She has been called many things. The Mistress of the Morgue. The Madame of the Mortuary. The Hostess of Horror. The Dame of Dread & Death. The Gorgeous Gal of Grand Guignol. The Curvaceous Cadaver.
She calls herself Faye Celeste. An apparent play on words regarding her appearance.
Her toe tag lists no name or cause of death. The first time she revealed her existence to me was a winter night many years ago.
I was out with a couple of friends driving around on a snowy evening. As we drove down a local highway we saw a cemetery, with a large mausoleum, in the distance. The freshly fallen snow combined with the light from a full moon made the grounds and markers shine with an ethereal glow. I can’t remember what possessed us to do it, but, we felt the need to jump the gates and walk around the cemetery grounds. So, we pulled of the interstate, parked the car a little down the road (to not draw attention to our intention) and walked to the main entrance of the cemetery. We helped each other climb the twelve foot high, wrought iron fence.
Once over, the three of us started to walk along together barely able to discern the roadways from the grounds proper. The snow was deep enough to erase all minor imperfections in the landscape. The white was hypnotizing. Were it not for the silhouettes of the larger monuments and the barren trees rising like grasping claws from the ground, we would surely have experienced a sense of vertigo or limbo, so intense was the obscuring whiteness of the snow.
Looming in the distance, the mausoleum, provided a point of reference. No sooner had I noticed a lonesome, lighted window near the top, than a shadowy figure moved laterally across the bright yellow rectangle. I mentioned what I saw to my friends and we agreed to be very quiet so as not to alert any security within.
At this time I felt the urge to relieve myself of the night’s earlier drink, signalling this to my friends I left their company to find a spot to take care of this need, though not before deciding that we would all make our way back to the main entrance in about ten minutes, for it was very cold and we were not properly dressed for a long expedition. Walking away, I looked about to find a suitable tree or marker for my uriniferous purpose when suddenly -- I was falling! No sooner had the sensation of freefalling registered within my brain was it replaced with the painful arrival of the earth beneath me once more. A numbness spread along my right side and I realized that it was due, not only to the forceful reuniting of my body to terra firma, but, also to the fact that I was lying in snow. Rolling onto my spine, I peered upward to see the night sky, black with white flecks of crystallized moisture swirling to and fro, all framed in a fairly neat rectangular shape. Rather like a painting hung before me on a white, museum wall. This tunnel vision startled me and as I shot to my feet it dawned on me what had happened. I had fallen into a recently dug grave, hidden from me by the surreal, monochromatic, near formless white of the snow covered field. Laughing at my clumsiness, I called out to my friends. I heard no reply. I yelled their names yet again, paused to listen. Nothing.
As I took a deep breath, in preparing a third and final call before attempting escape on my own, I heard a soft, yet firm, female voice ask, “Are you all right?”
“Yes.”, I replied.
“Do you need any help, sweetie?”, the voice questioned with a playful quality.
Assuring my unseen rescuer that I did, an arm, petite yet firm of tone, reached down over the lip of the grave.
“Grab hold, honey, I’ll help you up.”, the voice lilted.
Clasping the hand, I bent my legs and jumped. The extended arm of my benefactor then contracted and lifted me (I dare say, with little help from my inertia) right out of the hole.
Landing squarely on my feet, the hand released it’s grip. I looked up to greet the face of my saviour and was denied. Not that my new found friend was no longer there, she was, but by virtue of the fact that she did not have a face. What I mean is, she had the skeletal and muscular structure of a human face, but with the skin removed.
Her large expressive eyes looked at me, somewhat sadly, yet with a mischievous twinkle. I stood mute, my mouth agape, to which she interjected, “You’re quite welcome.”
“Thanks.”, I stammered. “Who are you? What are you doing here, like this.” I added as I motioned towards her, having now noticed not only her lack of facial epidermis but that she was dressed in a flimsy, white chamois.
Her nightgown, thin and wispy in the slight breeze, revealed the well proportioned body of a petite, young woman, perhaps in her late twenties. I, being 19 at the time, knew only that she was not a teenager. She presented herself and spoke with a confidence one does not attain while still in their salad days.
“I live here, this is my home.”, she motioned at the grounds, “I awoke in the mortuary, in the basement of the mausoleum, one night, and I just keep an eye on things.”
“Are you...dead?”, I asked.
“I thinks so.”, she opened her nightgown slightly at her breast revealing the huge
scar and stitching of an autopsy incision, “Yet, not wholly so. You’re the first person to ever hear or see me. I find that makes me happy.”
She turned to walk away, adding, “Your friends are waiting for you at the gate. If you ever feel like it again, please stop by. I would welcome the company.”
I started to reply when heard my friends call out, turned to answer. When I looked back, she’d vanished. Though I did notice her bare footprints in the snow leading back to the edifice she called home.
I spoke not of these events to my friends, save for my clumsiness at finding a spot to relieve myself (which I did, at last, by the main gate while my friends climbed over) and went about the remainder of our evening without incident.
A week passed before either my courage or curiosity had become strong enough for me to seek her out, if truly she existed. She did. We made formal introductions and I stayed for a couple of hours that first night as she related some eerie tales.