Unholy Trinity: Good Bones by Gus Wood
Our church worships at the altar of the Unholy Trinity. Its gospels are delivered as a trio of dark drabbles, linked so that Three become One. All hail the power of the Three.
Olivia, after her years of brutal tutelage,
has mastered the flute.
She should hate this particular instrument.
The flute’s crude construction bends every breath into noise.
It’s such a struggle to get good music from bone.
Each note is a power drill,
a hack saw through a stubborn teacher’s skin.
Olivia, when she closes her eyes and plays,
can only hear the sound
of her music teacher screaming
as she taps her fingers across the holes.
She imagines him as she last saw him,
pale, bleeding, clutching a bleeding stump,
watching her play his favorite song,
blowing into his femur.
The lights burned
as Leopold struggled with the words to Hamlet.
He started pacing, buying time.
Leopold wondered what the old critic
would’ve thought of his performance.
What a man who loved theatre enough to donate his skull
thought of a college kid butchering the bard.
Leopold tripped, gripped the skull to ground himself.
Then, the click of polished teeth,
the squeak of spurting blood,
the thump of fingers hitting the floor.
The critic, his bleached teeth streaked red,
hollow mouth full of knuckles and skin,
was never shy about giving a review with a bite.
Mr. Ossum’s Bones
Mr. Ossum starts the lesson.
The entire class rolls their eyes.
“The human body has 206 bones,” he says.
Pointing a ruler at each one,
he rattles off their names.
Phalanges, Tarsals, Metatarsals, Tibia, Fibia, Femur,
No one is paying attention.
Cocyx, Sacrum, Lisa, Renee, Joan,
The names slip out quiet and uneventful.
Ossum stops himself and clears his throat.
except for the quiet girl in the back
who stopped talking when her mother went missing
The girl stares at the skeleton,
all its different bones,
including the long, slender, familiar fingers
that could have taught her piano.
Gus Wood is a game designer and horror writer. You can access all of his games, fiction, and horror criticism at www.gusonhorror.com. He hopes you read this by candlelight.
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Stephanie Ellis writes dark speculative prose and poetry and has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Her longer work includes the folk horror novels, The Five Turns of the Wheel and Reborn, and the novellas, Bottled and Paused. Her novel, The Woodcutter, is due for release via Brigids Gate Press in 2023. Her dark poetry has been published in her collections Lilith Rising (co-authored with Shane Douglas Keene), Foundlings (co-authored with Cindy O’Quinn) and Metallurgy, as well as the HWA Poetry Showcase Volumes VI, VII, VIII, and IX and Black Spot Books Under Her Skin. She can be found supporting indie authors at HorrorTree.com via the weekly Indie Bookshelf Releases. She is an active member of the HWA and can be found at https://stephanieellis.org, on Twitter at @el_stevie, Instagram stephanieellis7963 and also somewhere on Facebook.