The air was cold, frigid almost as the coroner's assistants opened the cooling drawer containing Tyler's body. He had been brought in just a few days ago after dying from an unknown illness that doctors still weren't able to identify. They had been holding on to it a while longer than usual so they could continue running tests, but so far nothing conclusive had been found except for a virus for which they had never seen before. The family was waiting to bury their son, however, so the hospital had released the body so that they could begin making preparations for his funeral.
After the assistants transferred his body over to the observation table, the coroner came out to begin the autopsy. He was a portly, middle aged man with a balding head and a salt and pepper goatee, a pair of wire framed glassed perched upon the bridge of his nose as he put on a pair of examination gloves.
"So this is the young man who died from the mystery illness?" he asked, giving Tyler's body a once over before glancing up at his two assistants, one a young man with broad shoulders and a square jaw who'd been working with him for two years, the other a young Asian woman fresh out of medical school with short black hair done in a bob cut and a round, pretty face.
"This is the one," the young man replied, staring grimly down at Tyler.
The coroner breathed a heavy sigh and shook his head, pursing his lips.
"It's such a shame, isn't it? Right out of high school with the rest of his life ahead of him. Life is cruel sometimes," the coroner stated.
"That it is," the young woman replied, swallowing as she looked up at the coroner. "Do you think we'll be able to determine his exact cause of death?" she inquired.
"That I do not know," the coroner replied, staring down at Tyler's still, lifeless body. "We're supposed to extract some of his organs to send them off for testing. Perhaps they'll provide more insight into what exactly this virus might be."
The young man nodded in agreement, clearing his throat as he reached into his lab coat pocket and produced a digital recorder.
"Shall we begin?" he asked.
"Yes, let's begin," the coroner replied. "Scalpel, please."
The young woman reached over to the try holding all of the coroner's tools and grabbed the scalpel, only to jump, shriek, and drop the scalpel, startled as she saw Tyler's right hand move all of a sudden. The coroner and the young man looked up at her as if she had gone mad.
"What on earth is your problem?" the coroner asked. "You just dropped the scalpel!"
"He moved!" the young woman exclaimed.
"What?" the young man asked incredulously. "The kid's been dead for three days. He's in a state of rigor mortis. There's no way he could—" he said, just as Tyler's body jerked and jolted as if electricity were surging through it, startling all three of them. "Holy shit!" the young man exclaimed as he and the young woman jumped back. "What the hell just happened?"
The coroner remained calm and collected, furrowing his bushy eyebrows as his eyes sparkled with intrigue.
"I don't know. I've never seen a body react like this after being dead for this long," he replied, leaning over Tyler as he felt his neck for a pulse. He then turned and crossed over to a cabinet containing numerous medical tools before returning with a stethoscope. Putting the pieces in his ears, he pressed the cold metal end on Tyler's chest and listened intently, moving it slightly around his chest. "That's odd…" he stated, glancing up at his assistants. "It's faint, but… I think I hear his heart beating."
"That's impossible," the young man stated, reaching out to the coroner for the stethoscope. The coroner handed it over and the young man put it on, pressing the flat piece to Tyler's chest once again as he listened hard. Suddenly he jumped and snatched the stethoscope out of his ears. "Oh my God. Oh my God… there's… definitely a heartbeat. It's slow and weak but… I hear done."
"How is that possible?" the young woman asked.
The coroner swallowed, shaking his head as he stared down at Tyler intensely.
"I've never seen anything like this before. All of his organs had shut down. He was dead. And yet now… he clearly has a heartbeat," he said, his face turning white. "We have to call this in. I can't perform an autopsy if there's a chance he's still alive."
"I'll make the call," the young woman said, eager to get away from Tyler's body. She walked across the morgue to a phone mounted on the wall by the coroner's office and began dialing the number up to the hospital. Meanwhile, the coroner and the young man kept a close watch over Tyler.
"Is he breathing?" the young man asked.
"I don't think so," the coroner replied, holding his hand over Tyler's mouth to feel for breath. "I don't feel anything."
"Then how could he be alive if he's not breathing?" the young man asked.
"Your guess is as good as mine. His heartbeat is barely enough to circulate the amount of blood his brain would need to function, though he clearly has one," the coroner replied.
Just then, Tyler's eyes opened, the whites bloodshot and yellowed. Before either of them knew what was happening, Tyler bolted upright and grabbed hold of the young man as he pulled him towards him and tore into his neck as he screamed. The coroner stumbled back, knocking over a table covered with medical tools and equipment.
"Help me! Help me, please! He's biting me! Help!" the young man screamed as Tyler ripped and tore into his neck. The coroner stood frozen, eyes wide and mouth agape as blood gushed everywhere. He then turned and found the young woman standing frozen by the phone, the receiver dangling as she watched the scene with horror on her face.
"What are you doing?" the coroner asked urgently. "Call for help! NOW!"
The young woman nodded and bent down, fumbling for the phone when there was a sudden crash. She looked up and screamed. Tyler had lunged for the coroner and had him down on the floor as he tore into his jugular, ripping and tearing through his flesh with his bare teeth. The young man lay motionless on the floor in a pool of his own blood. As Tyler tore into the coroner's neck, he suddenly looked up at the young woman, his face pale with ugly black veins as he moaned and growled, a guttural sound rising from the depths of his throat like a rattle. His eyes were empty and hollow, as if completely devoid of a soul. Without hesitation he lunged for the young woman, who screamed and ran into the office, throwing the door shut as Tyler slammed against it, thrashing and groaning.
Looking through the window out into the morgue, the young woman's eyes grew wide, all color draining from her face as both the young man and the coroner suddenly rose, blood still dripping from their wounds as they lifted their heads, their eyes bloodshot and absent of any hint of life. Staring straight at her, they both groaned and charged towards the window. The young woman screamed as they smashed through it, shielding herself against the shards of glass raining down around her. They clawed and clamored for her, unable or unwilling, she wasn't sure, to climb in to get her. But then, after numerous attempts to get through the door, Tyler finally succeeded in breaking it open and stumbled in. The woman backed into a corner, screaming bloody murder as Tyler and her two colleagues made their way into the office, shambling towards her as they tore into her with their teeth, devouring her flesh.