Dead or Alive

So let’s say you just died last night. Pop, someone’s just opened the freezer and you see two people standing above, staring at you, a shake of the head and one of them exclaims, “what a sorry way to go!”.  “Well, it coulda been worse.” interjects the other, all this while not realizing that you are capable of listening to them.

“What do you think his last thoughts were?”, the taller of the two, his ID card saying Walters thought aloud. “Could’ve been anything, such a full life that he had lived, wonder if he had any regrets”, said the younger, smaller and evidently inexperienced Birch as he fiddled around nervously at the tweezers at his disposal. “First case here? Let me bring you up to speed with this business,” said Walters. “It’s only common to shudder in thought of the deceased, but that ain’t are job. They got family for that. We look at them, these sorry departed souls, dress them up and make them prettier than they were born, so that they can been put six feet under. WE give the family some solace in showing their loved ones as pretty as could have been, that’s it. This ain’t no place to get emotional with your clients, ain’t good for your sanity boy.” Turning towards Birch, he smiled, patting his shoulder he continued,”The first one’s always the most difficult; you get used to it with time. Don’t try making friends with them though, they’re here but for a short while.”

Birch stared blankly, confuse and visibly dazed by the nonchalance with which Walters was speaking: all this with a body right in front of them. Multiple thoughts occurred to him in an attempt to come to terms with what he had just been told. The job of a mortician wasn’t something he had taken up by choice, or courtesy an interest, well he was pretty much scared out of his wits at the prospect of being with the dead and dressing up corpses. In a room set to a temperature of 8 degrees Celsius, one could still see the beads of sweat on his forehead. You look at him and wonder why the kid was here in the first place. “Would he in all his nervousness and fear distort your already distorted body?”, you can’t help wonder, can you? You want to shout out to him, tell him that it’s alright, tell him that he needn’t fear you, but try as you may he can’t hear you. Well can he? Is he just ignoring you or can he really not hear you? What certainty do you have? Not like you’re an expert on dying now are you!

You, a first timer and him a first timer, sounds like a match made in heaven, doesn’t it now? Two novices trying do as best as you can, to be good at that one job that you’ve been given. “Please stay put,” you hear a voice say. Looking around you see nothing, not a single soul, but the voice sounds again, “Stay put will you!” You shudder, ever so slightly, a shriek follows. Some more noises: you hear someone stumbling and steel crashing onto the floor. “What’s it Birch?? Get a hold of yourself, go wash your face,” that must be Walters.

“That’s not dead,” exclaims a visibly shaking Birch much to the dismay of Walters. “What’re you talking about?” he asks, making his annoyance very clear. He points towards you “That person there, is no longer a person. Been declared dead  all of 24 hours boy! Nothing moves,” reemphasized Walters. “Hang on there,” you say, a mumble at best, but that’s good enough to have Walters’ attention.

Flummoxed and lost for words, he stares in disbelief. In his career of over three decades, never, not once had he come across a corpse that spoke. “Call 911, NOW!!” he spoke, still shaking. The scalpel in his hand falls to ground, and he throws up.

You move, ever so little, extremely weak, but still you survived this one.  The man who defied death, they called you. In the week that followed, reports of three deaths came by, Walters was gone, Birch as well, so was the doctor who declared you dead. From the “Man who defied death”, you’re now looked upon as the “angel of Death.” Do you still want to live on??


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