3. LONGSHANKS

3. LONGSHANKS

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
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A surprise a minute in the pathologist's lab....

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By the end of the day the battered and bleeding and definitely immobile body of Farmer Spiky had been carted off and was now lying on the cold, white slab in the pathologist Longshanks’ mortuary. And that pathologist, all long arms and longer legs and an even longer tail, licked his lips appreciatively

Longshanks, had he been known by the human population who never went anywhere near the vast area of forest in which Spiky and a host of other inhabitants dwelt, would have been called a Spider Monkey, a name he would have found grievously offensive because in his own mind he was neither a spider nor a monkey as such. He was a scientist, an expert in the ways of flesh and bones, and as bright as a very bright silver button, and he had the best tail in the forest.

And above all, he was a pathologist.

He had spent years studying pathology, had scores of books on the ways of flesh and what can harm it, and his one dream had always been that he would have an actual dead body to investigate. It was a dream rather than a reality because life in the forest was so peaceful the only dead bodies anywhere near had belonged to people who passed away quite normally, of old age or illness, and illness was rarer than hens’ teeth. And even rarer was the unexplained and obviously violent demise of a fit and healthy farmer. Such things never happened in the forest and he felt privileged to be attending on this unique and clearly dead corpse.

It was giving Longshanks the chance of a lifetime.

“I will need him on the slab,” he said in a perfunctory sort of way, unnecessarily because the farmer was already on the marble slab that was in the middle of the laboratory.

“What are you going to do?” asked Elflight, who was already feeling too squeamish for a senior police officer to admit to.

“Open him up, of course,” grinned Longshanks with a humorously macabre expression on his face.

That made Elflight go pale, and even Prickly, who was with him by request, shuddered.

“Can’t you see what’s wrong with the poor fellow without subjecting him to that sort of indignity?” asked Elflight, “I mean, can’t you see where he was bludgeoned by something heavy and wooden? Can’t you see the splinters of the weapon, whatever it was, in his skin? Can’t you, in fact, confirm that as the cause of death without delving about in his innards?”

“What? With all the spines he was so proud of wearing getting in the way?” asked Longshanks, “there’s no way I can see anything of any significance with them in the way. So I’ll have to make an incision...” and he waved a scalpel in the air inches from police chief Elflight’s nose, “...and take a good old fashioned peep at what’s going on inside.”

“You will?” stammered Elflight.

“Of course! What is it? Are you feeling a little fragile? Too much good wine last night, eh? I’ve heard you elf-fellows are fond of the red stuff that flows out of human territory and into your cellars without a farthing of tax being paid!”

“I never touch...” began Elflight, and he paused as Longshanks pulled the white sheet that covered Farmer Spiky’s motionless corpse and revealed the body beneath it.

The farmer, thought Longshanks, was rightly proud of his array of sharp and rather beautiful spines. A pity, he thought, that he was dead.

Then he shivered as the pathologist, very carefully and deliberately, started cutting into the motionless figure on his slab. And then, having shivered, the police chief felt his whole world dissolving into a monochrome mush of insensibility, and in the most spectacular slow motion he sank to the floor.

“I thought it,” muttered Longshanks with a mirthless grin on his face as he concentrated, gently but firmly pulling the blade from the farmer’s nave and up towards his chin. “The man’s lily-livered,” he added as a diagnosis of the policeman’s sudden stillness.

“It’s the sight of blood,” explained Prickly, “and to tell the truth I feel a little feeble myself...”

And with that he, too collapsed in a heap onto the floor of the mortuary.

“No character!” growled Longshanks, “no staying power. Feeble critters, the pair of them,” and he whisked his singularly large tail behind him, and dislodged a jar of something puce that was too close to the edge of a shelf behind him. And that jar, tippling and toppling over until it was on its side, emptied its glutinous puce contents onto the corpse on the table.

“That’ll sort him!” giggled the pathologist because he knew what was in the jar, having made it himself as a cure for hiccups. “that’s mighty powerful stuff, that is!”

And it must have been.

For the corpse on the table opened its eyes and stirred and said, in a voice wrought from the deepest kind of shocked surprise, “what’s going on here, then? Where am I and why am I … bleeding?”

“Dead bodies don’t bleed...” murmured the pathologist, and he became unexpectedly aware of the same monochrome sludge that both Prickly and Longshanks had momets earlier, and joined them in a lethargic heap on the floor.

© Peter Rogerson 05.10.18



© 2018 Peter Rogerson


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Added on October 5, 2018
Last Updated on October 5, 2018
Tags: pathologist, spider monkey, police chief, post mortem


Author

Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom



About
I am 76 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..

Writing