by John D Richie
They found the box in No Man’s Land, amongst a patch of dock leaves.
They gathered it up and brought it back. During the following week, while the battle for the Ypres salient raged only a few miles away, they examined their find.
As far as they could ascertain it was a completely symmetrical and unblemished cube, that was so uncompromisingly black, light could neither enter nor escape.
Attempts to penetrate the cube with axes, and drills produced no visible effect, the points and blades simply skidded off, but, curiously, were blunted along their whole edge, even where there had been no contact with the cube’s surface. Acid rapidly vapourised, but did produce a dull orange glow where it touched. Guns, however, produced the most astonishing result of all.
The bullets not only failed to pentrate the cube, they did not move it either, yet the cube weighed less than two kilograms. The bullets reached the cube but slowed to a stop just as they touched it. They then disintegrated linearly as though the cube was absorbing them point first. There was nothing left but the sound of the discharge and, an otherwise, stunned silence. Then, moments later, the guns exploded.
The cube stored the data from the experiments and passed it on.
In the remote future, the information was viewed dispassionately.‘Clearly they are still too primitive to make a complete and effective assessment of the cube’s properties. Advance fifty years’.
The cube manifested on a Hippie’s meditation rug in air sweetly fragranced with cannabis.
John D Richie only writes when the spirit takes him and shakes him till his teeth rattle. John suffers from whiplash and is afraid of ghosts.
#1 by S de Assaf on January 31, 2011 - 9:04 am
Excellent, the contrast between two different eras both in the same century. The dispassionate assessment of trench warfare – makes me think the machines have taken over. Ver thought provoking – Thank you.
#2 by John D. Ritchie on January 31, 2011 - 10:56 am
Thank you for reading and commenting so positively.
I am pleased you found the story thought provoking.
#3 by Sandra Davies on February 1, 2011 - 5:59 am
I’m usually too slow to grasp anything allegorical but this worked beautifully for me – grabbed me with the WWI reference (a period I am invariably drawn to) and kept me interested through the SciFi (which I usually avoid) Well expressed indeed.
#4 by John D. Ritchie on February 1, 2011 - 1:12 pm
Thank you for reading and commenting so generously.
I am so pleased that the story appealed to you it is after all the reason I write them.