SHADOW

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CHAPTER 20

LATER THAT NIGHT at the hospital, after the tension had waned and the parents of the deceased had gone home with botched hopes and dreams, one of the attendants who was to prepare the body for transfer to the morgue entered the room where the remains of Alan Prince lay on the bed.

She was going about the task meticulously yet casually, when she stopped suddenly and straightened up. For a moment, she could have sworn she’d perceived a subtle twitching of the left eyelid of the vic; so small and indecipherable a movement in fact, that it was a wonder how she caught it in the split-second it lasted.

She stared uncertainly at the body, at the eyelids in particular, for a few seconds more to be sure her mind wasn’t messing with her. The morgue is believed to be an uncanny, fear-evoking place where all kinds of things happen, especially when there was a body around. Many morgue attendants thus had the characteristic habits of wearing crucifix and other religious paraphernalia for ‘spiritual covering’ while others routinely consulted with mediums for protection.

While fetishes like these may be termed superstitions and laughable, a lot of hospital workers, especially those working the night shift, had varying accounts of weird, ghostly events that transpired after dark.

Presently, the attendant eased up after a while, though nervously, and decided nothing was amiss about the body on the bed. But anyways, with her years of working around corpses, she’d known it was not out of place for a body to move suddenly. As many physicians and morticians would confirm, it was in fact common for a dead body to twitch or jerk, especially during the first few hours of death. A number of reasons which had scientific explanations could account for that.

Because the attendant knew this by heart, she decided to and go back to what she’d been doing. A moment later, she was done and left the room without a second look at the body. Then about thirty minutes later, she was back to retrieve her notepad which she’d left on the table beside the body.

That was when she noticed, to her utter bewilderment, a thin trail of water on the forehead of the corpse. She froze on the spot and leaned closer to be quite sure of what she was seeing.

Sweat?

While a sudden movement in a corpse could be explained medically, the auxiliary worker wondered in awe about what she was looking at just then.

It was unbelievable.

Because dead bodies do not sweat, do they?

The young woman paused, searching in her head to draw from her past experiences and education, for any mention of corpses breaking out in sweat. Perhaps it was plausible, and there was also a scientific explanation for it. But she found no remote references or mention of such.

Naturally, the body temperature drops to below zero after death; that explained the characteristic coldness of corpses. Sweating, on the other hand, was an indication of warmth, which would imply presence of life.

The woman gasped nervously. She was petrified as she was apprehensive.

Then she reached out, slowly and cautiously, and touched the body as lightly as she could with just the tips of her fingers. She started, recoiled and shrank back in horror. Her eyes seemed to pop, her jaws hung wide.

This was not possible!

It was…bizarre!

The body was indeed warm, even burning up, like someone with fever!

The boy was alive!

Alan Prince, by a stroke of an unfathomable, inexplicable occurrence, had come back to life nearly seven hours after his lifeless body was fetched from the river!

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