Dust and Echos
The curator of bones whispers of a distant reality where all the pieces fall into place, as they were meant to be.
All things wither and die, rejoining once more the multitude of carbon based nothing which lies dormant in the dirt. The curator knows this to be true, it whispers of a coming era when all will be dust again, and the curator will rest at last knowing its work is done.
The cycle is unending. As the desiccated corpses reach the office of the curator, they are sliced apart with needle thin blades. The razor sharp ribbons arc with an uncanny accuracy to layer by layer remove the dehydrated flesh, until nothing is left but the off-white bones that already are beginning to brown. Then they are left to soak, one assembly at a time drowns in a chemical cauldron stinking of death and decay, before being placed to dry on a cold black grid when the mixture drains away.
They arrive for the curator fresh from cold storage, a fine layer of ice glazed over their surface. They have been purged of any odors that they might still carry, though the curator cares nothing for such small inconveniences. Fine, spindle tipped limbs spider out from the curator’s form, adhering themselves firmly to the surfaces of the objects they grasp. They warm themselves for just an instant as they contact the bones, melting and then freezing their thin strands to them. The curator works with a mechanical efficiency, swiftly reassembling its masterwork into the correct configuration before disengaging itself from frame.
It is unceasing, precise, and patient. It works without error, clockwork in the silence, rhythmic in its movements. It knows that it is old, and that time immemorable has passed it by. But is singularly consumed by its duty, and will not rest till its responsibilities are fulfilled. It cares not for whom it works, for it does not take pleasure from its service; it knows only that it must perform its sacred task and that failure is unacceptable.
Finished, it steps back on limbs of wire and steel to look upon its creation. There is no pride or elation, only calm inspection to ensure there is no error. The curator will accept only perfection for additions to its collection; if it should discover a flaw, it does not hesitate to begin again. Never do the bones break whilst in its careful hold, though on occasion some intact lengths are removed, set aside to create a mould from which an artificial replacement can be made. It is unknowable as to how the curator might decide which are to be replicated, or if perhaps it receives instructions for when it is to do so. The curator of bones after all, is impassive to the cares of the rest of the world. Only should you attempt to interrupt it will the curator ever halt its mindless progress, frenetically lashing out at the offending insult so it may return to its work.
Its exhibits are displayed in elaborate hall of black on endless black. Marble pillars climb towards the high arched ceiling, which glitters with an army of massive icicles which hang down, forming an icy maw awaiting its prey that is never coming. The walls gleam with an obsidian hue, opaque and lifeless as the rest of the interior. On the display floor, each skeleton is lovingly encased in a case of quartz sheets, the metallic rim heated just enough to keep frost from forming on the viewing pane. There are no signs or labels, no identifiers at all. Unending rows of evenly spaced displays stretch across the massive gallery, with larger pieces taking the place of four, towering over their peers. Yet the curator of bones knows each and every one of them, gliding smoothly through the space between at each dawn and twilight in order to inspect its fine work. Each day it adds four new cases, and each day it spends just a moment longer to perform its careful inspection.
If the curator of bones ever wonders as to what might happen if one day, there are too many displays for it to inspect, it does not show it. Given its stalwart dedication to its task, one might conclude that such a scenario would be most concerning. But of course such planning or forethought is beyond the curator’s station, giving it little reason to speculate on such topics at all. Or perhaps it simply does not even wonder at all, for such thought would take its thoughts from its duties for far too long.
All things must die. This one truth the curator of bones is aware of all too well, and so the curator knows that one day an ending will arrive to its story as well. It knows not when this day will come, but patiently waits its turn. There is no complaint of fatigue or contemplation of respite. It resides in the present, with no thought of past or future. It toils tirelessly, its inner workings clicking and whirring quietly in the silence pressing ever onward to a destination that only it can comprehend, assembling the skeletons in their cases.
And at the end of each day, when it has completed its work of assembly and inspection, the curator of bones stops to examine one final casket which waits empty by the door. One day, when its task is at last complete, the curator will lock itself in this empty case and work no more. But until then, the curator sits patiently, awaiting the next shipment of bones in the morning.