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It’s Friday! And you know what that means, storytime! Another flash fiction challenge, this time I had to pick a title from a list and this one spoke to me. For some reason, I almost immediately thought of the catacombs underneath Paris. It was fun to write and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I liked writing it. Have a good weekend and happy reading!

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Two skulls

“How many times have you been patted on the head to see if you were real?”

“I’ve stopped counting, I got fed up,” skull John turned to his friend. “Since they opened up the catacombs I’ve decided to just roll with it. No point in getting irritated with the tourists, they’ll keep coming and it’s not like we’re going anywhere soon.

The other skull, Bob, had to agree with him. “I know we’re not going anywhere, I have endlessly tried to pry myself loose from this stack but so far, no luck.”

Both skulls sat atop a big pile of bones, in one of the most iconic catacombs of the world, Paris. Stacked there to deal with surplus from the graveyards above, and since the end of the 19th century as a tourist attraction. But lately, it had become increasingly busy with tourists from all over the world. Why, the skulls didn’t know, as they had no clue what was happening in the world above their heads. It didn’t make their lives any easier, no eternal rest for these underground remains.

“No limits, what would you wanna be or do if we weren’t stuck here? Would you have liked to rot away in the ground?” Bob asked his eternal neighbor.

“With all those creepy crawlers digging around, no thank you! I think I would’ve liked to become a Diá de Los Muertos skull. All decorated and paraded around once a year. Keeps you in touch with the world around you.” John said, already drifting away in a daydream.

“Really? Although those sugar skulls are beautiful, I must say.” Bob replied, “I would’ve liked to be a research skull or something. Displayed in a classroom or a museum. Looking at the world without the world constantly touching me…” Both skulls sunk away in their own fantasy world.

The next morning it was an early rise for the inhabitants of the catacombs. Tours started around 8.30 to accommodate all the tourists visiting the famous site. Most of them were just there for the sensation, others were hoping to see a ghost or have a spiritual encounter. In almost ninety percent of the cases, it were the remains and skulls playing tricks on the tourists. Try lying there for so long and not get bored with yourself.

John also had a particularly tough morning. He had been dreaming about a better life all night and was now bummed out with reality. The first flock of tourists flowed into their chamber and John’s irritation grew. The photographs, the flashing lights, people taking photos of themselves with the skulls. All the languages, the screaming children testing the echo, the litter being thrown. He was beyond fed up with it.

John wrestled through the rest of the day, trying to form a plan in between the frustration of the tourists. By the time the tours were over, John still didn’t have a plan. Frustration was passing into anger and that was passing into madness. He was tired, done, spent. With all his strength he pushed against the bond that was holding him there. It woke all of the other inhabitants of the catacombs. Some screamed at the noise, scared of what was happening, but others rooted for John. He clearly wasn’t the only one fed up with the place.

The cheering gave him renewed force and John kept pushing and pulling. It took him all night, but just before dawn, John broke clean of the pile. He took a dive forward, broke a couple of teeth and cracked the roof of his skull. But he was free! Finally released from the pile and all of his unpleasant neighbors.

John kept still for a couple of minutes, thinking about what to do next. He never expected to succeed so he had no next step prepared. Then he rolled himself over to a more hidden spot. Now he had to wait for the first tour. When the tourists flowed in, John picked a suitable couple and strategically rolled himself against the foot of the man. What happened next was a dream coming true for John. The man saw an exceptional opportunity. He looked around for witnesses, then bent over to tie his shoelace. With the slyness of a thief, he grabbed the skull and stuffed it in his bag.

A week later John was in a bookcase halfway across the world. Safely hidden away from eager children’s fingers and positioned directly in front of the TV. He was trying hard to catch up to the world he could see outside the window, but being cooped up so long underground he had missed a lot. Only now, John had all the time in the world to do so, and he was finally happy with his resting place.