The following are diary entries taken from a leather-bound notebook that was recovered from an abandoned house awaiting demolition.
Jun. 6, 1984
Maybe I’m paranoid, I don’t know. I’m just going to write these; maybe it will help me figure out what’s going on. Last night, something really strange happened in the morgue.
My name is Todd Reather. I work at Campbell City Forensics Morgue, been here for about 12 years. It’s an old brick building, but we’re one of the few morgues with both the cold storage and the autopsy equipment. My official title here is Anatomical Pathology Technologist. Basically, that’s fancy for “the guy who cleans the body.” It’s not the best work, but it’s a living. Best I can do with my degree, I suppose. Anyway, there’s me, then there’s Jane Sousa, she’s a doctor about my age, and she’s the medical examiner who actually does the autopsies. I watch her a lot when she works and I don’t; it’s pretty interesting to see how some of these people died.
The cop who works here is Brett Neilson; he’s a stocky guy in his early 20’s, nice kid. I guess he got suckered into transferring from the PD, and you can tell he’s really uncomfortable here, around all the bodies. After a while, I’ve gotten used to it. Anyway, he checks all the bodies in and out of the morgue and sends the official reports back to the PD.
Then there’s Crane. That’s his last name, I don’t even know his first name, and he wouldn’t tell me when I asked him. God, this guy’s creepy. He’s got to be 80 something, but he’s newer here than Brett is. He looks like we should be doing the autopsies on him; he’s so sickly and bony and covered in liver spots. He smells like he hasn’t showered in weeks, either. And he walks around with a cane that makes a loud clanking sound whenever it connects with the floor. It would annoy the hell out of me if he didn’t hang it on the gurney whenever he wheeled the bodies in. Yeah, that’s his job. He transports the bodies from the hospital to our office, and since he supposedly works out of the hospital, I don’t have to see him too much.
Anyway, this is what happened last night:
It was about 11 P.M. I was the only one in the office, Sousa went home at 9 like she always does, and Brett had to respond to a call in the area since apparently the rest of the police were way at the other end of the city. I was cleaning up around the fridges and equipment when I heard the front door at the end of our long hallway creak open, followed by the familiar clanking sound of Crane’s cane. Odd, since we never usually get deliveries this late. A few seconds later, he stepped into the main room where I was. Without looking at me, he grabbed an empty gurney from the corner and headed back outside. I heard a door slam, and then the gurney being wheeled down the hall. Crane entered the room again with the gurney and a body in a blue body bag. Strange, we’ve never used blue. I guessed that the hospital must have switched over or something. Crane left the gurney by the door, put the clipboard with the hospital’s presumed cause of death on the table, and limped back out of the hallway without so much as a glance my way (which didn’t bother me too much, the guy scares the crap out of me anyway). I waited until I heard the van’s engine turn over and then walked to the body bag. I picked up the clipboard and glanced at the ER doctor’s comments. …lacerations…removal of hands at the wrists…severe blood loss… This was going to be messy.
What happened next shocked me more than anything I’d ever seen in my 12 years here. I put my hand to the zipper of the body bag, and all of a sudden, the body within began to violently convulse on the gurney. Instinctively, I stumbled backwards, knocking over a table full of scalpels and clamps. By brain snapped back into reality. That person is alive; I have to get them out. I reached again for the zipper and pulled. Nothing. There was no visible obstruction, but the zipper was stuck shut. The body was still careening around the gurney, making it hard to grip the zipper. I regained my grasp and gave another sharp tug. The zipper wouldn’t give. Then, almost as quickly as it had started, the body stopped convulsing, lying perfectly still on the gurney. I yanked at the zipper and it immediately gave and opened.
Thoughts raced through my mind. It must have been some residual electrical impulses in the brain that caused the seizure; it had to be, because this was definitely a dead body. The next thought was that the hospital sent the wrong clipboard or the wrong body. One of the two, because the clipboard said lacerations and this body didn’t have a scratch on it.
I’m still shaking as I write. After what happened I put the body in a fridge, dropped the clipboard on Sousa’s desk, and went home. I’m going to talk to her about this tomorrow.
Jun. 7th, 1984
Talked to Sousa today. Jeezus, something really strange is going on here. I have to be losing it, there’s no other explanation. I told Sousa everything that had happened last night. She agreed with my theory that there was probably still some electricity in the brain that caused the seizure. Then I told her about the lack of lacerations on the body and what the ER doctor wrote, and she gave me a puzzled look. “Todd,” she held up the clipboard and I looked again at the comments, “look what it says.” …industrial accident…apparent asphyxiation as a result of crushed larynx… I couldn’t fucking believe it. I told Sousa again and again what the paper said last night, but I don’t think she believed me. She did the autopsy later in the day and confirmed the crushed larynx.
I left early tonight. On my way out I saw the body as Sousa put it back in the fridge. It was in a black body bag.
Jun. 8th, 1984
Called in sick today. Called the hospital. Talked to the ER doctor on duty two nights ago, he said it was a crushed larynx and that’s what he wrote.
The hospital doesn’t use blue body bags.
Jun. 9th, 1984
No… No… I can’t believe this is happening. I’m literally shivering with fear; I haven’t stopped vomiting all night. I have to find Crane. Something is going on, I have to find Crane. I don’t know what to do. Let me back up.
I went into work today, convincing myself that all of this was in my head. Sousa wasn’t in; she didn’t call in sick so Brett and I had no idea where she was. Later in the day Brett went out to grab some dinner. That’s when Crane showed up. I heard the cane, the gurney, all of it a blur, until he wheeled the gurney back in and something caught my eye. A blue body bag.
“Crane!” I shouted. By the time I rounded the corner in the hallway to confront him, he had disappeared. How the fuck can an old guy move that fast? I looked back to the gurney. The clipboard was lying on the table next to it, and I reached to pick it up. I looked more closely this time at the comments to make sure I read them right. …severe blunt force trauma… caved skull resulting in massive cranial bleeding… I placed the clipboard back on the table and hesitantly reached for the zipper on the bag.
Fuck, I never jumped so high in my life. As if it was taunting me, the body bag began to violently convulse. After the initial shock I went straight for the zipper. There was no way this was a coincidence. The zipper was stuck again! God, it’s like a horrifying movie playing over and over in my head. I didn’t try to mess with the zipper; somehow I knew it would do no good. I quickly grabbed a scalpel off the tool table and went for the body bag. As soon as the scalpel pierced the bag, the body shivered and fell still. There was no use cutting the bag any further, I knew the zipper would work now. I slowly pulled the zipper back, and what I saw made me vomit for the first of many times tonight.
It was Sousa. Her lifeless eyes seemed to stare at me from within the bag. Crying, I began to unzip the bag more. Several long gashes ran down the length of her body, and blood dripped from her arms and legs. Her hands were missing, and her feet were contorted into a sort of sickly knot. I had seen car accident victims, people murdered with fucking chainsaws, but nothing this horrible. And never anyone I knew! Immediately, my thoughts flew back to the clipboard from three nights ago. This was the exact cause of death that was written on there. This had to be some sort of sick joke, I thought, but there’s no way. This is all too real, and somehow I knew that if anyone looked at the clipboard later, it would say lacerations and blood loss. I sat in the corner and sobbed for a good 20 minutes. I tried to compose myself enough to call the police, and I managed to squeak my words through. We got on the line with the hospital, and the ER doctor confirmed that a body had been brought in that was apparently mauled by dogs (based on what I saw, this is bullshit), but they were unable to identify it since the hands were missing. The police tried to console me, and assured that they would give the matter their fullest attention. I told them that I suspected Crane had something to do with it. They promised to bring Crane in for questioning as soon as they could find him. A temporary replacement medical examiner would be sent in from the hospital until the city hired a new one. I thanked them and hung up. I slid Sousa’s body into a fridge and shut the door. Kind of ironic that Sousa would be the one to have an autopsy performed on, and in this office too.
I can’t stop crying.
Jun 10th, 1984
Too many unsettling things today. It’s time to take matters into my own hands. Bringing my journal with me. Police don’t trust me, Maybe I’m going crazy. I’m finding Crane myself.
Made a lot of calls and visits today.
Took off work.
Called the hospital, asked who brought the two bodies in that had ended up at our office into the ER. Crane did.
Went to the morgue when I knew Brett was out. The replacement doctor isn’t due till tomorrow. Morgue was closed, but I brought my key. I checked the fridge that had Sousa in it. Her body bag was still blue. I went to the table where I left the clipboard. Cause of death was still blunt force trauma. I looked at the name on top. Brett Neilson. I was too desensitized to panic.
I called the police, told them to keep an eye on Brett. They said they don’t have the manpower for that, and to stop calling unless I have an emergency.
I’m going to find Brett and save him. I’m going to find Crane and kill him.
Jun 11th, 1984
I found Brett.
I went into the morgue this morning to meet the replacement doctor. She wasn’t here yet, and I didn’t see Brett. I walked over to the table where I again left the clipboard. …lacerations… The clipboard had changed, I knew it would. I went to the fridge where I put Sousa and opened the door. Her body bag was black.
That’s when I heard it: a dripping sound coming from the closet in the hallway. I opened the door and even in my lucid insanity what I saw made me vomit the contents of my empty stomach all over the floor.
Brett was dead. His head was crushed like a rotten apple, blood splattering crimson onto his white uniform. He was slumped face-first against the wall, with a large lead pipe impaled through his back and into the wall, effectively holding him in place. I wasted no time in calling the police. I’m waiting for them to get here.
I’m home now. The police brought me in for questioning since I put in that call yesterday about keeping an eye on Brett. I almost shouted at them to find Crane, find Crane, find Crane! They said they were doing all they could, but Crane hadn’t shown up to work since the night he brought me Sousa’s body. They sent me home and told me to let them know if I was planning on going anywhere.
Jun 12th, 1984
I woke up in the middle of the night to a small weight on my chest. I rubbed my eyes, reached down and grabbed whatever it was that was on top of me. It was a clipboard. I hurriedly sat up and flicked on the lights. An ER doctor’s report was attached to the clipboard. …3rd degree burns across 90% of the body… presumably accidental disembowelment… 13 compound fractures…
I looked at the name on the top of the clipboard and my entire body went cold.
I am going to die.
There are no further diary entries. Medical records from late June, 1984 indicate that Todd Reather was pronounced dead the morning after writing this last journal entry. The apparent causes of death were the same as those which he indicated were on the clipboard.
Police records from the same time do not report anyone with the surname “Crane” ever being taken into custody.
The clipboard that Reather reported seeing and reading was never found.