Archive for August 27th, 2011

27th August
written by amber

Bleached Bones

July 1879

The Englishman was trouble from the start. I knew he would be, even before we left, but some bigwig at the Northwest Trading Company had forced me to take him along on my surveying expedition. The Englishman wanted to take photographs of flowers.

Naturally, he didn’t take to the rough conditions of the trail. He complained that there was no milk for his tea; he complained about the repetitive meals of bannock and rice. When we shot squirrels, he complained about the stew Marie made from them.

The horse boss was especially annoyed with his demands that all his heavy photographic equipment be kept in one pack box even if that made it difficult to balance the load on the horse. The Englishman was brutally critical of the horse boss when six of his photographic plates were broken during a run-away caused by a hornets’ nest.

My two surveying assistants, being young, were impressed with the Englishman at first, his fancy ways and talk of his manor house and all, but they soon saw through him and ridiculed him when we were off surveying.

Marie didn’t see through him. She was my woman, I thought, but when I returned after three days away from camp, I found her with him, her head turned by false promises and silly gifts.

George, the horse boss, was beside himself with anger. He told me that Marie was, in fact, his wife, but she had started a love affair with me strictly for the purpose of convincing me to hire them both for the trip.

We were both betrayed; we had both had enough of the Englishman, as had my surveying helpers who discovered he had consumed all their liquor while we’d been away.

We all agreed to kill him and report that he’d died by falling off a cliff. We wrapped his body in canvas and took it to a lonely meadow in a high valley which we’d seen on our surveying trip. A pleasant spot but so remote that no one will ever go there.

July 1979

Joe and me were rebuilding the trail up over Moose Meadow Pass and we dug up these bones. At first we were thinking some kind of animal, but then we saw the skull. It was, like, from a person, and it had two holes in it. Like bullet holes.

Cool, hey?

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

This story was inspired by the sight of my fellow hiker, Jean-Christoff, carrying a heavy duffel bag to the pack horse – it sure looked like there was a body in there!