The night shifts always began at 10:00 pm. Every day. Jonathan Ugwu – mortuary attendant on duty – could not wait to go home. It had been a long day already but fortunately, the signs on his digital wrist watch were good news.
Time was barely five minutes to the shift.
Only problem was that Sa’id, his replacement, always came late to work. Every day.
Jonathan was restless. Something bothered him, but he could not put a finger to it.
It was this strong sense of fear.
He knew the senator was dead. He knew it was the senator in the cold room, posed as agent Adamu. He knew the general public knew nothing of the politician’s death and he also knew the SSS was after the senator’s missing ring on investigations.
His gaze shifted to the framed standing photograph staring at him from the middle of the table. Vivian: The girl of his dreams. How beautiful. He only hoped he would live long enough to walk her down the aisle from the altar, given the information of top secret that he had.
Jonathan heard a long and slow singing swing of metallic door hinges from somewhere in the silent building. Sa’id had finally arrived early for once in his life! Thank goodness!
Jonathan downed the remaining coke in the bottle before him – which had already lost its carbonised fizzle over the long wait for Sa’id – and then smiled at the pretty face in the frame.
She had always told him how creepy she thought it was, working in a morgue, doing night shifts. Her fears had begun following a horror they had seen together once, months ago.
And he would always try to pacify her fears.
“That was just a movie. The dead stay dead.” He would say to her. “They can do me nothing.”
“Even at night?” She would pout.
“Even at night.” He would assure her.
Maybe he was wrong – on this one night.
He heard another long straight unrehearsed tune from the swinging hinges.
“Sa’id?” Jonathan got to his feet, walking towards the door. “Sa’id is that you?”
The hinges sang again, as if to answer him.
“Sa’id?” Jonathan knew what his colleague must be up to. “It’s not working. You’re not getting me frightened. You’re only getting me upset.”
He only heard three fast footsteps from outside the door, like someone was in a hurry. They were sharp enough for Jonathan to understand they were a lady’s stilettos.
Jonathan opened the door of his office, and looked outside. The corridor was clear – up and down.
“Who’s there?” He asked, his mind considering the possibility of Vivian’s superstition – dead bodies walking. He quickly shook his thoughts off that. It wasn’t possible.
When he turned to go back into his office, his heart literally jumped into his mouth, from the shocker before him. His already doubled heartbeat sounded in his ear like a matching band from a busy military parade ground. Then it dawned on him what exactly he had seen. It was the picture of the model posing on the wallpaper on the wall of the office.
It had kicked the air out of his lungs.
Just as he was relaxing from that, he heard another footstep from behind him on the corridor. When he whirled round, Jonathan felt like he was going into a heart attack.
At that instant, time stood still.
At the height of the tension he was feeling, the morgue attendant saw every last detail; heard every last thing. Someone was standing in the corridor in front of him, perhaps a zombie, and Jonathan’s left eye was looking directly into the end of a dark narrow hollow pipe that was somehow connected to the zombie – or whatever he was.
Jonathan’s skin was no longer on him. He felt the very last one of his hairs stand at attention. The bolts of electric impulse coursing through his spine at this point – he knew – could light the world’s longest fluorescent tube.
It took Jonathan only a split second to realize his eye was not just looking in any dark tube. He was directly peeking in the eye of the silencer of an automatic pistol.
Jonathan opened his mouth to say something, but everything moved too fast.
He saw the forefinger of the hand holding the rod move slightly.
The silencer whispered.
Jonathan saw the quick flash of bright light.
Then he saw nothing else.