Theme #1: Bones
They say society is nothing without its leaders. They say any given community is simply a pen of fools with those governing it. But what if the leaders become a disease? A plague to the people's body? What if the government is merely the skin of its people, a useless pile of flesh without the bones to fill it? A small town in south Georgia had decided to shed this skin before it destroyed them.It was dead midnight, some time in winter. Two cousins stood outside a barn, both clearly upset. The bigger one held an axe in his hand, the other a shovel. They spoke in hushed tones, as if there were phantoms watching them who couldn't be allowed to hear what they were saying. If one got closer, they'd see the axe-bearing man was not only upset, but outraged."I told you, Sal, they've gone too far this time.""We can't do anything about it," said Sal, distraught blatant in his face."It was my father, Sal! Your uncle! Our kin!""I know that, Gabe. But we can't very well do anything, can we?"Gabe was the bigger of the two cousins, but Sal was much stronger. Gabe looked down at him, fury in his eyes. "They killed him, Sal. In cold blood. We both know he didn't do nothing to deserve it, either.""Look Gabe, you have to face facts. They's the police, we's the farmers. If they kill our kin, we can't do nothing but keep it to ourselves, 'less we want to end up the same as him.""I know something we can do," he patted his axe, a bead of sweat sliding down his face despite the cold."Gabe...no.""Whatever!" Gabe turned and walked towards his truck, tossing his axe away, "it'll be one of us next, I'm telling you."Two months later"We are gathered here today to mourn the loss of Sid Williams, a good man, and a faithful father..."It had been a slow death, they said. The electric chair had malfunctioned, they said, and he hadn't died for at least an hour and a half. Sal had given a speech for his father. He looked to Gabe, nodding, mouthing a single word:"Tonight."Later that day, they gathered, a group numbering around fifteen. They were going to make an example of a policeman. Only one. To them, the mindless carnage was inadequate. But they couldn't kill more than that- any more and the police would send a man hunt after them. This, of course, couldn't be allowed to happen.Most of them were armed with axes. Some were armed with spades. A few, shovels. This was all they needed. Once they reached the town, they stopped. One last chance to leave."Anyone who continues past this line is a marked man. We've all lost kin to the devil, but you may not fancy selling your soul to him. Anyone who wants to leave, leave."None did."Good, good."The break-in was quick. They shattered windows and alarms went off. Police rushed to the entrance, guns locked and loaded. The attack was pitiful. Gabe hadn't accounted for one thing: bullets.Sal's bones still sit outside the courthouse, a warning to all who think they can get away with trying to attack lawmen. In short, the bones do make up the body's structure....but the skin will always trap them inside.
"Hearts and Bones"
In dreams, I live. Awake, I sleep. In life, faith and desires struggle but in dreams, it flourishes. There is no need for hope to spring eternal if it never dies.
Because she lives there in my dreams. Kathy. We walk the twilight gardens of my imagination. I love everything about her, the generous laughter born of her smiling mouth, the air of mystery that hangs around her at all times, coloring the wilderness of my life. She is perfection itself.
Katherine lives here in my life. My wife. I love her deeply. She has a kind heart but sickness kills her laughter. Her mystique is marred by mundane reality, the mountains we cannot cross.
I love her because Kathy lives in her. Because away from reality’s flaws, Katherine is flawless.
She is part of me and I am part of her. We have lived together for so long but it won’t be long now, I am afraid. Soon our relationship will be nothing but hearts and bones. Eternal love and timeless skeletons.
On the last leg of the journey They started a long time ago The arc of a love affair Rainbows in the high desert air Mountain passes slipping into stones Hearts and bones
“I feel so weak... I’m sorry we can’t go out like we planned.” Katherine shuddered, looking so terribly pale.
“Sweetheart, home with you is paradise.” I smiled at her, hoping she would smile back. I've always hated how worry twists her pretty features.
“I really wanted one last happy night for you to remember... Who knows how long we have?”
“We can still have one. Let’s light some candles and sit down to dinner. It’ll be romantic and we’ll save on electricity,” I said light-heartedly.
She laughed sadly.
“Kathy.” Didn't she know the most special anniversary was with her smiling, her ethereal splendor lighting up the evening? “Dinner with you is a delight, at home or in a fancy restaurant.”
“That’s sweet of you, Reeve, but since we have so little time left-”
“That makes dinner with you all the more special.”
She still sighed.
“Cheer up, beautiful.”
Her hand stole to her hair... the little that remained after the treatment. “How can you call me beautiful still?”
“Love, you’re always beautiful.” I understood her insecurity, the sorrow of a woman who had lost more than her health. I only wished she could be as confident as she once was... as confident as Kathy. I saw only the laughing girl I had first fallen in love with.
“You don’t see me,” Katherine said, pain in her voice. “You love only a memory.”
Her eyes filled, longing for love yet unable to accept it. She wanted so badly to be told that she looked beautiful and I loved her anyway. I loved Kathy. How could I tell her that the memory was who she was to me? My heart broke to see her so sad and thin, worn out from sickness and therapy. It was all I could do to hold Kathy's image in front of me. I couldn't love seeing Katherine in pain but I loved her, the girl I saw underneath. Loving her was all I could do to help.
The arc of a love affair Waiting to be restored You take two bodies and you twirl them into one Their hearts and their bones And they won't come undoneHearts and bones
I laid my forehead against hers, my hands twined around Kathy’s. She smiled, jewels glittering under her eyelashes.
“I love you.”
She smiled. “I know.”
I breathed out softly, reveling in her confidence in our relationship. Her vibrant spirit was my only solace in a world that was so tragically empty.
It had been two days since Katherine died. All I had left was Kathy and I clung to her.
“I’m sorry. I never wanted-”
“Take comfort, Reeve. I am still here.”
It was true. We could not be separated. I had imagined Kathy from the day the doctor gave us the death sentence, determined death would not do us apart. Each time I saw Katherine, every word she said – I stored the memories and Kathy grew, until she was Katherine. Katherine in all her beauty and joy, graceful even in sorrow.
We were part of each other. We always will be.
My bones will one day lie with Katherine but my heart will forever lie with Kathy, the girl who lives on.
The bartender drew the glass from the faucet and slid the mug across the hardwood top to Kay. “Here y’go, miss. Enjoy it.” She took the glass wearily, took a sip, looked up, turned, spat, looked back, turned again, looked back again, looked down at the drink, looked up again. She cleared her throat nervously and leaned forward. “Um, excuse me.” “Somethin’ the matter with your drink, miss?” “Er, no. No, it’s just that, um, well…” she coughed. “You’re a skeleton now, and you weren’t fifteen seconds ago.” He nodded. “That I am, miss. That I am.” His appropriately-bone-white hand plucked a rag off the back shelf and began to wipe down a spare mug with it, click-clack-click-clack-click-clack. She tried again. “So, if I can ask… why are you a skeleton?” “Don’t much know m’self, miss. Sometimes things just happen.” He tapped a fingerbone on the stark-white china pate that was his forehead. Was that what you would call it now? Maybe it was a forebone. Kay didn’t know. Kay really, really didn’t know. Her eyes flicked down to the mug still in front of her. Oh no. “Oh my god, you- you put some kind of drug in here, didn’t you-“ “Miss, it’s water. You saw me fillin’ it with your own two eyes. Plus, ain’t those your friends or coworkers or what have you over at the pool table? ‘Twouldn’t be much use for me to try anything when they’d jump down my throat the minute anything went funny.” He tilted his head, raising an eyebrow that wasn’t there anymore. “Plus – I may be nothin’ but bones, but that just ain’t right.” “Okay. Water then. Right.” She took a shuddering breath, closed her eyes, and counted to five. One, two, three, four, don’tbeaskeletondon’tbeaskeletondon’tbea- Still a skeleton. A kind of faint whimpering noise escaped her mouth. The bartender shrugged. “I am sorry about this. It ain’t ever easy seein’ someone get turned into a stack a’ bones right in front of ya, I know. But ‘twasn’t a thing I could do about it. These things happen, y’know?” “No, no, no, I don’t know,” she said, her voice turning more than a little desperate. “I don’t know that people turn into skeletons sometimes. Are you dead? Oh god, am I dead?” “Probably and probably not,” he replied. He tilted his head again and clicked his teeth together in thought. “Well, actually, I’m probably not dead either. So probably not on both fronts.” “If I scream, are people going to look over and see a normal bartender?” “Wouldn’t surprise me. ‘S how these things work, don’t they? Trouble comes outta nowhere, lands right in your lap, and minute you try to offload it on someone else it slips out the back porch, and you wind up lookin’ like a crazy person. ‘What,’ they ask, ‘is possibly the matter? I don’t see the trouble.’” She leaned forward. “Mister Skeleton, please don’t start giving me life advice right now, I think I might be about to pass out.” “Drink some water then. No point in gettin’ all worked up about it. You gotta roll with the punches, right?” “Look, my boss reassigned my account this morning. My deadbeat brother took my car and didn’t say when he’d be back. My girlfriend’s not answering her texts, my dog’s vet bill is three times more than I thought it would be, and now my bartender’s turned into a skeleton. I think I’m allowed to stop rolling by now.” He shrugged, his collarbones swinging up and down like a see-saw. “Alright, alright, I follow ya. But this is what I’m sayin’, y’see? Can’t just let it all get ya down. Ya gotta take it head on. Skull on, in my case.” Kay grabbed the glass of water off the bar and began to chug it. Don’t think about the skeleton don’t think about the skeleton don’t think about it just finish the water, get up, go play pool, give Jen another text, go home, call the vet, send Jim an e-mail, get Mom to call Ted just don’t think about the skeleton. She gasped and slammed the mug back onto the bar. The bartender took it. “Y’want another round?” Primly, she stood, grabbed her purse, turned 180 degrees on her heel, and walked off towards the pool table. Behind the bar, the skeleton clacked his teeth together a few times. Sometimes you just got those customers you had to turn into a skeleton to help out.
"Bones of the Past"
Peritus lifted his reptilian head from his studies as his colleague Solum entered the room. “Peritus, you’ve got to see what we just unearthed at the latest dig.”
Peritus followed his friend into the next room, curious as to his discovery. Peritus was many things, among them a reptilian biped, a member of the only sentient species currently living on the planet Earth, a founding member of the local scientific institute, and a paleontologist who studies prehistoric life.
The two reptilians entered the excavation room, where they found a collection of bones strewn across the table. Peritus’s eyes went wide at the sight of them. “You don’t me to tell me…”
Solum grinned. “It’s a full skeleton, sir.”
“And it’s in such pristine condition too!” Peritus exclaimed. “The bones have been perfectly preserved and fossilized; this is indeed a rare find.”
“Do you have any idea what it is?” Solum asked. “We were able to figure out that it was a biped, and it has the skeletal structure of a mammal, but beyond that. . .”
“I believe I do know what this is,” Peritus said. “You have found the remains of a homo-sapien, otherwise known as a human.”
“A human!” Solum repeated, his yellow eyes lighting up. “That is indeed a rare find! All the museums will want to showcase this.”
“Yes, a human,” Peritus repeated. “While we’ve found plenty of remnants of the human civilization, we know precious little of their society.”
“Weren’t they taken out by an asteroid or something?” Solum asked. “Sorry, my geologic history is a little rusty. I seem to remember a mass extinction caused by a major collision.”
“No, you’re thinking of our dinosaur ancestors, who died off sixty-five million years before the humans,” Peritus explained. “The humans were active in the late Pleistocene era, and evidence suggests that they spread into a worldwide civilization. But there was ultimately another mass extinction, and the humans and many other mammals didn’t survive. Only the small rodents remained of the mammalian empire, and the surviving reptiles once again rose to the top of the evolutionary ladder. And, eventually, our species evolved from them, and we formed our own sophisticated society.”
“What took out the humans then?” Solum wondered.
“We don’t know for certain,” Peritus said. “There is no evidence that an asteroid or comet was to blame. Soil samples from the period suggest that there were excessive amounts of carbon-dioxide in the air, so perhaps volcanic activity was to blame.”
“What’s your theory?” Solum asked. “I know you’ve researched on humans in the past.”
“They were quite a species,” Peritus said. “From the few specimens we’ve uncovered, I know that they were far frailer than our reptilian brethren. But they had opposable thumbs, like us, which allowed them to utilize tools, and from there they were able to build civilizations. We’ve found remains of human buildings before, so we know that they were able to construct large structures. And there’s even evidence that they developed agriculture as a means to sustain large populations in small geographic areas.”
“But if they were so good at building stuff, why did they vanish?” Solum asked. “Surely they could’ve survived whatever natural disaster caused the mass extinction.”
“I have a theory,” Peritus said. “Among the human artifacts we’ve recovered are many weapons, some which are quite deadly, even to reptilians. The humans may have been a very war-like species. If they were unwilling to work together, there’s the potential that they could have brought upon their very own extinction. At the very least, fighting amongst themselves could’ve hindered them during the disaster of their time, and could explain why they are not here today.” Peritus paused, and added, “But that is all mere speculation, since we have no solid evidence to tell what happened to them in their final days.”
“Impressive,” Solum said. “I can’t believe you can piece that together by merely digging up old artifacts and looking at fossilized bones.”
“That’s all part of paleontology,” Peritus said with a toothy grin. “There’s a story behind every bone; it’s our job to guess at what it is.”
High noon. Lovely time to take a stroll through a desert valley in the middle of the summer, no? (The answer, by the way, is yes. As in “yes, it’s not.”) Either way, though, that’s what I was doing. Huh? You want to know why I was doing something like that? Eh, well, fair question, I guess. Long story short, I was leading an archaeological team out here. We’d finally found something, our first lead in weeks, and – me being me – I wasn’t much in a mood to wait a minute longer than I had to to see this place for myself. And so here I was, gulping down my twentieth bottle of water in as many minutes as I scanned the landscape, my carefully trained eyes searching for anything significant they could find. The problem, though, is that careful training of the eyes doesn’t give you much of an advantage when there’s nothing to see but bones. Well, I guess there’s the sand, too, but I guess that’s not really important. Anyway, back to the bones. They were everywhere, layered thickly across the sand all the way to the canyon walls. Human remains crunched beneath my feet as I walked, bleached and brittle after centuries of baking in the desert sun. What is this place? I wondered, popping the cap off another water bottle as the contents of the previous one flooded out of my skin. Or what was it, rather? I came to a halt, glancing around again and still finding nothing of interest. A place of death, obviously. A place of a lot of death. But did the owners of these bones die here, or were they placed here? If the latter, then why? And either way, what killed them? I guess that’s one of the most thrilling parts my job – answering those questions. Figuring out the who, the what, the why and when and how. Taking whatever evidence we can collect and piecing it together, figuring out what makes sense, what doesn’t. A bit like breathing a faint breath into some of these bones and watching them grow back together, come back to life. The problem with that, though, is that to piece evidence together you have to have evidence in the first place. And instead of evidence, what we’ve got is an army of skeletons. I twisted open another water bottle, pouring a drop of it onto the ground. Within seconds it had vanished without a trace. It was gonna be a long day…
When I looked out into the streets, I see bones. They littered the roads, trees, and even the water. The eyes of the skulls look at me, and say to me, “Help us.” It was a blur when the attack happened. They came out of nowhere.
All I remember was a shining blue light that stayed on for 10 seconds, and then it faded. The earth shook like a 9.5 magnitude earthquake, but no damage was done strangle to my building. As I walked out of the building to see what happened. That’s when I saw the shreds of clothes and piles of bones. What was strange is that, there was no blood or skin on them at all.
I felt like the only one that survived the attack. Bones continued to watch me as I walked down the road. The burning skies of dusk make the event almost eerie for me. Then I saw the return of the blue light off in the distance behind some fallen buildings. Their support beams can be seen sticking out, and the glass just shattered.
I made myself wonder if whatever did this is even of this world. Could it be that this is what happened in War of the Worlds, where people died in the streets like now, bodies without flesh to cover their brittle bones? I really didn’t want to know, but I must if it would make me feel much more at ease. So I continued to follow the path of littered bones on the streets, in search of the cause of the destruction around me.
As I got closer to the light, it shined brighter and more frequent than last time. My skin began to grow goose bumps, and the hair on my arms spiked up. My spine began to become cold as the Alaskan winter, and nerves began to tingle out of control. The light began to glow brighter and blink faster.
The more I got closer, I could see the light being emitted behind a wooden door. I place my hand on the doorknob and prepared to open it. When I swung open the door, a bright flash of white light struck me. I did not know if I died at all, but seeing that I was still in my bed, the bones were just a nightmare.
"Nothing But Words"
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“Sticks and stones may break my bones . . . but words will never hurt me . . .”
You wanna bet?
Night. The moon glows dim and vague behind a looming foreground of smoky clouds. Street lamps lend what light they can, when they don’t flicker off. When they do, some superstitious factory-worker or the little girl who lives next door pick up speed with a gasp or a squeal.
That’s when I strike.
From the shadows behind my window I see them coming around the bend, I watch them come up the street, and then I hit the button. I’ve spent a lot of time wiring these street lamps.
I hear a muffled scream. I’ve had a lot of experience with this. I can tell by the voice it’s a girl in her late teens; nineteen is my guess. I smile to myself, leaping over the sill. Somehow, it’s always the most fun to do it to the women. They scream more often, when they’re not armed. Sometimes the men hit back—when they’re not armed.
I creep silently through the lightless dark. I can see her, though I give her no chance to see me. Not just yet. But I pick up a thick twig and snap it loudly, just for the fun of watching her freeze. I can see her tense from head to toe. She pauses, breathing frantically, mutters something to herself. “Just a cat” or something. Words. Nothing but words. She quickens her step, not quite running but getting close to it.
I jump out onto the path in front of her. She jumps, must be at least a foot in the air. She screams, takes a step back, hand over her heart.
Why is it they’re always so frightened? Could it be the suddenness of my assault? Maybe the darkness of the night? Is it the mask, the cape, the black horns? Yeah, probably it’s the horns that do it. I might be a psycho in a Halloween costume, but on a dark, stormy night, I’m a dangerous psycho in a Halloween costume.
I cut her off. “I’m going to kill you.”
She faints right then and there. Words, nothing but words. But it does the job.
I laugh with sadistic glee as she falls; but then I hear a thud, and a sickening crunch. I kneel quickly beside her to look. Something isn’t right about the angle her arm sticks out at. Probably hitting the fire hydrant like that when she fell didn’t help. That never happened before. It wasn’t supposed t happen.
I feel her shoulder. Oh, there’s definitely something wrong here. No, no—is it broken? I hope not. It was just a harmless prank, I didn’t— Is there something wrong with her neck or am I imagining it? Oh, please God—
I pull the cell phone out of her pocket and dial 911. Terrible accident. Tripped over a fire hydrant, broke her neck I think. Is that possible? In a hoarse voice I give the address, and beg them to be quick about it.
Helpless, I can only crouch behind a bush and watch over her until the ambulance arrives.
The paramedics get her on the stretcher with expert delicacy, treating her as compassionately as if she were their own child. And all without a word.
She’ll be safe now. Under the cover of my dear shadows, I slink guiltily back to the welcoming embrace of my lightless room.
Nothing like this ever happened before. It was always just a game.
Nothing but words.
"The Bones Never Lie"
The old man quietly made his way through the crowd, his head constantly looking behind to make sure no one was following. He knew that getting caught in this place, of all possible places was a terrible idea. No man of a respectable standing visited the vagabond’s carnival, and yet here he was. He had taken every necessary precaution to make sure he would not be recognized, he had worn the most raggedy, used garments he could find. He had made sure that everything about him reeked filth; he did not want to be caught.
Looking ahead once more the old man saw the tent he was looking for. Checking behind himself once more, the old man quickly pulled back the curtains and slipped in. He sighed in relief when no one followed him in, only to be startled by the appearance of a woman right in front of him. She, no, the entire tent, reeked of incense. The old man’s sight, already failing from age, was being obscured by the smoke in the room.
“So,” the woman in front of him began, her voice soothing and hypnotic. It was as if she was a snake charmer and the old man was the snake. Of course many of the old man’s enemies wouldn’t hesitate to call him one anyway. “I see you finally arrived, our land’s great king has fallen as low as to visit a humble fortune teller like me.” Her words would indicate she was mocking him, but her voice seemed to praise him.
The revelation that she knew of his identity startled the old man, he take great care to conceal it from everyone, so how had she figured it out before he had even breathed a single word. However before he could question her, the woman interrupted him again.
“Do not be so alarmed,” she cooed as she circled over to a table, upon which rested a pile of bones. “After, did you not come here seeking my gifts? The bones foretold your arrival, is that not proof enough that I am no fraud.” The way she said the words the king almost felt as though she were laughing, as if this had occurred before, the thought did not please him.
“Uh yes,” the old king responded, “I suppose that is enough proof.” His voice indicated how rapidly he was trying to regain his authority, after all he was supposed to be the one in charge, not her. He was the king, he tried to reassure himself, even as the smoke and incense only seemed to swirl to grant more authority to fortune teller. “I must say I was skeptical of your abilities, but I have come for a single query, I wish to know the meaning of my dreams.”
Even as the king was about to relate his odd dreams to her, the woman began speaking. “Ah yes, your dream of ever rising mountain and an eagle that aspires to fly even higher. However the eagle can never surpass the mountain and every time just as it reaches the top a bolt from the heavens strikes it down. Yes,” she mused, as her hands began to circle above the pile of bones. “I can see it very clearly. Your dream has been consuming your nights. Let us see what the bones have to say about your fate.”
No sooner has she said the words, were the bones thrown into the air, the smoke and incense all swirling around the bones. However just as suddenly it was over, and the bones had fallen back to the table with a clang.
“I see. Your dreams are a culmination of your past, present and future. You are the eagle and the kingdoms of the world are the mountain. If you continue to follow this path of trying to surpass the unsurpassable, you will die.”
For a long moment a deathly silence hung over the room. The king’s eyes were wide and in shock, the room suddenly seemed like a vortex trying to swallow him.
Standing up, he spoke, his voice once more containing his full grandeur of royalty. “It seems, that I have wasted my time here. Good day.” With a pull of his ragged cloak, as if he was trying to channel the awe of a king’s billowing robes, he made for the curtain, just as the fortune teller’s final words reached him.
“Caution my king, the bones have foretold this and the bones never lie.”
Alan looked up from his book. His younger sister was standing before him, wearing a slightly disturbed expression and a bathing suit.
"Really," he said. "So where was this? In our backyard? Or in the swimming pool parking lot?"
Cecily rolled her eyes. "I'm serious, Alan. I was coming home by the bike trails, and I saw something white from the corner of my eye." Her voice dropped. "It was a finger poking out of the ground.
"So I went closer, and I saw more white sticking out, here and there. It looked like - well, like a big pile of bones covered by a thin layer of dirt and lots of plants."
Alan looked at her skeptically. "Really?"
He swung his legs off the sofa and sat up, tossing his book down. "All right. Where is this, exactly?"---
Approximately fifteen minutes later, Alan was kneeling on the ground, examining the protruding finger. "Well, it's not as though I'm an expert on bones," he said, "but I'd say this is the genuine article." He frowned. "The question is, what are they doing here?"
"Some sort of historical massacre, right? Or maybe a pre-pioneer tomb from an Indian civilization?"
"But it isn't, Cessy," her brother responded. "Look at the dirt - it's freshly disturbed. And the plants-" he moved a few steps and pulled on a creeping vine. It came out of the ground at his first tug "-look, they're barely planted at all. Someone put them here just to cover up the fresh digging."
"But that doesn't make sense!" Cecily protested. "I mean, I'm convinced, but why would someone be burying skeletons in the woods? Where would anyone get all these bones?"
"I can tell you that," a new voice said. Alan and Cecily whipped around to face the edge of the clearing.
A tall man wearing glasses stood there, smiling. He was wearing working clothes, and had one hand casually in his pocket; the other balanced a shovel on his shoulder.
Alan glanced at his sister, and moved closer to her. "Did you bury them?"
"Yes, I did.
He was bare bones before he could see if he'd succeeded.
"Bones," the lookout reported numbly, "Crossed bones on a black flag."The captain's face hardened. It was the year 3177 AD, but the flag still meant the same thing. Pirates, in inter-stellar space.There had been reports of a rogue vessel trolling the spaceways between Alpha Centauri and Sol. The route was crucial to the war effort, and had implications far beyond the Alpha Centauri system."Sound battle stations."The captain rose from his chair and engaged his microphone. "Give me the enemy ship, lieutenant.""Yes sir."With a hiss of static the green light blinked on."This is Captain Throne of the SLS O'Kane. Unless you power down your weapon systems we will commence our attack.""This is Collestus of the free ship Enemiga. It has been awhile, old friend."The captain showed no reaction, but within his heart was in turmoil. Collestus was one of his mentors from the Royal Academy, and there wasn't a better ship-to-ship combat strategist in the fleet. There had been rumor that Rear Admiral Collestus had disappeared, but he had never connected them to the appearance of the Enemiga. Collestus a traitor... It was unbelievable."We will power down our weapon systems and surrender our ship to your prize crew. Opening main hatch now to receive your shuttle."Throne's eyes narrowed, and he smiled slightly. Treachery was always a safe strategy."Surrender received, Enemiga. Our shuttle will deploy shortly. Over and out."The captain gestured the first officer to his side."Load the shuttle craft with all the proton torpedos that it will hold, and a skeleton crew of our lowest grade ship livestock.""Yes Captain Thorne."The captain thought for a second. What if Collestus fired on the shuttle craft while it was still in the O'Kane's hold? The torpedoes would detonate in the explosion and the ship would be broken in half."Cancel the proton torpedoes and load the shuttle with magnetically activated Gauss bombs.""Yes Captain.""Game on, mentor."
"Dust and Stone"
Waves of intense light and blistering heat crashed down over the landscape, forming a swelteringly dry atmosphere. Cacti and other plants were dotted across the hard-baked earth for miles around. A dirt road stretched into the horizon, at which point clouds of dust signified the coming of a fast-moving vehicle. As it neared it became more distinct, taking the shape of a white limousine.
Finally, it came to a stop at the crest of some uplands. The rear side-door opened and a pair of fancy black shoes stepped onto the ground. The shoes were accompanied by a pair of long beige pants and a jacket of the same color. The man's outfit was completed by a pair of sunglasses and a fedora that matched the jacket and pants.
An attendant exited the vehicle from closer to the front. "Right this way, Mr. Winston," said he. He took the lead as the two men started across the baked ground. An old cattle skull caught the attention of Mr. Winston not far off and he chuckled. Excitement built within him as they proceeded forward. His team had been hard at work for months on the project he had financed. He couldn't wait to see what they had discovered.
In the meantime, the heat bored through his outer clothing and burned through his skin. Already sweat was soaking his fancy beige suit. Every step became a chore for the man of mid-fifties. Once he nearly tripped over a rock, before the attendant steadied him. As he walked, Winston wondered about what he would soon see. He had refused that anyone should report any news to him before he had seen it for himself, though from the excitement they failed to conceal when informing him that their work was done, he knew it was something special.
His mind continued to wander, filled with images of worlds long lost and ageless wonders. Space and time stretched before his imagination. He wondered if there would ever be found any limit to human discovery. What more was out there, just waiting! By now they were nearing the edge of the upland, and their path turned downwards, and it was there that Mr. Nathaniel Winston stopped to rest. Briefly his eyes turned skyward, and he again wondered where human innovation would soon lead them. He shook his head and laughed. "It is a pleasant age to live in, Mr. Jurik, a pleasant age to live in."
The two men pressed on, the attendant steadying the older as they moved downhill. Finally they reached the place where a section of the hill had been stripped away, leaving a cliff-side. Down below, a team of archaeologists moved around a worksite, in the middle of which lay a good number of fossilized bones. The excavation work was complete, and the bones were placed more or less in the proper arrangement.
Winston stopped dead. His breath caught in his throat. Tears formed in his eyes. "A complete skeleton," he breathed. He laughed, overcome, and giddy with joy.
The lead archaeologist climbed around the cliff to meet him. "Mr. Winston!" he cried. "So glad to see you!" He was beaming brilliantly, his broad smile stretched from ear to ear. "A beautiful sight, isn't it?"
The archaeologist laughed. "And you know what else? It's a completely new species! Never before been described! If I'm not mistaken it's of the family dromaeosauridae."
Mr. Winston positively glowed with satisfaction. "I see my investment was well spent."
"Indeed! In fact we've already decided on a name for it, sir. The Winstonosaurus."
The old man paused and reflected, touched. "No," he said finally. "That sounds terrible. You can come up with something better." He grinned.
The archaeologist chuckled, in relief, Winston thought. "Very well then." The two men sat gazing at the pile of bones for a minute longer.
"Alright, I've got it. How about the Fortiraptor, Mr. Winston?"
"Very good! Sounds much better! Of course you may want to learn more about the creature before making the final decision, but that works for me."
The archaeologist nodded and coughed, suddenly becoming awkward. Finally he lowered his voice and leaned over to Winston. "Sir, I'm afraid I have some bad news to report as well."
Mr. Winston was taken aback. "What is it, Gladstone?"
"Well, sir, you see. . ." He broke off for a moment.
Mr. Winston chuckled. "What is it, man? Spit it out."
"Sir, there was a murder in the camp last night."
"All Things Considered that was a Poorly Thought out Move from Ben Stiller’s Part"
“This is so cool, like Night at the Museum, but on steroids.” “That doesn’t sound right. I think you need to have muscles for steroids to even work. Using them in this situation seems rather pointless.” “That is…you…you’re being such a characteristically obtuse tool right now it’s a wonder people don’t use you to draw circles.” “That is a terrible joke and nobody is going to get it.” “That just makes it funnier.” “If you say so.” “And what do you mean ‘nobody?’ Are you doing that thing where you subtly imply awareness of our existence being confined to fiction? That is so stupid. This is real life” “Are you seriously doing that thing where you ironically state that this is ‘real life’ despite all evidence to the contrary? That is such a modern day cliché. Hanging that lampshade is so obsolete.” “You just hung a lampshade on my lampshade. If I wasn’t not a cool dude I would say something like ‘Lampshadeception’ right now.” “…if it makes you feel any better, I think you’re pretty cool.” “…” “…” “Anyway, as I was saying, NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. But with dinosaurs!” “That movie already had dinosaurs.” “No, it had one dinosaur.” “We also only have one dinosaur.” “What! That is terrible.” “How can you not know we only have one dinosaur.” “I was kind of busy. You know, running for my life. You insensitive foolwad.” “..you said it was cool.” “Irrelevant.” “How are we even having this conversation while running from a skeleton dinosaur through a trailer park? That seems really implausible.” “That is odd. But why are you describing our situation is so much non-detail?” “It doesn’t look like this story is ever going to start using prose.” “What.” “Like. All of it so far has been our witty discourse on Night at the Museum.” “I wouldn’t call that witty. Or discourse.” “…does this conversation even have any literary purpose within the story? It seems really pointless right now.” “I don’t think so. Not unless Ben Stiller shows up later on and uses some special powers to stop the dinosaur, and let’s be honest here, that seems unlikely.” “Why are we still talking about that movie. It wasn’t even that good.” “Walking skeleton!” “I’m pretty sure that movie didn’t invent that concept. There’s probably like an entire genre of walking lizard bones.” “Yes, but do any of them have Ben Stiller?” “I don’t know. Maybe. Who cares?”“Evidently, you do not.” “Now you get it. But also, we are literally being chased by a reanimated dinosaur skeleton. We could be lunch. So we really have bigger things to think about.” “I don’t know about being lunch. I don’t think he has any digesting muscles.” “Hey, it’s not polite to assume. It might be a lady skeleton.” “You’re right. Sorry, skeleton.” “Don’t apologize to the skeleton. It has to say sorry first, for chasing us.” “That sounds really petty. Besides, why wouWhooooooaaa what the heck is that.” “That appears to be a reanimated human skeleton.” “Is that…is that Ben Stiller?” “I’m pretty sure that is not Ben Stiller. He’s kind of alive at the moment.” “And now he’s running next to us.”“Yep.” “I think you’re right, prose would really help this story.” “Yeah I’m not even sure if you’re you at this moment. Whatever that means.” “I’m going to talk to him to see if he is Ben Stiller.” “…” “He says he is Ben Stiller’s subconscious museum guard, possessing the body of a plastic skeleton.” “That is…just…the stupidest thing ever written. This isn’t even a brick joke. It’s just a big stupid brick.” “Personally, I think bricks are awesome.” “Whatever, is there anything special about him to help us?” “Well, he can talk, and run. That’s pretty special, if you think about his being only a skeleton.” “…so no?” “So no.” “Why is he even here?” “I think he wants us to let the dinosaur eat us.” “What makes you think that?” “Well, he just said that.” “…I’m not doing that.” “I don’t think he’s giving us a choice. He just tore off his own arms and now….now he is tripping us.” “…Stop describing everything that happens.”
“…this is stuuuuupiiiiiiid.” “Let’s be fair, that dinosaur wasn’t that well-kept. It’s not its fault it felt apart the second it tried to eat us.” “My whole life is a sham.” “Truth.”
Edited by Velox, Jul 01 2013 - 02:29 AM.