Bones: Part Three.

by | Mar 6, 2024 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

“Accept.”

You are cordially invited to attend a concert on behalf of the six million souls exhumed and deposited under this city in the name of progress.

You will be treated to modern classical music from some of our most eminent composers.

The date is Thursday April first in this year of our Lord 1897

The venue is the place of deposition.

The Catacombs, 

Place Denfert-Rochereau,

Paris.

You are requested not to alight taxis at the above address as this is an exclusive occasion and we wish to avoid attention. Please make your way on foot from a suitable distance.

R.S.V.P.

***

The Marquis threw the envelope into the fire. Flames wrapped around the yellow paper, turning it brown then black, before  igniting and tracing the path to the red wax of the seal. The wax bubbled furiously before exploding in an incendiary of colour. The light from the seal cast a combination of shapes and shadows on the walls surrounding the Marquis in ghost-like apparitions. His eyes opened wide, threatening to leave their sockets at the sights and sounds created by the burning fuel. One shape resembled a snake and was accompanied by a hissing from the flames in perfect synchronicity, giving it life. The shadow wrapped itself around the man and breath left his body. For a few seconds, his diaphragm was rigid. At the end of the sound one word was clear.

“Accept.”

The seal disappeared in a final crackle, extinguishing the light show and causing the snake to vanish. The Marquis collapsed onto the carpet, gasping for air, hands at his throat. He grabbed the handle near the fireplace and pulled.

***

The boy rubbed his knee furiously as the pain throbbed. Soon he would no longer have to suffer physical harm. He would be free from this cruel, judgemental world, either way. Even death would be more acceptable than this tortuous life and his master had promised a quick and painless one. This would only happen in the event of the concert failing and the boy had every confidence in its success. If the latter was the case, he’d been promised a life which would surpass anything the attendees had experienced. Not riches at the expense of the masses, but personal wealth of the kind money could not buy.

He returned to his lodgings and opened the door to witness his landlord slapping a fellow tenant around the head.

“One more week or you’ll be floating down the Seine with the rest of the rubbish,” he spat, raining several more blows on the unfortunate fellow. The boy coughed loudly and greeted his lessor.

“Good evening Monsieur Sante. It’s cold out,” he shouted.

“Ah, Gaston, my boy. I wish they were all like you. They’ll have me in the poor house,” the old man addressed the boy. Gaston slid his hand into his pocket and took out the shiny Semeuse.

“Here, sir. This month in advance and his arrears. Keep the change,” he said, nodding at the bloody victim.

“You’ll go to Heaven for sure, my boy,” the landlord replied, placing the five Franc piece between his teeth and biting hard. He nodded with approval, wiped the coin on his sleeve and put it in his pocket.

“I sincerely hope not,” muttered the boy under his breath.

“Pardon?” Sante asked, shoving the man to the floor.

“I said, sir. You’re too kind,” Gaston responded clearly. He picked his fellow lodger off the floor and helped him upstairs. The man managed a faint smile of gratitude before collapsing into his flea-pit of a bed.

***

The bell sounded deep in the bowels of the house. Before the sound had dissipated, the Marquis added his own voice to the summons.

“Francoise? Where the Hell are you? Here, now!” He bawled, still shaking at his experience with the flames. He picked up the invitation and it shook in his hand like a debutant’s fan. Grabbing his wrist with the other hand, he tried to steady his nerves. “Francoise!”

The old man entered the room, already cowering to his master. 

“Forgive me, my Lord. I was in the kitchen supervising supper. That cook is a lazy bitch,” There was an initial tremble in his voice, which firmed up as he passed the buck onto the absent servant.

“Kettle and pot springs to mind,” Retorted the master to his bowed servant. “Now, the boy.”

“Boy sir?” Francoise was relieved that he’d escaped a beating.

“Yes, the boy. From this morning. Are you senile or something? What did he say?” The Marquis’ face turned puce and he reached for his walking stick.

“Oh that boy. He said he’d return tomorrow for your reply. “ This was a lie, but he knew that anything else would end in a beating.

“Very good. Fetch my writing set, immediately.” The master let go of the stick and it clattered against the fireplace causing the butler to flinch.

“Yes sir. Right away sir.” He remained bent and took his usual leave without taking his eyes off the Marquis. When the old man had shut the door, his master slumped into the chair. 

“Curse you Dugarry” Why did you ever get me involved with those damned bones?” He growled through gritted teeth.

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