echo in the skin
Music was always so important while working. The sounds, tempo, ambiance of it. Everything that went into a song, a series of songs, it traveled through the air, through the body, it helped to center. Elena needed music as she worked. She needed to have the beats run through her as she looked in her microscope, to have the lyrics filling her head as she wrote her reports. She'd had a boss try to curb it once, and she'd performed subpar and they never asked her to get rid of her music again. Today was no different. She'd had a long day, case after case built up around her. Some held foul play, some were natural causes, and some were sad and simple accidents. But it was her job, her's a few other's, to figure that out. Was it an accident? Or was it murder? Was it old age? Or suicide?

As she moved around the lab, her mind on her work, she glanced up and saw a man she didn't recognize. It didn't register at first that someone was there, until she looked up again and he was still there. She grabbed her remote and turned her music down, before standing up more straight, "Can I help you?" she asked. When he said nothing she frowned, and moved away from her table, "Sir, can I help you? Are you lost?" Between one question and the next he was gone. Elena wasn't someone who startled easily, and she was used to strange things from when she worked in the funeral home. But she hadn't expected him to just vanish.

Seconds stretched until she jumped when a hand tapped her shoulder. Spinning around she laughed when she was face to face with one of her co-workers. "Jesus, don't do that. You almost killed me."

"Damn girl, you're jumpy today. We just got a new body in the morgue, and Doc has a few things he wants you to come get. He said you can work on it tomorrow since the day's basically over, but said you'd be interested in this one."

"Thanks," the lab techs weren't usually picky about the cases they worked on, but the Doc knew she liked certain cases more and if he thought she'd enjoy this one, well then by all means.

Elena packed up what she'd been working on, locked up the things that had to be kept signed for and grabbed her keys. She always enjoyed the quiet of the lab and morgue in the later hours of the day. When the cops and lawyers weren't milling around like ants on a hill. She liked the eeriness of it. The elevator pinged for her and opened the doors, alone in a can of sorts. But she never really minded it, it was peaceful and in strange way. She knew movies were wrong, the whole dropping to your death thing didn't work exactly like that. And she wasn't claustraphobic so that helped her a lot. Another ping and she was on the floor she needed, the cliche was the morgue was in the basement of the building she was in. It wasn't a morgue like a hospital, where every single dead person passed through. It was where autopsies were handled, where people who might have been murdered, or died of other unnatural causes came. It was where the cold white walls beckoned.

"Doc?" she called out as she pushed the door open. She wasn't down her daily, but enough to know her way around. She'd been one of the techs that was actually comfortable around the death. When asked she pointed out she'd been a mortician. No one asked more questions after that. Though it did start the nickname, Morticia, amongst the cops and fellow lab techs. She came around the table where there was a sheet pulled up to the navel of a man. She could tell it was a man by the body shape, by the hair. She hadn't gotten to his face yet, or what she assumed would be an open chest cavity, but she knew what she would see. He'd be open, a Y incision from arm to sternum, from sternum to groin. It was procedure.

What stopped her was the face of the man when she got close enough to see him. It was the man from the lab. The man she'd seen standing in front of her. Elena believed in ghosts, she was from New Orleans, you didn't grown up there and not believe. You were raised to respect your dead, the ancestors filled the ground and the air around you. If you angered them, so help you. You also knew to respect the anger of the dead. People flocked to places of pain like La Laurie's house for a tour, but locals respected the spirits that most likely still dwelled there. The pain they suffered in life carried into death. Elena was more surprised she saw a spirit in the lab, than anything. It wasn't something she'd experienced before.

She turned when she heard the door open and as she stepped toward the room the Doc was probably in she caught her foot on a tray and stumbled. She grabbed for the table but her hand found the arm of the deceased. He wasn't cold, not like he should be. He felt alive, as if he was sleeping. She blinked down at her hand on his arm, as she felt him. She felt the essence of the man under her finger tips. He hadn't, in fact, been cut into yet, so he looked peaceful. Minus the wounds that were most likely the cause of death. But he was there, she didn't know what made her think it, but she just knew, he was there. He wasn't gone. She'd heard stories of souls sticking around up to three days after death and she wondered, maybe it was true? She didn't like that, that meant he was going to suffer, if he was stuck in a dead body. Stuck in his dead body. He was going to be cut into. Would he feel it?

Stillness settled over her as she prayed. She wasn't a huge prayer. She talked to God here and there, whatever God she hoped would listen. But this time she prayed for this man's death to be final. She knew logically that it was. He was gone. He was dead. He was pale, and bloodless. His body should be colder than it was, but he was dead. So why did she feel like he wasn't? She couldn't place what the feeling was. She just knew, he felt alive. She willed him dead. She willed him to move on. She knew it was silly, but in that moment she felt like it was all she could do. Send him into the afterlife she so firmly believed in. She needed him to be at peace, good or bad, he deserved to be away from what was to come for his body.

She couldn't explain it if she tried, if it was demanded of her, but he went cold. Ice like. Cold like a dead body was meant to be. A part of her knew that meant he was gone. Her prayer had been answered. His spirit, soul, whatever it was, was in fact gone. He wouldn't be there for the part that came next. She pulled her hand back, but kept watching the body. She didn't know him, and yet she felt like she'd see him again.

"Elena?" a voice spoke, breaking her thoughts. Pulling her mind back from the body, and to the present.