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“Would you consider yourself easily spooked?”
“Well given my choice of career I’d say that was a resounding no wouldn’t you?”
“You may well have seen a lot of dead cadavers but I’m not convinced you will have seen anything like this before buddy”
“You’ve piqued my interest Harry”
“Follow me kid”
Harry Jackson had been a mortician for over thirty years and had seen some pretty rare sights in his time although nothing quite as messed up as this. It was only Randy’s second week as an intern at Hampton Morgue and Harry considered it high time he see their prized asset. Locked away in the sub-basement, in a two-berth locker which had remained heavily padlocked until now, was something which would turn his student’s hair white.
“You sure you’re ready for this?”
“Bring it. I’ve seen a thousand stiffs now so what’s going to make this one any different?”
“Trust me boy. This one is different. It is my duty to warn you in advance that once you have seen this, you can’t unsee it”
“You sure know how to build things up Harry. It’s a dead guy right? Call me blasé but as far as I’m concerned if you’ve seen one dead guy then you’ve seen them all”
“I wholeheartedly agree…ordinarily. This isn’t your everyday stiff however. This sick little puppy slaughtered thirteen people before seven bullets finally ended his rampage”
“You’re shitting me. You’re not telling me that you’ve got the Yates Lodge Yeti in here are you?”
“The one and the only and he’s not a Sasquatch so don’t get too excited”
“But he’s the killer right?”
“Uh-huh. This is your guy. The authorities nicknamed him the yeti as he lived for ten years in the wilderness after his parents died. He’s very much human though. Name’s Olaf. Olaf Lund. His parents relocated from Sweden when he was a child. You see little Olaf had a rare flesh-eating disorder that ate away half his face. They brought him to the states to get him the best possible medical treatment but it was unsuccessful and Mr & Mrs Lund spent their life savings on failed surgery. Ended up destitute and shacked up in the mountains for the next twenty years until they died of dysentery. Olaf was never seen or heard from again until recently”
“So what happened to him?”
“Nobody knows for sure kid. A lot of folk believe he lived off the wild animals that he hunted and he became legendary around these parts. That’s where the whole yeti thing came from. There were reported sightings during expeditions and the like but nothing concrete. That is, until January 12th”
“The Yates Lodge murders”
“Indeed. Let me tell you something. I’ve been doing this job for a long time…too long. I’ve seen shit which would make your dick shrink. But I have never seen anything like what this monster did to his victims”
“I heard about that. He pulled their faces off right? Stapled them to his own”
“Among other things. Some of them were found with their intestines pulled out and feasted on. None of them had their eyeballs, he kept them in a jar. Tongues too. Fancied himself as a bit of a surgeon. Not a very good one by all accounts. When they delivered the stiffs here there were almost double the number of body bags for the amount of victims. It was a real bloody mess”
“You had the intake?”
“Yup. Haven’t had a full night’s sleep since”
“You still got the bodies here?”
“No. They’ve all been incinerated. No open caskets. All the families chose cremation. But I do have our mountain man”
“Right inside here. You still want to take a look?”
“Harry. I can handle it”
“You say that now”
“Just open it already will you. I’m dying here”
“You’re keen, I’ll give you that. Might not be so keen after this though”
Harry unbolted all three padlocks and began to unwind the chains. Randy, who had never been fazed by the sight of blood since witnessing a drive-by shooting when he was six, was beside himself with anticipation. This was a great anecdote to tell at the bar later after he clocked off. His brush with the Yates Lodge Yeti. If that didn’t win him kudos then nothing would. Granted his parable may not get him laid but, if nothing else, he would become his friends’ personal hero for spending face time with one of such legendary status.
“Now it’s not too late you know. If you want to change your mind then I won’t bust your balls”
“Just open it already will you?”
“You might just make it in this business kid”
Harry removed the last of the shackles and slid the metal gurney from the locker. Randy’s eyes immediately widened to capacity; utterly transfixed by the most grotesque sight he had ever had the privilege of witnessing. He had passed Harry’s test; most fresh-faced interns would have thrown up a kidney at just the stench alone. He did cover his nose and mouth but his eyes told a different story.
“That smell isn’t decomposition you know. He looks the same now as he did when they brought him in”
“That’s impossible. He must have at least rotted a bit in that time. He certainly looks weathered”
“Nothing. You see the flesh around his face?”
“None of that is his. That’s what the sweet aroma is filling your nostrils. Putrid flesh”
“Yeah but it doesn’t stop there”
Randy cast his eye down the cadaver and there was hardly an inch of skin not obscured by the pelt of another.
“Shit Harry. How to make an American quilt”
“Indeed. He’s a total patchwork. A thing of beauty”
“Mind if I touch him?”
“Actually that was your next challenge. Knock yourself out”
Randy leaned in closer to admire the big man’s facial overthrow. Thin layers of crudely torn flesh were stapled firmly at numerous points around his face, covering the area entirely. The only part unconcealed were his eyes, which were pressed shut and gave him the appearance of being at peace, despite the fact that he had no right to be after the atrocities he had facilitated. The intern ran his palm across the uneven epidermal blanket and exhaled with delight as he did.
“Is it messed up that I’ve got a boner right now Harry?”
“Don’t fret kid, I’ve got one too. He’s a beauty isn’t he?”
“Bona fide Harry. I’ve never seen anything so freaking awesome in all my years”
“I told you. Stick with me and you’ll do alright”
“After this you could do no wrong”
Randy continued to peruse, glancing his fingertips down the man’s forearm to a hand which consisted of five individually sewn-on flesh finger sheaths. He touched each in turn and, just as he reached the thumb, the body jolted violently.
“Holy fucking shit”
“Death rattle son”
“Death rattle? Correct me if I’m wrong Harry but isn’t that only supposed to occur for a few hours after death?”
“I know right. There ain’t a single thing about this beast that makes a blind bit of sense”
“Shouldn’t you have him chained down or something?”
“Why would I do that? He’s a corpse”
“He still feels warm though”
“Another mystery. Do you want to know what I think?”
“I have a feeling you’re going to tell me anyway Harry”
“I think he’s hibernating”
Randy took a hefty step away from the gurney.
“Like an animal?”
“Exactly like an animal. Think about it, he spent years in the wilderness, hunting for his meals and sleeping under the stars. Maybe he evolved”
“I think you just devolved in my estimations Harry”
“Why wouldn’t he? If he was out there long enough, wouldn’t he end up adapting? Isn’t that how one survives in the wild? Survival of the fittest and all that”
“You’re off your rocker”
“Then why did you step away when I suggested that he may be in hibernation?”
“I’ve got an over-active imagination Harry”
“Maybe he’s just sleeping Randy”
“You’re an asshole”
Harry laughed heartily and secured the cadaver back in its locker, negating to reapply the padlock as he was far too amused by the lack of color currently residing in Randy’s face.
“Come on son. You did well. Let me make you one of my special coffees”
“I need one after that. Jesus Harry, the Yates Lodge Yeti”
Harry produced a hip flask of whiskey from his lab coat pocket and gestured at the boy.
“This’ll settle your frayed nerves kid”
Randy snatched the bottle from his superior’s hand, unscrewed the lid, and took a hefty swig.
“I earned that Harry”
“Yeah I give you that”
Harry turned off the morgue lights and the pair made their way to the staff room to enjoy their nightcap. As their footsteps became more distant, the silence was broken once again. A vague shuffle at first emanating from within the locker swiftly transformed into concentrated pounding. On the third thump, the metal door swung open and a hulking pair of grimy hands pulled forth the gurney.
“My friend’s band Rancid Monkey is playing at Oakley’s tonight. It’s pretty quiet and I thought maybe you wouldn’t mind letting me clock off a smidge early?”
“How early is a smidge?”
They’re on in twenty five minutes”
“Oakley’s is twenty minutes drive from here”
“So what you’re effectively saying is that you want to leave now then?”
“Would you mind?”
“Well I was looking forward to drinking you under the table. Fuck it, go for it, I was young once too you know”
“Was you really? But you’re as old as shit”
“Don’t push it lad. Didn’t your mother tell you about biting the hand and all that?”
“She said for me to respect my elders”
“There you go. Take off, have some fun. Just leave poor old Harry on his lonesome. See if I care”
Randy leapt to his feet and made off to grab his coat. No sooner had he turned the corner than everything fell deathly silent.
“What now? Jesus, can’t an old man drink his liquor in peace?”
“You may want to come here…like right now”
“Only if you’re going to massage my gout”
“I’m not messing about Harry. Quick!”
“Interns. Why me?”
Harry rustled up the energy to eject himself from his leather recliner and joined his upstart affiliate in the corridor.
“I know right? I think your hibernation theory may well have been on the money Harry”
Before them, about ten yards from their position, stood the once dormant cadaver of Olaf Lund looking directly toward them with blood infused eyes. He wasn’t moving.
“On second thoughts I think I may just leave the jacket Harry. It’s actually pretty warm out tonight”
“Don’t you move a muscle kid. You ain’t leaving me with this”
There was a stand-off for several seconds; the silence punctuated only by Olaf’s slow labored breaths and the wildly erratic heartbeats of his opposite numbers. Suddenly, the mountain man’s knees buckled beneath him and he slumped to the floor.
“Quick. Help me get him back to his quarters”
“I ain’t touching that. Harry, I’m just not paid enough I’m afraid”
“You’re going to be paid a lot less if you don’t help me. Come on, take his other arm and we’ll have to drag him”
“That’s three hundred pounds of dead weight”
“Only it’s not is it? Dead weight I mean”
“I’m pretty sure we should be calling someone. Don’t they say you shouldn’t move somebody who collapses until help comes?”
“Kid. He’s been shot seven times, twice in the skullcap. Both knees were shattered by shrapnel. I don’t think that applies here”
“Goodbye Rancid Monkey”
“It’s a stupid name for a band anyway. Here, grab this”
Randy hesitantly grabbed a limber limb and they commenced sliding Olaf back toward the morgue.
“This behemoth weighs a ton Harry”
“Must be all that red meat packed in his colon”
“Where are we leaving him? You know we’ve got no chance of getting him back on the gurney right?”
Over here is fine. Just place him down in the corner and I’ll work out the rest”
“Does that mean I’m free to leave?”
“Yes kid it does. Go and see your Putrid Monkey or whatever the hell they’re called”
“You’re a legend. I’m going to call my next pet rat Harry”
Randy left his supervisor to clean up the mess and skipped off to Oakley’s for some out-of-key punk and a skinful of alcohol.
“Hello? Is that Kit?”
“Harry Jackson. To what do I owe this exclusive pleasure?”
“I’m in a little bit of a fix”
“Sweetheart, nothing you say could ever surprise me. What you done now?”
“It’s the yeti”
“Olaf Lund. Yeah, I heard about that one. How are the old bones?”
“He’s just ejected himself from his locker, wandered maybe twenty yards into the corridor, and then dropped like a sack of wet shit”
“Is this your idea of a wind-up Harry?”
“Deadly serious Kit. How long have you known me?”
“Then you know I wouldn’t joke about a dead man walking?”
“Jury’s out. So where is he now?”
“Behind me in a heap by the corner. Can’t find a heartbeat but that’s not saying much considering I couldn’t find one before he decided to take a leisurely stroll and don’t even try telling me that was a death rattle”
“So what you gonna do now?”
“Dunno. That’s why I’m calling you”
“Well I say don’t move him anymore. Leave him for the morning shift”
“They’ll love me for that one”
“I honestly don’t know Harry. If he is somehow miraculously alive then I would be giving him a wide berth. He’s a fucking animal. If I were you I’d have that place already locked down and be on my way to the tavern by now. It’s not your problem”
“Actually it kind of is”
“Harry can you say serial killer?”
“Point taken. But he’s dead”
Harry looked around to confirm such intelligence to himself and his heart almost ceased on the spot upon the grim realization that Olaf was no longer there. He stood utterly frozen with paralysis as he began to contemplate where this game of hide and seek would end up. Just then, he felt a tepid breath slide down the back of his collar. This, in turn, sent a cold chill rappelling down his spinal column and releasing into the pit of his abdomen.
“What the fuck Harry?”
“Kit. I’m going to have to call you back”
With that, those hulking hands were brought into play, gripping Harry’s head and yanking it forcefully 180 degrees until facing Olaf. The mountain man’s eyes widened in fascination as he watched the mortician’s life signs unceremoniously dissipate. Then, in a decisive motion, he pulled the man’s head free from his shoulders and began clawing at its scalp with his filth-encrusted serrated nails. Within a few moments it came free in his hands and he callously tossed any surplus aside while preparing for his next fitting. On Harry’s desk, beside his favorite mug and coated in fresh sinew, was an industrial stapler. After placing it haphazardly over his own cranium, he fired off a few rounds. Empty. It was a bugbear of Harry’s colleagues that he never refilled either the stapler or photocopier. Furious, Olaf hurled the empty vessel against the wall, grunted his disdain, and made his way out of the room to exact his vile rage someplace else.
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2015