It’s Marissa Flores. I’m writing you tonight because I couldn’t sleep. A year ago, you skipped away to wherever you are now. I hope one day you’ll see this, which is why I never say goodbye. I almost lost my job because of that night. I love being a cop, so that might have killed me.
Something happened after you left. I thought things couldn’t get any worse, but I was wrong. You two weren’t the last to show up here. We found more of your people, but they had a worse fate.
You see, a lot of homeless here aren’t as lucky as you were. Many of them die from exposure. I’ve had to call in a few myself when we were too late to help them. I was too late to help them.
If I’d had only found them before they died, maybe Billy wouldn’t have had to work on them. A coroner’s life is hard. They can wear out fast.
Billy started his job around the same time I started walking my beat. He was someone I looked forward to seeing. There aren’t many of those at this gig. He became a brother to me. I should have noticed his decline. I didn’t. Maybe I was too focused on a case or helping Jenny out with a case of her own. I was short-sighted either way.
One night, I got a call about a disturbance in an abandoned hotel. Maybe you remember the place. It was where Jenny and I confronted Sebastian. When we fought him, there was no rain, but on that night, when I walked into that hotel alone, it was pouring; Jenny couldn’t go back.
My first time there, the power was out. We were in such a rush we never even noticed the steel-gated, crank elevator. The elevator itself had been used because it wasn’t there, and I could either hear echoes of laughter, or crying, coming from floors above me. At first, the noise was faint. I would have thought climbing the stairs would have helped me hear it better, but it did not. The closer I got to the source, the tougher it was to know just what I heard.
Seeing the hotel in the light was strange. Some of the rooms had crumbled with time. Yet there were some rooms far more eerie than that, because those rooms seemed untouched. The curtains in those rooms seemed to wave at me. They welcomed me.
I stopped in the room where Jenny and I fought Sebastian, and lost. The lights worked perfectly fine, giving the room an unnerving, yellow glow. The carpet was crimson. The damage we did to the room — Sebastian did — was still there, turning the room into a sort of time capsule. Jenny’s blood was still on the wall from where Sebastian cracked her skull. Pieces of plaster still lay on the floor, reminding me of the pain I felt. The pain we all felt.
Billy’s din helped me continue, but I had to rip myself away from that room. It threatened to trap me in a place of despair that I hadn’t felt in a year.
Thunder clapped just outside, and it startled me. I don’t get scared easily, Indigo, but this hotel haunted me with my own memories.
Billy had built his laboratory in the hotel’s old dance hall. It smelled like formaldehyde, with a suggestion of rotting flesh. The floor was somehow still shiny. Billy was making the sounds I’d heard, all of them. He wasn’t laughing, but weeping. He was bent over a body. A dead body similar to yours, eternally young through magic, or science, or mischief.
I slowly walked over to the broken man.
“I preserved the organs. Hooked them up, and pumped him with adrenaline and electricity,” Billy told me. “I thought because they came from them, those perfect people, I could make something never seen before. I thought I could bring one back. Their organs were stronger, but the body I made couldn’t handle it.” He sniffled and scratched at his temples. “I did everything I could to match up the pieces, but it didn’t work.”
“I was so tired of death, Marissa. So exhausted,” he cried.
He didn’t look up at me.
Billy had reached the end of his rope. He had to deal with more death than any of us. Most of the people he’d met were dead. I was tired of death too. If I had Billy’s knowledge, maybe I’d have done what he did. Billy had thought your physiology, Sebastian’s physiology, could give life back to someone.
I placed my hand on his shoulder. “I’m here for you, Billy. No one has to know about this. I was called out for a disturbance, that’s all.”
He continued weeping over the cadaver he’d sewed together, and I didn’t blame him. He rarely got to see life, and death messed with him as it would mess with anyone.
Sometimes life can be too much, and it’s easy for us humans to judge each other for being weak. But I’ve been learning a difficult truth, lately. I think all of us are broken. Some of us just are better liars than others. Billy was honest in his brokenness. More honest than I’d ever been.
Something happened though, Indigo, that I haven’t been able to forget. Standing there, by Billy, I looked at the Creature’s face. Its eyes were closed, and it’d been dead for a couple days at least. The Creature’s eyes didn’t move, but I saw something. I’ve woken up in a cold sweat many times since. Something I haven’t even told Jenny about. What I saw, Indigo, was one, singular tear falling from the corner of its eye. I still see that tear.
Sean Lassiter is a Professional Writer who lives in Oklahoma. He knows things and he does things and he really likes to paint, with his main influences being Vincent Van Gogh and Bob Ross. Oh, and he likes to write and drink coffee.