“Dude, you’re blowing it.” Said Boney #47.
“Remember. Eye contact.” Said Boney #2.
George shuffled his feet, she was 15 minutes late and he was getting cold standing around outside the station.
“Dude, you’re blowing it.” Said Boney #47.
He pulled out his phone and flicked back to Amys Tinder profile, she hadn’t signed online in 40 minutes, she was probably still on the tube or something, she’d mentioned she lived pretty far out.
He sat down on the stone steps and casually flicked through her pictures, she was pretty cute.
“Her flesh is not suitable for your flesh.” Said Boney #32
He turned round, “No one asked you.”
The skeleton raised it’s arm to it’s mouth, obviously mimicking someone in shock from something it had seen on TV, he really needed to stop watching soaps, they overacted for days afterwards.
He turned back around to the mouth of the station, trying his best to look as casual as he could be on his first date in nearly 6 months. His foot tapped away at the concrete floor while he scanned the crowds exiting for the station for a sight of her.
“Did you take a breath mint?” Said Boney #29.
He didn’t even turn around, “No, I didn’t.”
“You should have, all girls love the refreshing mint taste a mouth has after chewing Wrigleys.” Said Boney #29
He didn’t respond, he could see someone pulling away from the rest of the crowd and coming slowly towards him.
She came closer, she had her phone in one hand, she kept checking it and scanning the area, he raised his hand.
“Hey, are you Amy?” Said George.
“Yeah, hi, you must be George right?”
She stopped a few steps away from him.
“So, wow, you really do have a skeleton army huh? I thought that was just like some stupid Tinder brag.”
“Yeah, I mean it’s not really my skeleton army, it’s my dads but it passed down to me and well, you know, here we are.”
She nodded which was good. The last date he’d been on had shown up, seen the skeletons and made some lame excuse that she had to go.
“So you know anywhere good around here to get a drink.” Said Amy.
“Sure, there’s a little place around the corner. It’s kind of divey but not like “you might get stabbed” divey.” Said George.
They headed off down the street and he asked her about her day and the skeletons fell in to a single file line and followed behind them.
“Dude, you’re blowing it.” Said Boney #47 from near the back of the line.
George rushed ahead and grabbed the door, holding it open for Amy. She gave him a small smile as she entered, Boney #1, took over from him as he and Amy headed for a small table, and the other skeletons entered forming a protective semi-circle around the back of Georges chair.
“So do you want something to drink?” Said George
“I miss drinking.” Said Boney #35
“I wouldn’t mind a gin and tonic.”
George pulled a ten pound note out of his pocket and handed it to Boney #50,
“Could you go and get us a gin and tonic and just a pint of something.”
The skeleton stared at the money in its hand and then back up at George.
“Yeah, just whatever beer they have on tap.”
“I will do my job.” Said Boney #50 and slowly, almost hesitantly walked to the bar.
The other skeletons stared after him, unsure who they should follow, they went for the slightly easier option of staying in place, but kept staring at their brother.
“Good luck brother.” The skeletons chanted as one.
Boney #50 turned around and bowed before turning back to the bar.
“So, um, what exactly do you do again?” Said Amy.
“I temp at this large graphic design agency at the moment, it’s basically nothing but coming up with labels for foods that make people want to buy stuff, like have you ever heard of Conroy Crisps?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Oh, well, I um did the label design for them.”
“Cool. I’ll have to buy a pack so I can get you to sign them at some point.”
“Yeah, you’ll be able to make at least half what you paid for the crisps on eBay.”
Boney #50 came back to the table and slowly put the drinks he was carrying on to the table.
“Thank you.” Said Amy.
Boney #50 completely ignored her.
“I failed you.” He said staring at George.
“No you didn’t,” Said George as he lifted the pint to his lips and took a small sip.
“You got the drinks just right.”
“There was change, I could not carry the change, I told the man to keep the change, I have failed you.”
Fuck, he really needed to buy them fanny packs or something so they could carry more than two things at a time, maybe he could just sew some pockets on to their hip bones or something.
“It’s fine Boney 50, just next time make two trips or something.”
The skeleton nodded but kept standing hovering over the table instead of moving back in to formation.
“Master, is my quest complete.”
“Yeah, yeah, your quest is complete.”
The skeletons let out a cheer as Boney #50 proudly took his place among them again.
George turned back to look at Amy who was taking a sip of her drink.
“So what about you? I know you do something to do with kids right?”
“Yeah I do youth work. It mainly means I just get to play Mario Kart a lot which is kind of brain numbing, but every now and again you get through to a kid who might be having troubles and it’s just, it’s just really special.”
“That sounds really nice, so do you-”
“Ask her about her flesh.” Said Boney #24
“I miss flesh.” Said Boney #26 “Ask her if she can spare some flesh.”
George turned round and shot a look at them and turned back round to Amy.
“I’m really sorry they tend to talk more if i’m not paying attention to them or if they aren’t distracted by TV or something.”
“Did that one say he was going to take my flesh?”
“No, he wanted to know if you had any spare, they wouldn’t just take your flesh without you agreeing to it.”
“So if i’d jokingly said yeah then they would have ripped my skin off?”
“Probably not ripped, I mean what’s the point of having ripped skin they need it intact. But they don’t really have much of a sense of irony or anything so yeah they’d probably have taken it, but they wouldn’t even really know what to do with it. One time I brought them some skin coloured silly putty and they just spread it all over themselves and walked around saying hello human to each other, it was pretty funny.”
Amy was staring at him eyes wide.
“Maybe you just had to be there, but it was pretty funny all of them just standing around shaking hands just being all like, hello fellow human.”
“Yeah, that, um, sounds hilarious. So can I just reiterate that they aren’t going to take my skin right now.”
He turned around the skeletons.
“Alright guys, even if she says yes I want you to make sure you know that you will not, I repeat not take Amys skin. Okay?”
The skeletons nodded.
“So, where were we, oh yeah, so working with kids sounds pretty fun actually. I mean it’s got to be nice just realising you make an actual difference to people. I mean the most influence I have is changing packages and normally that just means people complain that the old packaging was better on the internet.”
“Haha, yeah.” Said Amy, but she was still staring past him nervously glancing between the skeletons.
“Listen I can send them off if it’s making you feel awkward?”
“Can you? That would be great.”
“Alright guys listen up, i’m sending you guys on a quest alright.”
“Hooray.” Yelled Boney #43
“Alright, now I need you guys to run back home and get me a jumper.”
“We accept this quest.” Chanted the skeletons.
They slowly lurched towards the door. The two of them watched them leave.
“So you can just get them to go do stuff for you? Why don’t you just make them leave so they don’t follow you around.”
“Oh well if they’re away from their host for longer than like a few hours then they start to get really blood lusty and they just start attacking anyone around them and it takes me a day or two to calm them down again. So I just kind of keep them around most of the time, it’s kind of annoying but it’s easier in the long run really.”
“They kill people?”
“Well I mean yeah, they’re a skeleton hoard that’s kind of just what they do naturally.”
“And you’re okay with that?”
“Well I mean the first time it happened it was kind of a shock. I was like 13 and it was just kind of embarassing having them around all the time at school, so I tried to just send them off but they ended up burning down a church and killing the congregation, luckily it was just a small service or it would have been way, wayyyy worse.” He took a sip of his drink.
“I think I should go.” Said Amy.
“We only just got here.”
“Yeah, i’ve got a busy day tomorrow though, I have to be up early so yeah, I should probably go.”
She’d stood up and slipped on her jacket while she’d been talking, he stood up and rubbed at the back of his neck, “Well maybe we can do some other day this week, like Thursday or Friday?”
“Yeah, sure that sounds good.” She’d thrown her purse over her shoulder and was slowly inching away from him.
“Alright, well it was nice meeting you.” He said and went in for a hug.
“You too.” She said, awkwardly trying to hug him with the least amount of bodily contact possible, she broke away from him quickly and headed for the door, she stepped outside without even looking back.
He sighed and sat back down and took a sip of his drink, he wasn’t going to see her again.
He was nearly 5 beers in by the time the skeletons returned.
“We failed you master.” Said Boney #50
“We couldn’t get in to the house master, we did not have the key, we failed you.”
“It’s cool guys, hey, you want a drink?”
“We cannot drink. Fluid is useless.” Said Boney #50
“Alright, well how about you guys just sit with me for a while, just hang out.”
The skeletons and nodded, they encircled the table, taking places on the floor they knelt and squatted alternately.
He looked around at them then finished off the rest of the drink he’d been nursing.
“Who’s buying the next round then?”