From The Darkness
Andrew R. Crow

The thing was embedded in quartz. Thing, object, artifact. Whatever the hell it was, he knew it was old. Hell, it had to be older than anything anyone had ever seen. Two inches high, the thing was dark, so black it was almost impossible to make out, no matter how much light he shone through the rough crystal that housed it. It was carved, that much Byers knew, and had a vaguely human shape: a large head with too many teeth perched atop a squat, neck less body with almost non-existent legs. Two other things he was sure of: it was wrong; whatever was in the quartz had been carved, but tens, hundreds of millions of years before anything resembling man had crawled out of the ocean. And it scared the shit out of him. Though scared, he was no fool. He had regretted his decision not to study those terra cotta warriors that had been found last month. He could still hear his advisor's voice, berating him: "Gardner's mound? That supposed ancient site in New Hampshire? That's a hoax! Now Xi'an, that's your ticket*" His regrets had now vanished.

Figure in hand, he climbed the carved staircase he'd found hidden in the southeast corner of the mound, anxious to show the world some proof that this site wasn't a cheap fabrication. Only to find the entrance sealed.

And feel a faint rumbling beneath him.

And see a sickly green light shining from the artifact's eyes.

"Surprise," it croaked.

First published: February, 2006
comments to the writer: Knob'