Welcome to my box,
where I put my work and stuff.
Tell me what you think.
- an attempt to write something about 931 a haiku by Tab
As they approached the planet, all was quiet. It had been an hours-long trip, and everyone was all talked out. Even so, Y was excited to finally land — and she still hadn't gotten over the excitement of being one of very few students chosen for the Interplanetary Studies field trip, the first of its kind for her school.
She could hardly contain herself.
"This is a particularly interesting site," the teacher began as the ship landed and the students donned their gear for the exploration. "This is one of a few sites found around the planet with similarly-marked artifacts and unusually well-preserved remains. It is theorized that this site was part of a company, or a…"
Y was only listening to the opening lecture sporadically — she found the scenery quite distracting. According to the site markers, the site itself was huge — the size of a city, but rather than being a conglomerate site of hundreds of structures and millions of beings, it was (according to her teacher) a single, large place used for one specific purpose.
The teacher, sensing the curiosity in the air, skipped straight to the assignment. "You will have until the timer on your communicator goes off, and make sure to keep your communicators on, because we will use them to get your location and pick you up. Please bring back any artifacts or remains you find within that time frame for discussion, and if something is too large to move, take pictures. And don't forget to have fun! I look forward to seeing your results."
Y didn't dawdle — she went straight to the heart of the site. When she arrived at the site, she couldn't believe the condition that the ruins were in — in fact, it hardly seemed as though "ruins" was the right term, as they were surprisingly un-ruined. There was a hole in the structure big enough for her to fit through, and the pile of resulting rubble gave her a feasible way in and out of the building. Y climbed down and began looking around.
When inside, she met up with her friend, H. "Careful,” she warned. “This place has a lot of chambers.”
Saying that there were many chambers in this structure was an understatement… it was a sprawling megalopolis of chambers, closets, offices… everything. "Quite resourceful creatures, weren't they?" Y murmured absently.
"The hominids. Resourceful."
"Oh, yes, they were. But what exactly WERE all these rooms?"
"A lot of them look like storage facilities. I wonder what they were storing here."
“Beats me.” Y and H continued to look around. "See any hominids?"
"No, not yet… I see tons of markers, though," Y grumbled. "Our markers. Looks like the site's been pretty picked over… I think that's the only reason they let a bunch of students run around here."
"Ah, but we're an ELITE bunch of—”
“Hey, H, come over here — I think I found something interesting!"
H made her way over to the other side of the room, watching her step and following the sound of Y's camera clicking. When she got there, she saw some writing on the anterior wall: “227”, it said.
“This doesn’t look like a room number,” H said. “What do you think?”
Y shrugged. “I don’t know. Let’s go down that corridor… we haven’t been down there yet.”
The two walk down the corridor, opening doors and peering inside as they go. They see a door that looked like it used to have numbers on it, but they had since faded or fallen off—H cracks the door open and sees an empty room, save for some brown dust on the floor and a pile of broken plastic.
“I wonder what this room was.”
“Don’t know. You think those pieces there would count as artifacts?”
H went over and grabbed a piece, stuffing it in her bag. “There, at least now I’ve collected something for this trip… shall we move on?”
“Another empty room,” Y grumbled after the fifth door they tried. “Those hominids did like their empty rooms, didn’t they?”
Another room holds a series of lockers. The doors were rusted enough for Y and H to pry some of them open, but the majority of them seemed to be empty. Y found an object that was shaped like a modern hominid weapon, but the bright colors and illustrated pattern indicated that it was a child’s toy. Wondering briefly about why the hominids kept seemingly random objects in locked boxes in the same room, she put the object in her bag and moved along.
A few rooms later, they find hominid remains: a single skeleton, from what they could tell, piled around a chair. Y and H each pick up a few bones and move along.
Y was too busy examining her bone to notice that H had stopped moving. She ran into her back. She didn’t have time to scold H before she noticed that her friend was staring, transfixed, at markings on the walls that seemed to point to a door marked “22”.
H turned to Y. “You think we should go in?”
As Y went to open the door, something shiny caught her eye: a flat piece of metal in the shape of the number 7. She picked it up and held it up to the 22 on the door for comparison.
“Yeah, H,” Y replied, staring at the number. “I think we should go in.”
When they opened the door, they saw a very complex-looking machine sitting on a pedestal. Hominid skeletons were piled around it—a quick count of the number of skulls revealed that around twenty or twenty-five hominids died in this room, and those were just the ones that Y could see without moving anything. Y immediately marked the place on her map. She knew this was big.
“H, step back,” Y commanded. “Before we touch anything, let’s get some pictures.”
Y and H must have taken hundreds of pictures each, of the pile of hominids, the large storage locker in the room, and the device.
The amount of gears in the device suggested moving parts, but it looked as though it hadn’t moved in years. It was stuck on a date—Y determined that it was sometime in the Second Modern Hominid Age, but the numbers after that were unreadable. There were many other parts or symbols on it that neither of them had ever seen anywhere else before.
There was a large crank on the bottom of the device. H tried to move it, but it didn’t budge in either direction. She didn’t try any harder, for fear of breaking it.
Y put gloves on and investigated the pile of hominid remains around the device. Amidst the bones there were plastic writing implements, boards with metal clamps attached to them, and what looked like the weathered remains of papers. Y put some of the papers in plastic bags, and advised H to do the same. She hoped that maybe the professors would be able to read some of them.
"This must have been a really important tool for the hominids,” H said, still examining the device while Y picked through the bone pile. “I mean, if twenty-five-plus hominids were all in a room with it when they died… Whoa, Y, you think maybe this thing killed them?”
Y looked up at the device. “ALL of them? That’s unlikely. We don’t even know what the thing was for.”
After a few minutes of trying, H successfully pried open the storage locker in the room. “More papers… Y’know, I almost get the feeling that we weren’t supposed to be here.”
“In this room?”
“In this building. I dunno, it seems like some sort of… sacred hominid ground that they wouldn’t want others to tread on. The walls are really thick, and not many typical hominids lived in this climate…”
“Good point. Maybe this device was part of some sort of ritual?”
“We may never know.”