I had brought a large butcher knife in my kit, which I had sharpened carefully. I intended to discard everything here at the kill site simply because they were common items, and there was no reason to carry any more contaminated equipment with me than necessary. I am not sure why, but I decided to first detach the head, and so began my examination there, knowing that the recorder would be running at home and that my wife would be unlikely to waste the information even if I did not make it back. She was baffled both by my curiosity about the Zekes, and my insistence about making this trip alone. We usually patrolled as a team. That wouldn't prevent her making use of whatever I found out. She was nothing if not practical.
"Subject was a human white female, an estimated forty years at time of death, which probably occurred within the last three weeks. There are obvious signs of infection with Campion's prior to death which include dried bloody vomit, and dried liquid stool on the remaining clothing. Name tag indicates subject was a medical worker, specifically registered nurse."
I paused briefly and scanned the area around me in a complete circle. There was no sign of movement, and although this gave me cause for hope that I had remained undetected, I had learned to never focus with my eyes down for more than thirty seconds or so. It was always the one you didn't see coming that got you. I returned to my study of the walker.
"Hair and scalp remain intact, hair is matted and over the occipital skull is filled with dried blood. Was dark blond in color. Face is entirely slack, with the mouth opened, and without injury, with caked residue around mouth and chin. Skin tone is bluish gray with mottling at cheek bones and along the jawline bilaterally. Eyes are sunken with bruised appearance consistent with prolonged dehydration. Occular membranes appear slightly moist with clouding and inflammation of the underlying eyeball. Iris color is blue. Lips are dried and cracked, however the gums and oral membranes appear moist, and a reddish viscous fluid is present over all, which I can't account for. All teeth appear present and undamaged."
I made a check of my surroundings, and took a few deep breaths to steady myself. I wished at times like this I could smoke, but I wouldn't have removed my gloves for anything at this point and nothing drew walkers faster than cigarette smoke. I was going to hurry through this thing and damn the importance of detail. The whole idea was creepy and wrong and was only going to get worse, but I was committed now, and was unlikely to get a better opportunity.
"Subject has been immobilized with intrusion of spike through the left temporal skull. Fluid similar to that found in the mouth is noted to seep slowly from the penetration wound. Fluid appears to have the consistency approximating heavy weight motor oil, and has a foul odor not consistent with normal decomposition. I am now removing the head, incising the throat at the level of the crycoid membrane."
Using the large butcher knife, I sliced deeply through the front of the throat. It took three slices to reach the spine, and another to sever the spine between the cervical vertebra. It took more force than I had anticipated. I put the head carefully in a plastic bag and moved it to one side. I had been prepared for at least some fluid issues at this point, but noted only an increased seep from the severed vessels of the strange red fluid found in the mouth and skull.
"More viscous red fluid is noted to seep from major vessels bilaterally. Whatever it is it isn't blood and is dark red, translucent, and extremely slippery. The esophagus and trachea, both appear atrophied and dry on their exterior aspect, with evidence of necrosis, with the red fluid coating their interior mucosa. Musculature of the neck appears flexible and slightly moist."
As I again scanned my surroundings I knew that something was already wrong with what I was seeing, but I wasn't going to stop and think about it now. I was strangely unnerved by what I knew must come next. I was no stranger to corpses, and had even seen autopsies, but the stripping and butchering of the body in front of me was a violation that I couldn't quite get my head around. The walker had been clinically dead for some time, and if the people who subscribed to a religious view of the world were somehow impossibly right, any soul or residual consciousness of the woman that this had been had long since fled. Still it was an action that I had never in my darkest nightmares contemplated.
"Okay, Suzy," I muttered at the walker, hoping that my listening wife wouldn't think I had gone completely off the rails. "I know neither of us ever thought to find ourselves in this situation, and it sucks on levels where there aren't even supposed to be levels. If you are in any way aware of what is going on here I want you to know that I am in over my head, and I don't even know if anything will come of this, but I have to try and I need your help to do it. This is without doubt the most fucked up thing I have ever had to do in a fairly interesting life, but there was never any disrespect towards you intended. That I promise"
I waited for a moment in silence, looking around me and making sure nothing was moving. I more than half expected the radio to crackle to life, and my wife to inquire if I had gone completely bug fuck nuts, and why was I wasting time. Like I said she was a practical girl and never slow to mention it when she saw me getting stupid. I suspect however that on this occasion she had some idea of what kind of a situation I found myself in, and that a brief step backwards towards human decency might be necessary to my sanity. I don't know if my address to the corpse in front of me accomplished anything, but I felt steadier and able to proceed.
Reaching into the kit I got out a pair of cheap heavy scissors and began to cut the filthy clothes off the body.