May 2019 short story
He sprinted away, not daring to look back, his footsteps echoing down the hallway like distant gunshots. He just had to get to the back stairway and up to his office on the second floor, where like a fool, he’d left the artifact sitting.
Two weeks ago
The dig was going well. So far, they’d found several fossils, no complete skeletons, but those were rare finds anyway. Still, this dig would probably secure his grant money for at least five more years.
He was looking over the labels and cataloging that his students and summer interns had completed this week. They already had three crates to send back to the university.
He was impressed with the efficiency of his team this year. He’d be giving out a lot of recommendation letters. He was thinking about taking some time to pack this afternoon to avoid the rush that would happen tomorrow morning as they were leaving when he heard a lot of shouting.
As he got closer to this office, he heard boots coming up the stairs – lots of boots. He decided to pick up his pace. He didn’t want the artifact in the wrong hands and he wasn’t sure who would come bursting through that door – CIA, FBI, NSA, or one of the sketchier people who were aware of and interested in his find.
Two weeks ago
“Dr. Cooper! Dr. Cooper!” There were fifteen grad students and interns shouting his name and running towards him.
When the first one spotted him, they all bee-lined for him and forced him to the final dig spot they’d been finishing up that day.
“Tony, what is going on?” he asked.
“Dr. Cooper, you aren’t going to believe this.” Tony stepped out of the way and all the others stopped talking and shoving each other. They were outside, in the Montana wilderness, but you could have heard a pin drop.
He began fishing his keys out of his pocket, but never made it to the door. He was surrounded by men wearing a lot of black, armed to the teeth, and all of them following silent orders given through headsets. He was handcuffed and led away from his office with brutal professionalism.
Two weeks ago
There in the ground was a metal egg about the size of a basketball. It was all black and perfectly smooth. It didn’t actually look like any egg he’d ever seen or heard of. And there was something so perfect about it, that he knew there was no way it was a shaped rock or gem.
“Why didn’t it show up on our scans?” He started to edge towards it. It beeped. “What the hell?” He reached out to touch it. It was metal and cool to the touch and now it was beeping.
Without looking up, he said, “Get a crate with lots of padding.”
No one moved.
“Someone. Go. Now.”
A group of students and interns ran off and returned several minutes later with a crate.
As he carefully placed the egg in the crate, the beeping stopped.
Two days later he was back in his office; he’d spent all his time with the egg since returning. He let Tony deal with unloading and arranging the rest of the dig finds.
The office secretary came rushing in.
“There are several angry men in suits here to see you.”
He had a feeling this might happen. Several of the students from the dig site posted video and images on the night the egg was discovered.
The last two days had been the most exciting days of his life. He didn’t want it to end.
The egg beeped off and on the entire time it’d been at the university. They had scanned it and ran it through every test they could think of. Nothing changed about the egg, and it didn’t do anything other than beep. Despite this, he just knew that something was going to happen. This egg meant something. It was something important, and he wanted to be the one to figure it out.
It was new and exciting – or possibly old and exciting. Everyone would be interested in figuring out exactly what it was.