Thursday, 8 September 2016
Shibboleth - Flash Fiction
He charged five bucks a head. Frat pledgers, his fellow medical students of course, criminology majors who wanted to experience something beyond dry textbook case law and the freaks, voyeurs and pervs and drunks on a dare. Didn’t matter what their motivation, they all behaved so predictably around the cadavers. So unimaginatively. Posed in tableaus non-vivant they credited would demarcate them as animate set against the lifeless. Asking him to snap shots on their phones, you don’t get red eye from the dead that’s how you tell the difference. Though their mouths were smiling, their flesh betrayed them with lines and rucks of tension as against the smooth, unpinched mound of the dead. Emboldened, drunker or lightheaded from the embalming fumes, then they became more outrageous and yet more trite. More base. They started playing with the appendages. Dreary little skits and mockeries of sex. He wanted to charge them an extra five for the privilege but deferred seeing how ramped up they were. He merely issued a plea that these snapshots remain private and never see the light of day. No matter what the degradation heaped upon the corpses, they still bore more dignity than their abusers.
He now a fully qualified doctor of the flesh. Yet he was present as a medical officer not to heal, rather to insure that the ‘correctives’ left no visible sign of injury. He had to advise on when certain instruments and techniques threatened to leave their imprint on skin and how to forestall that. After all even in this secure facility, loose cameraphones could sink ships. But what he hadn’t reckoned on was a reprise of the tableaus from his past. Only this time with still living flesh. And this was not downtime activity, but part of the interrogative process. The torturers recreated mounds of human carrion with the living prisoners and asked him to snapped shots of themselves manhandling the breathing carcasses with the same scorn as those back at school did with the lifeless. He’d say their scenarios were no less vapid and asinine than with the corpses, but this was qualitatively different. This time he would not be charging a viewing fee. And he took the photos that he snapped and leaked them at the first opportunity.