Part 3 Skeleton
Six years had gone by. Jean left for Egypt after high school to study paleontology and Marty left to study forensic physiology in Mexico. They may have parted physically, but their friendship was still very much alive via Zoom, text, and other various technologies.
Although their cave hangout was in the past, something about that unidentified creature had captured their curiosity and had been directly responsible for the fields each of them had chosen.
With Mother Gaia taking us by the shoulders and shaking, any kind of weather or natural phenomenon could happen in places that rarely saw them before. The last time Egypt had an earthquake was in 1995 – until today, when a 9.8 on the Richter scale broke the nation in two. The Luxor Temple in Thebes was swallowed whole into the new, cracked maw of the desert. Thousands of people, animals, trees, dwellings, and national treasures were swallowed or crushed along the fault line. At the same time, long buried history lurched to the surface.
There were months of body counts and clean-up until Egypt felt like it was on the path to healing. The University of Cairo, where Jean was a student, had just opened up again. Thankfully it remained intact in the quake. Jean worked in the new acquisitions lab, to pay for her tuition, room, and board, in addition to her full-time class load. When the work study students showed up for their first day back, they were stunned to see a mountain of boxes containing discoveries unearthed during the disaster. Professor Sadek instructed the students to work through the boxes methodically and gave each a checklist pad to work with to do the initial sorting and database entry. Jean asked Morrie to help her with the large, almost coffin-sized box. It was surprisingly heavy and they had trouble heaving it up onto one of the examination tables. Morrie, who had a tormenting crush on Jean, asked if he could work with her on this one, and she, oblivious to his crush as she was much more excited about what was in the box, said yes.
Morrie pried the nailed-shut top open. Looking in they could see right away the contents were bones. Jean picked up and read aloud the label lying loose in the box; it said it was from Thebes, with a check in the box that signified animal remains. Morrie pulled a random bone out and noticed it looked like a femur of a human skeleton.
“Animal!? this looks like part of a human animal!,” exclaimed Morrie.
“Let’s put the box on the floor and start laying the bones out,” said Jean, which they did, acting under the first impression that the remains were human. As they worked, a tingle began traveling up both of their spines as the bones were startling close to human, yet they exhibited important differences. The vertebrae had long flat protrusions on them. The metatarsal bones had claws on the ends. The skull was much larger, elongated, and had protruding sharp teeth that looked very pirahna-like. What was most astounding to Jean and Morrie were the bone extensions coming out of the shoulder blades that looked similar to the wings on bats.
Jean said, “I’m calling Professor Sadek!”
After calling her, she texted Marty, then went back to the sorting.
The beginning of the story starts here.