The wooden box cracks apart, its pieces flying away from him like little planes from a gorilla.
He reaches up again, planting his fingers in his scalp. His head feels slightly... off. The weight... there’s a...
His fingernails dig through the dust, made muddy from his sweat.
Piling through the mud.
Near the part of his hair, in the back mud forest of his lower right scalp, the curve of a singular sort of object becomes known to his fingertips.
Hollow in the middle.
He closes his eyes and tightens his fist around it slightly, touching it with every nerve impulse in his hand, feeling it through. Imaging it. Mentally scanning, meticulous, as though running a manual diagnostic on a complex engine.
A shiver breaks over his spine, like the crest of a sullen ocean wave, icy and deep.
He savours it.
Then he opens his hand and looks.
“Oh my,” he murmurs with a smile as he stares down at the thing in his palm, then the coffin, then the thing, then the coffin, back and forth, his eyes gliding between them.
Then he takes a step into the crumbling darkness, drawing deeply on the chalky scent of the air, each breath filled with particles that, perhaps, had once been a statue, a painting. An abysmally tasteful funerary urn.
They’ve shipped him off with the artifacts, you see.
He’s been retired to the Northern Museum, the one the Artifacts were stolen from, on the North cliffs of Gallifrey.
Well. Well. Well.
As he stalks away into a crack in the wall, he fondles the rough edge of the fissure for a moment before stepping inside, out of the night. Into the dark.