The Corpse Storage
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In another time, in another life, Emily rushed into an elevator. She had been slightly delayed on her way and now had just enough time to write her report on the scene. She frantically pressed the button for the sub-basement, the 'corpse storage,' as she liked to call it, even though its official name was the Communal Crypts: a total of three square kilometers of tombs built for the specific purpose of housing the remains of criminals, suspects, and sometimes victims who had some connection to the world behind the Veil.

She used the brief moment of calm in the elevator to spruce up her black suit a bit. Specifically, she properly tied her purple tie, her favorite color, given to her by her mom when she got the job. She also tried to clean her pants and shoes, which were stained with mud when, in her haste, she stamped stridently on a street puddle. God bless the London weather.

Her clothing made an elegant contrast with her pale white skin. Of course she was white, why would she be of any other color?

She shook her head to get rid of that strange thought.

Once she finished, she looked at herself in the mirror and tried to calm down. There was still a long time to wait; those crypts were as deep into the ground as were all the secrets the Secret Service had accumulated over the last hundred years. When she looked at herself, all of this seemed unreal to her. Just a year ago she was chasing low-level criminals or drug addicts, and now she was hunting monsters for the government. While she was still involved in tracking and arresting suspects, she was forced to stop expecting them to have guns, and get used to witnessing them move things with their minds or something like that.

She wiped a small tear from her cheek and sighed. It was exhausting to do all her work. She looked at her watch, then prayed that her coworkers hadn't seen the time. Finally, the cabin came to a stop. The doors opened to reveal a long corridor flanked by giant gray walls covered with thousands of marble squares, each bearing the names of the remains of whoever was behind them. Actually, the nickname she gave the place was slightly incorrect: there were actually almost no corpses in there, as most bodies were cremated to save room.

A few steps away was a wooden desk. Watching her across it was a short, thin man, also in a black suit. When he saw her approaching to ask for directions, he just slammed a folder on the desk, and then sank into his cell phone. She could see that he looked bored, even annoyed.

"Is this…?" Emily began to ask.

"Everything about the case." The man interrupted her. On the desk was a plaque that read 'H. West, Archivist.' "Go left, then right, left, right and left, in case you don't know where the lot is," he continued, without looking up from his phone.

Emily fiercely grabbed the folder and began to walk through the crypts. Next to her were names both familiar and unfamiliar. Some of them were there because of her, others she remembered from stories her colleagues had told her. It seemed strange to her to think how all those people around her, or their remnants, had been just that, people, with their motivations, their dreams, and now their entire existence had been reduced to nothing more than a lot number next to a name. Well, rather, the lucky ones had names, instead of a bland 'unknown'.

She followed the archivist's directions precisely. Sometimes the lights above her flickered, or the motion sensor was broken and she had to walk in the dark. When she looked up, she couldn't even think of all the shit that must have happened for the crypts to be packed so full of guests; the walls measured just over five meters high, and there was not a single empty plate.

As she made the next-to-last turn, she came upon a concrete archway in front of her. It had no gate of any kind, as it was only there to indicate the division of one section of the Communal Crypts: above the archway were engraved the words 'THE PLAGUE' in huge stylized letters. Emily had never been to that part of the crypts, nor had she ever heard of it. Logically, she wasn't going to spend her free time exploring a place that only the cleaning staff visited.

She continued on her way until she stumbled upon a man sitting on the ground, leaning against a crypt.

"Was it the traffic or the alarm this time?" he said sarcastically, turning to her.

"Being yelled at through the phone on your day off is not a good start for your, let me reiterate, day off." Emily moved towards her partner, but stopped when she noticed the absence of other people. "What… what about the forensic guys and the whole team?"

"They came and went in the morning," he replied. "There really isn't much to examine here, and you know all the work that's been piling up."

"But what about the body? I was told to look at a case, I assumed…"

"Did you just take the folder and not read it? Because that's precisely the problem: There is no body." He got up and walked a few steps down the hall. Then he stopped to point to something on the floor. "Look for yourself."

She approached the place where her friend was standing and saw what he was pointing at: On the floor lay one of the heavy marble plates, broken. On the side, in the wall, a very deep hole opened up, plunging into the shadows. Emily walked over to examine it.

"Are there any security cameras?" she asked.

"One, defective. It has already been reported, but the Service has better things to spend the money on."

"This is a matter of internal security, are you seriously telling me…?"

"I'm telling you that the only person who has been around here in the last thirty years is a janitor, who is about to enter his senior years and is paid minimum wage. Before him, there was a lady who worked here for sixty years without any incidents."

Emily stared at him for a moment, surprised.

"How did you make the inquiries so quickly?" she said.

"Well, the file is a quick read when it's no more than four pages long," he shrugged. "Oh, and the janitor was thrilled about the interview, he said that finding this was the most interesting thing that happened to him in his entire career."

"What about the…?"

"The archivist at the entrance only pointed out that two weeks ago, his girlfriend called him and broke up with him."

"Fred, I'm serious," her tone was severe.

"So am I!" He raised his arms, as if to indicate that he had nothing to hide. "Nothing ever happens here, I don't know how the hell you expect me to get information from where there's none."

"But there has to be something, no matter how small." Emily folded her arms and started to think. "What about the other cameras, the ones that work?"

"Nothing, no one came in or out. No static, no cuts, nothing unusual."

"The other exits?"

"Davies is checking them, but nothing at the moment."

"DNA, fingerprints?"

"Yes, but there is no record in the database. It's a dead end."

"Do we at least know if it's a man or a woman?"

"Now, we do have something there. There were several of them, men and women. They were, uh, born in Europe."

"Phfff, I guess that's something." Emily turned again to the hole in the wall. From the shape and size of the undamaged part, it was not possible for a complete corpse to be buried there. It would either be an urn with ashes, or just some bones. As for the part that was not undamaged, it looked as if something or someone had excavated the concrete deep into the wall. "Where does this go?"

"I don't know yet. I asked for a drone, but they are still processing my request."

"That doesn't help… Wait." With her head stuck inside the hole, Emily stood still for a moment, and then spoke: "I think I see something, help me up."

Fred moved to her side and clasped both hands together about halfway between the hole and the floor. Emily used them as a stool to reach into the crypt and grab something with her hand. She struggled to pull the thing out, as it was stuck in the broken concrete, but when she did, she showed it to her partner.

He looked perplexed at her.

"Don't fuck with me, is that…?"

"Yes, it is," she said. "Whoever dug that hole, whoever dug through the concrete… They did it with their hands." She concluded. "This is a fingernail. A human fingernail."

"Gross," he said. "So what are we talking about? Did someone with superhuman strength come down there and steal the remains of a random person, without taking advantage of having broken into a goddamn MI666 building? Come on, that doesn't make sense."

"You're right, Fred." Emily's face was worried. "I don't think it happened like that. Take a look at the hole; I'd say that someone with superhuman strength climbed out."

Fred stared at her.

"Are you talking about an undead? A zombie?"

"Given the things we've been running into lately, I wouldn't be surprised to see one of those out there."

"But it was just ashes!" Fred raised his voice, and it echoed down the hallway. "Or a couple of bones at most, and only God knows how long they've been here."

"Whatever it was, it regenerated and went out to stretch its legs. It probably pushed the plate as it reformed, then dug upwards so as not to risk being seen."

"You're assuming that thing was smart."

"Or it was guided by someone, I don't know. Speaking of the plate, I don't think your theory about a random person is correct," Emily bent down to turn over the marble plate. It was heavier than she thought. When she did, she was able to read the name of the deceased: 'Unknown. Found in 1950, died in the 14th century.' "Not very enlightening," however, when she looked up, she saw the same thing written in another crypt on the wall. And another, and another.

All the crypts on the scene read the same.

"Perhaps it will be enlightening," said Fred. Emily stood up.

"What the hell happened in the fourteenth century?" she asked.

"The thing that killed everyone in this section," he replied, "The Black Death."

"But it was just a disease, nothing anomalous, it wasn't our problem to take care of the dead."

"No, it wasn't our problem per se."


"The Necroplague was our problem."

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