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An early frost

by Peter Rose 6 months ago in Short Story

Cold communication

An early frost.

What happened to summer?

It was only the second of November yet we woke to a sharp frost, indoors we could see our breath as we breathed out, there were frost patterns inside and outside the double glazing. I rushed to check the central heating it was still on but clearly unable to cope with the severity of the weather. There was ice on the rain water storage butt in the yard, there was ice on the fish pond in the garden. The frozen pond was the first indication of how severe the frost had been last night. The ice was an inch thick, it is only a small pond, about four feet diameter; but to ice over that thick the temperature must have been way below what is expected in this part of the world at this time of the year. So much for global warming. The biggest shock was finding that it was only our garden, our home, that had frozen, the neighbors were all as usual, you would not want to sit outside for long but it was not freezing in any gardens except ours. The TV weather forecast, the web bulletins all showed normal damp cold misery but no frost, no ice on roads. No one else had this, just us. Had we left the freezer door open? What the hell has caused this? Walking out of our house and down the garden path to the front gate, was a very weird experience. You needed a fur coat on the path but the moment you stepped past the gate, the temperature was twenty or thirty degrees warmer. Our side of the boundary hedges were covered in hard frost while the neighbors side dripped cold but not freezing water. We were a phenomenon! A neighbor called the media. At first just a single reporter from the local rag turned up but within an hour of them filing their report, we had TV film crews, every web blogger and reporters from every national newspaper at our gate; even quite a few conspiracy theorist advocates turned up; all wanted exclusive stories, all wanted to know why we had done this, some even asked “if” we had done it and how. Funny but I had never realized before, that when I see a report claiming to be exclusive, in practice it is anything but that. Some one called the police and they restored some semblance of order, that is they stopped reporters and cameramen trampling over our garden and had them return to the road out side our gate. Then the council officials turned up, they demanded to know what we were experimenting with and had we got official permission to do such research in a residential area? We countered this with a demand to know what the local authority was playing at, in letting such a thing happen to a private home.

After many hours of noise and chaos, things seem to quieten down. The media and the officials accepted we had no idea why or how this had happened. Most of the TV crews left once they had filmed all that could be seen. Most of the national press decide they had better things to do that stare at a frost covered house. A little later two scientists from the military turned up, they politely asked permission to investigate, permission was joyously given. Getting to the bottom of this was now the most important thing in our lives. They brought in suitcases full of instruments and systematically began measuring the temperature in every square foot of the garden, front and back and in the areas for several feet outside our boundaries. They recorded everything on a laptop then moved inside the house. Again they measured the actual temperature at every square foot of floor then at each level of height above the floor. Once they had recorded this for the ground floor they did the same for the second floor. Then they wanted to get to the loft. The house did not have an attic in the sense that the space above the bedroom ceilings was not used, the loft was insulated but not boarded over. It was not til they suggested going up there that we realized the water tank could not be frozen, since all the taps were OK. We found a ladder and the guys climbed up into the roof space. Then it went very quiet. Not a sound, looking up at the access space we could see they were using torch light but that was the only sign of activity. After several minutes, both men came down, closed the hatch and removed the ladder. One went outside and started to use his cell phone, the other ordered us out of our own house and demanded the police seal the building and not on any account let anyone, other than military personnel, in. Our protests and questions were ignored, we were made to leave and taken by police car to the nearest military base, which struck us as odd, why not police HQ or council office but no one was speaking to us at all. We were given a house inside the military base, it was well equipped and conformable, the commanding officer suggested we make ourselves at home but made it clear we could not leave the building or communicate in any way with anyone outside the base.. Hours later two people from the ministry turned up and question us for hours; every word and gesture was recorded on sound and vision

What we found out later was that the ministry had issued a statement to the media explaining that the apparent localized cold was the accidental result of a highly experimental air conditioning machine that went wrong. What we only found out months after the event, was that the army photographed, then moved every bit of furniture, every item that belonged to us, from the house and stored it in a hanger, they then took down the bedroom ceilings and removed a bath sized object, one we had not put up there, from the loft and took this in great secrecy to a weapon research establishment that was so secret the government did not know it exists, they still don't. The military then restored the ceiling let all the plaster and paint dry, then replaced all the furniture and our belongings, used photos so everything was back in exactly correct place, just as we left it; so that when, many days after being forced out, we returned, the temperature had returned to normal and apart from slight smell of new paint in the bed rooms, all was just as if nothing had happened. We wondered about the total lack of media interest not knowing then how serious the warning off or how powerful was the total embargo on reporting about us.

The base commander and the ministry had conducted strict vetting procedures to establish that my partner and I could be trusted. We both had to sign the official secrets act and ordered never to tell anyone about our stay at the base. We did a sort of deal with them, we agreed never to tell anyone about anything if we could have an explanation about what actually happened to our home, after much telephoning and consultation we were allowed to join a very select group, we became two of the few who know anything. We went to the research base and were then told about the removal of an object from our loft; we were shown a storage unit with six more such objects in it, these came from six very different locations around the country. It was explained that these had all been gathered in the last three weeks and were thought to be containers of some sort, how one came to be in our loft they did not know, but thought it a possibility it had been teleported from an unknown place but why? We may never know

We witnessed the efforts to open the container taken from our loft Drilling got no where, the drill froze. A percussion hammer suffered same fate. They then tried a thermal lance, extreme focused heat at what appeared to be the lip of a lid. At first this seem to have an effect but then the cold around the container intensified so that the guys wielding the lance had to drop it and run as frost bite started to hurt them, even through all the protective layers.

My partner then suggested we try lowering the temperature around the container. She was thought to be a genius for this and they put the container in a refrigeration chamber the size of a small bed room, set up cameras and sealed the place shut. The most advance cryogenics equipment was brought in and the temperature in the room was lowered, going down towards absolute zero but at the temperature where Nitrogen become liquid (-196 degrees Celsius or -329 degree Fahrenheit ) The container started to slowly open, what ever the controlling forces were, they must consider that it has to be this cold for the contents to be safe. The lid slowly raised itself, staying fixed on one side with hidden hinges. The cameras were directed to try and see inside. At first we could not see anything, then the picture gradually cleared and we could see a small cube of what looked like crystal or ice. As the cameras were focused a little better the cube appeared to have straight lines on it, so it resembled a “Rubik” cube but all one colour and made of crystal.. A military scientist wearing extra special protection went into the cold room, causing the temperature in the room to rise by only 1 degree but the container snapped shut again. Two more of the containers were taken to the cold room, again the temperature was lowered. At the same moment all three containers opened, just as first time. All contained crystal cubes the same size but different colours. The other four containers were taken to the cold room, each of the seven had a crystal cube all same size all differing colour.

After a few days theorizing and experimenting a bomb disposal robot was adapted and placed in the cold room. Its telescopic and articulated arm lifted out each cube in turn. As it did so the containers disappeared, vanished. Leaving the seven cubes spaced around the room. The robot was maneuvered to bring the cubes together, when they got within a few inches of each other they joined as if magnetic. They formed two rows of three one row sitting on the other and then with “our” clear on on top; the lines between them vanished, they formed one unit, one object. A communication system that only functions at this low temperature. What language could be used, even what wavelength it works at, took a year of trial and error to discover. Who is communicating still remains a secret

Short Story

Peter Rose

Collections of "my" vocal essays with additions, are available as printed books ASIN 197680615 and 1980878536 also some fictional works and some e books available at Amazon;-

amazon.com/author/healthandfunpeterrose

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Read next: The golden flower of death

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