by Jeff C. Carter
Barney didn’t bother taking out his badge as he entered the Avenir morgue. In his experience, coroners were always happy to talk to someone. A skinny man with long black hair sat on the examination table, his mouth agape, eyes hidden beneath a pair of electronic goggles. Barney coughed twice to announce his presence before finally jostling the man by the shoulder.
The skinny man swatted away Barney’s hand and grunted. “I’m working!”
Barney fished out his badge and leaned in to the man’s ear. “Me too. I’m looking for some missing persons.”
The skinny man slid the goggles up and eyed the badge before sliding off the table. “Grady Wilkyn, Medical Examiner. Pleased to meet you. Don’t get a lot of enforcers down here.”
“I’m looking for two missing doctors from St. Christina’s Clinic.”
Grady grabbed a control pad and scrolled through data on a large screen. “Missing, huh? We haven’t had any unclaimed bodies. Not since the riot,” Grady said.
An old disposal tech rolled in a gurney holding a cadaver. “Got a fresh one,” the old man said.
“Give me a hand here, officer,” Grady said. He tossed a pair of sanitation gloves to Barney. He grabbed the dead body by the ankles and indicated the examination table with a nod of his chin.
Barney reluctantly hooked his hands under the corpse’s armpits. They set the body down on the table and the old man shuffled away with a wave.
Barney had seen dead bodies before. They never ceased to bother him. He saw them as tangles of unanswered questions. “I just need to confirm that the missing doctors aren’t here, then I’ll leave you to your work,” Barney said.
“Sorry Officer, this takes priority. Avenir is a closed environment. No bio-hazards allowed. Every cadaver gets an immediate and complete autopsy. Watch your toes,” Grady said.
The examination table sank into the ground and vanished beneath a heavy lid. The medical examiner pecked a few buttons on his control panel and a deep rumble shook the ground beneath Barney’s feet.
Grady snapped off his gloves and turned back to his computer. “Alright, when did you lose your doctors?”
Barney looked down at the floor and then up at Grady. “I thought you had to perform an autopsy,” Barney said.
“I just did. Don’t they teach enforcers what the medical examiner does?”
Barney blushed. “It’s been a while. I met Mr. Neils a few times.”
Grady scratched his head and then smiled. “Oh yeah, he ran this place way back. Things have changed. The body is on its way to the disposal queue. If there are any next of kin the computer has notified them.”
“And the autopsy?”Barney prompted.
The medical examiner handed Barney a pair of electronic goggles. “See for yourself.”