• Vol. 01
  • Chapter 01
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The Carapace

The Carapace

There were other departments in the museum but she had no interest in the sepia photos taken at the time of the Gold Rush; the men with their pickaxes, staring beyond the camera, the women in long gowns, sleeves rolled up revealing muscular arms, panning arms, that sifted through the tons of stone that had been brought to the surface. That was history. Below ground, was pre-history, the history that belonged to the land, the dirt, the soil, the desert. It was more of a catecomb, an ossiary, a grand collection of bones, sorted into categories according to species and tagged accordingly.

She was on the lower ground level where the musty smell reminded her of all the underground places she been to before; caves, tunnels, graves. Something drew her, an uncanny magnetism that brought her back here, time and time again. She never went on holiday anywhere else. It was always this desert town where the only other tourists were the ones who were dispatched from their buses for a comfort stop while the buses refuelled. The cafe had no air conditioning and the counter had a scattering of dead flies. The service was slow, so slow that many gave up and left, hungry and thirsty.

The museum opened early on week days and closed for long siestas that stretched beyond the hourly clatter of the chapel bell. She was there, just as the museum opened. The conservador came to greet her; he knew her by name. He'd already opened the door to the vault. She looked for the piece that she'd come all this way to see; the carapace, the hood of bones that had contained the body of the ancient creature, the giant. Her friends could not understand why it was special. They would be rushing around their offices, their lives; busy, busy, busy. If only they would come here. They would understand then, about the things that mattered.


The Carapace

Wouldn't she be better on a cruise, a holiday for singles, where she'd meet people, people who were alive. What was so special about bones? They asked her, curious, perplexed, but no time to listen. Why would she want to visit a pile of calcified matter: skulls, femurs, ball joints, ribs. She looked for the alcove where the carapace was kept. Her blood slowed as she saw it. It was just like the first time: its beautiful frilled edge like an embellishment, an ancient bonnet, a hood that had sheltered the oldest of creatures. From here, the scaly neck would stretch from its sheltering hull, slowly turn from side to side, view the world, take in every insect, bird, bush, every grain of sand, and then return to the carapace.