Monday, 22 September 2014

The box lay in the remains of the burned house, untouched



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http://writeworld.tumblr.com/post/96876622133/the-box-lay-in-the-remains-of-the-burned-house
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The box lay in the remains of the burned house, untouched.
It had taken a few minutes to move aside the debris and locate it.
“Okay... that’s weird,” he said, brushing ash from his hands.
“Makes it easier to find,” she replied. They had come to this address to find a box and here it was... waiting for them. It was lying on its side as the wooden table it had clearly been sitting on had broken up underneath it.
He had not wanted to look; she had convinced him to do it and now his face reflected his concern. “It’s too weird,” he added.
She reached out to pick it up.
“Don’t touch-- oh, crap, now you’ve done it.”
“It’s not magic.” She wiped the top of it off with her sleeve and tucked it under one arm.
“Well what is it, then? Nothing wooden should have survived that fire.”
“I don’t think its magic,” she corrected.
“It has to be!” He stepped back away from it, as if it frightened him. “Wait... did it make the fire?”
“Oh, please... now you are reaching.”
“They told us to be careful-”
“They didn’t tell us it was dangerous.”
“No. And yet the house is burned.” It wasn’t destroyed, but it was damaged.
Silence for a beat.
Crouching down he poked at the ash. “Whatever. I just know that I am not touching it.” He shifted more debris. “Lucky the floor is concrete, otherwise we might never have found it.” A glance at her before he added, “Don’t move.”
She watched him pick his way out of the rubble. When he came back he had a large yard broom.
“I saw the garden shed,” he explained.
That wasn’t actually an explanation. “What are you doing?”
“Fire leaves flash marks on concrete.”
“How do you mean?”
“There’s no sign of explosives, no major damage, and no smell of accelerants. If the fire started where the box was sitting, then the marks will be on the floor.”
“We don’t have time for this,” she protested.
“No.” He pointed a finger at her. “I want to know.”
She rolled her eyes and obviously refused to help him.
As he swept the floor clean, she didn’t need him to explain it to her; she could see it. He pointed the marks out anyway. “See how they start here and look how they move out. The fire started right here.”
“Where the box was.”
He gave her a superior look. “Yeah.”
She paled but she didn’t put it down. She did eye the lid off tentatively. “Any remains?”
“Human? No... why?”
“Nobody touched it, then. It didn’t explode on opening.”
“It’s still here and if they did, they got away.”
“So why not take it with them?”
It was important. Anyone would have taken it with them.
They exchanged a look.
He spoke carefully, “You realise that implies that it did it by itself?”
“It’s a box.”
“Remote trigger?” he tried.
“I-I don’t know. I’d have to try and open it.” Her face looked slightly panicked at the thought.
He sighed. He knew she was not going to put it back and she was not going to leave it behind. “So maybe we should be careful where we leave it?”
She gave a strained chuckle. “I am not going to sleep with it.”
“Right.” She hadn’t put it down since they had found it. He thought she might well sleep with it; fire or no fire. But he did think of a bright side. “So I get to drive, now?”
She laughed.
~~~~
© AM Gray 2014