He saw his coworker sitting at a cafeteria table as he walked by with his tray: she was eating a salad very slowly, with a look of horror in her eyes.
“What’s up?” He joined her without asking – she was beyond that anyway, he could tell.
“Nothing,” she said as she absently chewed another leaf.
“Well you look like you’ve seen a ghost,” he chuckled as he shoveled food into his mouth with no hesitation; he stopped when he noticed her staring at him with her eyes bugging out.
“Why did you say that just now?” she whispered.
He shrugged. “Figure of speech.” He drank some milk so he would not need to look at her for a few seconds, since she was creeping him out and he regretted sitting at her table uninvited.
“All right, since you’ve already guessed it, I’ll tell you everything,” she pronounced.
“OK,” he replied, having nothing better to offer and 15 minutes to kill on his lunch break.
“It all started two days ago,” she began her narrative….
Since it was Saturday, I was free to finally go over to my dead aunt’s house and help my cousins clean it out so they can sell it. The place was a sty: I don’t know how she'd lived in such filth, but she had managed to for at least as long as I can remember, which is about three decades. We skipped the basement and the attic and started from the ground floor, working our way upward, with quite a few unhappy evicted multi-legged tenants along the way. We were making good progress room by room, until we hit THE MASTER BEDROOM. My cousins and I were reminiscing about the good old days, the place was actually starting to smell clean, and it all was going really well. Then I found the skeletons in the closet.
“Uh-oh!” He laughed. “What, did you find tawdry love letters from her undercover boyfriend?”
No, I found actual skeletons in her closet. There were two of them, and they were human.
“Oh,” was all he could say.
Yeah, my cousins and I stared at them for a while trying to figure out what they even were. I wanted to think they were Halloween decorations, but I just knew that they were real, as in real human skeletons, and that my aunt had killed them.
“No way! Your aunt was an actual – ” he quickly glanced around as he lowered his voice to a whisper, “murderer? Why would she do that?!”
I’m getting there. I closed the door and my cousins and I went to the kitchen to talk about what to do and to get as far away as possible from the bodies. One of them (my cousins, not the bodies) wanted to call the police, and the other wanted to bury the remains in hallowed ground, so they were no help whatsoever. I then decided to smuggle the skeletons out under the cover of night and get some covert DNA testing done on them to see who they had been in life, in case any relatives would be coming after us for revenge.
“Uh-huh,” he nodded, sneaking a look at his watch since his break was almost over.
I wrapped up the skeletons in garbage bags and snuck them out of the house in the dead of night (no pun intended, really). I have a friend who works in a secret lab and for cash he was willing to do some tests on the skeletons, but first he wanted to look at samples under an electron microscope to see if there were any pathogens or whatnot we should be worried about, so I said “Sure.”
There was that thunderstorm last night, so the lightning flashed and the thunder crashed as my ethically challenged friend turned on the microscope and slowly examined the slides. He drew back suddenly in shock, and I also jumped: he said he had seen –
“Oh gee, I have to go back to my desk soon, lunch time’s almost over,” she said as she looked at her watch.
“No!” he cried. “You have to finish this! What did he see?!”
“Oh. All right, I guess I can take another minute – I’m almost done."
He had seen… plastic.
“Plastic?” He dropped the fork he had not realized he had been holding.
Plastic, he told me. Turns out the skeletons were for Halloween after all.
“Wait, but you said you knew they were human and you knew that your aunt had killed them!”
It appears that I was mistaken.
He tossed his napkin down before standing and picking up his tray. “You know, all you had to say was that you cleaned out your dead aunt’s house this weekend and found some Halloween skeletons that you thought were people until your crazy lab friend told you they weren’t. Why do you still look freaked out about the whole thing?”
She had returned to eating her salad slowly in the meantime. “My crazy lab friend kept the skeletons, and for the life of me I can't figure out why. I find that very disturbing.”