DISCLAIMER: Nikki & Nora are the property of Nancylee Myatt and Warner Bros. Television. No infringement intended.
CHALLENGE: Written for the 48 Hour Halloween Challenge.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

The Tale of the Missing Corpse
By Ann


"You want to run that by me again, Charlie." Nora sat up in bed and glanced over at her still sleeping lover.

"Please don't make me repeat it, Nora. It was bad enough the first time." Charlie rubbed his neck and stared at the empty slab.

"How in the world could a body just disappear from the morgue? Somebody had to have seen something." Nora's voice increased in volume, and Nikki rolled towards the sound, snuggling against her lover's hip.

"Whattsthe matter, Nora? Isssit the Spencer's dog howling at the moon again?" Nikki directed her slurred words towards her lover.

Nora quickly slid her hand over the receiver, hoping Charlie hadn't heard Nikki's voice. She attempted to shush her partner. "It's nothing, Nikki. Go back to sleep."

With eyes still closed tightly, Nikki smiled and rolled onto her back, almost immediately drifting back into slumber. Nora waited a moment before carefully crawling from the bed. She glanced at Nikki once more before moving into the bathroom and pulling the door to.

"Sorry, Charlie, false alarm; I thought I heard someone at the door. Now, back to the problem at hand; how is it possible for someone to steal Jason Martin's body?"

"If I knew that Nora, I wouldn't be calling you, now would I?"

"Damn it, Charlie; how can there be a murder investigation if there's no body? The jury really likes to know that the deceased is actually well…deceased. Please tell me you've got detailed notes of the autopsy."

"Um, well, funny that you mention autopsy, Nora." Charlie chuckled nervously.

Nora lowered the seat on the toilet and plopped down. She ran her free hand through her hair. "Oh no . . . no, no, no. Don't tell me that you hadn't performed the autopsy?"

Charlie hesitated for a moment, deciding vague would be good. "I was just getting ready to start when I noticed the body was gone."

Nora frowned. She'd glanced at the clock's display when Charlie had first called. "It's almost midnight. Why are you just getting started?"

"Um, funny thing about that, too." Charlie knew he should've come up with a better excuse for waiting so late to autopsy the body. Nora always pressed him further when she wasn't satisfied with his answers.

"I can promise you I haven't found any humor in anything you've said thus far, so I'm fairly certain that won't change. Just spit it out, would you?"

"It's Halloween." Charlie returned to the land of vague.

"Is that supposed to mean something?" Nora started her full court press.

"It's kind of a tradition amongst my old med school friends to perform an autopsy at the stroke of midnight on Halloween."

"And just where did you go to med school – Frankenstein Academy? Ghosts R' Us? Zombie's School of Late Night Autopsies?" Nora stood and started to pace.

"Very funny, Nora. You know damn well I went to Tulane."

Nora stopped in front of the closed door. "Charlie, we've got to find that body before day shift. Start combing the lab, and I'll be there as soon as I can."

"Okay, Nora. Just press the buzzer, and I'll let you in."

Nora didn't reply; she simply cut the connection and opened the door. She started at finding Nikki, standing just outside. "Jeez, Nikki; you scared the crap out of me." She held her hand over her heart to emphasize her fright.

"What were you doing in the bathroom for so long? Are you sick?" Nikki stepped forward and placed her hand on her lover's forehead. "You're flushed."

"You'd be flushed, too, if you found out your victim's body has suddenly disappeared."

Nikki frowned. "What are you talking about?"

Nora held up the phone. "Charlie just called. Jason Martin's body is missing."

"Missing? As in, someone stole the body?"

"Yeah, and now, I've got to go find out what happened." Nora walked over and grabbed her jeans from the chair. She didn't bother taking off her boxers; she just stepped into the pants.

"You mean us; we've got to figure out what's happened. Although, I have a hunch someone stole it as a Halloween prank. He's probably sitting on a park bench somewhere with a cigar stuck in his mouth." Nikki headed towards the closet.

"I hate Halloween." Nora slid on her shirt. "I'm going to arrest their ass if I find them." Stepping into her boots, Nora turned to hurry her lover.

Fifteen minutes later, they were standing outside the morgue, waiting for Charlie to open the door electronically. Nikki tilted her head in thought. "Nora, do you remember those strange marks on Jason Martin's neck?"

Nora glanced at her partner and then back to the closed door. "You mean those weird puncture wounds? I thought we'd decided that someone stabbed him repeatedly with that ice pick we found nearby. It was covered in blood, remember?"

The door buzzed, and Nikki reached for the knob. "Yes, but don't you think it's weird the marks were so evenly spaced apart. That took precision."

"Yeah, I guess we're looking for someone with good mechanical skills." Nora shrugged and followed her lover into the hallway.

"Or, it could've been a vampire." Nikki increased her stride, moving ahead of Nora with a slight smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.

Nora hurried to catch up. "Not funny, Nikki." She really hated Halloween.

Charlie met the pair outside the doors of the autopsy room. "There's neither hide nor hair of him, Nora. I can't understand who could've taken him."

"I've never liked that expression." Nora grumbled, pushing the doors to the room open. She stepped into the sterile-looking environment and moved towards the drawers on the far end. "Which drawer was he in, Charlie?"

Pushing forward, Charlie stopped in front of the center drawer. "Here. I'd put him in earlier this afternoon, and well, you know the rest." He reached for the handle and started to open the drawer.

"Are you sure you didn't get the drawers mixed up?" Nora moved her attention to the other drawers.

"Yes, his was the only body in the morgue. I always put the first body in the center drawer."

"Well, I think I'll check just the same." Nora began to open the different drawers and peer inside. She stumbled backwards, almost falling, when a rather bloody-looking corpse stared back at her. "I thought you said Martin was the only body in here."

Charlie took on a sheepish look. "Sorry, Nora; I forgot to warn you about Joseph."

Nikki moved next to her lover. "Who's Joseph?" She grimaced at the hacked-up corpse.

"The first victim of the Axeman of New Orleans." Charlie stepped next to the couple as the three stared down at the dismembered corpse.

Despite her uneasiness at the situation, Nora moved closer and deadpanned, "He looks remarkably well for a man that's been dead almost a century. My brothers used to scare the shit out of me with Axeman stories."

"Oh, I remember those stories. We used to tell them at slumber parties when I was growing up." Nikki reached out to poke the life-like dummy. "I can't believe they never found him."

The memory of a particularly gruesome Axeman story had Nora abruptly pushing the door closed. "The NOPD back then may not have found their killer, but we're damned sure going to find out victim." Ready to continue her search, Nora took Nikki by the arm and led her from the room.

"Why do you think Charlie keeps a dummy of the first Axeman victim in the morgue?" Nikki wasn't quite ready to let go of the Axeman discussion.

"Who knows? Maybe he keeps it as a reminder not to let another killer go free." Nora headed for the storage lockers. "We've got more pressing problems at the moment, Nikki. Do you think we can talk about it later?"

"Okay, I'll just ask Charlie about it tomorrow. Besides, we've got a vampire to catch."

Nora groaned aloud, and Nikki let out a chuckle as she trudged alongside her lover in their continued search for the missing corpse. A half hour later, the two women headed back to the autopsy room.

"I can't believe there aren't any clues; no sign of a break-in, no sign of an inside job, and no sign of Martin." Nora sunk into the desk chair in the corner of the room.

Nikki perched herself on the edge of the desk. "It's like he just disappeared into thin air." A smile formed on her lips. "Or, maybe, he turned into a bat and flew out of here under the radar."

"Enough of the vampire talk, Nikki; someone took the body."

"You're right, Nora." Charlie stepped into the room and walked over to the two women. "I just got off the phone with Johnson, and I finally got him to admit that he'd pulled a little Halloween prank on me."

"What kind of prank?" Nora pushed to her feet and moved around the desk.

"He hid the body and planned to put it back at the beginning of shift. He wanted to make me think that Martin had got up and walked out."

"Why would you think that and not that someone had just come in and taken the body instead?" Nikki stood and moved beside Nora.

"Um, well, you see . . ."

"Charlie, it's late, and we're all very tired. Would you please just get on with it?" Nora was more than ready for the night to end.

Charlie shuffled his feet. "I'm assuming you gals noticed the marks on Martin's neck." He waited for the set of twin nods. "Okay, well, when Johnson was putting him in the drawer, he called me over to inspect the strange wounds. Our imagination kind of took off, and it's Halloween and all, so, we um, sort of, um . . ."

"Made the comment that he might turn into a vampire at dusk?" Nikki finished the stuttering coroner's thought.

"Exactly." Charlie smiled at Nikki.

"So, what made Johnson decide to come clean?" Nora shook her head at the idiotic idea of Martin becoming a vampire.

"I told him that if we didn't find the body that you'd be riding our ass for the next year."

Nikki laughed. "Yep, that'd do it."

"Ha-ha, very funny; now, where'd Johnson put the body?"

Charlie grinned and headed for the drawer containing the Axeman's dummy. He grabbed hold of the handle and pulled on the drawer until it was fully extended. Martin's body lay directly behind the Axeman's. Nora shook her head.

"It was right in front of us the entire time."

"Yeah, Johnson really got me this time. I'm going to have to think of something to get back at him next year." Charlie's wheels had already begun to turn, but Nora brought them to a screeching halt.

"You two keep your fun and games to yourself next year; otherwise, I'm going to make your life as miserable as I can for as long and as often as I can."

"Gotcha, Nora." Charlie made a mental note to keep the pranks within the confines of the morgue. "Now, could you two help me move Mr. Martin back to his drawer?" Charlie reached for an empty gurney.

Nora moved to one side of the body, and between the three of them, they easily slid the body onto the gurney, and then onto the slab. They took just a moment to stare down at the corpse.

"Those wounds do look weird." Charlie had to keep himself from reaching out and touching the raised marks.

"Yeah, and he's so pale; almost like the blood's been drained from his body." Nikki nodded in agreement with the coroner.

"Would you two stop it? Yes, the wounds are weird, but an ice pick is an unusual weapon, and yes, he is rather pale, but for God's sake, he's dead; of course, he's pale!" Nora had had enough of the vampire references. The whole thing was starting to weird her out.

"Sorry, Nora. I think we're all just a little on the tired side." Nikki picked up on her lover's vibes and tried to calm her somewhat. When she got Nora home, she'd be able to calm her much more efficiently. Nikki smiled at the thought.

"Um, Nora? Do you think it'd be okay if I performed the autopsy after I've gone home and caught a little shut-eye?" Charlie pushed the drawer closed, and the threesome turned towards the door.

"Yeah, I guess so. I don't think Martin's going anywhere else tonight."

Reaching for the lights, Charlie flipped the switch and hurried after the two ladies. Behind the closed center drawer of the now silent autopsy room, a set of eyes snapped open, emitting a red glow in the darkness of the sealed chamber.

The End

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