You lean lazily against the steel wall of the garage-sized elevator, completely alone. There were some other people with you, a team of janitors and what you suspect as some low tier wage slaves from the finance department, but as you descended further into the underground, they left one by one, eager to finish their business for the day.
You feel tired. It's difficult to merely keep your eyes open. Aya's coffee was pretty good, but still can't beat four hours of sleep.
The elevator music certainly doesn't help.
You know, if they were to put an elevator in a company building, they shouldn't be using "Ipanema" as the music. You're pretty sure it negates the effectiveness of the employees.
Yeah, they totally should have put some Led Zepellin in here. Or Motorhead, something that would make you want to take on those mountain of paperwork with the force of a charging Rohirrim cavalry.
....It also would help if the bell doesn't simultaneously trying to give you a heart attack.
The morgue is located deep below the surface, even further down than the basement. As you step out of the elevator, a rush of cold air greets you, hitting your uncovered chest and makes you shiver, just a little. For a room that is just about the same size as the employee lounge, you would recon that 6 Artic-class cooler units should be enough, but no, they had to install twenty instead, and somehow still manage to be under budget.
Point is, it's 'effin cold in here. And very dry, too. If you die here, there's a good chance that you would get instantly mummified just like if you die in an arid desert.
"Whoo!" You let out a shout just to watch your breath fogs up. People may call you easily amused, but it's the little things that make world worth living.
As you enter the morgue proper, you are greeted by the view of dead bodies.
A lot of them.
Imagine Auschwitz, if Hitler was really, really immaculate and a germophobe, and probably has an OCD. The entire place looks like it was made from the very essence of cleanliness, white without a stain. Even the lighting is excessively bright, coming from dozens of meticulously placed neon lamps to make sure no shadow can be casted and no one would be able to get their 'rest in peace'. It's like that scene from The Matrix, but instead of guns, you have dead bodies.
Lines after lines of corpses, some look even more beautiful than when they were alive, positioned in an uniformed manner on top of dozens of steel tables. Though some are not so uniformed, having lost some of their limbs, like legs, arms, their unmentionables, and even a head.
As you walk further inside, you come across the body of a negroid child, about ten year old, with a caved in face as if it had been smashed with a sledgehammer. You wonder what happened to him.
You know that many of these bodies came from some...questionable sources. And looking from an outsider perspective it may look like the company is committing crime against humanity, but all of this is still technically legal, mostly thanks to Hoffman's work.
You heard a voice calling you from one of the corners of the room. You shift your gaze towards its general direction, and find two of your contemporaries standing around a small table that is supporting what seems to be a birdcage covered in piece of fabric.
"Doctor Mercer, Doctor MacGrath."
Mercer, wearing a thick red jacket as usual, is the 'undertaker', so to say. He makes sure the bodies are taken care of, which sometimes means keeping everything dead. He is also responsible for the incineration of, to put it kindly, 'Excess Garbage', bodies that has been used up and no longer has any worth to the company. He wears a 'Pripyat-style' gas mask that covers his entire face and distorts his voice into a series of guttural grumbles.
"Would I need one of those?"
"Probably. Here." MacGrath, wearing a similar get up as Mercer with blue jacket and a surgical mask instead of full face gas mask, hands you another mask similar to his own. You put it on immediately. "And why are you shirtless?"
Technically, as the head of the neurology division, which is a part of the RnD department, MacGrath is your subordinate. But since he's been working in GenTech for almost twelve years, he's also technically your senior.
"Nothing much. I just haven't decided to wear any shirt this day. Anyway, what do you guys need me for? What's in the cage?"
Now that you approached it closer, you can see that beneath the table there is a boxy, compact yet complicated machine with lots of tubes that extend up into the bird cage. The tubes are transparent, allowing you to see the red liquid that is being constantly pumped upward before the hoses disappear behind the dark fabric that covers the birdcage.
You recognize the device. It's usually attached to people with diabetes. You never seen one like this, though.
"That's...some sort of blood purifier?"
"You can call it that, maybe." says Mercer with a voice that sounds like he had been chain smoking a six pack every day for the last twenty years. "Only it's more than that. It oxygenates blood, clean it up, pump it, basically, it's a machine that replaces your entire circulatory system."
"Cool. But still, what's in the cage?"
"Hmm. That is disappointing." MacGrath sighed. "We though you would be able to guess with just that."
"Not we. You. You owe me a fifty."
So, you're being used as a betting material. Fantastic.
"Seriously, guys. What's behind the cover?"
"Well. Why don't you find out for yourself? Just reach your hand and pull!"
You can't help but feels
Mercer's pompous smirk behind that full face mask of his.
Oh well, here goes nothing.
"If this just some sort of jack-in-the-box trickery, I will have your head." you reach your hand forward, until your fingers touch the unexpectedly soft fabric.
"well, actually, it is a head." says MacGrath.
As your curiosity overcomes you, you pull the fabric that is covering the birdcage as fast as possible, revealing...
It's a cage, just like any other bird cage you can find in a pet store. A cylindrical object with a dome-like top made from wire mesh. The cage itself is totally ordinary. What interests you is that the birdcage doesn't contain any bird, instead, it contains, just as MacGrath said, a head.
A human head, with a face that could either be a very manly woman or a very girly man, with long white hair that doesn't seems to fit her or his young complexion scattered across the bottom of the cage like a bridal veil.
Having a severed head in a cage in itself is already pretty outrageous, but it's made even more outrageous...when the said head is alive.
As you open the cover of the cage, you see its pupils dilute, trying to adjust to the sudden change of light. Its eyeball moving frantically from side to side, and you can see its expression change from desperation to fear to ...anger.
Its eyes suddenly locks on to yours, as she stares at you with a killing intent of magnitude you had never seen in a human being before. You see it gritted its teeth, as if by doing so it could remove your neck from your body so that you too, could experience its pain.
Unconsciously, you take a few step backwards.
You never thought that you could be intimidated by a severed head, but this...thing, you know that if it's ever given a body, it would immediately kill you to death...
Is it just you or its suddenly getting warm here?
Suddenly, without any warning at all, you are on fire.
"Quick! Cover the cage!"
You quickly remove your burning lab coat and throw it to the floor, leaving you, once again, topless, and this time, it's below freezing.
When you look back at the cage, Mercer already put its cover back, removing the still alive head from your sight.
"Well, that was close, wasn't it?"
[ ] Holy shit.
[ ] What the fuck!"
[ ] Yup. We're going to hell, alright.
[ ] That is creepy. Even by our standard.
[ ] You guys owe me a coat.
[ ] Where does that thing came from?
[ ] Who was that?
[ ] It's official. We're going too far.
[ ] Eh, we've crossed the line a long time ago.
[ ] Interesting. That is genuinely interesting.
[ ] write ins.