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    Writing Prompts: Sensuous Writing [Scene Stealers]

    How Sensuous Is Your Writing?

    Welcome to Scene Stealers, our series of writing prompts designed to flex your creative muscles.

    We’re thrilled that so many of you are participating in our writing prompt series. (Read our other   writing prompts and add one of your own.)

     

    In case you’re not familiar with Scene Stealers, here’s how it works:

    • We set the scene
    • You steal it, make it your own, and
    • Share your creation in the comments section of this post

    Of course, it’s perfectly fine if you don’t want to share your work, but we hope you’ll do the exercise anyway.

     

    The ground rules:

     

    • You must begin your story with the exact wording we provide.
    • Your story must be 350 words or less.
    • Your work must be original and not previously published.
    • WTD provides an encouraging and safe environment for writers to grow and learn from each other. We’d love you to comment on other people’s submissions in a friendly and supportive manner.
    • We reserve the right to delete any comments or entries we deem inappropriate and those that do not meet the specifications above.

    This month’s installment is designed to help you engage the reader’s senses, another way of saying, “Show, don’t tell.”

     

    Scene Stealer #12

    The skeleton’s hand moved towards him. 

    Now steal this and make it your own.

    We can’t wait to read what you come up with, so please add your submission to the comments section of this post.

    Check out our other writing prompts for inspiration!

    Mary Jaksch is Editor-in-Chief at Write to Done. Grab her FREE report How to Write Like an A-List Blogger. Mary has helped thousands of students successfully create outstanding and profitable blogs at  A-List Blogging and is the blogger behind Goodlife ZEN.

    Image: Shaking hands courtesy of Bigstockphoto.com

    About the author

      Mary Jaksch

      Mary Jaksch is best known for her exceptional training for writers at WritetoDone.com. Grab her latest all new course Blogwriter's Bootcamp 2.0 or a copy of her free report, How to Create an Irresistible Lead Magnet in Less Than 5 Hours. In her “spare” time, Mary’s also the brains behind AlistBlogging.net. and GoodlifeZEN.com, a Zen Master, a mother, and a 5th Degree Black Belt.

    • アバクロメンズ

    • Mark Bradshaw says:

      The skeleton’s hand moved towards him. He observed it with interest – the bones didn’t seem to be held together by anything.
      His hand moved almost automatically to shake the arrangement of bones.
      “Hello!” said the skeleton in a buttery baritone.
      He flinched at the unexpected warmth of the bones. The skinny chalk-white bones he could see warred in his mind with the soft uncallused flesh he could clearly feel. He knew those hands. He’d touched them many times. The grip felt right, but he couldn’t un-see the shambly figure his eyes vouched for. The skeleton did a little bone dance of joy. The bones weren’t really touching each other, but the clicker-clack was unmistakable in the small room.
      “I see it, but I still can’t believe it. James, the sensory stimulus of the holo-unit is perfect.”
      “The tracking is good?”
      “Oh yeah. Spot freaking on. The overlap was so tight I couldn’t see any visual artifact at all. It was kind of freaky.”
      “God, I hope so.”
      The skeleton figure gestured him closer, pointing toward its sternum. While the skeleton was talking letters had formed in the air saying, “If we don’t get this right this time, we’ll lose everything to al-Shareez.” I nodded.
      “Yeah. Well, how about we go celebrate? Somewhere. Else.” We needed to talk off site if we wanted any chance.
      The skeleton fogged and slowly blended into a familiar figure as Dr. Peters fizzed into view. My mind stopped doing loops when what I saw finally matched the reality I had felt.
      “How much time does it take to set the unit in place?”
      “Actually not as much as you’d think. A few minutes to calibrate and it’s ready to make a new reality. It oughta be a hit in the living room.”
      That was good. This might actually work. I pointed at the holo-unit, and then out the door. If we didn’t take it with us it would definitely not be left alone.
      “All right. You choose the place, and it’s my treat.”
      We had 18 hours before our next window, and we had to take it. Success in ths project wasn’t a track to fame. It was our life. Now or never.

    • Charles says:

      The skeleton’s hand moved towards him. He observed it with interest – the bones didn’t seem to be held together by anything.

      His hand moved almost automatically to shake the arrangement of bones.

      “Hello!” said the skeleton in a buttery baritone.

      He flinched at the unexpected warmth of the bones.

      He never expected any life coming out from a simple skeleton.

      “Hello!” repeated the buttery baritone voice. This time Michael had gathered his wits together. He

      responded with a soft voice also, “Hello, Mr. Skeleton, how come you can still move about”

      The Skeleton promptly ignored his question as if it doesn’t matter and proceeded to embrace him warmly.

      “I like you, can I be your friend” He gushed in his characteristic rubbery voice.

      Michael has never been at peace with any one like this before. This looks very funny. How will people feel

      when they see him moving about the city with a damned Skeleton.

      ‘Of course, Let’s be friends” Michael found himself replying.

      With linked hands the duo walked briskly towards the city center.

      Before a hours time they have accumulated a large crowed of people behind them. But they were not

      bothered in the least by the commotion they are causing.

      As Michael and his new found buddy emerged beside the city hall, the Chief of Police has Gathered his

      team of police men. It was becoming increasingly difficult to hedge in the crowed. He only has 50 men in

      his command. They are already over stretched as it is.

      Meanwhile, Michael has secured a seat at the restaurant and the Skeleton has made himself comfortable.

      “What would you like to eat” Michael asked

      Glancing at the menu the Skeleton replied, “Hamburger and steak”

    • Ansar says:

      The skeleton’s hand moved towards him. He observed it with interest – the bones didn’t seem to be held together by anything.
      His hand moved almost automatically to shake the arrangement of bones.
      “Hello!” said the skeleton in a buttery baritone.
      He flinched at the unexpected warmth of the bones.
      He pulled his hand and looked at the face of the skelton, the empty eye sockets suddenly sparked and the lower jaw moved down attempting to laugh. There wasn’t any sound but the tooth that hanged from the upper jaws also started to sparkle.
      He looked around to see if anyone else around and they are also seeing what he sees. To his dismay he found himself alone with the skeleton. There wasn’t any fear in him, but the weird situation he is in made him wonder whether it’s a dream or reality.
      The skeleton stood facing him, now the skull of the skeleton started to glow creating an aura. Both the jaws started to move and he heard a vibrating sound asking him, “where is Maria?”
      Maria is his fiancée, “what this skeleton has to do with Maria”, He thought.
      Controlling his confusing mind and gathering courage he asked, “How you know Maria?”
      Skeleton pointed its hand towards the chair in front and the chair swiftly moved towards the skeleton. With knuckling sound the skeleton sat cross legged on the chair. The jaws again moved and this time a stereophonic digitalized sound emerged, “I am Peter, your fiancé Maria was my girl friend.” The skeleton brought forward his right hand and on the second finger a diamond ring was glittering.
      He looked at the ring and looked at his finger. Identical ring was shining on his second finger of the right hand which was presented by Maria.
      The jaws again moved and the stereophonic sound said, “You are her alive fiancée and I am her dead lover”
      Suddenly the door behind him opened and Maria entered, he want to warn her to stay away, before he could do that she ran towards him and embraced him saying, “ I am very happy Peter today my father agreed for our marriage” He pulled her towards him and held her tight.
      He heard the sound of breaking chair.

    • The skeleton’s hand moved towards him. He observed it with interest – the bones didn’t seem to be held together by anything.
      His hand moved almost automatically to shake the arrangement of bones.
      “Hello!” said the skeleton in a buttery baritone.
      He flinched at the unexpected warmth of the bones.

      Then he came to his senses. It wasn’t his destiny to die. The skeleton had come to him several times in the intensive care ward. To beckon him onwards.

      He was going straight to hell, and the longer he could put it off, the better. The skeleton hissed at him, and he wondered how that was possible too. He grabbed the tower that held his intravenous fluid, and swung it at the skeleton. It went through the skeleton, and clattered as it hit the ground.

      A burly nurse in battle fatigues stormed in and strapped his arms to the gurney. “Colonel Matthews – this is for your own good, sir.” The nurse got an orderly to sweep up the floor with the shattered ivy container.

      The Colonel tried to speak with his eyes. His mouth was covered with a respirator tube. He could see the skeleton’s bones being scraped along with the shattered remains of his destroyed equipment. The ward stunk of fluids, pus, and cordite. And the orderly missed a rib cage.

      In the background, he could hear machine gun staccato. And then it died, with the occasional pop. Screams in the background. Hostiles approaching. The power went out, and the room was engulfed in darkness, except for sunlight streaming in from a barred window up high.

      The respirator stopped working, and the Colonel’s lungs were drowning. He tried his best to gulp in air, but his diaphragm was shattered, and would not cooperate. His vision darkened, and the skeleton rematerialized.

      And then he heard the hum of the back up generator. And the respirator worked again. Footsteps into his room.

      The Colonel looked up. And there was the last person he had tortured, and he pulled out a long tapering knife. “I told you that karma’s a bitch.”
      The last thing that the Colonel saw before the knife went into his eyeball was the skeleton laughing at him.

    • Cathy Howard says:

      The skeleton’s hand moved towards him. He observed it with interest – the bones didn’t seem to be held together by anything.

      His hand moved almost automatically to shake the arrangement of bones.

      “Hello!” said the skeleton in a buttery baritone.

      He flinched at the unexpected warmth of the bones.

      Even though he was telling himself that this was a dream, his brain saw through the illusion and brought him back to reality in a blinding moment of realization.

      He held out his hand and gently moved it towards the ghostly apparition. Surely this must have come from that plate of oysters at the bar.

      Never the less he reached out and in a blinding insight it all came rushing back.

      It couldn’t be her….but then, again, why not? It had been a while since their last date.

      The bones were slender and when the hand opened up the bright red nail polish came into view.
      This was all the proof he needed.

      “Remember when you told me you wanted to start a cleanse”? Ten days sounds about right.
      Just how much toxic build up did you have? And did your vocal cords have toxin also?

      Samantha groaned and fessed up. He had found her secret. She never should have used that red nail
      polish. But what’s a girl to do?

    • Charlie Kirchner says:

      The skeleton’s hand moved towards him. He observed it with interest – the bones didn’t seem to be held together by anything.
      His hand moved almost automatically to shake the arrangement of bones.
      “Hello!” said the skeleton in a buttery baritone.
      He flinched at the unexpected warmth of the bones.

      The skeleton looked down and blurted, “Oh geez, look at me! I must be a sight. You know, sometimes I’m just not comfortable in my own skin, if you know what I mean. Give me a minute and I’ll pull myself together”.

      And with that the skeleton backed out the door leaving Paul gaping.

      “Okay, I’m back,” the skeleton announced a couple minutes later , barging through the apartment door. “I DO have the right place don’t I?” This time he wasn’t just a skeleton but a transformed almost human figure that looked to be near eighty years old. “You Paul Dinardo, or is it Dinardi? I can’t read the bosses writing half the time”.

      “I’m Paul Dinardo, who the fuck are you!”

      “Oh! Oh! Good question, you must be wondering… listen, Paul, why don’t you just sit down for a minute here and let me explain this to you. My name, well my real name is Gerald Riggins, but most folks know me as Grim, you can call me Grim if you want, Gerald, Grim, whatever you’re comfortable with.” And with that Grim pulled a bottle out of the left pocket of the oversized coat and put it on the table.

      “You don’t mind if I have drink do you Paul? Would you join me for a drink Paul? This is really, really good Scotch Whiskey Paul, they don’t make this stuff anymore. Please, I insist, sit down and have a drink with me”.

      Paul hesitated for only a couple of seconds and sat down at the table.

      “Paul, I hate to ask, but do you have any…glasses…I mean, we can drink out of the bottle if you want, but I really prefer a glass, and maybe a couple of ice cubes, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble”.

    • David Alexander says:

      The skeleton’s hand moved towards him. He observed it with interest – the bones didn’t seem to be held together by anything.
      His hand moved almost automatically to shake the arrangement of bones.
      “Hello!” said the skeleton in a buttery baritone.
      He flinched at the unexpected warmth of the bones.

      Suddenly the skeleton reached out and grabbed him around the neck, his bony fingers digging into the skin. He wildly flailed his arms and tried to pull away. The skeleton began a sickening taunting laugh.
      Just then another hand touched his back. He twisted and contorted hi body trying in vain to escape, throwing his arms about.
      A soft voice said “Honey relax, it’s just another bad dream.” Soaked in sweat he found himself tangled in the sheets, his legs dangling off the side of the bed. ‘You’ll be fine, everything is OK, I’m here, nothing is going to harm us.” He saw the daylight through the sliding glass doors looking out over the beautiful tropical garden to the ocean only a stones throw away. He got up and went outside moving haltingly, feeling for the deck chairs to maintain his balance. Sitting down he stared out at the ocean instinctively touching the four inch scar just above his left ear graciously given to him by the paras in the back room of a pub on the Shankill Road some thirty years earlier in an effort to beat a confession out of him. He thought to himself: I said I’d never talk, and by God I never did. Although the court case took nearly twenty five years to settle, the £1.8 million he was awarded allowed him to buy this gorgeous place and retire to Martinique, a rich man. His wife approached him a few minutes later carrying a tray with orange juice and fresh fruit. He thought to himself: all in all, not a bad bargain I’d have to say. Turning to his wife he said “you know what the best part about this place is don’t you love.” “No” she replied, ‘what?” “No bloody Irishmen” then they both laughed for a very long time.

    • The skeleton’s hand moved towards him. He observed it with interest – the bones didn’t seem to be held together by anything.
      His hand moved almost automatically to shake the arrangement of bones.
      “Hello!” said the skeleton in a buttery baritone.
      He flinched at the unexpected warmth of the bones. He found himself oddly reminded of his Aunt Florence. Not for the boney hands as much as for the baritone.
      “You’re warm,” Barry said, snapping to.
      “True enough,” the smooth-talking bone pile replied. “But is that really the oddest part of this exchange?”
      “I would have to say it was. Creepy house, voices telling me to get out, yet I push on, inexplicably driven to go into the small room in the far end of the basement, and here you are. Right on cue, I’d say.”
      “Sorry my originality is somewhat lacking. But the warmth could be some sort of strange life force. Isn’t there something we can work with there?”
      “I’m not seeing it.” Barry cocked his head slightly to one side, as if trying to decide if the cobwebs really made a statement against the damp cinderblock walls.
      “What if the force was pure evil? The embodiment of rage? Invisible fishing line?”
      “You have a really pleasant voice. You’re too warm all the way around to be evil, really. Maybe that’s what’s throwing me off.”
      “Well, pardon my French,” the skeleton retorted, “but that’s a load of bull. Perhaps our time would be better spent in working on where you’ve lost your connection to reality. Greeted by an animated skeleton in a haunted house, and you’re biggest concern is for my voice?”
      “I think I mentioned warmth first.”
      “I think you really are scared. Petrified even. Yet you choose to ignore the fear rather than deal with it. It’s time you wake up.”
      Daylight was now attempting to pry its way past Barry’s eyelids.
      “It’s time you wake up! I’m off to work.” Annie stomped once and left the room. “You might consider work yourself!”
      He did really love her voice, even if she was a nag.

    • aparatu says:

      The skeleton’s hand moved towards him. He observed it with interest – the bones didn’t seem to be held together by anything.
      His hand moved almost automatically to shake the arrangement of bones.
      “Hello!” said the skeleton in a buttery baritone.
      He flinched at the unexpected warmth of the bones.

      “Hi.” His throat was unexpectedly dry. He wondered if looking into the skeleton’s eye sockets was polite, if it counted for eye contact.
      “My name is Maurizio,” said the skeleton, before Adam had a chance to decide where he should be looking. “What’s yours?”
      “I’m Adam. Do you have any idea where we are?”
      “Why, of course. This is my domain. Everything you can see, far and wide, belongs to me, and me alone.”
      “Does that mean… is this… uhm… then, are you…”
      The skeleton abruptly threw his head back as he roared with the loudest, most unexpected bout of laughter Adam had ever witnessed. Bones rattled, joints creaked, and by the time it was over, Adam was half amazed the skeleton was still in one piece.
      “You thought I was Death, didn’t you?”
      Adam shifted his feet and looked down, sheepishly.
      “No, my good man, I just told you. My name is Maurizio. I am acquainted with he whom you call Death, although not in the way you’d expect. We look nothing alike, by the way.”
      “I understand. Would you happen to know why I’m here?”
      “I have no idea.”
      Adam’s shoulders sagged visibly.
      “But I think I know how we can find out together. Are you familiar with the creature they call The Spinner?”
      “No, I don’t believe I am.”
      “It’s probably for the best. Well, brace yourself, it’s a fairly long walk to his quarters.”
      “What exactly does he spin?”

    • The skeleton’s hand moved towards him. He observed it with interest – the bones didn’t seem to be held together by anything.
      His hand moved almost automatically to shake the arrangement of bones. “Hello!” said the skeleton in a buttery baritone.
      He flinched at the unexpected warmth of the bones.
      “You would shake the hand of one you do not know and most certainly cannot understand?” its hollow tone spoke again.
      Gerald finally managed gather his scattered thoughts to reply, “In this place, nothing surprises me anymore. I wonder if you can help me?”
      The skeleton’s hand flexed slightly and its voice echoed throughout the room. “I already have helped you…”
      Gerald could feel the tingles throughout his body before he even dared to look down. As he did, the tingles grew sharper and he gasped in shock as the thumb and index finger of his left hand, the hand he had extended to the skeleton, started to stiffen. The skin, beginning to rot away and his own bone coming clear amidst a splaying of blood and flesh. “No!” he yelped, knowing it was too late. “Yes!” the skeleton boomed, bones clanking and shuddering with excitement.
      It felt like hours to Gerald, and the pain was excruciating. However in what was more like around 5 minutes, all that was left was clean, sparkling, skeleton bone, the rest of what was his human body lying around him.
      Gerald raised his now somewhat lighter head to face the maker of his predicament. “What…have you…done to me?” He cringed at the sound of his own, now hollow voice filling the room.
      The skeleton laughed, each reverberation swelling and echoing between them. “I have freed you.”

    • Jim says:

      The skeleton’s hand moved towards him. He observed it with interest – the bones didn’t seem to be held together by anything.
      His hand moved almost automatically to shake the arrangement of bones.
      “Hello!” said the skeleton in a buttery baritone.
      He flinched at the unexpected warmth of the bones and thought to himself “isn’t death cold”? The skeleton took another tentative step toward him and he noticed a very slight jerking like motion. It almost reminded him of the puppet theaters he had watched as a child. Intuitively he knew that it was time to begin taking mental notes and he commanded his subconscious to remind him of all significant data he wished to collect.
      He adjusted the miniature viewing device affixed to his glasses, pressed F5 on the crystal keyboard and entered levitation mode. The skeleton immediately began to float upwards. He noted, with smug satisfaction that there was no jerking motion now and hoped that the previous pattern would be an easy to spot programming error. When the skeleton was about a meter and a half above the floor he typed a brief command which caused the skeleton to make a half turn toward him and appear to sit up.
      Next he tested voice mode and noted that current programming would allow the skeleton’s voice to range about an octave on either side of middle C. There appeared to be no ‘butteryness’ to the baritone now.
      What had started out as a really weird birthday hoax for his current girlfriend seemed to be just about ready for its first presentation to the board of directors of ‘Pilot Spec’, as for now, a top secret virtual reality startup set to pounce upon the public in just a few short weeks.

      • David Alexander says:

        Loved it ! Most creative

    • The skeleton’s hand moved towards him. He observed it with interest – the bones didn’t seem to be held together by anything.

      His hand moved almost automatically to shake the arrangement of bones.

      “Hello!” said the skeleton in a buttery baritone. He flinched at the unexpected warmth of the bones.

      He tried to remain calm and took a deep breathe in as his nose suddenly filled with the skeletons acrid breathe, the air smelt like a combination of rotting trash in a summer’s heat and the old smell of his grandmother’s house.

      He composed himself and turned to his right and grabbed a pinewood handled torch off the cave wall and waved it in front of the skeleton.

      The torch did absolutely nothing except to pique the skeletons curiosity. The skeleton leaned forward and dropped his jaw open.

      “Now why would you do that?” he said and put his gnarly fingers to his chin tapping it lightly the noise echoing in the cave.

      “Is this…is this some kind of joke?” the man said.

      “Why, not at all my friend” The skeletons voices seemed calm and reassuring.

      A breeze kicked up amongst the musty walls of the cave causing the few torches that lit the way to flicker and cast dancing shadows on the walls.

      The breeze felt good on the man’s face as it cooled the tiny beads of sweat dripping down his head and nose cooling his entire face. He licked off the sweat off his upper lip.

      His lower lip started quiver when the skeleton asked “Are you alright?”

      The man moved back slowly to replace the torch of tightly wound wax and hemp back on the wall and looked wearily at the skeleton. “I feel a little weak in the knees`, that’s all.”

      The skeleton reached down and wrapped his hands around his left leg above the knee and began to swing his leg back and forth. His ankle, leg and knee made a crunching and clicking sound as it moved back and forth like a pendulum.

      “I know what you mean I feel that way every day.”

      • Nann Dunne says:

        Nicely done for touching the senses! Good humor, too.

    • HH says:

      The skeleton’s hand moved towards him. He observed it with interest – the bones didn’t seem to be held together by anything.
      His hand moved almost automatically to shake the arrangement of bones.
      “Hello!” said the skeleton in a buttery baritone.
      He flinched at the unexpected warmth of the bones.
      “I’m sorry,” he said, flushing with embarrassment. “I didn’t realize you were… Er…”
      “Dead?” the skeleton offered helpfully.
      “No, no, I had gotten that part. It’s just that the dead are usually…” He drifted off, unsure of how to explain the situation.
      “I understand,” the skeleton said. “It’s an easy mistake to make. But as long as we’re making introductions, tell me, what’s your name?”
      “I’m Brent,” he replied. “What about you?”
      “I, my friend, am Carlson, and before you ask, I have been dead for nearly one hundred and three years.”
      “You look wonderful for your age,” Brent said.
      “Thank you,” Carlson replied, bowing his head gracefully. Brent couldn’t help but stare at the scars in his cranium where the bones had fused.
      “I’m sorry for staring,” Brent said, noting the skeleton tapping his phalanges with slight temper. “I’ve never met a skeleton before.”
      “And you set off to meet one then, I presume?” Carlson asked. “Well here I am! Ask me anything you like!”
      “Actually,” Brent flushed again. He had never done well in social situations, and he hadn’t yet gotten used to speaking to the night-creatures. “I was trying to find Countess Rune. Can you direct me to her office?”
      “Just one door down,” Carlson said. “An unfortunate error, but it was wonderful to meet you, nonetheless.”
      “Thanks for your help,” Brent said, smiling a little.
      “No problem, my friend,” Carlson replied, his teeth clacking together. He crossed his legs, and spun around in his swivel chair. “Just remember, if you ever need anyone to talk to, I’m here!”
      Brent nodded, and slipped back into the hallway. He couldn’t help but shake his head. His first day on the job and he was already getting lost. Thank goodness for friendly skeletons who knew their way around.

    • Enibokun says:

      The skeleton’s hand moved towards him. He observed it with interest – the bones didn’t seem to be held together by anything.

      His hand moved almost automatically to shake the arrangement of bones.

      “Hello!” said the skeleton in a buttery baritone.

      He flinched at the unexpected warmth of the bones.
      Harry has always wondered about this small cave on the way to his home. It disturbed his sleep and his thoughts. He often found that his mind wandered even while talking to his friends, so on this fateful Saturday morning, he decided to satisfy his curiosity. It was rather cold and chilly but he put on some warm clothes, wore his boots, took a flashlight and headed for the cave.
      Seeing the bones startled him, it was worse still that the bones could talk!
      The skeleton said to him ‘you are about to make a very bad decision. I know you have been jobless for some time now but you shouldn’t go work for that company. They evade taxes, don’t pay their employees and there isn’t much opportunities for growth in there. You are meant for better things. Infact, you should start your own company. I know you have so many questions, don’t worry because the answers would come to you’ . Before Harry could alter a word the skeleton disappeared!!. A sudden fright came over him. He tried to rush out of the cave. He couldn’t find his way out. He felt dizzy. Cold sweat broke all over him and then he work up. It was all a dream!!!

    • breanna says:

      The skeleton’s hand moved towards him. He observed it with interest – the bones didn’t seem to be held together by anything.
      His hand moved almost automatically to shake the arrangement of bones.
      “Hello!” said the skeleton in a buttery baritone.
      He flinched at the unexpected warmth of the bones. Xeno watch the bones walk with his… its? Hand out continuing to chatter.
      “My name is Bart, i know Barty Bones right? But I’ve been Bart long before I was bones. its been years since we had a live one! Why I think the last one was what Kathy cat?!” He waved his hand over towards a Zombie creature that might have once been a cat but was so decayed and rotting that it no longer looked like a cat. His hand bones grabbed Xeno’s hand and shook it.

    • Charles says:

      The skeleton’s hand moved towards him. He observed it with interest – the bones didn’t seem to be held together by anything.
      His hand moved almost automatically to shake the arrangement of bones.
      “Hello!” said the skeleton in a buttery baritone.
      He flinched at the unexpected warmth of the bones.
      A slow iciness drifted across his skull. “This skeleton’s alive,” he said to himself. “Well, that settles one question. What about the next – is it friendly?”
      “Hello,” he replied, backing away, not recognising his own voice. “My apologies,”he added. “I didn’t mean to touch – “
      “Oh, that’s perfectly fine,” said the skeleton, rattling its bones. “People do that all the time. And talking of time, what is it – the time –right now?”
      Of course, this shouldn’t be happening, thought John, gritting his teeth to reassure himself that this was perfectly natural. But! But! But! It was an undeniable fact that in the real world, skeletons aren’t warm and they don’t talk. Since I’m not dreaming, I’m going to be needing a really good explanation really soon.
      “Time?” he said. “The time?” He continued backing away, searching rapidly to left and right. “The time? Ah, it’s” – (he snatched a look at his watch) “it’s time I skedaddled out of here.” And he sped off in all directions, arms and legs flailing in the wind.
      “Damn,” said the skeleton, settling in on itself. “This is so depressing. Will I ever fulfil my mission?”
      He sighed. On the ground at his side lay a back stuffed with exactly one million gold coins. He picked it up and slung it over his shoulder. It had seemed so simple when he took it on, this task – to hand over this treasure as a gift to the first adult human being who was willing simply to accept him without fear or wonderment. He was beginning to despair that such a person didn’t exist.
      The coins clunking around in his sack, he slunk off in the direction of the nether world, a sense of failure haunting his every step.

    • Neil S says:

      The skeleton’s hand moved towards him. He observed it with interest – the bones didn’t seem to be held together by anything.

      His hand moved almost automatically to shake the arrangement of bones.

      “Hello!” said the skeleton in a buttery baritone.

      He flinched at the unexpected warmth of the bones. Looking down, he flinched again, realizing his own wrinkled, spotted hands held not much more substance themselves.

      Looking back into the shadowed cavities that should have been eyes, Bart demanded, “Where exactly are we, and…,” looking around and leaning closer, “…what’s happened to the children?”

      “Ah, yes, the children! They are quite comfortable I assure you.” The skull said with what must have been meant a smile, “The answer to the first part of your question, however, is potentially more… distressing.”

      “Distressing seems to be the order of the day. My only concern is for the children – you can do with me whatever you wish!” He lifted his chin in defiance.

      Spreading his arms wide, the skeleton said, “Do with you? I’m afraid I have misrepresented myself. I have been sent to assist you in any way I can,” hurriedly, he added, “It was your dear wife, Caroline, who sent me.”

      “Caroline? I don’t understand…She has been gone for 20 years.”

      “Ah, yes! Well, that seems to be a growing trend from where I come,” the skeleton said with a warm chuckle. “This must be a lot to take in…and I’m afraid we don’t have the luxury of time for me to offer much more than a tacit explanation.”

      Bart continued to look at the skeleton expectantly.

      “Ah, yes! Right! Well, as you’ll recall, you took a bit of a tumble running through the thicket, “ the skeleton said, looking upward, “Luckily, my comrades were able to intercept the children before they reached the bottom of the ravine, but I’m afraid you proved too much for me to hang onto… So, here we both are.”

      “And where is ‘here’?”

      “Ah, yes! I’m afraid we’re now in his world,” the skeleton said, nodding to the dark form emerging from the shadows.

    • sukie shinn says:

      The skeleton’s hand moved towards him. He observed it with interest – the bones didn’t seem to be held together by anything. His hand moved almost automatically to shake the arrangement of bones.
      “Hello!” said the skeleton in a buttery baritone.
      He flinched at the unexpected warmth of the bones. And blanched slightly at the fact that he was responding with such insouciance. After all, it wasn’t every day he was given the opportunity to hold the hand of a dead person.
      “It’s ok,” came those oily tones once more. “I don’t bite you know!” There was a hint of cajoling laughter behind the innocuous words. And looking-up at the rictous smile spread across those lip-free teeth hinted otherwise. Because those teeth looked like they could administer a very strong bite indeed. If they chose to.
      ‘What’s it like being a skeleton?’ he asked innocently – wondering immediately why he was asking such a ridiculous question. But really, what else was he to say, held fast, as he was, in this firm and bony hand.
      “I mean. Does it feel weird? You know, not having any skin?”
      His insouciance was fast disappearing and he hoped his own trembling voice wasn’t betraying him. But before the skeleton had time to respond, he felt himself being lifted in the air. Radius and ulna-locked, he was scooped-up behind the knees and held aloft – the skeleton’s joints clicking in rhythmic beats.
      “Come join the Dance Macabre!” the skeleton shouted out and the audience held in darkness beyond the footlights of the stage cheered loudly. The pounding of the snare drum beat out wildly against its own tautened and little Tommy Wilkinson laughed out wildly in excitement.
      This year’s pantomine was the best one yet.

    • Nann Dunne says:

      The skeleton’s hand moved towards him. He observed it with interest – the bones didn’t seem to be held together by anything.
      His hand moved almost automatically to shake the arrangement of bones.
      “Hello!” said the skeleton in a buttery baritone.
      He flinched at the unexpected warmth of the bones. “Are you somebody I know?” His voice trembled, and he released his hold.
      “I’m your great-grandfather.”
      “Anson Armitha?”
      “Yes, your namesake and the founder of Armitha Investments. I’m here for a specific purpose.” The skeleton’s hand raised, forestalling Anson’s next words. “Hear me out,” he said. “I had to get a special pass to speak to you. You’ll notice neither your father nor your grandfather has accompanied me. Regretfully, they didn’t make it to the same place I did.”
      He hesitated, and the younger Anson blurted, “Why not?”
      A tremor shook the skeleton. “Because, as each of them rose to be head of the company I founded, they abused their power. Instead of helping less-knowledgeable people who came to them for investment advice, they tricked them. I believe “conned” is the expression now in use. Many people lost everything because of their chicanery.”
      Anson ran a finger around his collar, which suddenly seemed to constrict his breath.
      “And,” the skeleton said, “you’re following that same reprehensible path. I’ve come to warn you, to save you. Look.” A bony finger pointed to the floor, and a red circle of flames opened up. Anson’s father and grandfather raised burning arms and cried out in supplication. Anson shuddered, and the circle disappeared.
      “Tell me how to avoid that.” He shook sweat from his brow. “I’ll do anything.”
      “Mend your ways. Help people in the manner I intended, and make sure your employees get the message.” He removed one of the bony fingers and handed it to Anson. “Keep this to remind you, and someday, perhaps, we’ll meet again.”
      The skeleton vanished, and Anson laid the finger on his desk.
      The door opened. His secretary entered and gasped. “What on earth…?”
      Anson smiled. “That’s an unearthly sign, meant to point me in the right direction.”


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