“The Autopsy” – a horror story by Michael Shea


So, this week (#9 of my “Deal Me In 2014” short story reading challenge) I drew the seven of spades (see my full roster here) and was rewarded with a re-read of a great horror story I first read more than twenty years ago… Seeing the story’s title reminded me of something else,

The case of the never returned short story anthology. 🙂

50 horror stories

In the late ‘80s/early ‘90s I read an anthology of American horror stories which included one story per state. I remember very little about most of the stories in it these days, but I do remember loaning the book to a friend and never seeing it again.  Not a big deal, as I had already read it, but I’m still not thrilled about it no longer gracing my shelves.  There were a couple great stories as I recalled, and when I purchased “The Weird” anthology of stories was pleased to see that one of them, “The Autopsy” was also included in that collection.  I decided I must re-read that story.

(below: author Michael Shea <from Goodreads>)

michael shea goodreads

In “The Autopsy” we meet an aging doctor working in the coroner’s office. He has cancer, and to add to the misery, he is on a sad errand to perform autopsies on ten miners killed after an explosion in the mine.  Why do they need autopsies? Because it is assumed that the explosion was a willful act of murder by one of the ten men. The mining company’s insurance only has to compensate the families if the miners die in the process of doing their job.  Being murdered while at their job? Well, that would save the company a lot of money.

But the greed of the company and the aging coroner are just the backdrop for a chilling story.  What the doctor learns and finds while doing the autopsies is out of this world. Literally.

The story is part of the chunky volume “The Weird: An anthology of Strange and Dark Stories.” Here is a link to the book on amazon.com.  I own the kindle version of this great collection. It’s worth the $$



  1. Dale said,

    March 2, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    A story called “The Autopsy” sounds chilling! I think I’ve heard of Michael Shea before, but I can’t think of how. And I like the American Gothic cover, too!


    • Jay said,

      March 3, 2014 at 8:31 am

      I didn’t want to give away too much in the post, but there are similarities to the short story “The Things. Which I just read recently. Both stories are excellent. This one is a bit longish though. Perhaps – if you read it – it will be my revenge for the Helprin story. 🙂


  2. Candiss said,

    March 3, 2014 at 1:16 am

    I remember seeing that anthology cover back in the day!

    This story sound intriguing and disturbing. Onto the TBR it goes.


    • Jay said,

      March 3, 2014 at 8:34 am

      I may have to track down my friend who (I hope still) has it. I saw her comment on another friend’s Facebook status the other day, so I know she’s out there somewhere! 🙂


  3. Paula Cappa said,

    March 3, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    The Weird Compendium by the VanDerMeers is a great anthology. My library has it and I’ve taken it out 3 times. I seem to be the only one, the librarian has told me. We’re small town here, but I can’t recommend it enough to short story readers.


    • Jay said,

      March 3, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      I just did a quick count here on my lunch hour and see that I have still only read 14 of the stories. I’ll be “feeding” off this compendium for quite a while yet, heh heh. 🙂


  4. Riva said,

    March 25, 2022 at 12:28 pm

    I have that anthology I bought when I was much younger and never finished the book. I keep it in the bathroom. It’s the last story and I’m reading it now. Seems very good so far. I am so not used to reading books because I listen to them on CD while driving. I was hoping to find the book online to listen to and saw this post.

    Liked by 1 person

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