An hour later, the medical examiner arrived. Mike Gibson was one of the two Assistant Chief MEs for Eric County. Being the lowest on the totem pole of three, he usually was the one on call during the night. Because of both of our skewed work hours, we got to see one another here and there, eventually getting to know the other better on a professional level. Mike was young, but he was remarkably good at his job. He had helped Buffalo on more than one occasion with mysterious deaths, getting to the truth and assisting physicians from a medical standpoint and assisting the police from a criminal standpoint.
The John Doe’s body, by that time, had been wheeled from the ED and down to the morgue where Mike would do the autopsy, so with little more than a nod at the security front desk, Mike had security escort him to the basement. Truly, he was learning his way around the hospital.
The remainder of my shift was turning out to be dead, so I continued to plague myself with that poor guy’s death despite both Julie’s and Mandi’s efforts, desperate to learn what I missed, what I could have done to save him.
It hadn’t been even fifteen minutes since Mike had arrived when the ED got a phone call. Jamie answered it, then looked over to me. “It’s for you. It’s Mike.”
Curious, I got out of my seat and took the receiver. “What is it, Mike?” I inquired.
“I’ve got something I think you should see on your John Doe,” was all he stated.
“Alright, I’ll be right there,” I told him, then hung the receiver up. I looked over to Brian, one of my PAs on duty with me. Actually, I had known Brian Gomez all the way back during our clinical rotations, the two of us working together many times. From that, we had learned that we shared similar passions in sports and writing. We tried to hang out on off time once in a while to catch up at a venue or have authorial jam sessions, however, what usually ended up happening was our hangout time wound up being on the clock time. “I’ve got to go down to the morgue. Think you can handle whatever comes up in the meantime?”
“No problema,” he answered, giving me his characteristic smirk. It never failed; he liked testing my rusty Spanish from time to time.
I let out a chuckle as I stood up from my seat, turning my gaze to Julie and Mandi also currently able to take seats and get off their weary feet. “If something comes up, page me and I’ll be right back. With that, I moved around the station, struck the large button mounted to the wall, then passed through the doors as they slowly unlocked and opened up.
I found myself in the autopsy room about five minutes later after navigating the dark and gloomy old corridors of the basement. Every time I ventured down into the basement, it felt like traversing the catacombs compared to the clean look of the floors above. It was dark, all the piping was exposed, and it always had a rather haunting air to it how it was so silent, yet any slight noise echoed throughout the corridors.
When I had walked into the autopsy room, Mike was standing by the doorway, anxiously awaiting my arrival. “Hi, Amelia,” he greeted me.
“Hi, Mike,” I answered, then glanced at the autopsy table. A white sheet was draped over the John Doe’s body, appearing undisturbed since being wheeled down to the morgue. “You haven’t even started?” I questioned with surprise, glancing back at him.
“There’ll be no need to, at least one for your purposes,” he replied. “Come, I’ll show you,” he then added, guiding me over to the table. As he stood near the head of the John Doe while I stood opposite him, he gently pulled back the sheet, exposing the young man’s head, neck, and shoulders as he explained, “Your patient was drained of nearly all his blood. That’s what killed him.”
“What?” I blurted out, perplexed how it was even possible. The thought had crossed my mind figuratively, but not literally, nor had I even fathomed that was actually going to be his cause of death. “You can’t be serious.”
Mike merely kept his eyes on me. “I’m very serious.” He then beckoned me with his hand to join him. “Come, see.” Sudden reluctance gripping my body, I willed myself to slowly walk around the head of the table and stand beside Mike, my eyes following Mike’s outstretched index finger as it moved toward the John Doe’s neck and pointed at a particular region on the side of it near the base. “Right there,” he stated. “That’s where I suspect his blood was drained from.”
My eyes followed from the tip of his index finger to the young man’s neck. What I saw froze my spine for a brief instant; two puncture wounds were clearly visible on the John Doe’s neck, the slightest bits of blood dried up over the puncture wounds. My eyes remained fixated on the two puncture wounds as Mike remarked, “Explain that to me, Dr. Richards, because I am stumped.”
I broke my eyes free from the subtle yet horrifying image to look directly at Mike. “You really think these tiny puncture marks are where an entire body’s worth of blood was drained out?”
“Not only that, but what baffles me even more,” he commented, reaching in and pulling the sheet down further, revealing the John Doe’s arm resting too peacefully at his body’s side. Taking the corpse’s hand in his own, he gingerly bent the arm up to show me the state of his hands. “No defensive wounds,” Mike continued. “None whatsoever.” He set the arm back down and folded the sheet back over the body. “Arms, legs, torso show no signs of any kind of struggle. I can’t come up with even a remote hypothesis.”
“So, he was murdered…” I murmured, glancing back at the body blanketed in white.
“And rather calculated I’d have to venture,” Mike surmised. “Forensics would have to be done to confirm, but visually, not a speck of blood was visible on his clothing.”
“A clean kill to drain someone of their blood,” I pondered, looking from the body and back to Mike. “How is that even possible?”
“That is the biggest mystery of all,” he concurred.