This story begins with Globe Without Goodbye – The Shore (1). To access installments in narrative sequence, click on an entry title, then click on “Next” at the end of that installment.
Jeffrey walked into the cave, holding his rock low. He did not know what to expect, but he knew he wanted to rest. Running had tired him. He wanted to hear nothing but his own breathing and heart. He hoped the dim interior of the cave held no surprises.
The dry, sandy bottom of the entrance felt cool against the soles of his feet. As his eyes adjusted to the lack of light, he saw that the cave floor soon became rockier, and he wondered what wind had blown sand into the entrance, as the air had hung so still while he had been running up the shore. He could now see that small rocks littered the floor of the cave, among others too large and heavy for him to roll. A few larger slabs tilted at angles. As he looked at these rocks, he saw two points side by side at the far side of the cave, reflecting the last of the light from the entrance. They drew his attention. He realized the points of light nestled into the head of a familiar shape: a miniature human form. Jeffrey had found a doll with glass eyes.
Jeffrey could see from across the cave, just barely, that the doll with glass eyes balanced on a slab, at about the height of his waist. He picked his way through the rocks to get a closer look. About twelve inches long, its body matched the shadowed interior of the cave in color. Its clear eyes protruded slightly from its flat face. Its proportions were human, but androgynous. It wore no clothing. Most of its joints were articulated, but it had no fingers or toes. It also had no nose, navel, ears, or genitals. Its articulated jaw was closed. It reminded him of the manikins visual artists use to help accurately outline human beings. That type of doll can be positioned, and it did look like this doll had been posed, its calves dangling over its ledge. Whimsically, he decided to move the doll into a different pose. He set his damp rock down on the floor of the cave and picked the doll up.
He couldn’t see exactly how its joints linked together, perhaps some sort of wire, but he could tell by the feel of the doll in his hands that it was made from stones. As he gripped it around its upper arms and lifted, the doll’s legs swiveled. The stones clinked against each other, and when Jeffrey shifted his hands to hold the doll on its back, the doll’s arms also swiveled.
As he studied the human abstraction, its jaw clicked open. A voice issued from the doll, thin and unearthly: “Mind my skeleton!”
He blinked. The doll did not look the least bit alive. He had not expected it to speak, let alone regarding its skeleton. He wondered if its joints were linked with some kind of ligament, not wire. Perhaps it was more fragile than it first appeared to be?
After pausing, the doll spoke again, censorious. “My bones. To your right. Be mindful of them. Why have you come here? Why do you disturb my final rest?”
Thank you for reading! Coming up next week: The skeleton, which holds a book.
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