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Servant of the Skull
Gianna was sixteen when she suffered her first seizure except it was nothing of the sorts. A field trip to the museum of natural history saw the guide pass around a ‘teaching’ skull. The moment Gia’s hands touched the skull, the living history of the skull’s owner burst inside her head. She not only saw how the man died, but felt the agony of his dying moments. Indeed for as long as her hands rested on the skull, she became the prisoner of its life-history. This gift, or a curse as she came to regard it, defined her academic path. She became a forensic anthropologist, focusing on field work where any skull she came in contact with was ancient, its harsh life-history correspondingly softened by the passage of time. She tried not to get a reputation as a talented forensic reconstructive specialist but it happened. And people who did not understand the nature of her talent began making demands on her that threatened to drive her insane. She understood the need to give the families of victims a closure if the police discovered bones strewn in the desert, but she could not explain why touching the skull of a murder victim turned her into one as well. Not if she wanted to stay out of a psychiatric institution.
She only told one man about her ‘curse-gift’ because she thought she would share her life with him. But a day came when he betrayed her and she found herself stranded in Europe, without money and with tarnished reputation. She took a job at a country museum, working for a self-serving curator who hired her out to make souvenirs for his aristocratic patrons. Then her boss received an offer that made him drool. For religious reasons, DNA tests would not be allowed. But the client needed to confirm the identity of three plane-crash victims whose skulls were recovered from the plane wreckage strewn over the sea floor since the plane had crashed into the Saronic Gulf.
Twenty four hours later, Gianna is sitting in a corporate jet, heading for Greece where the customer who needs to confirm the identity of three plane crash victims waits for her in an ancient cliff-top monastery. The job will earn her a handsome bonus—if she lives through it. That all the reason-stripping madness, terror and pain the crash victims felt in their last living moments will burst in on her the moment she’ll touch their skulls, is a given. She could refuse but that would mean she’d be broke and stranded in Europe once again and she wants nothing better than to go home.