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   Chapter 9 No.9

Dead Man’s Hammer By Christina Engela Characters: 5227

Updated: 2018-06-30 12:02

The last stretch to the San Fedora Public Health Clinic was agonizing for them both – as was the slow walk inside and then to the mortuary. There was a separate entrance, right at the back, a quiet isolated piece of Purgatory in the here and now. The mortician was a gray old man in a white lab coat, a retired doctor who probably just needed the extra money, or who probably couldn't sleep at night. He blended perfectly into the white walls and brightly lit rooms. Peg shuddered to think what other reasons might cause somebody to work in such a place. By the look on his face he was probably thinking the same thing. He looked up as they entered, and seeing Peg's uniform, just motioned them inside the viewing room. She couldn't even begin to imagine the kind of person who would want to work here. Pumping gas or painting road traffic signs seemed healthier. Meeting people she knew as customers at a gas station was far less likely to give her nightmares than meeting them on a slab in the morgue as an employee. But then, she was about to meet someone she knew under those very circumstances.

Mei made herself hard inside to keep her composure while looking at the body, steeling herself with every step that took her closer to it, like the numb steps in a nightmare. The steel table made a cold, hard bed for her Gary where he lay, his body torn and broken and bloodied. He was covered up to his neck under a white plastic sheet, which stuck to the raw red places. They'd made an effort to clean him up. It didn't really help.

He was naked under the shee

ora Public Health Clinic and began the drive back to Atro City. It would be at least another hour back, barring obsidian crows. At least it was still light. Under the circumstances, she pitied the crow that dared wander across the road with Mei in the car – but then, she wasn't driving. Peg wasn't feeling too fond of crows either at the moment, but then, it was a virtual certainty now that the crow hadn't killed Gary. Obsidian crows were a fact of life on Deanna – like sharks and surfing, or pigeons and jet engines. Ok, those are bad examples. But suffice to say, in general crows were an occupational hazard on Deannan roads – and the odds were that sooner or later you were going to hit one – it was only a matter of time. Otherwise, crows were as much a danger to humans as a giraffe. You might trip over one, or get a nasty kick if you got too close for the bird's liking – unless you came bearing an unlikely gift of a sprig of fresh, squirming crabby-grass – but nobody had ever been mauled to death or eaten by a giraffe before.

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