“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 $$