Flash Friday 08/03/2013: Tragic Past
The Museum of Historical Occurrences prided themselves with a rigorous sorting system, combined with more samples than anyone had ever seen. Each specimen in the filing drawers were sorted with military-like precision, creating one of the best systems to ever grace the earth. Unfortunately, it also meant that Vicky just couldn’t be arsed to go through it all.
Her job was easy enough. The description made it out to be more demanding than an astronaut sent to fight a fire on the moon. Luckily for her, they forgot the best attribute to have in her area of expertise; the ability to lie through your teeth and get away scot-free.
The phone on the desk rang, its tone rattling around the filing cabinets that towered over her. All it needed was a Minotaur and some breadcrumbs, and she’d be set. Picking up the phone, she put the receiver to her ear. “Yeah?” she said.
“Hello, is this the Museum of Historical Occurrences?”
“Yeah, whaddya want?”
“Oh, excellent. I’m calling to see if you have a certificate on your records, one that my great-grandfather earned while he was doing his duty in the navy. I think it would have been around the 1910 point.”
“What was his surname?”
“Hold on, let me check.” The rattle of a family history being wrestled to the floor came down the receiver. “Oh, yeah, his last name was Bentley. Do you have him there?”
“Bentley?” Vicky looked up at the Military Records section, her eyes slowly ascending the rows. Z was easy to reach, being on the floor level. As the letters ascended upwards, however, it became more and more of a chore to reach the shelf in question. When she finally reached the B row, she eyeballed an estimate that she’d need the really tall ladder to reach it, and that was always a pain in the arse to move.
“Oh, no, sorry. Our, uh.” She started fake-typing on the computer in front of her. “Our records say that we don’t have it in. Sorry.”
“What? I would have thought for sure that you would have it.” A sigh. “What happened to it? Do you know? Is it somewhere else?”
“Let me bring up the information on that piece.” Her fake clicking was conveniently accomplished by revealing a few more tiles on Minesweeper. “Yeah, here we go,” she said, going so far as to squint at the numbers on the tiles. Where the hell was that mine? “It says here that…oh gosh. Well, you know, 1910’s and all.” She took her ‘sharp breath through teeth’ moment, a refined art for all those in the lying business.
“What about the 1910’s?”
“Oh, you know, all that tension with Hitler invading Poland. All that historical tension and all. Documents, they get lost, misplaced, destroyed. Maybe it was part of the book-burnings the Nazis had.”
“Wasn’t that in the late 30’s?”
“Oh, right. Well, whatever they burnt during World War 1, then. Went with that. Awfully sorry. Anything else I can help you with?”
“What about my other great-grandfather? Went by the last name Davies.”
Despite the drop down in letters, it’d still require the ladder. “Destroyed. Took it with him during a tank fight, was killed. Tragic, I hope you understand.”
“I thought he fought in the trenches.”
“Well, yeah. He fought in the trenches, did his exam, and then he got his certificate in tanks. Fatal error, I hope you agree. Fate can be so cruel.”
“What about the surname Ernest?”
“Taken hostage and killed.”
“I liked about the Curtis part,” the voice said with a hint of triumph in its tone. “There is no Curtis in my family tree.”
“Of course not. You know what governments do if they fail to get a hostage out of bad situations? It’s like taking a rubber to history itself. ‘Course he’s not there.”
“…I see,” the voice said, realising it had no chance no matter what it tried. “Well, thanks for your help…I guess.”
“Need anything else?”
“No thanks, I–” The voice was cut off as Vicky slammed the phone down on the receiver. She turned her attention back to her screen and stared at the numbers again. Mines, huh? Maybe for the next caller…