The Thermos


Even for a Spring morning, the breeze carried an unusual chill across Nevada’s Pyramid Lake. I was skipping a day of work to do some fishing.

Whatever it was, it glinted, even under the water. Not certain of the depth, I decided to chance it and wade from the shoreline to see if I could retrieve the silvery object.

Mid-thigh, I reached it and was able to barely get my fingers on it. I ended up using the thicker end of my fishing pole to push it into the shallows where I could finally grab it.

“A coffee thermos,” I thought, once I had it in hand, but I couldn’t figure out how to get it open.

An hour later, I was home and seated at my work bench, where all of my tools lay scattered. I found a small compartment on what believed was its back, that I spent some time trying to pry open with a large flat-head screwdriver.

As I worked to get it open, I discovered two large metal clamps, each large enough to close around my wrist and each had identical markings that looked like hieroglyphic inscriptions. The did not appear to be holding any part of the device together and I couldn’t think what they might be for.

Placing both of them on my wrists for safekeeping, I continued to work on the two-inch by two-inch hatch. Finally, I got it open, finding a button that glowed red, but I didn’t give it very much thought as I pushed it and the glow changed to green.

Save for an audible click from the two metal rings, I was now calling bracelets, the sudden silence was profound. It were as if the entire world had stopped making moving and I stepped out my back door to see if that were the fact.

As I stood on the porch, I noticed the dogs. Both looked as if they’d been running, one chasing the other – but now they were frozen in place, including the youngest, airborne, having stopped as if the world halted.

In the kitchen stood my wife. Her face was frozen in a smile, her eyes locked in a distance glassy stare, as if she’d been thinking some happy thought.

Racing back inside, I pushed the lighted button to red and the world returned to its noisy self. The next morning, I could hardly wait to show my best friend Gary, my discovery.

We stood in the restroom as I pulled it from my backpack.

“What in the hell is that?” he asked.

“Dunno know,” I answered, “But I do know what it does.”

“Yeah, what?”

“Better that I show you. Here put this on your wrist.”

“What’s this for?”

“You’ll see,” I answered as I pushed the button.

Gary’s eyes widened with both surprise and a touch of trepidation at the expanse of silence that settled on the both of us.

“Come on, follow me,” I said, as we stepped out into the hallway.

All around us, people stood still, each appearing to be in motion, in conversation, alive. Yet not one person moved, not one person made a sound, not even a sign of breathing.

“Where’d you get that thing?” he asked and I explained.

All that day, we wandered around the city, exploring and snooping. We even made a stop at our favorite watering hole to have a couple of drinks.

We finally returned to the office and made plans to undo what we’d done. This is where things went wrong, and why I am writing this down, though I fear no one will ever be able to read it.

With my back turned, Gary struck me in the head. The blow dropped me to the floor, splitting my scalp open, causing it to bleed fiercely, but it didn’t knock me unconscious.

As he reached for my bracelet, I rolled over and kicked him in the crotch with all of my might. He fell to his knees as I raised up and hammered home a solid punch to his face, knocking him backwards.

Quickly, I grabbed at his bracelet, holding onto it for dear life. We ended up rolling around on the floor, kicking and punch at one another.

Suddenly, Gary went still. I rolled away, realizing I had the bracelet he’d been wearing in my hand.

After sitting for a few minutes with a clothe pressed onto my head, I got up to retrieve what I’d begun calling the ‘thermos.’ In the struggle, it had been bounced from the corner of my desk to the other side of our work-space.

Concerned for it’s operation, I opened the back of the device and saw that the light was now red. I looked around me and knew it was broken, it was off and yet nobody moved.

Stuffing it into my backpack, I had to hurry home. I wanted to see if I could repair the damage, plus I has the second bracelet and I wanted to share it with my wife, should it work.

After a long walk home and with darkness falling, I pushed open the front door and closed it be hind me. I wasn’t prepared for what I found, her naked, straddling our neighbor and my friend Bob, in our bed.

Immediately, I forgot all of my plans as I slumped against the bedroom wall and to the floor, with the flesh-bearing and bare flesh statuary in front of me. I sat there lost in my thoughts.

Finally, I got up and went into the kitchen where I located an unopened bottle of Crown and took a healthy draw. Finally and after draining half the bottle, I collapsed on the couch and slipped into an unfitful sleep, with the hope that when I wake everything would be all better.

The next day seemed like the same day and perhaps it was, but trying to wrap my brain around that idea left my head spinning even more than it was. I was very confused as I sat up and tried to convince myself that it had all been a terrible dream caused by a night of binge drinking.

Slowly, I stumbled back down the hall only reconfirm that it was not a dream, but in fact a reality, albeit, a harsh one and on pause.

After doing my best to clean myself up, battle the ache of my head, and the aching in my head, I thought about what I should do about my situation. But first, I had an idea and it involved my soon-to-be ex-wife.

Standing at the side of the bed, I collapsed the bracelet around her wrist. She jumped as she came to ‘life,’ and looked at me in horror and shock as Bob lay still beneath her.

Knowing that she now knew, that I knew what she and Bob had been doing behind my back, I yanked the bracelet from her, leaving her frozen in place, half-on and half-off the bed. It was the best revenge I could think of as I headed back out to my tool bench to see if I could repair the ‘thermos.’

That was nearly a week ago and I have still to fix this thing that is making my life a living hell. Ironically, this hell I’m in isn’t because I’ve lost two friends and my wife – it’s because of isolation, the lack of human contact and of sound.

Finally, I have returned to where this all started, Pyramid Lake. The water is like a piece of glass and there is no breeze unlike the last time I was here and further, my legs hurt because along with people, motor vehicles do not operate and I had to pedal a bicycle the twenty-five miles to get here.

Perhaps, I should toss this thing back in the water, lay down and wait for death to take me, unless that’s been halted, too. I find myself wishing and praying that I’d never found the damned thing.

But before I chuck it out into the deep, I do something either proving my total stupidity or proving me to be somehow fortuitous. I opened the back of the ‘thermos,’ and gave the button one final push.

My stomach turned over at the sudden heavy rush of sound and other life that bombarded me. Dumbfounded, I looked at the ‘thermos,’ and saw that the light wasn’t lit, neither red nor green glowing, and that’s when I realized that the diode has simply burnt out.

With elation, I have returned the ‘thermos’ to my backpack and I’m preparing for my long ride back home.

From sightly beyond 36-thousand miles above Earth, tucked unseen inside the Van Allen Radiation Belt, a trio of scientist from MACS0647-JD, watch in disappointment. Only one of them moves to make the notation of, “Roaisem meg roulmoja,” into their ship’s communication log, which translates to “Lesson not learned.”

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