Short Fiction: The Museum

Lyle Kelp loved dinosaurs. He thought they were the perfect creatures. Not triceratopses though. Jeez Louise, you didn’t want to be around when he launched into one of his anti-triceratops rants. But he loved the other dinosaurs.

Lyle lived in Sinklewich, a town in the fair state of Obadiah. The governor of Obadiah got people to vote for her much the same way Santa gets children to behave: she promised to give them stuff. A portion of the stuff she promised was to build a museum in every town. Unlike Santa, who failed to bring Lyle a skateboard in 1987, the governor honoured her promise, and every town, including Sinklewich, received a museum.

The day Sinklewich’s museum opened, Lyle was first in line. He had camped outside the museum entrance for thirteen hours so he could be first through the door when it opened at 9:30am.

Second through the door was Milo Spong, a local homeless man, who came in to use the toilet just before closing time at 5:00pm.

When Milo entered the museum, it was silent except for some whale noises from a mounted speaker above the unmanned information desk. He walked through the “Creatures of the Night” exhibit (comprised of a stuffed owl), past the “Aztec Artefacts” exhibit (an A4 piece of paper on the wall with “under construction” printed in Cooper font), and into a large room with a sign out the front: Ultimate Interactive Dinosaur Experience.

In the room were six dinosaur toys bearing Jurassic Park logos, a blood-splattered triceratops skull, three dead museum staff and Lyle Kelp.

Lyle was standing in the corner, whispering to himself, his scalp bald and bleeding in parts where he had torn out his hair.

When a man wearing what resembled but was not quite a police uniform examined the bodies, he found multiple wounds through the victims’ chests and necks, as though they had been gored by some horned animal. Lyle claimed not to have noticed the bodies, giving only this statement:

“Triceratopses are a hoax. They look stupid, they’re totally impractical, and their proportions are a physical impossibility. Think about it—who sponsors archaeological digs? Follow the money trail. It’s the toy company owners. They want a horned dinosaur to fight T-Rexes. That’s how they sell dinosaur toys. It is! They sell a rivalry. But it’s rubbish. Look—are you seriously telling me that skull—if it actually existed—could defend against a T-Rex? Not a chance. A T-Rex is five metres tall! It would destroy it in two seconds.”

With the museum’s security cameras not yet installed (or even delivered), there was no footage of the deaths. The uniformed man polished the plastic badge on his chest and shook his head. “Three days till retirement,” he said, “and I go and get mixed up in a case like this.” He left through the gift shop, helping himself to a plush whale toy and the cash in the register, before riding off on a blue scooter.

© 2021 MILES VENISON ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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