“Papa, come see what we found! You have to see this right now,” said Ben with every ounce of excitement his seven-year-old voice could project. Jack was replacing the missing thatch on the roof of his adobe two-room home, and really didn’t want to climb down, but he’d never seen his youngest son so excited. Last night’s wind and rain storm had done extensive damage to his house and barn, but he knew he would get no peace until he looked at this wondrous discovery.
Ben half guided, half dragged his father to a place where his older brother, Walter, was removing sand from around an object protruding from a dune. The mystery item appeared to be made of a metal Jack had never seen before. The new arrivals joined Walter, removing sand from around the mysterious object, which increased in size the deeper they dug. Its shape resembled a right triangle, with the outline of an unidentifiable creature imprinted on it.
“We found something from The Before, haven’t we, Papa?” said Ben with wide-eyed curiosity.
“I don’t know for sure, Son, but what I do know is that it’s too big for the three of us to dig out by ourselves. It’s already past half-daylight and I need to finish the roof before nightfall. Tomorrow we’ll go to the village and bring back help to finish digging it out. Maybe the Head Librarian can identify it.”
The boys helped their father repair the roof, and all was secured in time for supper. Over the evening meal, the brothers regaled their mother with descriptions of the strange object from "The Before" they had discovered. Jack told Ester they were going to the village in the morning and asked if she would like to join them. Never one to miss an opportunity to shop and socialize, she happily agreed to go.
The next morning, they hitched their camel to a sled designed with special runners to traverse the sand and headed into town. A short two hours later, they arrived at their destination. Jack and the boys went directly to the library while Ester headed to Peterson’s General Store for supplies and the latest gossip. Jack and his sons entered the library and patiently waited for an audience with the Head Librarian. One hour later, they were ushered into his office.
“Jack, Walter, Ben, what a pleasant surprise. You haven’t visited this establishment in five or six lunar cycles.” said the Librarian as he rose from his chair and shook hands with the three. “How may I be of service?”
“We need your help in identifying an object, and we need the people of the village to help dig it out of the sand. It’s made from a metal I’ve never seen and I’m not sure of the exact size, but it appears to be massive.”
Ben blurted out, “It’s from The Before and nobody else has ever found one!”
The Librarian smiled at Ben and replied, “We’ll see.”
Arrangements were made for the village to meet at Jack’s house in two days. Jack helped Ester gather extra supplies for the upcoming event, and they headed home.
Two days later, everyone arrived to help Jack retrieve the new discovery. This gathering had the atmosphere of a barn raising—women preparing food, men removing sand from around the strange object. The project lasted for two days before their discovery was completely revealed. They were surprised to find that the right triangle was attached to a long metal tube that was closed on both ends. Large block letters ran along the side, spelling out FRONTIER. Ben and Walter were given the honor of opening an oval hatch that lead into the object’s interior. Two millennia of embedded sand fell away as the door begrudgingly swung aside to reveal a sight no one expected.
The tube’s interior comprised row after row of seats. Strapped in each seat was a human skeleton; some with clothes partially intact, others just bones. The boys ran from the horrific scene, but some of the men explored the mass tomb. They found items such as glass squares affixed into seat backs that had no obvious practical function. When they explored the front of the tube, two skeletons sat in a cramped room surrounded by banks of switches and small glass panels. The entire scene made no sense.
Eventually, the old Librarian cautiously emerged from the interior of the tube. He sat on the threshold of the hatch and leafed through a book he had brought with him entitled Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 1, A - C. Ben climbed the ladder to reach the man and asked, “Was I right, is it from The Before?”
“Yes, Ben, it’s from The Before. It’s an airplane.”
“What did they use it for?” a voice from the crowd called out.
The Librarian looked out over the gathered villagers as if seeing them for the first time and addressed the crowd. “This machine is called an airplane. It carried large groups of people great distances through the sky quickly. As the earth dried out, large wind storms drove dense clouds of dust into the air. The dust fowled the engines that pushed these machines, causing them to fall back to earth. This one must have come down softly, which is why it is still in good shape. Sand buried and preserved it for us to see. The animal on the tall section is called a seal. They lived in the ocean back when Earth had oceans.”
“Do you think we might fly someday?” asked Ben.
“No, Son, I believe those skills have been lost forever.”
About the Creator
I have spent most of my life traveling the US and abroad. Now it's time to create what I hope are interesting fictional stories.
I have 2 books on Amazon, Mitigating Circumstances and Short Stories for Open Minds.