Guide to Moral Living in Examples: Skeletons

Beep beep, went the car.

It flew down the lane like the bullet that had killed its driver.

The driver, a skeleton, mashed on the gas pedal with a bony foot.

"Watch out, you maniac! You're going to kill someone!" said a figure that dove out of the way of the car.

"OH THAT IS SO TRUE," said the skeleton ominously, which may have been because it was very difficult for a skeleton to avoid being ominous when speaking.

But in this case, it was an accurate speech impediment.

The skeleton blazed over crosswalks and laid a patch of rubber around corners. The brake pedal and parking brake reminisced together about the good old days, before they were unemployed. Before they achieved a proper funk, however, the skeleton furiously hired the brake pedal.

Its yell of joy leaked out through the tires. All four squealed with delight at the good news.

The parking brake tried to be happy for its friend, but no salve came that day. The skeleton got out of the car without putting it on. Or shifting out of gear. The car rolled into a pillar on the building that the skeleton entered.

"Can I help you OH GOD," said the secretary. She thumbed the emergency button and dove under her desk. The skeleton paid her no heed. His bones clicked on the tile floor as he walked towards the elevator. Carefully, as a clump of bones gave poor traction on the smooth surface.

He hit the call button the elevator.

The skeleton listened for the rapid squeak of the security guard's shoes coming around the corner.

"Stop! You there, skeleton, stop or I'll shoot."

"Be my guest," the skeleton said.

The security guard opened fire. His bullets aerated the empty places between the skeleton's ribs.

"GREAT SHOT. IF I HAD A HEART IT WOULD BE RACING." The skeleton stepped onto the elevator. As the doors closed, he stuck a bony arm into the space to stop them. He then detached it and left it to hold the elevator.

The skeleton approached the security guard.

"Please don't hurt me! I have a wife and kids!"

"I WON'T HURT YOU," the skeleton said, which of course, given how he said it, the security guard didn't believe. This annoyed the skeleton. It took longer to get the guard's keycard after he'd curled up into the fetal position.

Returning to the elevator and re-attaching his arm, he rode the elevator up, up, up, as close to heaven as he could get in the steel tomb. The doors dinged open and deposited him into a luxurious office.

With his finger bones tapping against the plastic of the keycard, no door dared stay shut before him. Each layer of security impeded him as much as a window screen stopped a breeze. Until the final door.

It was a single slab of Alderwood. Over the years, keys had engraved arcane symbols into the wood around the lock.

The skeleton rapped his knuckles against wood. It sounded like a game of dice.

The door opened. A fearful eye appeared in the crack.

"Lawrence," it said.

"YES, THAT WAS MY NAME, HUGH," the skeleton said. It pushed open the door and gained the room.

The man who owned the eye turned out to have two. And the skeleton could see quite a lot of both. The man shivered and backed away. He bumped into a table. The skeleton upon it rocked. The room was full of tables, each with a skeleton.

"Please don't hurt me," Hugh said.

"NOW WHY WOULD I DO THAT?" the skeleton said. He walked up to the nearest table and peered down at the inanimate skeleton upon it. Empty eyesockets regarded empty eyesockets.

"I'm just using your car for a little while! I didn't think that you'd mind! I know it's your baby and I'm sorry that I dinged it up a little, but the body shop says that they can get two new fenders, a hood and it'll only be a few months until they can replace the headlights!"

"WHICH OF US IS THE EMPTIER VESSEL?" the skeleton asked. He picked up an ulna and hefted it. "COMPARE US. WHAT SEPARATES US? IN LIFE I EXISTED BY THE SAME PRINCIPLES THAT I DO NOW. CURIOSITY. DETERMINATION. JUSTICE."

The skeleton set the ulna back down and picked up the femur. He seemed to prefer how it felt.

"Listen, buddy, all of those trips were for business! I had to woo investors! You can't woo them over the phone, you have to fly to their office in the Bahamas and see them face to face! It takes time. Lots of time. And you know how investors are, Lawrence, always demanding to have a good time!"

The skeleton turned towards Hugh.

"MY NAME WAS LAWRENCE. BACK WHEN I WAS MADE OF MUSCLE AND GUTS LIKE YOU. BUT I HAVE REJECTED THAT. MY CURIOSITY AND DETERMINATION HAVE BURNED OUT. I LONGED TO LEARN WHAT WAS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF DEATH. AND NOW I REJECT THEM AS I REJECTED MY NAME. THE ONLY PART OF ME THAT REMAINS, HUGH, IS MY DEVOTION TO JUSTICE."

The skeleton stepped towards him. He held the femur like a club.

"Listen, your wife came on it me, do you understand? I didn't want to, she made me. I said, no, no, Lawrence will be home any second, don't take off my pants and-"

"NOW I SEE MY UNLIFE FOR THE VALUE THAT IT HAS. THE CLARITY OF PURPOSE. LIKE THIS FEMUR, I AM PURE INSTRUMENT. I HAVE NO EYES SO THEY CANNOT BE CLOUDED. NOBODY MAY WHISPER SWEET LIES INTO MY EARS, FOR THEY HAVE ROTTED AWAY. I CANNOT BE FULL OF SHIT."

Hugh began sobbing, and collapsed to the floor.

"I'm sorry that I shot you! I never should have let the educational skeleton business ruin me like this!"

The skeleton stood over him. He dropped the femur with a clatter.

"UNFORTUNATELY FOR YOU, I CAN'T JUST BEAT YOU LIKE AN EGG BECAUSE I WOULD SCAR YOUR BONES. THAT WOULD BE PAINFUL BUT OVER QUICKLY. INSTEAD I AM FORCED TO TORMENT YOU FOR THE REST OF YOUR DAYS. I WILL EXIST AS YOUR SHADOW, YOUR GUILTY CONSCIENCE, CREEPING UP OVER THE FOOT OF YOUR BED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT."

And the skeleton followed through. For decades ever after, Hugh was never able to watch TV in bed without a skull-shaped silhouette blocking the screen.

The Moral: mothers, don't let your sons grow up to be skeletons.

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