21 DUOM 17
It was one of those nights that isn’t quite raining, but water hung in the air. The droplets floated, unmoving, waiting for something to collect or destroy them.
This effect was only magnified by the large industrial lights gleaming down from their posts. The banks, each containing six lights, shone down on a single spot in the middle of the site. The lights looked out of place, like they’d been ripped from the top of a stadium. But this was no game.
The site was nothing special, dirt and mud, in the mist. The lights surrounded the site, and the huge chain fence surrounded the light. On the perimeter, a few double-wide trailers sat, operating as temporary offices for the higher-ups here. The ground wasn’t flat, but a series of small scale hills and valleys, constantly shifting. These were being built and torn down by the ten or so excavators, digging away. I wondered what the site must look like during the day with all these machines operating at once, but of course I’d never see it like that.
Here, in the night, they sat like corpses of ancient gods waiting to come to life as the sun rose. That was a ways off from now, but still too soon. I had to work quick.
The man who led me in was named Cole. Whether this was his first or last name, I didn’t know. I often tried to judge my handlers by the reactions of the people around, but I’d have no such luck this time. The armed guards barely moved at the sight of him, and even the burly man he showed his keycard and explained my temp clearance to said nothing.
He seemed nervous though. How couldn’t he be? He had no idea what the work was, or how important it may be, only that it was another job. Still, even for someone like him this security and intensity of leadership must be a shock. He’d been given no notice of my arrival, and didn’t know what to make of me.
He didn’t ask me any questions per-say, just made small talk and tried to be pleasant. All the better. I didn't have any more info than he did, contractor as he was, so even if I had the impetus to answer any queries the answers wouldn’t have sufficed. In fact, no one quite knew what it was. That’s what I was there for.
We wasted no time, wading through the dirt and the muck, around the diggers and trucks, around the piles and through the microscopic streams, plodding deeper into the site. It hadn’t seemed so big on the outside, but now that we were in the center of it, I couldn’t quite tell if we were headed in or out.
We came to the edge of a pit, long ramp spiraling around the edge. Bare bulbs hung from yellow power cords spiked to the wall. The hum of the generators, which I’d all but forgotten, seemed louder, more primal here. Like the buzzing of gnats.
We walked down the slope, careful not to slip or fall. I led now. As we got closer I started to make out the shape of the object through the mist and fog that condensed in the hole. It sat half-cocked in the ground. The object was smaller than I’d been expecting, almost round and flat, like a deflated football. It was made of a hard dark material, with cracks all along the sides.
I looked back to Cole, waiting to see what he though. He nodded, as if no words would do. I walked up, and placed my hand on it. A sound rang out through the earth, like the plates shifting. I imagined the lights around us flickering. Starting from the top, the cracks filled with blue light as if it was poured on top of the object.
The mist cleared, and I was all that was left.