04 Jun The Mortuary
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"The Mortuary"Written by
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Estimated reading time — 4 minutes
I was surrounded by dead bodies. Being a mortician, I was used to it of course. It used to creep me out a little when I first got the job. But eventually, you get used to it, and it just feels like another day at the office. After a while I started talking to them like live patients, which is actually a norm in my profession.
You might think it distressing, working with dead people all the time. But I actually enjoy it, in fact I find it rather peaceful. Yes, it’s much better than dealing with the rambunctious eccentricities of the living. The dead have no complaints, they all act like model patients.
My name is Mark, and I’ve been doing this for nearly ten years. I work at the Kranhausen funeral home outside Detroit’s north end, one of the oldest in the state of Michigan. The cemetery has graves with internment dates going back into the eighteenth century. The building itself is an old Victorian era mansion, converted sometime in the early nineteenth century. Signs of antiquity show all through out the ancient carpentry and masonry, giving it the atmosphere of an earlier time, when this region was almost entirely void of inhabitants.
Our story starts in late December. In the winter time, when the ground would freeze, we would have to wait until next year to began burying the bodies. So until then, the caskets would be temporarily placed in another old building in the cemetery for storage until spring closed in. It was my job to roll them out and place them in their temporary resting place. We generally tried to do this in the evening, as the sight of caskets being moved around seemed to make onlookers feel a bit uneasy.
I remember how cold it was, when I would push that dolly loaded with a casket through the path to the back of the cemetery. I hated it, it was always so cold, and the dolly was heavy and would never want to maneuver in the snow. I would reach the old building exhausted and out of breath, only to have to place the casket on a rack, and make the return journey with the dolly still not wanting to cooperate.
Sometimes, when I was loading those caskets into the old storage building, I could hear the loud creaking of the ancient lumber, accompanied by an uneasy feeling of being watched. The dead never bothered me, but there was something about that old building which I found rather unsettling. It had no windows, and the air inside was rank with rot and decay. The smell of mildew was so potent it was nearly unbearable.
It seems as though I wasn’t the only one who didn’t like that place either. I was working on embalming one of my patients. As I said earlier, talking to the dead is common for me, even though it’s a one sided conversation. As I worked, I was explaining to him I was gonna but him up in the store house until the ground thawed. And this was the first time my imagination got the best of me, cause I swear to you I heard him tell me not to take him there. I laughed to myself about it, cause after all, why would the dead care where they’re resting at, it’s not like being buried in dirt is any better then laying in an old building.
Then came spring, and with it, the ground thawed out. That meant it was time to start moving the caskets to their permanent resting place in the cemetery. It was a grueling task to perform even though the obstacles of ice and snow were gone. Those caskets and their macabre contents weighed quite a bit, and moving them by myself was hard work no matter what the weather was like. For this reason, we only did two or three in the mornings to save the rest of the day for my normal duties.
It was early in the morning in late March, the exact day I cannot remember. It was still rather cold out, despite the misleading sight of fresh green grass. I grabbed the dolly, and began the long walk to the storage building near the cemetary. I kicked along the path, silently resenting having to perform this grisly task. I had other work to do, and needed to get this over with.
As I opened the iron door, it let out a loud creak, and I pushed the dolly inside. I hesitated for a moment, not wanting to enter as the building still gave me an uneasy feeling. I put the dolly next to the rack with the casket I needed, and began sliding the casket over. The old building was creaking loudly as I worked. First one end, then the other, I finally got it in place, when my imagination started up again. I thought I heard a whisper saying “get out.” Looking behind me, I saw nothing there, and shrugged it off, getting ready to make my way back out. Just then, I heard a voice loudly yell the word “go.”
As rational thinking was being replaced by fear, I quickly shoved the dolly out the door following closely behind it. I felt better just being back outside, and whatever I had heard quickly became irrelevant. Maybe I imagined it, maybe it really was a ghost, and they just wanted to be left alone. As I was mulling these thoughts around in my head, I heard another loud creak, followed by a loud crash.
At first, I was scared to turn around. It was so loud, it took me a moment to realize I was okay. When my heart rate started to calm down, I finally looked behind me. The old storage building had collapsed into a pile of rubble. All that remained now was a formless mound of broken boards, glass, and some nails. If it had happened just one minute sooner, I would have died right then and there. Then I started thinking, was that why I had heard that voice? Were my dead friends in there trying to warn me the old house was about to collapse? I think about it alot, and there’s too many coincidences to come to any real conclusions. But I did get one thing out of the whole experience; if a place gives me the creeps, I stay away.
Credit To – David Armstrong
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