Over the summer John McFadden has noticed a change in his wife. She has become more protective, thoughtful and secretive. With a blast that shook the houses, light splattered the night sky with shards of colour. Children stuffed-full of sweets from trick or treating ambled around, sparklers flitting in their gloved hands. Crack snap and wizz! Sizzling spirals shot out of no-where soaring high then plummeting to the ground leaving a corkscrew of smoke. Setting off each prize-winning cracker was a tall broadly built figure who looked every bit like the perfect family man.
Each year Mr McFadden put on the bewildering display of fireworks that made the local church event look like a puff of smoke. The kids always loved the show and cheered at the grand finale but his biggest fan was his own son. He delighted in watching the spectacular display each year but this time he felt let half let down. His mother, Ella had promised to be there, gazing in awe with him at the heavens but she wasnt. Not to be put off he pushed his way to the front, waving avidly at his father while jumping up and down. Ella stared, cold and motionless from her position under the bed.
The blow to her head had done her a lot of physical damage but her soul swayed inside long after her body had died. Never had she expected him do commit such a deed, especially on their anniversary. In truth he had not planned it and therefore given her no foresight into; a clever plan which he did not anticipate would turn sour. Autumn had blended into winter, the harsh chill of the morning smote Holly's heart and she shivered, pulling her overall about her. Mr McFadden's body lay stiff, caked in grime and dirt with blood congealed around the head.
The pathologist was at her wits end at two o' clock in the morning after Detective Inspector Browning had directed her to the morgue as part of an "ongoing investigation". There was no obvious cause of death: no haemmorage, brain trauma or asphyxiation and no signs of physical damage. 'This is one tough case' she thought, putting down the scalpel. No difference in the eyes, the brain looked normal and the organs were of the usual weight and content so nothing was amiss there. A wisp of hair fell accross her face and as she pushed it back into the tight bun she gasped.
The teacher's body was now covered in burns and scars while veins pushed the surface of the skin, stretching it in different directions and making the body writhe. She shut her eyes. The late nights she worked sometimes took their toll but as she opened them again, to her dismay the illusion was still there. Struggling to make sense of what she was seeing she stood nearer to the corpse and held out her gloved finger. Upon touching the cadaver, it distorted and moved like a snake under her fingertips and she noticed her incisions were gone.
Not a mark was present where she had sliced through the flesh but she observed that the burns and scars which had appeared were years old. The eyes of the man snapped open and stared, glazed, at the ceiling while the iris colour melted and seeped into the white of the eye, swirling as if looking into a fathomless pool. The flesh around the stomach contorted and the head started twitching. Determined to find the cause of the movement she edged towards the mouth, prising it open with her fingers and turning away as she did so.
Now, she looked back at the face and grimaced to see that the tongue was missing. It looked like it had been distastfully ripped out and the rough-edged stump was thick and swollen. Slithering slowly a worm slinked out of the nose and fell on the table near the ear coiled up like a slinky... followed by another and another. Soon the stainless steel had worms, slime and entrails all over it with specks of mud drying on deathly skin. Catching her breath, Holly looked down the throat and grabbed her forceps. A slimy grey object was lodged in the airway.
Reaching in with the forceps she plucked out the foreign item and immediately dropped it. The frog, now hopping around the morgue frisked about her feet making her wary of a fly, that had started buzzing around her head. Quickly she grasped a jar normally used for body parts and stealthily cornered the frog, closing the lid tightly and placing it on the side board. Back to the corpse. The stomach was still moving so she took up her scalpel -which she realised was clean, though she had used it earlier- and scored a section so she could study the inside.
Bewildered she stepped back to see what looked like a lizard -but was infact a salamander- crawl out, dry and alive. Suddenly repulsed she stepped back as she saw the chest of the man rising and falling, despite the incision, as if alive. She checked his pulse but she felt no sensation, implying he was still dead. Confused, the pathologist extended her slit upwards nearer the lungs, slicing up towards the ribs when a flurry of colourful butterflies came fluttering out of her incision and clustering around the pot-pourri.
Each of these items were alive, breathing and looked like they hadn't stepped out of their natural environment. No blood, guts, or other material covered them. Anyway, it was impossible for any of these creatures to have survived in the freezer and she was sure that she would have noticed them upon first examination. Overwhelmed and defeated Holly decided to leave the case till later that morning. She was obviously seeing things and a coffee would do her good.