The suitcase orbited baggage claim for three hours before someone finally claimed it. Of course, it hadn’t actually been his to begin with, but he was the sort of thief with eyes for the things that happened to steal themselves. Its label told him that it was meant to have arrived in LaGuardia (LGA) from Athens (ATH), yet here it was in Miami (MIA), scattered among the domestic arrivals.
He never took them to pawn their contents, nor did he ever blackmail the original owners; rather, he stole suitcases for the thrill of discovery. There was a particular novelty to finding the secret lives of others wrapped in bundles of tightly-packed clothing. Sometimes, however, the stories told by their contents were stranger than others. Inside this particular suitcase, among tweed coats and shaving supplies, he found the following items:
1. What appeared at first to be a human skull, with snake-like vertebrae fused to its parietal bone. Through its eye sockets, he could see that the serpentine bones continued inward as tails. These were threaded together all throughout the interior as intricate knots. This entanglement completely filled the cranial cavity, occupying space where a brain might have been instead.
2. A pair of custom contact lenses. When held up to a source of light, they bore the coloration and reflectiveness of freshly-polished chrome.
3. The hand of a marble statue that had been severed from its arm, clutching the hilt of what was once a revolver. Despite its composition, the artist appeared to have created the statue in layers for anatomical accuracy. Outlines of bone and sinew could be seen at the point of severance.
4. A blood-stained chisel, along with a hammer to match.
5. An opaque jar with a machine-printed label: “ocular system of specimen, with optic nerves and sclerae intact.” As he turned it in his hand, he could feel viscous preservatives sloshing around inside.
Needless to say, he should have never opened that bottle.