The reposing room was, (at one point in time) the most secure and furtive spot for hide-n-seek. Nora never considered herself “brave,” but other children were certainly more cowardly. Not even Slug, who practically grew up in the morgue ever went inside, referring to it as only as the, “Dungeon.” It might’ve had something to do with the foreboding brass knob or the unwholesome effluvia of formaldehyde, spray-paint, and necrotic flesh.
Smells more like a nursing home worker scented candle. Or bootleg Zima.
Nora couldn’t hear Alice Cooper’s cadaverous concerto, or rather, she chose not to register it any longer. She examined the interior: various medical apparatuses for post-mortem operations hang upside-down on hooks and magnets screwed into the urine-yellow tiles of the wall, like the setup for an amusement park’s hospital-themed house-of-horrors. Framed, antique medical illustrations of flayed, human anatomy, (the kind you’d see in a cabinet of curiosity shop on Haight street in S.F.) lay strewn about from years of neglect. A dusty cymbal-banging monkey toy sits precariously on a workbench amid a plantation of multicolored aerosol cans.
Nora’s seen these features many times over but that doesn't stop the unreal tingling she feels riding the hairs on the back of her neck hairs neck. Either it’s the work of a lazy, immature poltergeist, or pure, unadulterated dread. Might have something to do with the bedford-grey, half-couch casket resting atop a gurney in the the far back corner of the room.
She knows nothing of the prearrangements. If insurance paid for the elmwood coffin (plus the earthen-interment), or if local taxation’s footing the bill. Nora’s sole understanding is that the contents of this varnished sarcophagus and the reason for her committing felonies this morning are one in the same.
Nora checks her cellular. Still no word from Slug.
Push the attack.
Nora approaches the reflective bedford box, triggering a not-too-distant memory of watching Peter Jackson’s 1992 satirical zombie B-movie, Braindead; rebranded as “Dead Alive” for American distribution because reasons. With her mind’s eye she plays back a scene where Timothy Balme, has to breaks into the casket of his zombified mother to sedate her with tranquilizers purchased from a veterinarian nazi so she won't devour the funeral attendees. It’s a complicated work of cinema but it still lead Mr. Jackson to directing Lord of the Rings.
She glosses over the slick side-panels searching for screws, loosening them one-by-one with pale, nimble fingers. Pulling each bolt free like a botfly larva incubating inside a lonely entomologist’s forearm. One-by-one she plops them in her balmacaan as her hands work their way up to the casket’s front-half cover.
Closes her eyes, counts to ten.
She flips the lid, flying-off without a hitch.
Guess it was locked by literally nothing.
Nora examines the body. It’s the first human carcass to ever share her presence. The first cadaver within arm’s reach, the first stiff she’ll have a physical connection with. For now, anyway.