Who Turned on the Tap?

The Egyptian Forensic Medicine Authority in Cairo, Egypt

What is that sound? It seems to be that of running water. However, I just went through the whole building to check that all the taps were turned off. It should be just me and the deceased in here. I strain my ears to identify the direction the sound is coming from. The autopsy room seems to be the source. I know it can’t be, because I was just in there, all the taps were turned off and nobody would have been able to enter the room since. I could swear I left it locked. Regardless, I go to the autopsy room once again and, to my surprise, find out that there is in fact a tap that has been left running. How can it be? There is no one there, other than the dead bloke lying on the examination table. He had been hit in the head by a stray bullet. Maybe it is his spirit, trying to drive me crazy. Perhaps he is trying to dissuade me from meddling in his affairs.

Cairo’s morgue is big and has two doors, one located at the front and one leading to a narrow side alley. The latter is the one through which the bodies are carried in and out of the building. Its white color has lost its original luster over time.

Inside, it is mostly cold, silent and just outright spooky. There are two main halls, which are connected to each other. One is a big refrigeration chamber with space to fit up to forty-eight bodies, and the other is a coffin storage room with a coffee machine. It is where the morgue’s employees usually hang out. It is the warmest room of the morgue, and its walls are crammed with all sorts of amulets to ward off evil spirits. Aside from those, there are two other smaller rooms, where the unidentified bodies wind up.

The corpses only reveal their secrets to the forensic doctors. However, what I have learned since I started working here is that death doesn’t discriminate between the sinners and the saints, and doesn’t spare the women and the children either. Some, like the imam, believe in the supernatural, while others don’t, like uncle Mahmoud, who is over fifty years old, tall, thin, hunchbacked, wears a big turban covering half his face and a traditional tunic from Upper Egypt. He says that God is not compatible with the idea of the supernatural. He holds that people are driven by fear to see what is not there. He claims that he, thank God, only fears God.

I am of uncle Mahmoud’s opinion. That is why I am the only one who dares to spend the night here, among the dead. Yet, the unsolved mystery of the running tap is seriously challenging my point of view.


Written by Ahmed Ali Ahmed Swelam.