“Fright at the Museum” by Scott Roche
Howard came to the museum every day. He didn’t always sleep there, but in the winter it was one of his favorite spots. If he got caught he’d either get thrown in the alley and find another spot or be taken to the jail where the bed would be warm and no less comfortable. It offered plenty of hiding places and the guards were either old men or young ones who weren’t draft material. The war in Germany was warming up and claiming its share of dead boys.
Finally, it was far enough past closing that he knew he’d be safe if he stuck to the shadows. The guards had to make their rounds, but provided he didn’t snore or thrash around, he wouldn’t be caught. He decided tonight he felt like visiting Egypt. It was their newest exhibit and had plenty of interesting places to hide. He’d sleep under the diorama which showed how they eviscerated the corpse. He’d been over in Africa during the previous war and saw horrors that would make even the corpse preparers sick.
A sound, the brush of a foot perhaps, woke him in the still hours. Maybe it had been the smell? There was a stench of freshly opened belly, one he was distantly familiar with. The grunt of exertion and a wet ripping noise filled his ears. He looked out from his place under the table and saw the bare legs of men. Flickering torch light did a poor job of letting him see what was going on.
Was this some reenactment that they were preparing? A whimper must have escaped his lips.
There was the sound of a query. A man’s face peered under the table. He wore the makeup and headdress of a priest. The words that came from his mouth were foreign.
Strong arms dragged Howard from under the table. “What’s going on here? I was just having a bit of a nap.”
The hands placed him on a table covered in sticky fluid.
“Just let me go. Put me out into the alley.”
Sharp bronze instruments cut through the threadbare clothes he wore, exposing his skin to the heat of the night.
The priest began chanting and produced a knife.
Howard screamed. The pitch and volume of the scream increased until it threatened to shred his own voice box. Just when he thought it could get no worse, they slid something up his nose. There was a crunch and white light and he knew no more.
Lights and voices. They woke him from a long sleep. He couldn’t open his eyes. They were covered by something.
“And here we have our most recent find. It was believed that he was an intruder. He was found by the priests and cursed with the everlasting death.”
Some creatures feed on blood and revel in the screams of their prey. Scott Roche craves only caffeine and the clacking of keys. His writing and podcast can be found at http://www.scottroche.com.