Artifact

He stared at the device as he put on his plastic gloves and proceeded to clean his hands and arms. He finished prep’ and moved toward it, not once allowing his eyes to wander; he had never seen anything like it before and he wondered what it could do.

Part of him thought it was a hoax – some kind of joke. Really? he thought to himself, A green crystal clock from space? Even just thinking it, he knew it sounded ludicrous.

They said they found it floating just outside the Milky Way. He figured otherwise. He wasn’t an easy man to convince; a man of science, a man of proof.

He picked it up in his glove-clad hands and turned it over inspectingly. He noticed it was seamless and without screws, bolts, tabs, or adhesives; it was simply a solid, single chunk of crystal that somehow remained in perfect sync with solar time.

He set it back down on his workbench and watched the rays of light on its surface as they counted down in what he discovered to be “a form of trinary,” as he called it.

I wonder what happens when it hits zero? He asked himself.

It seemed a reasonable question, after all it was finally reaching the low hundreds. A couple of minutes, he figured.

He took out his pneumatic drill and attempted boring a whole in the rainbow-lit crystal, but instead, he ended up with a broken tip and a cut on his chin.

81, 80, 79…

He moved the device to his cutting table and lowered the plasma torch from above as the crystal’s face reached single digits.

9, 8, 4…

Did it just skip numbers? I could swear it just skipped whole numbers, he thought.

The hot, ionized gas from the plasma torch seemed to disappear upon contact with the crystal’s surface. It kept counting down.

2, 1…

With a loud POP! the room went dark.

Then the light returned.

He stared at the device as he put on his plastic gloves and proceeded to clean his hands and arms. He finished prep’ and moved toward it, not once allowing his eyes to wander; he had never seen anything like it. He wondered what it could do.

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