Writers (in order): Rebecca Von Tersch, Langston Wu, Keiss Chan, Irene Tsen, Gabby Frank, Emma Kochenderfer, Ciara Chakraborty, Andrew Boldi, Eileen Hung, Mirielle Harkins, Basil Lera, Ella T, Madi Kaplan, and Eman Hussain. Editor: Irene Tsen.
Working in a morgue, there was nothing that really fazed me anymore. Someone asked to be buried in a clown nose and a three-piece suit with sixty packs of Thin Mints. Another wanted their hair dyed five different colors, but only if they were going to be buried on a Monday. However, nothing could have prepared me more for the guy who was convinced he couldn’t die.
He was sitting on our building’s front steps when I first met him. He seemed pretty normal—and cute—as we made some small talk about the weather, and then he said, “Oh, by the way, I’m immortal. Yep. I can’t die.”
I thought he was joking, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. He was convinced, but I couldn’t tell if it was ignorance, stupidity, or plain confusion.
“Would you like a demonstration?” His cheerful smile filled me with discomfort.
“Uh… Not particularly? I mean, I wouldn’t want to witness your death.”
“Don’t you make money off dead people?” Dang, he got me good.
“That doesn’t mean I want to see them die! Those are two completely different things.”
His inquisitive look, so innocent, so childish, so off-putting.
“Let me show you,” he said as he took me by the arm and ran through the morgue, disrespecting all forms of privacy and barging right through the doors into a room full of bodies. I unhinged his arm as soon as we got there, but had no choice but to follow him as he moved forward.
“Stop! You can’t do this!”
He ignored me, of course.
“Is this one open?” When the metal box presented no corpse inside, he laid himself on the stretcher. “Can you shut the door?”
Honestly, I was so confused at that point that I just did as I was told. It was like he was resigning from his job of life in the most cheerful demeanor I’d ever seen. A muffled, “Can you open this door in twenty-four hours?” sounded through the chamber.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” I shouted, suddenly processing everything that he just said. Despite my attempts to pry the lid open, he somehow managed to choose the only coffin with a lock on the inside. It was another of our strange requests, a family that believed some weird magic spells or whatever. They wanted a coffin with inside locks so that the deceased could escape if need be. I didn’t understand what that would do or how it would work, but money is money and they had been willing to pay a fortune for that coffin.
I could hear his little giggles from inside the coffin. That was about when I figured I was dealing with a madman. But that wasn’t even my main concern at the moment. He was shifting around like crazy, eager to prove something to me. All he had done so far was add to the ongoing list of reasons I should stop working at the morgue.
“Hey, uh… I need that coffin. The family who needs that is coming tomorrow at eight in the morning. You’ll only get twenty-one hours and then I’ll need you out of there.”
“Noooo,” He whined, “Make them take another one.” I stood there in shock, but even I wasn’t sure if it was from the fact that he wanted to stay in the coffin for twenty-four full hours, or that he suggested that a family “take another one” after they paid for a custom-made coffin. I shook my head in disbelief. There truly was something incredibly wrong with this man, and I had work to do.
“Nope, that’s it.” I grabbed a saw that was made to cut metal and started going in at the lock with it. “You’re lucky we made spare locks just in case something goes wrong. We can also test your little ‘immortality’ theory while we’re at it.”