Arriving at the squalid back entrance of Smrow Hospital, Maria and Scarroneye stepped out of the less than sweet-smelling rubbish truck. However, the particular scent was far outweighed by the pungent breath of the back hell-gate of the place of action medical mischief that wafted towards them. The mix of human excrement and a subtle smell of decay stung their nostrils. To the disappointment of the hardened waste disposal expert, who despite a certain desensitisation could only keep his dinner down with difficulty, the trainee did not throw up, on the contrary, she seemed completely unimpressed.
Exasperated and struggling not to emit the fat pork knuckle he was eating for dinner, he nodded curtly to his two subordinates. Scarface and the One-Eye, two figures whose physical presence normally caused a certain discomfort that could well manifest itself in unrestrained screaming fits in more sensitive minds, returned his greeting in kind.
Why didn't the bitch throw up now and not even make a face?
"May I introduce: Today we are honoured by the presence of the princess of rubbish, Maria Bluetooth! The little one actually wants to get into our job!"
Scarroneye's mocking tone dripped with condescension.
"Boss Scarroneye, you uncrowned king of all filthy bins, I find it quite amusing how your attempts to be funny fail so miserably. However, perhaps now is the time to stop wasting time and finally get the job done?"
Maria's answer, whose voice did not express the slightest emotion, caught the top rubbish collector completely off guard, so that he was stunned for a moment and could not come up with a retort.
Scarface, his ruined visage contorted into a malicious grin, let out a cackling laugh.
"Oh, Scarroneye, it seems your words have failed you. Looks like the little trash girl knows how to put you in your place."
Meanwhile, the one-eye watched Maria intently with its single piercing eye that seemed to penetrate the soul. Without saying a single word, the monovisual observer conveyed a silent judgement filled with a mixture of curiosity and suspicion.
In a fit of frustrated masculinity, Scarroneye, his wounded pride oozing from every pore, barked orders at those present in a harsh, grating tone.
"This is the end of the line, we are not in a negro school here! Bluetooth and One-Eye are now disposing of the hospital waste, including the body bags with their contents, but pronto, if you don't mind my asking. Scarface, our clown with the short life expectancy, stays here for now for further orders. Come on!"
Secretly, the macho king, deeply wounded in his manly honour, hoped that the recalcitrant intern would collapse in the face of the disgusting assignment.
Without comment, the one-eye nodded to Maria and slowly went on its way. Much to the disappointment of the angry executive, she followed her monovisual colleague, completely relaxed, without paying any attention to the infernal smell of human decay or the funny flickering lights that cast eerie shadows on the weathered hospital walls.
"Fuck, bloody bitch! I'm warning you, scarface, don't grin so impertinently. To business: Dr. Strankenfein from surgery has struck again. He still has to pay a lot of money for his villa in Tuscany and was probably particularly hard-working this time. So now you're off to Igor Ogrinski, the Russian giant, and collect the bonus for special services. If you try to cheat me, I'll dispose of you along with the other cadavers."
"All roger, boss!"
With a vicious grin that would have made even a professional killer nervous on his ruined face, Scarface sauntered away, his footsteps echoing with a perverse single-mindedness.
Still filled with unholy rage, Scarroneye hoisted himself into his one true friend, the trusty rubbish truck, and enjoyed his comforting joint laced with noble meth.
Meanwhile, Maria M. and the one-eye approached the hospital's rubbish dump side by side, while their olfactory organs were penetrated by a growing crescendo of infernal smells. The rubbish containers overflowing with hospital waste, human organs and limbs were not a very pleasant sight either, especially as some of the deceased had probably been brutally stuffed in there for cost reasons and many a damaged head stared at the onlooker from lifeless eyes. Even the daringly stacked, partly unlocked body bags with their somehow happier contents did not really help to brighten up the gloomy atmosphere.
Maria, seemingly unaffected by the morbid reality unfolding before her, broke the silence with a question that expressed nothing but cold curiosity.
"That's a lot of dead people. Who are they all and is there actually a premium because of the quantity?"
The trainee's cyclops-like companion began to feel a kind of admiration regarding his companion's callousness, but also found it rather strange for a novice. The one-eyed man gave Maria a penetrating look and became convinced that there was much more to this woman than a pretty façade. Perhaps he would find out more if he confronted her with the weight of the dark truth.
"These corpses, my dear, are castaways, abandoned by the laws of men. Lost ones, forgotten by the world, whose innermost being has been sacrificed on the altar of profit and whom the ferryman will ferry to the world of shadows with due reward!"
Unimpressed by the gravity of one-eye's revelation, Maria M. reacted with an icy composure, as if she were only a spectator in this dark theatre of existence.
"Your style reminds me of Poe. So am I right in thinking that the dead are people without relatives or anyone who cares about their fate and whose organs have been sold off to the highest bidders? However, I also think that some of them died due to malpractice and that their remains are now being inconspicuously disappeared. I think I understand the premium thing."
Briefly, Polyphem's brother nodded at her, both intrigued and unsettled by her coolness in the face of the horrors that were unfolding.
"Now, my littered poet, let's get to work! Here catch!"
With a brutal movement, Maria pulled the severed head of an old man out of a container and threw it to her monovisual comrade, who caught it deftly.
"For a one-eyed man, you have good reflexes! I'll remember that!"
One-eye realised that the action was apparently not a macabre joke and a glimmer of appreciation crept into his single, visual link to the outside world.
Methodically, the rubbish-making pair went about their task, and the rhythm of their movements betrayed nothing of their gruesome work.
In the depths of their work, the scene became increasingly surreal. The pale glow of the moon cast long shadows on the piles of discarded limbs and lifeless figures, lending an otherworldly air to their grim task. The silence was broken only by the scraping of flesh against the cold metal of the rubbish truck, a dissonant symphony of horror.
As they laboured, there was a sense of desolation in the air, as if the weight of countless lost lives was upon them. Their actions seemed but a futile attempt to bring order to a world that had sunk forever into darkness and decay.
To be continued