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Pen Your Pride


I'd survived the three terrifying rituals. They were finally over. Am I relieved? I wasn't sure what I felt. Before I could delve too deep into my current emotional—or was it more accurate to say emotionless?—state, Luke took my hand, and we walked out of the room. Anna's family greeted us.

Her mother's eyes were full of tears. "Is it—is she—"

"She's passed on to the other side." Luke's voice was full of compassion.

The family, their faces stricken with grief, made their way into the room and left us on our own in the hallway. We stood for a moment before I realized we weren't entirely alone.

A group of people mingled at the other end of the hallway. In the midst of the group was the woman who'd confronted us earlier. Just as I recognized her, she spotted us and pointed in our direction. I couldn't hear what she was saying, but I could read the expressions on the faces around her.

Whatever was about to happen was not going to be pleasant.

"It might be a good idea if we found another way out. I don't like the look of that crowd," Luke said, his grip tightening around my hand.

The crowd, which was starting to look more like a mob, began to move in our direction. Luke pulled me with him, and we hightailed it down the hallway in the opposite direction. We picked up speed as we went, and by the time we hit the flight of stairs, we were jogging. At the bottom of the stairs, we went through another set of doors and Luke halted.

"We're in the basement," Luke gestured to the left, "right next to the parking lot. Once we're out the door, we'll only be a few feet from the car."

I nodded and sucked in a lungful of air. I hadn't been prepared to run a marathon around the hospital.

Luke started down the hall. "Wait here—I'm going to check to make sure there isn't another welcome party waiting for us outside."

I sagged against the wall after he disappeared, watching, waiting for him to let me know it was safe to leave.

I didn't recognize the noise at first.

It wasn't until the buzzing sound increased a few notches that I noticed it at all. The sound was coming from a room to my left. My legs started down the hallway. My mind caught up with what I was doing, and I found myself standing in front of a set of large metal doors. Above the doors in bold, black letters was one word: morgue. Before I could truly process what was going on, I'd pushed through the doors and gone into the room.

Why had I come into the morgue? I could speak to spirits now—the last place I wanted to be was in a room full of dead bodies. I looked around, expecting a face or voice to pop out at me at any moment. The air was chilly—cold enough that I could see my breath. The space was enormous. Dozens of small metal doors with metal handles lined one wall. I was looking at the drawers where they kept the dead bodies.

What the heck am I doing here? What strange urge propelled me through those doors? I should turn around and march out, I thought, but my feet seemed glued to the floor. I twisted around and took in the rest of the room.

Against another wall was a large sink. I shuddered at the visual of what might go down that drain. Blood? Human tissue? I forced myself to look away. Shiny, black tile covered the floor, and four metal tables about waist-high stood in the middle of the room. White sheets covered two of them, but they weren't laying flat against the tables' surfaces.

Something was under each sheet.

Dead bodies. Dead bodies were on the tables.

It shouldn't have been a surprise—I was in a morgue—but as I realized that bodies lay just a few feet away from me, I felt a totally irrational urge take over.

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