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Feb. 8th, 2007 @ 07:58 pm Dr. Critterstein
Hi friends,

Here's a short story I started. Feedback welcome:

It’s not easy sneaking the ribcage of a turkey up to your bedroom. Two months ago, I stashed the radius, ulna, and fibula of Mum’s roasted chicken in my slipper. That was simple. I made a delicate razor slit in the side panel of my slippers then carefully needled the three bones inside. When I climbed the stairs to my room, I put most of my weight on the opposite foot as not to crush the goods. Last week, I swiped a gorgeous femur from the cafeteria and smuggled it in the front pouch of my bag. I knew it would survive the trip. However, this ribcage is quite different. Mum bought a twenty-one pound turkey and the rib cage was nearly the size of a soccer ball. Additionally, we had lots of company at the table and Mum was busy going in and out of the kitchen. It was clear that I needed alone time with the carcass. My opportunity came when Mum asked me to help clear the table. She bounded off to the kitchen with an armload of dirty soup bowls and a pair of salad tongs so I gripped the turkey platter. The kitchen door swung shut for an instant and I rolled the rib cage into my dress sweater without a speck of hesitation. Mum had her back towards me as I placed the platter on the counter next to her. The platter still held mounds of bones, cartilage, fat, skin, and gravy so the ribs and sternum weren’t missed.
“Thanks Artie-Babe,” she said quickly as she twisted the faucet with a squeal.
“Yes Mum.”
Conversation was chugging along at the dinner table so I took a sharp left up the stairway. Both hands gently cradled the package beneath my sweater. I arrived at my bedroom door, scanned the hallway then shuffled into my bedroom. I closed the door quickly behind me and fastened three deadbolts in a well-rehearsed motion. My Dad often gripes that I spend, “Too much fricken time in the bedroom!”
I peeled back my sweater, retrieved the goods, and placed it on my desk. I got on my knees and reached under my mattress pulling out a secret compartment drawer. It had over 200 bones in organized compartments. The collection came from a mix of animals. Raccoon, squirrel, dog, seagull, cat, iguana, halibut, skunk, and two possums. All found around the yard over the summer. I dissected them and boiled the bones. Some bone stews smelled worse than others. My bone collection consisted of six intact skulls, eighty –three separate vertebrae, half a pound of tarsals, metatarsals, carpals, and metacarpals; six rib cages, seven pelvic bones, two carefully glued sacrum, one chipped coccyx, and over ninety assorted bones of the leg and arm. I gave the drawer a shove and it started retracting back inside the base of my bed.
After double-checking the deadbolts and picking up the turkey rib cage, I entered my closet and waded through what seemed to be six feet of clothes still in plastic. Aunt Bev moved in with us when Uncle Cecil died last May. She came with all her clothes. Once through the forest of clothes smelling of moth balls and old lady perfume, I hopped onto an old crate in the back corner of my walk-in closet. My hand fumbled for the latch above and opened the trap door to the hidden part of the attic. It was completely closed off from the normal attic and only I knew about this trap door. I pulled myself up through the trap door and dusted myself off.
My secret laboratory was as Jimmy Calway says in gym class, “Sa-weeet!” I had all the necessary supplies for a small science lab: small frig, buckets of formaldehyde, two hundred and thirty books about science and anatomy, a computer with cable modem internet access, and three dissecting kits swiped from different schools. My own laboratory! The first thing I do when I come up here is reach for my long white overcoat. When I write in my lab journal I sign my name Dr. Critterstein. It’s just something fun that I do. I take pride in taking careful notes in my lab journal on everything I observe such as weights and textures of dissected organs, and descriptions of muscle elasticity. That’s what scientists are supposed to do.
The stove turned on with a picked-up-at-a-yard-sale hum and I retrieved my Dad’s camping kettle. It worked very well for boiling away the fat and muscle from bones. Using tongs, I lowered the ribs into the water and sat down to wait. Usually, I listen to classical music when I await bone cleaning. I despise the moronic music that my classmates enjoy like the Backstreet Boys. Pop music is a bunch of no-talent dolts making fools of themselves. I prefer the classical composers that have withstood the test of time such as Ludwig van Beethoven and Dmitri Shostakovich – you know – “the good sheeeyitt” as Uncle Cecil used to say. Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony – The Pastoral is a favorite because the breaks between movements are perfect times to complete steps in the cleaning of the bones. Between movements one and two – strain the fat and return to the stove, between movements two and three – add sea salt and Canola oil to hard the bone, and between movements three and four – turn the heat off and allow time to cool.
At 2:35am, I awoke steeped in sweat from the worst nightmare yet. I’ve been having nightmares for the last month but I don’t know why. How can I talk to my parents about dreams that are so horrible? Tonight’s dream began with me swimming. Everything was dark and warm. I could feel particles bouncing off my back as I surged through liquid tunnels. Everything got brighter and I saw what looked to be an enormous heart. Valves sealed together and the heart squeezed and sent blood and my body soaring through the aorta artery with such force that I could feel my skin burn from the friction. As I sailed through the artery, I began to see more clearly. All my surroundings became eerily transparent. As my vision got clearer, I realized that I could see microscopic objects. But I couldn’t just see these microscopic things - I was the same size as them! There were viruses with sharp spurs sticking out like torturous spikes and bacteria that spun awkwardly and gave off horrid odors. The stink was the kind of awful odor where as soon as you come across it you start looking for squirming maggots. A mammoth viral cell suddenly latched onto me like a jiu-jitsu master. I remember hearing a high-pitched scream that sent waves of tremors throughout my spine and caused my entire body to hum. It must have been a signal for other viral cells. A signal that gave the message that a host had been found. I heard a slightly lower scream and saw two other viral cells spiraling towards me from below. It felt like jackhammers were chopping away at my stomach. The jackhammers were cutting through each layer of skin and muscle then lodged inside my small intestines. My chest heaved violently as the viruses squirted thick dollops of digestive juices into my abdomen and lungs. All I felt was pain as the team of viral cells slowly split open my stomach. I looked down at my body and saw that I was splayed in two, as I had done to many a baked stuffed lobster at Cape Cod. The virus bullies convened over my exposed insides and seemed to give each other a nod and with that they buried their horns and teeth into my guts. They tore and slurped at my organs as I screamed bubbles into the surrounding blood. I awoke with tears smeared down my face and neck.
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