's stress. After the last stitch, he laid him on his back and pushed the slab back into the wall and closed the latch, almost sad that it was over. Steven went to put another batch of coffee on when he heard a knock from behind him. He was so used to silence, he dropped the coffee pot and watched it shatter to pieces, steaming coffee forming a river leading to where Harold was stowed. Slowly, he turned around and looked around the entire room, giving every place he would hide a chance to reveal a burglar. Then the knock came again and Steven knew exactly the area it was coming from, Harold's new home, the third slab up on the right wall. Even though he knew there was no other staff working he looked behind him real quick before reaching out slowly to the metal coffin. The closer his hand got, the louder the knock sounded out while the overhead light started to flicker madly. As soon as he grasped the handle, the light stopped flickering and the knocking came to a halt. Steven's heartbeat slowed, his breath came to a normal pace as he turned around to fetch his coffee. He lifted it up to take a sip and turned around to see Harold, the dead corpse, standing in his face. The coffee cup made it's descent to the hardwood floor and shattered into pieces as all the lights now started flickering. Steven backpedaled a few steps, then turned around and sprinted out the building. It wasn't real, it was just the morgue playing tricks, these sort of facts raced through his mind while he lay there that night, light years from sleep. The following morning he rose and reported to work, the traumatizing event from the previous night well behind him. The parking spot was the same, the coffee set up the same, the noiseless chatter was even the same. One thing was utterly different, Steven knew this when he looked up at the working slab in the middle of the room and saw Harold out of the wall and back to where he was originally first seen. Perhaps the shift before him brought Harold back out to examine the stitch job Steven had done. The weary-eyed mortician sat at the desk and looked for any signs of the prior shift doing this, and then heard a faint raspy voice.

Harold: "Getting stocked into the wall like some market meat is getting kinda old, Steven."

Sheer panic streamed across Steven's face, lips fumbling to form a sentence, but failing to do so. He got up slowly and tried to calm his breathing, figuring this was all due to a lack of sleep. Quickly, he jotted down on a piece of paper that he was feeling ill and sent himself home. In his dreams that night he found himself trapped in the wall, body stuck to the slab. He was pulled out and saw Harold standing over him, scalpel in hand as his eyes glazed over at the split opening in Steven's head. Waking up with a sharp gasp, sweat formed on his forehead, though he felt shaking cold. Drama was never something Steven wanted to be a part of, he knew he had to continue with his work or at least try to. Pulling up to his usual parking spot, he noticed the lights were already on, something he usually did himself. Not five seconds went by before he heard that same raspy voice call out to him.

Harold: "Before you slam me back into the wall, just hear me out, please."

Steven gave in to it, he gave into the possibility that this might actually be real.

Steven: "Say what you have to say, I'm listening."

Although he said he was listening, he had to convince himself to let the words spill through his ears and let his brain process what it meant.

Harold: "Alright, look Steven. I'm not sure how else to tell you this, but the only reason you can see me and hear me is because you are dead, just like I am."

Steven: "That's nonsense, you're just a figment of my sleepless nights. You are just something my subconscious has put together to give me a scare."

Harold: "Oh, how I wish that was true Steve. Have you not ever wondered why you don't see any other staff members? You know that you never once have been in the break room, you have never taken a break besides stopping to make coffee."

Steven: "What do the breaks and the break room have anything to do with this?"

Harold: "Look for yourself, tell me what does that staff list plaque say in that dreadful room?"

Steven stumbled over to the hanging plaque and stripped it off the wall, buckled to the ground and let the picture fall from his grasp, only tears to defend his sudden actions. He was dead. Steven was the man Harold hit on his way out from his prison escape. At that second, he disappeared and was sent into a world of nothingness.

The required personnel hovered around the coffee and crackers, waiting for further word in quiet anticipation, for this such thing did not happen often. The building manager came in and set his things down, letting out a long sigh as he looked around the room.

Manager: "Good morning everybody. I just wanted to let you all know we will be bringing on another day shift mortician, since Gary can't carry the load all on his own. I will be starting the hiri—"

Doug: "What do you mean hire another day shift mortician? We also have Steven, that guy works his ass off, don't take his hours away!"

Manager: "Who's Steven? The only day shift worker is Gary at the moment, Doug."

Doug: "Are you mad? His name is right here on the plaque with the rest of us."

Doug picked the plaque up and dropped it after realizing there was no Steven on there, or on any other plaque in the building. A sharp gasp escaped his chest as he backed into the wall behind him, slouching to the floor with his hands on his face. Steven didnt exist on the plaques, the photos in Doug's phone, or in anyones memories. There was no Steven. There never was. Only inside of his co-workers mind. Trapped forever. 

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