There was a dull scrape as the shovel dug deep into the dirt, digging down and pulling away with a heap of muck which was carelessly thrown aside before the blade of the shovel dug deep again. The rats gathered around the scene, some sitting atop grave stones, others hiding cautiously under bushes, not yet realising that the figure wielding the spade and whistling tunelessly had absolutely no interest in any of them.
The figure in question was not, in truth, actually whistling. It is rather difficult for skeletons to whistle as they are woefully unequipped to do so but still this one continued to do so regardless, the high pitched sound floating into the watching animal’s ears without bothering to actually travel through the air. The skeleton was knee deep in the ground, slowly working his way down to the coffin of the next cadaver he was to uncover. If his calculations were correct then the cadaver inside would be as fleshless as he himself was and ready to be uncovered. Pausing for a moment the skeleton wiped non-existent sweat from his brow and clambered out the hole he had dug and walked over to a wooden cart that was sat on the path that ran through the middle of the graveyard. The rats tensed in anticipation as the skeleton reached into the cart and withdrew a small plastic zip lock bag which contained a sandwich. The figure removed the sandwich and looked at it in disappointment.
‘Cheese and pickle again? Why can I never get any ham?’ it said with a sigh that was punctuated by a small click as the teeth snapped shut.
Then the skeleton took a bite from the sandwich which dropped through the hole in the jaw, bounced off his ribcage and landed on the floor. The rats surged forward, fighting each other to get to the largest chunks of bread and cheese and make off back to relative safety. Their caution was again pointless as the skeleton paid them no heed, taking another bite of sandwich and causing another rush of rats before he put the sandwich back in its little bag and returning to work. By the time the coffin was uncovered the skeleton’s white bones were streaked with mud and when it was finally done it hurled the spade up out of the grave with a sigh of victory.
Bending down and plucking the lid off he observed the body inside. The cadaver was less a corpse and more just another skeleton, devoid of all but the smallest lumps of flesh that the first skeleton picked off carefully and threw up out the grave, causing another charge of rats. Bending down again the skeleton placed the asker arms of the second down by its sides and then clicked its jaw back into place where it had come loose. The first skeleton then stood and looked expectantly at the second as it lay there motionless before letting out an irritated sigh
‘Well come on then’ it said irritated before giving the second skeleton a slap around the skull with a crack that reverberated around the stillness of the graveyard.
The second skeleton started to shudder on the wooden floor of the grave, the bones drawing closer together as if pulled by magnets and the whole structure convulsed before slumping still. There was the sound of breath escaping lungs that no longer existed and the second skeleton sat up, managing to give the impression that it was blinking groggily despite having none of the required features.
‘Morning’ said the first skeleton with as much cheer as he could muster under the circumstances.
‘…What?’ asked the second, the words escaping the jaw which remained solidly shut.
‘I said, morning’ said the first again, it’s jaw moving to simulate what it would have been like if he had had the flesh left to move the bones.
‘Wh…where…’ asked the second
‘You’re in a grave’ said the first ‘in a graveyard’ he added rather unnecessarily.
The second skeleton looked around, taking in its surroundings.
‘I thought it was something like that’ it said eventually
‘Well come on then, get up’ said the first and offered the second a boney hand.
‘What do you mean?’ asked the first, confused
‘Well surely I should just lie down here and be dead, that doesn’t usually involve standing up does it?’
‘Did you plan on just lying around for the rest of time?’
‘Well I guess it was plan, only I haven’t ever seen a skeleton walking around.’ Said the second, taking the firsts still outstretched hand and pulling himself to his feet.
‘Well have you ever seen a skeleton just lying around?’ asked the first
‘Well…I guess not.’ Said the second ‘Speaking of which, shouldn’t I be terrified?’
‘I think emotions tend to be left in the flesh.’
‘Ah I see, also how are we speaking? That tends to be something that I didn’t think skeletons did either.’
‘Yes, as the Narrator pointed out we are lacking the proper equipment, but bear in mind you are also hearing me without ears.’
The second skeleton paused and thought about this before shrugging and deciding that it was probably better not to go into too much detail. The first skeleton clambered out of the grave and turned around to help the second out as well. They stood looking down at the grave and contemplated where they had just been before either of them spoke. It was the first that broke the silence.
‘Would you like a sandwich?’
‘Will it do anything?’
‘Well it won’t bring you back to life or do back flips or the like’
‘I mean, is there any point of eating it? Can I even eat it?’
‘As well as you could ever eat before you died. Unless you died of starvation of course.’
‘I don’t remember dying at all’
The first skeleton walked around to the head of the grave and scraped his finger bones across the face of it, clearing off dirt and moss.
‘Nope, it says nothing about choking’
‘That’s not really the kind of thing that a gravestone really says.’
The first skeleton shrugged
‘I dunno, it could be useful’