Skeleton

“Get the sacrificial blade,” my master commanded. 

I waddled over to the table behind her and hesitated. There were three blades sitting before me. One with gems along its handle and cross guard, one sharp only on one end with a curved tip, and one with four prongs sticking out its top. My lips and tongue had dried away long ago, so it let my jaw hang open stupidly. 

“Please! I don’t know what you…!” I stopped paying attention to the sacrifice, but you know how they are: screaming and wailing.

“Geldry, what are you doing?” Master hissed. “Knife! Bring me the knife!”

I didn’t have the heart to tell Master I wasn’t sure which one to take, so I picked the one with the curved tip and brought it over. She took the blade without looking. 

“Relax, my servant,” she said to Sacrifice, her voice like velvet, “you will enter a state of eternal bliss. You will serve a greater purpose for…”

She stopped, her knife stretched across Sacrifice’s throat. 

“Geldry,” she said softly to me, “what is this?”

I looked between Master and Sacrifice. “Hmm?”

“This, darling. What is this doing in my hand?”

She was waving around the knife. Something about it was vaguely familiar, something on the tip of my tongue. Hehe. 

“Well, that’s a knife, Master,” I said, pointing out what was plain as day.

“Gledry,” she said softly. 

“Yes?”

“How am I supposed to slit a man’s throat with a butter knife?”

Ah. My mistake. 

“Oh, pardon me, Master! Been a bit since I used one of those!” Truth be told, I don’t remember what the fuck a butter knife is, but that eliminated one knife from the table. I went to grab the next … and paused. 

The bejeweled knife sparkled up at me, shining light into my empty sockets. Beside it was the four-pronged knife. Again, I faced a conundrum. The bejeweled knife was obviously the right one, right? It had jewels, a neat little crossguard— hey, it even had its own little etchings along the blade! 

But then there was the other knife. Four prongs… four times the amount of stabbing. I could make use of that. So could Master. Besides, the jeweled one was too sparkly, it couldn’t possibly be the right choice! 

The right choice was obvious. 

“See, Geldry… this is a fucking fork.”

I stared at Master. Sacrifice quivered and glanced between the two of us.

“See, but,” I said, “I understand you said knife, but this one is better for poking.”

She stared at me. 

So I continued, “you know, if you wanna stab him, like I think you’re gonna… you got four things on one handle to do it.”

“Geldry…” 

“Yes?”

“Get. Me. The knife.”

I nodded, my teeth clattering together. I returned the bejeweled knife to Master. She put the fork and the ‘butter knife’ in each of my eye holes. I assumed she did so to spare me the bloody sight of Sacrifice. 

He gave a gurgled cry and then it was done. When she finally took the silverware from my eyes, Master was smiling. 

I smiled back. Until I saw that Sacrifice was still moving… sort of. His body began to float in the center of the ritual circle, arms outstretched. There was a red line along his neck. The blood from within seemed to slither out like a dancing snake. 

Master faced Sacrifice and began to chant. She swayed her hips entrancingly. Her whole body was fluid and serpentine. Behind her back, I tried to replicate her dance but the best I could do was grind my pelvis against my thigh bones. Suddenly, the candles in the room blew out. A light shone on Sacrifice. His eyes shot open. “Esmeralda.”

“Mephistopheles.”

Sacrifice blinked. “You have summoned a greater power than you bargained for, Esmeralda.”

“Yes, I’m quivering in my boots,” she said dryly. 

“I will crush you like a badger to a cobra!” screamed Sacrifice. 

“Geez.” 

Both of them turned to me, and I then realized I’d said that out loud. 

“Silence your minion, SLAVE!”

Esmeralda swiveled back to Sacrifice. “I am not your slave, fool! You are mine to bargain with, and mine alone!”

Sacrifice twisted his face into a hideous grimace, the folds of his skin between his eyes layering infinitely. “I will flay the flesh from your bones, grind your remains into—“

“Rude.” 

Again, they both turned to me. 

“You can hardly control your minion, Esmeralda. What makes you think you can bind a god?”

“You are no god,” she hissed. 

“I put the heavens to shame, mortal wench. I have been stoking the fires of hell long before your kind ever set foot on this world. You’re out of your league.” He turned to me, “what is your name, minion?”

I answered reactively, “Geldry.”

“Geldryyyyyy,” Sacrifice said, his voice too breathy for my liking. “You may serve under a new Master soon, eh, Geldry?”

“Silence, Mephistopheles,” said Master. 

“Oh? You have bound me, Esmeralda— but you do not yet command me.”

“‘Yet,’” she repeated. 

And so she began to chant again. Sacrifice began to moan, louder and louder until it crescendoed into a scream. Master shouted to match him. Her chanting became more erratic, maddened and sharp around the edges. I tried to cover my ears, but I remembered too late that I don’t have any ears anymore. So the screaming kept on hurting. So I screamed back. I screamed until I got her attention and a look of horror stretched across her face. 

She slipped up then. And suddenly, all hell broke loose. The room exploded. Master went flying into the wall in several parts. The tables and shelves in Master’s ritual room splintered thousands of shards.

I went flying into a heap of bones. 

The room lay silent for a moment. What was left of the ritual books feathered down to the floor. Then Sacrifice began to laugh. 

“Oh, Esmeralda. You should be so lucky to be summoned one day. If you’d been any better a necromancer, perhaps…”

My vision of Sacrifice was upside down for a moment. I saw the rest of my body reassembling like rain falling backwards until my head mounted its usual spot on my shoulders. 

“Ah!” said Sacrifice. “My savior.” 

I may not have a brain anymore, but I recognize sarcasm when I hear it. 

“Come, minion. Let Mephistopheles be a demon of his word… you have a new master now, don’t you?”

I glanced over at the dilapidated form of Master’s body. The blast had torn her apart. 

“Oh… Gently, was it? Geedy? Oh, who cares? Come see to my wounds, I appear to have one of your knives lodged in my arm.”

This was my fault. Master was dead because I interrupted the ritual. I blew it. 

I shambled over to Sacrifice. I pulled the butter knife from his arm with my head bowed. 

“You’re lucky I’m sparing you, you know?” he said to me. “I’m far too lenient upon the undead, methinks.”

I nodded. Then my eye caught a familiar object. Sacrifice didn’t notice as I palmed it, too caught up in his monologue. 

“Yes…I will see to it that you perform all of the tasks and chores you were responsible for under Esmeralda. But perhaps her bones could serve as a—“

Sacrifice stopped talking then. It had something to do with the fork in his eye, I think. The glowy lights in his eyes faded away and Sacrifice went back to being dead. 

I shambled over to the spot where I’d last seen Master. 

I am not a wizard. In my past life, I don’t think I even learned to read. But I do know one spell: The one that made me. This was my fault and so I would fix it. 

I began to chant, the words clattering together in my loose jaw. Bring back what was lost, I thought. Bring back my light. 

Master rose back up,  her flesh melting away like shadows in the sun. Gone was her black hair, her green eyes, her dark skin. But as her limbs began to float back together again, the sinews fading away, her form became familiar. 

“Geldry,” said Master. “Why am I a skeleton?”

I didn’t answer. We looked the same now, if only for the height difference.

“Geldry,” she touched a skeletal hand to my face. My jaw stupidly inched open. “Did you at least banish Mephistopheles?”

I just pointed to the limp form of Sacrifice, the fork still poked into his eye. She sighed. 

“Get my cloak, Geldry. We have a lot of work to do.”

And so we got dressed, wrapping ourselves up in toilet paper like mummies to give the illusion of meat on our bones. We wore gloves and cloaks, covering our bodies completely. By the time we looked human, we were back out on the streets, once again looking for bodies.

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