Thursday, September 24, 2009

Daily Story 162: Safe Deposit Box

"Have you tried using a different GPS?"
Sharon nodded, then waited patiently for Harland's next question. She knew something this strange couldn't be rushed, and that he would need to figure it out on his own.
"What about... satellite imagery?" She handed Harland a color photo taken from space, zoomed into the field where they stood. "It's fuzzy," he said, "or... blurred. Can we... is there a way to compare at lower altitudes?" Sharon had to think about that one - it wasn't something she had considered.

"Not readily available. I mean, there's probably nothing stopping us from chartering a plane or something but I had something a little cheaper in mind." She gestured back at the string they had stepped over on their way to the red X spray painted in the grass.
"Okay," Harland said, "So... you have borders set up." He looked at the GPS unit again before continuing. "If the coordinates are jumping because we're missing some actual space, then the distance between strings will be shorter on the inside. Is that the idea?" Sharon nodded again and pulled out a laser measuring tape.
"Would you care to have the honors?"

Sharon had planted posts and run string between them before Harland's arrival, but she had held off on measuring the inside of the square they described. If her readings from the GPS unit - and from the blurred photo - were correct there was an area about two feet across that was somehow... not there. It wasn't a perfect circle; it was more of a starburst pattern with arms reaching out to points fifteen feet away. That, or it was a totally mundane glitch of some kind and she was making an ass of herself. She told herself she could see the difference, perceive a sort of distortion, but really there was only one way to be really sure.
"Okay, I've confirmed it's thirty-five feet to a side. I'm going to measure through the center now."

Sharon held her breath for as long as possible, and then exhaled as she began to feel light-headed. "Harland! Hurry it up, I'm dying here!"
"Sorry... it's just a little strange. I think... I think you're right. I'm missing almost three feet. He handed the measure off to Sharon and walked back to the red X. "Is it a natural phenomenon?" Sharon shrugged as she measured for herself. "Sharon, have you tried to use your cell phone right on the X? I'm not getting a signal." Sharon wasn't concerned with little side effects like that, she was still trying to wrap her mind around the basic thought. It was one thing to have the idea enter her head like a crazy fantasy, but to have it proven? Suddenly, the measurement jumped to thirty-five feet.

"What the hell?" Sharon looked up and saw Harland holding his phone carefully by a corner as smoke poured out. "Harland, damn it, you broke the... the anomaly!" She stormed forward to strangle the life out of him - nobody would ever believe her - when she saw a two-foot area with no grass framed by some short red lines - the remains of the X. In the center of it sat a glowing blue crystal egg.
"Never mind... I forgive you and I'll buy you a new phone. Just... just grab that thing and get in the car before someone comes looking for it."