Like a master of ceremony with a greased up microphone, Nora drops the concrete doorstop on the alabaster tile floor of the Merryhill Morgue. The interior’s spotless as a modern Nordic household. The walls are a series of sheeny bricks the color of strawberry-chocolate milk, or regular milk with a lot of bovine nipple-blood and feces mixed in. The ceiling’s florescent-light fixtures emit an obstreperous buzz of electricity; a sound that drills into the epicenter of your cranial fibers that makes you grind your teeth into soggy, purple stumps.
A small smile runs across Nora’s face (her first of the day), unsure of how long it’s been since she was last here, behind-scenes. Nostalgia has smacked her in the face like the peel of a banana eaten by someone with Parkinson’s.
The lights are starting to get annoying. Nora plugs her external acoustic meatus with a pair of agent-orange ear buds, connected to a device in her pocket. She activates it with her thumb, music starts, and what luck, Alice Cooper! She recognizes the bass strings and creepy piano keying of one of Vincent Damon Furnier’s best original numbers:
I love the dead before they’re cold,
Their bluing flesh for me to hold,
Cadaver eyes upon me see,
The irony of this being the first track on shuffle is not beyond her, but Nora had to focus on more pressing matters right now. She’s just bamboozled a representative of the very place she’s technically not supposed to be in. Her (now) humiliated, sleep-deprived, and probably vexed, nemesis will be inside in a matter of minutes. Thankfully the only other entrance was the mortuary’s main entrance located at the exact other end of the building. She has 13-minutes (give or take), to get her shot.
Nora removes the device, a phone (duh), and dispatches a text to a contact labeled “SLUG.” The message reads: “I’m inside-where u at?” Her throat’s beginning to burn and Nora wonders if the water fountain’s still around the corner, it is! She takes a quick sip of lukewarm “drinking” water, still tasting like nickel-juice. Down the hall she sees a wood frame door with a frosted-glass panel and an oxidized, brass knob resembling a human skull the size of a crabapple. The reposing room, her destination. The prince of darkness’s song echoes in her ears as she trots down the glossy-tiled corridor lined with gurneys and caskets:
I love the dead before they rise,
No farewells—no goodbyes,
I never even knew your (now) rotting-
Nora checks her cellular. Still no word from Slug. She grabs the cool, familiar handle and with a twist, pushes the door open. It’s unlocked, just as Slug said it would be. Nora takes a breath, sensing the cool sweat of jittery anticipation running up her spine and sliding back down her legs. Nora steps inside, closing the door behind herself as her earbuds continue blasting Cooper’s necrophiliac-love song.
While friends and lovers mourn your (hehe) silly grave,
I have other uses for you, darling...
I love the dead,
I love the dead,
I love the dead!