Author: David C. Nutt

“What’s the emergency Lieutenant?”
“Sir, the alien device in locker 433 has activated itself.”
“Contact protocols?”
“In place. The Contact team is in the staging area waiting for you sir.”
“Excellent. Security?”
“In place.”
“Chamber area?”
“Sterilized and ready for contact.”
“Outstanding. Give me the vitals on the object activity on our way down.”
The base commander and his lieutenant made their way to the secure elevator. Two armed guards snapped to attention. The commander and the lieutenant each removed a key from around their necks. They inserted their keys into receptacles on either side of the elevator doors.
“On my mark Lieutenant: 3-2-1… MARK!”
They turned their keys, the elevator door opened, and they stepped inside.
The commander nodded and the lieutenant began his briefing as the elevator descended.
“At 1726 hrs. Zulu, scanners picked up an energy spike from the alien object in locker 433. All probes indicate radiation normal. Biohazards, bio-organisms, or any biological threats- none. Chemical, Volatile materials- none. Probes indicate low-level energy building, but at full discharge, it would not be enough to kill a small housefly. X-rays and electron scans indicate a reservoir of liquid in the device. Components are organic but inert. It is not conclusive if the liquid is a manufactured or biological organism extract. At 1729 Zulu hrs., the display screen on the object began transmitting a series of images: four vertical lines, four horizontal lines, the Chinese character for four, the Sanskrit numeral four, the word “four”, the Roman numeral four, four dots, the English numeral four. Then the pattern repeats.”
The commander nodded again. “Anything else I should know?”
“Yes sir. In spite of the threat scans being negative, the science team is advising all contact be in the hazmat suits with the face shields.”
The commander shook his head. “Nonsense… I find the risk acceptable.”
The elevator door opened, and the commander and his Lieutenant exited quickly. Four sets of doors and eight biometric security scans later, the commander stood before the alien artifact.
He walked around the medicine ball-sized object, shadows being cast from the display as it went through its sequence. The commander shook his head. “What does it mean…four?”
Suddenly, a high-pitched whine pierced the room. From within the object, low pitched gibberish filled the room and evolved into English.
“Four. Four. Four. Four.” The sphere said mechanically.
The commander came closer to the sphere. “What is the significance of four? What are you trying to tell us?”
The display stopped its sequence and then pulsed only the numeral four. Four quick beeps emanated from the alien machine. The was a hiss, and a panel opened from the sphere’s side. “Four. Four. Four. Four.” Came the reply.
The commander drew closer to the machine. “Are you all recording this?” He said aloud to no one in particular.
“Yes sir!” came several replies.
The commander bent closer to observe the open panel. Suddenly there was a large hiss followed by a stream of inky black liquid that burst from the depths of the sphere. It covered the commander’s face and coated his decorations & ribbons with a thick coat of black goo. From within the sphere, the sound of mechanical laughter bubbled up and filled the room. “FIVE! FIVE! FIVE! FIVE! FIVE!” The sphere boomed out.
Then, accessing a technology far beyond our understanding, it vanished from sight.