The door labeled MORGUE swung open on silent hinges and we
quickly slipped through before the two lovers came back out and discovered
Beyond the door was a short corridor that led to another door. This one
had a small window set into it. I followed Winterhawk to the door, in no
hurry to enter the morgue itself. Dead bodies didn't bother me, but the
thought of the antiseptic, clinical process of cutting them up and examining
them didn't make me too anxious to see it in action. "Coming?" 'Hawk asked
again. At my nod, he pushed open the second door.
The morgue at Redmond General Hospital was large and well lit, something I
didn't expect. For some reason, I thought we'd see a rather small, cramped
room with inadequate light provided by flickering candles or naked bulbs
swinging from the ceiling. I knew this was silly, but I guess I'd just been
watching too many mad-scientist movies on the trid lately.
The room was about five meters by ten. A door on the far side led off to
another room (an office, I figured, from the door's glass upper portion).
The long wall directly opposite the door from which we'd entered the room
was dominated by a series of small closed cubicles, sort of like what you'd see
at a coffin hotel. Except, of course, that these were really coffins.
Or rather, the place where the dead bodies were stored in refrigerated
cubbyholes until their turn to be examined or released or whatever. Sort of
In the center of the room were two tables. The near one was empty; I could
see that the tabletop was made of smooth stainless steel, tilted slightly
at one end with a drain in the other. The second table, identical to the
first, was occupied. The two people standing at the table looked up, surprised,
as we entered.
"Can we help you?" one inquired. He was human, small and mousy, probably
about 40 or so. Dressed in scrub suit, rubber apron, gloves, and face
mask, he held a scalpel in his right hand. The second person at the table
was an ork, dressed similarly to the human except that he had a pocket secretary
in his hand instead of a scalpel. Both of them were standing over the body
of an ork male, which was naked except for a white drape over his privates.
I swallowed nervously when I noticed that they were in the midst
of their work.
'Hawk nodded, oblivious to the grotesque procedure going on in front of
us. "Yes, I think you can," he said, approaching the table. I followed, but
didn't want to. My eyes were drawn to the dead ork: his chest had been neatly
sliced open in a Y-shaped pattern and his upper ribcage had been removed,
exposing his internal organs to the world. I gritted my teeth and concentrated
on the face of the human doctor. "We're looking for someone," 'Hawk continued.
The human spread his hands and smiled. "I'm afraid we don't get many
visitors down here."
"How did you get down here?" the ork asked. "Nobody's supposed to be
here without a good reason."
"We have a good reason," 'Hawk said. "As I said, we're looking for
someone. One of yourahclients, or so we hear."
The human doctor looked hard at Winterhawk. "You know," he said slowly,
"There are procedures you need to go through for that. You're not with Lone
Star, are you?"
I shook my head. "No, we're not. We think somebody, somebody dead, was
sent here, and we need to verify that he's really dead."
"This is highly irregular" the doctor began.
"Doctor," 'Hawk said, "We just want to look. Nothing more. If you'll just
answer a couple of questions for us, we'll be out of here in no time."
The human doctor sighed. "All right. Depending on the questions, of course."
He indicated the ork on the table. "Do you mind if I continue with my work
while we talk? I'm a little behind schedule today."
"Not at all," Winterhawk said pleasantly. I could have punched him. He
moved a little closer to the table, while I stayed where I was. "First, how
many bodies do you have here?"
"Right now?" At 'Hawk's nod, he said, "Right now, six. As you can see, we
have the capacity for twenty-four, but we don't often get that many."
"And that includes this gentleman here?" he asked, indicating the ork.
The doctor nodded. "Yes. He came in last night. We suspect he died of a
heart attack, but we have to make sure." Carefully, he inserted the scalpel
into the ork's chest cavity and began his dissection. I busied myself
examining the doors to the storage units, trying to ignore the noises
coming from what the doctor was doing. I noticed that each storage unit had
a small light on its door: five of them glowed green, and the others were all dark.
One of the doors was open; I could see the flat slab inside was empty,
and figured the guy on the table must have been in there until recently.
"Have you had any humans lately?" 'Hawk was asking.
"The person you're looking for's a human?" the ork in the scrub suit said.
"Yeah," I said, glad to have something to occupy my attention. I described
"Hmm..." the doctor said. "I don't recall anyone like that, but I usually
don't see the bodies until we begin the autopsies. They're kept in body
bags inside those refrigerated units."
"Do you mind if we have a look?" 'Hawk asked, almost apologetically. "If he
is here, we need to have proof. That means we have to see for ourselves."
"That's against procedure," the ork said. "Besides, like the doc said, we're
running late. We're never gonna get done if we take the time to check out all
"Yes, I understand," Winterhawk said, reaching into his inner pocket and
coming up with two hundred-nuyen bills. I sighedmore profits gone. But
it was better than beating people up. "I realize this will take some
time from your busy schedule, but it would mean a great deal to us. Our
employer would like to know what became of our friend."
The doctor and the ork looked at each other uncertainly. It was pretty
obvious that their sense of duty was fighting the chance to make a little easy
money for doing nothing more than showing us a few bodies. "Well," the human
finally said, "I suppose we can make an exception"
"Just this once," the ork agreed.
Winterhawk handed them the money, and the ork stepped away from the table. "I'll
show 'em, Jack," he said. "No need to take you away too."
We followed the ork over to the refrigerated drawers. "The green ones have
bodies in them," he said, verifying my guess. He pulled open the first drawer,
and a cloud of cold foggy air came rolling out. The slab contained a body zipped
up in a black body bag with a tag attached to the zipper. The ork looked at the
tag. "This one's human," he said. He unzipped the bag, pulling it away from the
body's face. "This him?"
We both looked at the body. It was that of a young man, probably not out
of his teens. He looked Hispanic or Amerind. Part of the side of his head had
been blown away by a gunshot wound. Ganger, most likely. I'd seen wounds like
that before. Winterhawk shook his head. "No, that's not him." He sounded
disappointed. I could understand thatit seemed like we were chasing this
Tommy guy, dead or alive, across half of Seattle. It was getting damned
frustrating. "Let's go on to the next one."
The next three drawers contained another Hispanic teen (probably a gang
buddy of the first one, I thought with some regret), an elderly human
male, and a young male troll. "Guess your friend's not here," the ork said.
"What about the last one?" I asked, pointing to the remaining green-lit
"That one's a woman. You don't want to see her," he said.
"Why not?" 'Hawk asked.
"They brought her in last night. Found her tangled up in some weeds near
the Sound. They figure she'd been there for a couple weeks."
I nodded, preparing to leave, but Winterhawk said, "Humor us, please. Just
in case the tags got mixed up or something. We were assured that he was here,
and if this isn't he, then something's very much amiss."
The ork sighed, glanced over at the doctor, who shrugged and nodded, absorbed
in weighing and examining something disgusting from inside the dead body. "Are
you sure this is necessary?" I asked 'Hawk.
"Where's your curiosity?" he whispered back.
"Curiosity. Cats. Long history of bad association," I muttered.
The ork, who was either ignoring us or who hadn't heard us, said, "Okay. You
asked for it." He opened the drawer and pulled it out, checking the tag.
He unzipped the body bag, pulled it aside, and stood back.
This wasn't Tommy. I assured myself of that in a two-second glance and
then looked quickly away. The woman's skin was greenish and missing in spots;
her hair was stringy and limp. "Zip it up," I said. 'Hawk didn't argue.
The ork zipped up the bag and shoved the slab back into the hole, slamming
the door shut. "Sorry, but I guess your friend's not here."
Winterhawk sighed. "Where could he be, then?" he asked nobody in particular.
Wandering back over to where the doctor was continuing his autopsy, he
asked, "Are there any other morgues in this hospital?"
The doctor shook his head, dropping the dead man's liver into a hanging scale
and noting the weight on his pocket secretary. "This is the only one."
"What about other doctors doing autopsies down here?"
"Sure," the doctor said. "There's a night shift. But they won't be in until
around 2100 tonight."
"What about records?" I asked. "Autopsy reports. You must keep records of
who you did, right?"
"Autopsy reports are confidential," said the ork. "Nothing we can do about
that. We'd get in big trouble if we got caught showing 'em to anybody."
"All right, then," Winterhawk said as if talking to himself. "We don't really
need to see the autopsy reports. But what's done with the bodies, once they're
The doctor stopped his work momentarily. "They're released to the family for
burial, or whatever they do with 'em."
"What if the person has no family?" I asked. "Our friend's a street person.
Didn't have any money."
"Oh. Then they'd get sent to Simmons," the doctor said. "For cremation,
"Simmons?" 'Hawk asked as he and I looked at each other.
"Yeah. It's a funeral home. They've got some kind of contract with the
city to take care of bodies of indigent people. Usually they get cremated. If
we don't have anybody to release 'em to, that's where they go."
Again, Winterhawk and I looked at each other. "One more question," he said,
"And then we'll be on our way."
"What is it?" The doctor was starting to look a little impatient now.
"Can you just check to see if someone matching Tommy's description was sent
to Simmons last night?"
The doctor sighed. "You know, you really are keeping me from my work. Do
you promise to leave if I check for you?"
"Absolutely," 'Hawk said. "It would mean a lot to us...and our friend."
Again, the doctor sighed. Muttering under his breath, he went into his
office and turned on his terminal. He punched something in, waited a moment,
then punched in something else. "Here we go," he said. "This sounds right.
White male, age approximately 23-25, brown hair, blue eyes, transferred to
Simmons early this morning. Looks like you just missed him."
"Cause of death: head wound?" I asked.
He checked. "Yes. Exactly." Standing, he snapped the computer off. "Now if
you gentlemen will excuse me, I'm getting further behind in my work."
He left the office and headed back over to the table without another word
to us. I don't think he or his ork assistant even saw us leave.