The Cube

"Finding any answers up there." A voice came from below.

"Nope, eight corners, six sides, zero ways in." Jake replied, his voice echoing throughout the large room. He looked at the image before him.

The first three had stopped flashing and were motionless. The fourth was now flashing, while the two on its right spun on the z axis. The hologram seemed to float above the structure. Its six symbols resembled a slot machine, three of them already chosen. The structure itself was ten foot cube, black with a pitted, sponge-like texture. It's weight was peculiar, two average men could lift it without any strain. All of this was of great interest already, what made the hairs on the back of Jakes neck stand up was the fact that it withstood laser, diamond tip saws and intense compression without a smudge of evidence. Jake stood on a ladder watching the holographic symbols flash and spin. A countdown. That's what they were all calling it anyway.

The man standing on the ladder staring blankly at the hologram had a full head of brown hair that was usually parted to one side and slicked back. The dried hair gel, several days old, was starting to look like dandruff. A partial beard was starting to cover his youthful face. His sleeves were rolled up to his elbows and the tie that he wore two days ago was missing. He raised his glasses with index and thumb to rub his, tired and red veined, eyes. The ID tag clipped to his shirt pocket read JAKE GIBBONS. Over the past 40 or so hours he and a team of scientist and engineers had been scouring over this object. Having only slept four hours in the past two days he could barely keep his eyes open. When he first arrived this room was swamped with people trying to get a look at it. Now, only have a dozen people remained. Jake wondered where they had gone. Anger crept up when he thought of the rest of them sleeping. In any other situation Jake would call it quits and find the nearest piece of floor and sleep for a week. However, there were two things keeping him from collapsing on the concrete floor below him. The first was the events of the past week. Second, and what seemed the immediate threat, was the Marine standing at attention near the base of the ladder. Apparently Marines didn't seem to believe in any form of limitations, like those of the human body. The three other scientists that Jake was flown in with were the only ones still actively studying the object. Gerald, the eldest of them was a physicist and structural engineer working for the National Physics Institute. Then there was Margaret, a robotics and systems engineer, who worked for Geotech.

Jake looked down at the auburn head of a woman in her late thirties. She lifted her head and smiled a tired smile at him.

Jake, "I don't even know what I'm looking for."

Magaret, "Come on down, we're going on ten hours without food."

A voice grumbles from the other side of the cube, "Silence would be much appreciated." Gerald emerged from around the corner. A man in his late fifties white hair and a wrinkled face. His stomach doing it's very best to test the strength of the buttons of his white, short sleeve, button down shirt. "Perhaps some replenishment will get the mind turning."

Jake climbed down the ladder and together they walked down the empty halls, the marine following them quietly, as shadows do. They reached the diner where Shadow had procured dinner left over from the night before, spaghetti and meatballs. Margaret and Jake tried to the ignore the obnoxious tssk sound coming from Gerald, thankful that he didn't repeat the monologue from the night before on his hatred for the meal. He stabbed the meatballs violently snapping his plastic fork and looking up expectantly at the marine. Reluctantly the Marine walked off in search of another utensil.

"They must be planning on evacuating us soon." Said Gerald as he watched the Marine walk to the back of the kitchen.

Jake looked up at him, "Why do you say that?"

Gerald, "When we got here this place was crawling with military personnel, people in lab coats and security. Now, it seems to be whatever the bare minimum is to run this place, us and Shadow" he added with a nod towards the silent Marine who walked back into the dining hall, a plastic fork in his hand. "They must be planning to take us and our families to a shelter, after the work we've done for them. We mustn't be anywhere near here when it detonates."

Margaret, "A lot of help we've been. And once again, Why do you assume it's dangerous?"

Gerald, "The only logical explanation is that it was created to harm. This save the world, world peace mentality or dillusion that Tomlinson has ingrained in all of you at Geotech is not realistic. His preachings are exactly why the world has recognized him as a lunatic."

Margaret, "You should stop reading the tabloids."

Gerald, "Tabloids? The New York Times reported that several lawsuits have been filed against him, including animal cruelty. How do you explain that an endangered leopard escaped from a Geotech complex? By the way the entire world saw his interview on CNN."

Jake, "That's enough, Gerry."

"Gerald." He corrected

Jake, "I'm sorry, Gerald."

Jake had seen the interview. It was true most people had also. If he was honest with himself he thought Geotech's CEO, Rich Tomlinson, was crazy, batshit crazy but he wasn't about to agree with pretentious Gerald.

Gerald switched gears, "I'll agree with you on one point, we haven't been much help. We have a structure that I've never seen, made out of a material that I can't identify. Margaret has been unable to find the source powering the images. There seems to be no conceivable way inside the cube and" nodding towards Jake, "Our symbologist and codebreaker is unable to make heads or tails from the symbols."

Margaret, "Why are we still here then?"

Gerald, "That is what I'm saying, we are of no use here. This is beyond man."

Jake, "What do you mean it's beyond man?"

Gerald, "We are not yet capable of this technology. Todays technology is decades away from this, nobody is close. China had a material stronger than steel and elastic but nothing close to what we have here. Geotech was rumored to have a material light as paper and as strong as steel but nothing ever came of it. And we see where their leadership is heading."

Jake, "Are you suggesting what I think you are?"

Margaret, "I'm not sure if you noticed but when we arrived we were surrounded by mountains not a desert."

Gerald, "Your point?"

Margaret, "This isn't Roswell."

Gerald, "I'm not implying that, I'm simply saying that I don't believe that this technology should exist yet."

Margaret, "Clearly it does."

Gerald, "Clearly."

Gerald began to stab his food again.

Gerald, "We're probably going to be the last group to leave. We have, what? Two hours left based on how fast the first three stopped blinking. It should be soon. However, they obviously feel that this depth into the earth the explosive want harm the general population. They could leave us down here until the final moments with the hope that we figure it out. They've limited the people that would be exposed to the blasts and what do they care if a handful of people go up in smoke."

Margarets watch beeps. Covering her face Margaret stands up, "Excuse me."

Jake watches her leave, "You don't need to upset her like that."

Gerald, "I'm only going over the possible scenarios. She hasn't been handling this well since we got here. It has nothing to do with my theorizing."

Jake, "I'm just sayin-" The intercom cut him off.


A loud alarm sounded three times in a row before the message repeated itself.

"I knew they wouldn't leave us in harms way.", Gerald yelled over the alarm.

The message and alarm continued on loop.

Shadow stepped forward to lead them to the elevators.

Jake, "We need to find Margaret!"