Don’t Fear the Reaper by Michelle Muto
Publisher: Dreamscapes, Ink
Series: Netherworld #1
Page Count: 251
Synopsis: Grief-stricken by the murder of her twin, Keely Morrison is convinced suicide is her ticket to eternal peace and a chance to reunite with her sister. When Keely succeeds in taking her own life, she discovers death isn’t at all what she expected. Instead, she’s trapped in a netherworld on Earth and her only hope for reconnecting with her sister and navigating the afterlife is a bounty-hunting reaper and a sardonic, possibly unscrupulous, demon. But when the demon offers Keely her greatest temptation—revenge on her sister’s murderer—she must uncover his motives and determine who she can trust. Because, as Keely soon learns, both reaper and demon are keeping secrets and she fears the worst is true—that her every decision will change how, and with whom, she spends eternity.
Author Bio:Michelle Mutto
Michelle Muto lives in northeast Georgia with her husband and two dogs. She loves changes of season, dogs, and all things geeky. Currently, she’s hard at work on her next book.
My mouth went dry. I was dead. Completely, irreversibly dead. If I needed a shot of reality, this was it.
Daniel glanced at me, the concern and softness seemed to have returned. Through some scrap of coherency, I nodded. Yes, I wanted to see it.
Tim pulled the drawer open, “The medical examiner will be here shortly. There’s an autopsy scheduled—drawer six, not you. Anyway, you’ve only got about five minutes, Keely.”
Daniel turned to me. “You okay with this?”
“I need to see,” I said, staring at the form draped under the sheet.
Daniel rested a hand on my arm. “You sure? You don’t look so well.”
I forced a smile. “I don’t look so well because I’m dead.”
He shook his head. “I’m sorry. We shouldn’t have come here.”
“I need to see, Daniel. I’m good. Really.” And I did need to see.
“Five minutes,” Tim reminded me. “Place the sheet over the body and slide the door shut when you’re done. We can’t have anyone walking in and finding the drawers open and you won’t be able to close them once the medical examiner arrives.”
I nodded. “Yeah. Sure. No problem.”
“Liar,” Daniel said. “You’re gonna make one hell of a demon, Sunshine.”
He and Tim walked through the doors, leaving me alone.
I walked toward drawer number nine, listening to the rapid breathing echoing in my ears, feeling the cold draft from the cooler raise the flesh on my skin. It felt like a horror movie. In the surrounding quiet, I heard my heartbeat spiking in my chest and my runaway imagination heard another, louder heartbeat from under the sheet. My hand extended in front of me and I watched as it pulled back the sheet.
This was where a horror flick derailed from real life. If this were some B movie, I’d scream as the body lying on the cold slab of drawer number nine opened its eyes. It wouldn’t be me, of course. It’d be the tortured and rotting body of my sister, the ligature marks around her neck caked with blood. The corpse would raise a broken, sheared finger at me, accusingly. It would tell me that I should have been with her, should have saved her.
But it was me.
Despite the cold temperature of the morgue refrigerator, I could detect a slight, rank undercurrent of odor.
I stared at my body. I’d come all this way, run off from Banning to find my sister. But, now, as I stood alone in this chilly room, I had a chance to explain to my decaying corpse why I’d taken my life. How that’d help, I didn’t know. Maybe it was like some sort of obligation, some sort of letting go. Maybe that’s why everyone else had gathered outside. This wasn’t making peace with death, I wouldn’t go that far. But it felt close. Resignation?
I brushed a hand across the arm of my corpse. It was smooth and cold, the skin still pliable to my touch. I wanted to apologize for never having graduated high school, gone to college or gotten a real job—all the things Jordan and I had talked about. I wanted to say I was sorry that I’d never move to another city, get an apartment. The list appeared endless. I was sorry that I would never get married, get a house, a dog, have kids.
Instead, I’d grown cold. One of my eyes was open—just a slit. The once mossy iris had turned a fetid, milky green.
Me. Not me.
I withdrew my hand. I didn’t need to catch my reflection in the surrounding stainless steel drawers to know the body inside drawer number nine wasn’t me. Not anymore. I was only seeing the waxy remains of what used to be me. The cadaver shared the same dark brown hair, the same angled face, same high cheekbones. But I had nothing else in common with the stiffened corpse lying before me. Lividity had settled in, speckling the skin near my back. Had my sister visited her own body, sitting and taking stock of her former life? Of what should have been? Had it been easier for her to just come see my corpse?
I wondered if Jordan was glad to be free of her body after what her murderer had done to her. She’d been here, too—in one of these compartments. Drawer number nine? Eight? Wherever Jordan was at this moment, she wasn’t here.
The only thing here now was death and decay. The past.
I placed the sheet over the corpse’s face, slid the drawer back into the cooler, and
closed drawer number nine with a solitary click.