Day at The Museum - Short Story
Inspired by a writing prompt at reddit.com/r/writingprompts
We walk down the hallway. My youngest, Peter, taps the glass.
"Quit that," I say. He laughs as one of the putries slams itself against the glass and raps its claws, first loudly, then softly like an echo. I volunteered as a chaperone but I regret it as I sip the weak museum coffee and feel the effects of last night's wine piercing the sides of my skull.
Carcasses line the floors of the enclosures, some of them being picked at and tasted by other putries. It's clear that we just missed a massacre, and Peter turns around and sticks out his tongue to express his disappointment.
"I'm sure we'll catch the next one," I say. We make our way out of the exhibit into a circular vestibule. I look to my right and above an archway is a sign that reads, 'Celestial Viewing Hall.' "Hey, Peter let's go in there." He shakes his head and crosses his arms, but I walk anyway, and know that eventually he'll follow me. He doesn't get along well enough with the other kids to mingle amongst them.
We walk in and the silence is breathtaking. The only sensation comes from the cold air blowing in from the vents above us. Glass lines the hall, and several feet away, projected onto a black wall to give the illusion of perspective, is live footage of the Gaspiens, lightyears away.
I can tell Peter is struck by the utter serenity, but it won't last long. He walks up to the glass and presses his face against it. My instinct is to tell him to pull away, but I resist. Instead, I look out at the beings of light that change their shape so effortlessly, you forget to remember what they looked like before.
The building we're looking inside of appears to be carved from a solid mass of black marble. An iridescent quality reflects the Gaspiens' shapes off of it. Of course, all of this is only for our benefit. They know we're watching, and so they shift their mass in a way we can contextualize it. Otherwise it would look like... well, who knows.
The way they communicate is a mystery. Briefly, we can see misty waves of light bounce between them. The tone of light changes once they receive it, and then they send it back. Sometimes, a being will expel a light wave that will dance around the room before dissipating completely.
Peter turns toward me. Out of the corner of my eye, I see him grimace, but I am captivated.
"Aaaaaahhhhh!" Peter screams, a shrill cry that shakes my brain and causes me to tense my whole body. At that moment, a cloudy grey gust of smoke rises directly in front of the glass and our view is obstructed.
I look down at Peter, who is smiling an ugly, shit-eating grin.
"Come on then," I say. We walk out into the hall just as a voice over the loudspeaker says, "In ten minutes, a live satellite feed of the planet Seprum will be projected in the Coliseum Theater. Watch as the native beings battle it out for territory in a show that you won't want to miss. Not for the hemophobic."
Sam turns to me. "What does hemophobic mean?"
"Fear of blood," I say dryly. He lights up, and runs up to the directory. He draws his finger across the map, and then turns to me, and runs off. I sip my coffee and massage my temples. It's going to be a long day.
link here: reddit thread