Dust and Echos
The curator of bones whispers of a distant reality where the pieces fall into place, as they were meant to be.
All things die and wither, 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 at last rest easy, 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 thin 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. After, they are left to soak, one assembly at a time drowns in a chemical cauldron stinking of death and decay, before being left 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, that time immemorable has passed it by, but it also knows its duty, and will not rest till its responsibilities are fulfilled. It knows not for whom it works, for it does not take pleasure from its service; it knows only that it must, and that failure is unacceptable.
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 in its collection, if it should discover a flaw, it does not hesitate to begin again to attain it. Never do the bones break under its careful touch, but 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, and non-reacting. Only should you attempt to interrupt its work will it ever move from its ceaseless work, frenetically lashing out to remove the insult so it may return.
Its exhibits are displayed in elaborate hall of black on endless black. Marble pillars climb towards the high arched ceiling, which glitters from the army of massive icicles which hang down, an icy maw awaiting its prey. Each skeleton is lovingly encased in a case of quartz sheets, the metallic rim heated just enough to keep the frost from forming on the viewing pane. There are no signs, no labels, no identification. Just endless rows of evenly spaced displays, the 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 them at each dawn and twilight, inspecting its fine work. Every day it adds four new cases, and every day it spends just a moment longer in its inspection.
If the curator of bones ever wonders at what might happen if one day, there are too many displays for it to inspect, it does not show it. Perhaps it does not even wonder, for such thought would take its thoughts from its duties for far too long.
All things must die, so the curator knows that it too one day must end. It knows not when this day will come, but patiently waits its turn. It does not complain of fatigue, it does not contemplate rest. It resides in the present, with no thought of past or future. It whirs, and clicks, and slides forward, pressing ever onward towards a date which only it can see, assembling its skeletons in their cases. And at the end of each day, the curator of bones stops to inspect the last case, which waits silent and empty by the door. For one day, the curator knows, when its task is at last complete, the curator will lock itself in this empty case and work no more.