A/N: This appears to be the first Perfect Creature fic on this site. Not very surprising, given that this seems to be a fandom of one at the moment, but I'm sure there are others out there and if any happen to find this, I hope you enjoy my humble fic for a very under-rated movie. This is a completed, three chapter story, and I will be posting the next chapters one a day. It's also my first published fic, and I am very curious to hear what people think of it, so please review! I would also like to note that this is best read slowly.
A Death in the Family
One – Puerperal Fever
The electric lights flickered and hummed gently. They were a new installation, perhaps. Many parts of the city were still running on gas, only a few had made the change to electric. Places like the morgue, below ground, needed it.
Silus watched the light change, shadow and light intermingling. Flickering. The door in front of him was plain, wooden, a rippled glass window bearing the lonely inscription: MORGUE. It opened quite suddenly and a small man came out, middle-aged, rusty-haired, a lined face that looked like it was normally smiling. His nametag read "Collins". Silus stood.
The man nodded nervously, indicating the open door. Silus stepped through it.
It was a modest room, tiled floor to ceiling in plain white tiles. Steel gurneys lined a far wall, draped in empty sheets. The small man named Collins walked to a wall of shiny metal doors. He checked the name plates on the front and chose a door, pulling it open. It was a drawer. He pulled the tray out.
"Here she is," he said rather anxiously.
Silus stared down at the corpse.
"I say, you're not from the Holy Office, are you?" Collins asked.
"Right. We just, er, don't get many Brothers down here. Not a Church matter, is it?" he said nervously.
"No. She was my mother," Silus said.
"Oh. I see," the man said. He stood awkwardly. He had a pleasant voice, one that would have been cheerful under different circumstances, in a different place. This, however, was rather beyond his normal routine.
The dead woman was waxy looking, pallid. She was still in the hospital gown she had died in, although she had died hours before. Her eyes were open, frosted over like dead fish eyes. Silus moved a hand to close them.
"How did she die?" he asked quietly.
"Complications from pneumonia," Collins said gently. Brothers always made him nervous, but he felt this situation called for a certain tact.
Silus closed his eyes briefly. The man wondered if he was praying, and then wondered if he should leave him alone for a moment.
"May I see her chart, please?" Silus asked.
Collins moved to a desk in the corner and rummaged through the untidy stacks of papers and forms for the right chart. Silus reached for the dead woman's hand. It was cold and hard. He tried to feel for her last few moments, but there was nothing. A corpse offered no memories.
The man returned with the correct chart. He handed the papers to the Brother, careful not to touch his fingers. The forms were yellowed with age, dry and brittle. The morgue director had filled in the information with blue ink, his handwriting scratchy. Silus saw her name and date of birth. The date of death was earlier that day, next to it her age filled in carelessly: 57. She was young even by their standards. He looked down at the face, so familiar, yet so strange. Hints of it remained from the memories of his childhood, but they had been distorted by the long years and sentiment. In his mind her features were younger, softer, fuzzy around the edges, perhaps. He wished he could keep that image. But there was still a trace of youth, a small hint of life around the wrinkled eyes. Life had beaten her down, but she had been beautiful.
There was nothing else of interest on her chart. He handed it back to Collins, who shuffled back to his desk to file it away again. Silus stood by the body, motionless, his expression impenetrable.
"It must have been a great comfort for her to have a son in the Church," Collins offered.
Silus looked up. It was hard to read his expression, but the man thought he looked sad—devastated, even. He always found it difficult to read Brothers, and this one was more inscrutable than most. He looked young, barely older than his own son, although Collins knew the Brother was probably older than himself.
"Two, actually," Silus said.
"Fancy that! Now that's unusual," the man replied. He couldn't tell if his words had any effect. The Brother continued to stare in that unnerving way only they could, not cold or empty, but strangely un-human.
"Did she suffer?" Silus asked abruptly.
"Er…I'm afraid I don't know. I just get the bodies sent to me, Brother—?"
"Brother Silus. But pneumonia… it was probably not, er, very prolonged," he finished rather lamely.
"Yes. There are worse ways to die in this world," Silus said. Collins did not know what to add to that.
Silus touched the dead woman's hand once more and closed his eyes. The man named Collins shivered as he watched him, grateful for the first time that he wasn't a Brother.
"Thank you for your time," Silus said finally. He moved away from the body, his mother, and Collins nodded, covering the corpse with a sheet.
Silus walked out the morgue door, his footsteps too quiet to be human.
A/N: Next chapter tomorrow!