It’s been a while since I’ve done some real Flash Fiction, so I decided to dig in with another Chuck Wendig challenge! This week over at terribleminds, Chuck issued the challenge of taking a Stephen King title and making a whole new story from it, unrelated to the actual novel by that name! There were bonus points for making it not horror, but I think I only get half of that. 😉 Here’s my flash, Bag of Bones!
Bag of Bones
I didn’t know what else to say when I opened the bag that had been precariously leaned against my front porch step. A cold, white bulb portruded from it, and upon further inspection, it was the end of a femur.
And it wasn’t the only one; there were ribs and finger bones, a jaw and vertebrae. A whole fucking human-worth of bones.
I knew that someone was trying to set me up; after all, I was the only Witch left in Gale Sprig, and my family’s enemy list was much longer than I cared to keep. It wasn’t our fault that they were idiots about magic. I mean, when you want us to work a spell to steal someone’s husband, you’re gonna get what you deserve.
We witches are just the messengers, not the senders.
I pulled up the sagging bag, cinching it as best I could, and dragged it towards the back yard. It wasn’t too heavy, but I wasn’t interested in having a dismembered skeleton on my back.
Drawing the black curtains surrounding the patio closed, I scattered the bones out onto the concrete floor. I didn’t have a lot of time to identify the person, especially if someone had reported them missing, or if someone had robbed a grave to make this happen. People in Gale Sprig were shifty and shitty, and I didn’t put much past them when it came to vengeance.
I began to work the bones back into their skeletal form, carefully arranging the pieces. This wasn’t a small person– the femurs, laid out together, took up a good chunk of space on their own. Long, thick finger bones met wide carpus bones. A rib seemed to be missing.
Thank the gods I had paid attention in anatomy.
Satisfied (mostly) with the work I’d done, I rushed into the house for my massive spellbook. This wasn’t a kind of magic I did often, but the situation dictated the need: I’d have to talk to this guy– girl?– and figure out what the deal was. I flipped through page after page, the edges of the pages turning from white, to gray, to black.
“Here we go, let’s see…”
The incantation didn’t require much. I hurried through the kitchen, collecting herbs, salt, and candles from the pantry, and a few crystals from the bar. Stacking them all on the spellbook, I lugged it all outside.
Note to self: Get a smaller damned spellbook.
Laying the ingredients down, I carefully rounded the skeleton with each item, making a wonky-shaped circle around it. I sighed.
“It’ll have to do.”
I began the ritual, calling for protection in case it was an unsavory character, calling for everyone– and everything– else just to help me find them. Electricity buzzed through the air. A storm seemed to be brewing above the patio. I breathed slowly through my nose, asking the person to come forth.
A quiet stillness overtook the world.
All at once, the bones began to vibrate, each one of them jiggling as if two magnets were pushing them away from one side and towards the other. I kept chanting the incantation, keeping the energy high enough for the spirit to manifest.
An Ahhhhh came through the air. Then another, louder and louder, as if someone was rushing towards me. I braced myself against the concrete.
Ahhhhh– the skeleton sat up mid-sound. “Ahhh, what in the hell is this?!”
Eyes widened, I stared at it, eyebrows raising as its empty eye sockets turned to look at me.
A few moments passed just like that.
“Uh, hey man,” I stammered.
“Hey? Hey is what you’ve got? What the fuck happened to me?!”
I gulped. “I have no idea. Someone, uh, left your bones in front of my house? I was trying to figure out who you were, and hopefully lay you back to rest.”
“I’m dead,” the spirit within the bones said listlessly. “I’m dead!”
“Yes, I know…”
The skeleton turned its head again. “This was Angela’s doing,” he growled, as best as a spirit could. “Always screwing around on me. Never thought she’d put me under though. Damn it!”
I thought back; I had an Angela in from the city, asking for protection, after asking for a cheater spell, as I called them. I refused the cheater spell, but granted the protection. “Oh…”
Had she really killed her spouse to get him out of the picture?
“Well, uh, what’s your name?” I asked with a grimace. “I can tell the authorities something’s happened–”
“Nah, we’re not doing that,” he said with a snap of his jaw. “I’m gonna give Angela what she deserves. It’s Franklin, by the way.”
I bit my upper lip.
“You’re not gonna stop me, are you?” His hollow sockets locked on me again. There was something intimidating about staring directly into a talking skull.
“I, uh, won’t interfere with your free will.” It came out as more of a question than a statement. “If it’s the same Angela, she asked for a protection spell. I gave it to her.” I thought for a moment. “But it’s only against people in the material world, so–”
He smiled as only a spirited skeleton could.
“Oh I’m sure it was her,” he tapped his head, “believes in karma, doesn’t believe in not being shitty. Sounds like she’d get protection for all the wrong she was doing.”
He stood, nearly toppling into the nearby table. “Damn, it’s weird without the muscles holding this operation together.”
“I bet,” I said awkwardly.
“Well, thanks for putting me back together,” he said. “Damn, I just winked at you, but there’s no– yeah. Just know I winked.”
“I’ll take your word for it.”
He stretched his bones, so many of them popping. “This is gonna be fun.”
As he stepped out of the circle, I felt a strange pull. I knew someone on the other side was about to be pissed. “Sorry,” I whispered to the void. “I’m only helping the karmic balance.”
I couldn’t help but grin a little.
“You should probably hide a little, along your way?” I called after his stumbling frame, “Don’t get caught before you do whatever it is you’re doing that I definitely don’t know about!”
He turned, jaw open in a grin, and waved. I turned back into the circle, thanking the spirits and elements and dismissing the walls of protection I had built.
I had handled the situation, gotten it out of my own hair.
And now that Franklin’s back up and walking, boy oh boy, are they gonna be surprised.
Hope you guys enjoyed the story! If you participated, leave me a link to yours so we can all read!