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The Box

by Daniel Braum

It was first spotted in the no man’s land of Nevada; vast desert with nothing but space and sky and military bases, both official and secret.

A floating metal box. Three feet square. Painted drab army-green.

It had turned a swath of desert into manicured suburban landscape, not quite unlike the development I grew up in. How? No one knew. Then it disappeared.

Thousands of miles away in my Miami office the military spooks saw fit to question me.


Over the next few months, stories popped up in the media, both mainstream and underground, ranging from urban lore to wrath of god stuff. The more colorful items were that it housed the ghost of a mad general, and the various flavors of alien conspiracies.

It showed up in three other places since that day in Nevada. The little development for military families where I lived as a teen, the farm where my ex Terrence was raised, and the Eiffel Tower.

The box turned the development into desert. Metal street signs became cacti. Houses became sand dunes. It wasn’t much but I had loved that place. The farm was where Terrence retreated to after our first break up. It simply vanished. The Eiffel tower was transformed into solid turquoise. I hate blue. Pairs was the place I always dreamed of going. I’d only told one person that. Terrence of course. The night before he left for officer school. He’d asked me to marry him. He was a man who never listened, a man I could never control. I said no.


Gazing out my office window, I saw the metal box wink into existence. Cars skidded and swerved. Slowly it floated up the street ignoring the traffic light and chaos beneath it. Then it descended and turned into my building.

The elevator door dinged and there it was. So close I could see four little gyroscopes at its base spinning as it titled minutely to adjust itself.

Everyone in the office scattered in panic but Jim from the next cubicle stood in front of me. He froze. He turned cactus green, then spines burst from his thick skin. Two yellow flowers bloomed out of his eyes. The box just floated there for a second. I looked around. Could I make it to a window and jump? I noticed the crappy artwork on the walls was changing. Images of Terrence and me as the stupid kids we were appeared, rendered in the style of bad oil paint and motivational photography.

With his career as a military scientist and all his power as general, Terrence could still never control me. But what had happened to him?

I had suspected. I had guessed. I had denied and wished it wasn’t true. But having it here, before me, I knew.

“Terrence,” I said, gathering all of my presence and courage. “You change that man back, right now. And change everything back. Make it right.”

The little gyroscopes titled and I thought it moved just a little closer to me.

I wondered if this time, he would listen.

- END -

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