The Spine (“The Skeleton Men: The Bonesetter’s Revenge, Book 3: Prologue)

The Spine (Preview)
The Bonesetter’s Revenge, Book3

Available 2015.

I set out for paths unknown, allowing the road to play counselor and educator, xenomorphous compass and dichotomous tutor. Determined to mend the fractures of this people, I hungered for mentors that could train me on the dire craft of healing a broken soul, and the bones that give it structure and stability. I wandered off common ways as days turned into nights, nights stretched into weeks of darkness, and time quickly lost substance. Lessons were twisted by my wrong turns and failed attempts at healing the human creature.
I learned pain well, as patient and doctor, the shattered and the setter. Breaking self for the remaking of others proved a perilous and jagged craft. The days were long and thankless, filled with more failures and fractures than healthy humans and hopeful progress. 
Tutelage through experience offered wisdom, but too few tangible human results. My days felt empty, my attempts at care and cure misconstrued and ill-fated. The alien alone wasn’t strong enough to pull me through the obscurious darkness.
I needed more.
My shadow was ever-present, waiting for full recognition, a silent partner in crime against the tide. A close confidant, it remained at a distance, always observing my misguided choices and failed attempts at bonding, but never criticizing. It stood patient on the periphery, its onyx eyes and caring grin under every streetlight, smirking through every reflection, nodding inside the gloom of the painful curriculum.
It knew I was close to breaking myself again. It always did. It felt the shifting plates, chipping calcium and synovial stress. The lessons of healing the human race, bending over backwards and sidewards and every which way, tested the very dexterity of the humble human it partnered with.
Alone, weary, broken by the caring road and without cardinal course or direction, I wandered into a backroads graveyard to rest for the night, listen to the whispers of the long passed. Willows wept wisely in the cool moonlight, and a thin fog slithered atop wavy farmland. Few souls rested there, much less were added to the low place. The area was abandoned long ago, for more popular parts where money wasn’t rooted in seeds and seasons.
A once-majestic sign, rusted and weathered by nature and neglect, arched above a tall pipe and wire gate and fence. On it, the words “In Saecula Saeculorum” were etched deeply and mystically. The sign and gate were erected in the 1930s, but most of the graves dated hundreds of years older. The air of the fell land felt more ancient than the stones themselves.
Perhaps it was a lucky find, or perhaps I came upon it by his purpose. Either way, my feet and heart needed rest away from the eyes of outlaws and untrue humans. Graveyards became a common place for me to rest while on the road. Few but its keepers and inhabitants cared much about its visitors after the sun went down.
Unless your stone is a famous one, and then you probably deserve the attention.
I propped my pack up against a crumbling gravestone that read “CRAVEN” with a deep, rugged, powerful groove; aligned myself with a view of the silvery moonlight and sweeping willow shadows; pushed my Boy Scout parka over my chilled bones; and drifted away into a deep slumber–a concerto of millions of cricket symphonies and umbral trysts the soundtrack to my ominous escape.


Step7_The Bitter Asylum
1. The Gravekeeper
2. The Dawn Patrol
3. The Warden
4. The Oublier
5. The Priest
6. The Chambermaid
7. The Headsman
8. The Sunken Queen

Step8_The Skylight Eyes
9. The Paladin
10. The Alchemist
11. The Keymaster
12. The Archer
13. The Star Architect
14. The Imagineer
15. The Gargoyle
16. The Vizier
Step9_The Bloodletting of Heaven
17. The Dusk Patrol
18. The First Knight
19. The Seemstress
20. The Leech
21. The Lord of the Fall
22. The Caste Away
23. The Prince
24. The Cyng


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