This weeks challenge from Flash Fiction Friday was to write about bones. Here's the prompt -
Recently, I found six turkey wishbones in my basement … all dated. Now, these are artifacts left behind by the former owners of the house, I assume they were collected by the husband, Speedy, who was a sentimental handyman of the highest order. The only thing I could think of was why keep these? Why not wish on them instead? What makes these keepsakes? And ew.
So now I’m going to ask you.
Prompt: Write a story about someone finding bones in a mundane place and their investigation of why they were there
Word Limit: 1,200
Genre: Mystery, Crime, Sci-Fi
Deadline: Wednesday, February 27 at 9:00 p.m. ET
I decided to constrain this further by using characters from a recent story about a portal. I want to see how that one – and the characters – might go further. This is short – less than 700 words.
Mary liked their first house, in spite of it's history. It was a cute row house, in a trendy neighbourhood, upgraded and decorated beautifully. Their agent had talked of a toddler, just learning to walk in his cute Nike sneakers, that had supposedly wandered into the back yard and disappeared, never to be found, driving his parents into despair and depression.
The rumour didn't make sense to Mary. The yard was completely surrounded with a high fence and didn't even have a gate. No matter what, the history made the house affordable for them, a new couple with a baby and very little cash for a down payment. Mary was carrying a crushing debt from two years of medical school, Dave had his MBA costs, but luckily he had just been promoted to Regional sales manager, with a big bonus. The job did mean he would be away for days at a time, but it was a short term arrangement. Soon he'd be working nine to five in the head office, little Danny would be in day care, and Mary back to medical school.
In the meantime, she was learning to cook, changing diapers, and trying to fit into the with the neighbourhood yummy mummies. Not her type, but she was trying.
Dave had brought home a dog to keep her company while he was away. Sparks was a feisty little terrier, full of energy, who seemed to always be wanting out - then in - then out again. Mary finally undid the row of screws holding the old doggie door shut and let Sparks do his own thing. He seemed afraid to use the door at first. He acted as if it wasn't exactly the same yard if he went out that way, but eventually he came to his senses and was in and out all day. Somehow he also managed to find more mud and dirt on the other side of the door than she thought their barren yard could hold. A few times, though, Sparks had shot back through the door, ears back and tail down, quivering with fear, heading straight under the table. She'd thought she heard claws on the other side of the door, but when she cautiously peeked through the window, the yard was empty.
Then the bones started appearing.
Sparks would bring them in to chew on, then leave them around for her to trip over in the middle of the night as she headed for the fridge to get a bottle for Danny. She assumed they came from a nearby neighbour's garbage. In spite of the solid fence she guessed that Sparks had burrowed underneath somewhere. There was dirt on some of the bones though, so she checked the yard for perhaps a cache left by the Johnston's dog, but couldn't find any signs of digging. Over a few days Sparks brought in a ham bone, chicken bones, even leftover ribs. When he brought in some smaller bones, long and delicate, Mary was curious. They looked like they might be from the delicate paw of a racoon, but her medical training made her question that, so she sent some off to her friend Kathy. Kathy had just graduated and was hoping - eventually - to be a forensic anthropologist.
Mary was just feeding Danny his lunch when the phone rang.
"Mary, it's Kathy. I've looked at what you sent me. Has your dog brought any more in?"
"Not lately," said Mary. "But he's out again now, so who knows."
"Keep him in, please." said Kathy. "I'd like to send a team out to look for more bones, they are not what you assumed - not good news I'm afraid."
Mary was about to question her friend further when she looked at the doggie door and had her answer. Sparks was just making his way back in - holding a tiny Nike sneaker in his teeth.