Thursday, October 04, 2007

Mausoleum 618

(This is an excerpt from the work I submitted for consideration for Dean Alfar's third speculative fiction anthology. I won't be posting the whole thing here because I feel that the story is still workable, and because of that, I might be using or rewriting it again someday. Regardless, it probably wouldn't hurt to post the first page...)

Upon entering Mausoleum 618, Dr. Mahadevan saw that the caretakers had done their job well. The Victorian anteroom looked polished and comfortable; Shelves lined the walls around a single plush armchair and an antique end-table. Closets and cabinets stood among an idle collection of books and the resplendence of a red carpet. There were even a couple of smaller, less expensive chairs tucked away in the remote corners of the room – in case guests were present, Dr. Mahadevan surmised – but for now, the place was completely empty.

Empty, that was, except for a single weary doctor.

Dr. Mahadevan pulled out a handkerchief and wiped his forehead of sweat. He hated these jobs, he had to admit. It wasn’t just the fact that he had to enter these places on a daily basis, or the fact that he constantly met scores of insufferable people during his regular rounds – there was also the fact that he felt something fundamentally wrong about the whole business.

Regardless, however, Dr. Mahadevan knew which side his bread was being buttered on. The pay, moreover, was nice – it paid his bills, kept his vices in check, and left his mortgages manageable. For the money he was getting, he would gladly have entered a thousand more Mausoleums.

His cryogenicist’s kit felt uncomfortable in his hands, and he decided to leave it sitting on the end-table. He yet clutched a clipboard in one hand, however, even as he crossed the thick red carpet.

There was a sliding door at the other end of the anteroom, and Dr. Mahadevan recognized the type. It was one of those thick, thermally-insulated doors, something that kept two completely different environments separate from each other. It was the type of door that most likely needed a retinal scan and a digital password to open, and Dr. Mahadevan gladly provided both.

Welcome, Dr. Mahadevan, the door said. It slid open.

Mist pooled around the doctor’s feet, and he shivered. No matter how many Mausoleums he had entered, or would ever be entering, he could never get used to the biting cold.

The room beyond the door stood in sharp contrast to the Victorian anteroom. Decades ago, Dr. Mahadevan guessed, the chamber would have looked pristine and antiseptic. Now the metal walls were overcome with rime and frost, and some of the granite floors had cracked from the temperature difference. The first of the fragile tiles had already shattered under Dr. Mahadevan’s first footsteps, and to the good doctor everything sounded like so much glass.



Dominique said...

Great atmosphere, Sean!

Sean said...

Dominique: If so, then it didn't carry over onto the rest of the piece. I think I was already preoccupied with churning out two thousand words by then.