Junior Mad Scientist – Lab Notes

The Scrimshaw Skeleton

May 10th, 2007 by Weber


When Webmaster MIKE created this site, he added the subhead, ‘Startling Stories For All Ages.’

“So,” you’re asking, “where are the stories?”

From all the art and book reviews I’ve posted over the last six weeks, it’d be fair to suppose there aren’t any stories — startling or otherwise. Maybe it’s propaganda or wishful thinking.

Ah, but there are stories. Many. And plenty of other writings.

Several aren’t up here yet due to logistics: I’m still figuring out the best way to present those online. Some things are in the process of being written. Others are just too painful to share. Not because they’re personal or tragic, but because the writing is terrible.

I’m working on it, though.

One story, I can share from the still-being-worked-on file, is my prologue to THE SCRIMSHAW SKELETON.

Like Ray Bradbury’s Illustrated Man and Clive Barker’s Books Of Blood, The Scrimshaw Skeleton acts as a framework which will allow me to experiment with a range of genres and time periods.

Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version:

In the first years of the 19th Century, two sailors, life-long friends who’ve shipped on the same whaler, are wrecked on a tropical island. One friend betrays the other and kills him. Before the murdered man dies, he puts a curse on the survivor’s descendants, dooming the bloodline to miserable lives and equally miserable deaths, until the end of time.

Alone on the island, the surviving sailor quickly goes mad. He digs up what’s left of the body and, through the art of scrimshaw, painstakingly etches into the bones the images and symbols described to him by the ghost of the murdered man.

The skeleton makes its way back to civilization where it is wired together and displayed as a morbid curiosity. As the descendants of the traitorous sailor see the skeleton, an image from its bones is seared into their minds. Whatever this image actually turns out to be will have a profound effect on their lives.

This summary leaves a lot of open questions: How will every member of this guy’s family see the skeleton? What about the times it’s locked away, or buried under rubble? Can’t somebody just destroy the damned thing?

Good points, and thanks for asking. I’ve worked out the details on these and more. You’ll just have to read the stories to find out the answers.

Below is the prologue that will be used once the stories are collected. Open the PDF, scroll down a little to mid-page, and enjoy responsibly.

The Scrimshaw Skeleton — prologue

(The Scrimshaw Skeleton is © 1995 by Bradley James Weber. And don’t you forget it.)

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