I held the drawing before the board of regents, “This is what we found.” My antenna shook, but only briefly.
“Do we have any idea what it is?” One of the Emperor butterflies asked. “Or perhaps what it’s made of?”
What to answer? How to answer? That was always the problem with the unknown. Everyone wanted immediate answers, and there were none. “It’s not made of metal, wood, or stone.” I knew the items in the picture too well. I was there, with the ants, when the expedition dug them up. “It’s a flexible material we’ve never seen before.”
“And how far down was it?”
The strata of dirt, and rock, built by time, layer upon layer. It was our best way to determine an object’s age. “Even deeper than before.”
“So, millions of years, correct?”
“Yes. At least six. Maybe more.”
“How do we know it’s not metal?”
The same explanation I’d given a thousand times. For a thousand objects we’d found in the ground. “Metal would have corroded, and rusted, and turned to dirt. There was plenty of oxide in the dirt where we found this.”
It was, like everything we’d found, huge. It stood a good six Monarch tall. Looked for all the world like a megaphone. Only ridiculously big, and somewhat artistically crafted. Not just a basic cone. “We think we know what it is. Or what it was used for.”
“To amplify sound.” I pointed out the wide opening at one end, “Either to catch sound that otherwise could not be heard. Or to send sound out, from a weak source.” I shrugged, “Like a megaphone, or a hearing aid. And that is how it actually works. We’ve tested that.”
The conversations between the board members were hurried, excited, and nervous. All I could do was watch, and wait, until they decided what to do. I fielded any questions they had for me. “What kind of material, other than stone, can survive for millions of years?”
“None we know of. It’s constructed of a material we’ve never seen. I’ve sent a sample to be analyzed. The Swallowtails are working with that now.”
When they finished their discussions, the decided what to do with this new discovery. “We will place this in the museum, for all to see. It is our conclusion it is another object made by the giants that once roamed the world.
The giants. All we’d ever found of them were the things they made. We’d never found any fosiles. Nothing. “It’s like the wheels, and the tombstones we found. It shows giants once walked the Earth.”
No one knew what the giants looked like. All we knew was they were huge. The wheels we’d found, so like wagon wheels, but made of strange material that never seemed to decay, and hundreds of times larger than any wheels should ever be. The tombstones, sized like office buildings. With written text carved into them. Many of the symbols as large as a Pieridae, or Skipper, and a few, larger even than me, or any other Monarch. The etchings were deep enough, and large enough, entire colonies of ants could live in them.
And roads. We’d found roads. Made from some strange material that decayed into chalky, grey dust, with lines of rust, that had once been metal, all through them. Others made from a black substance. Bits and pieces of the roads remained. Preserved under the dirt. Out of reach from the wind, and rain. It could remain unchanged for millions of years.
The roads defied description. They were beyond huge. The seemed to be endless, and wide as entire cities. Mostly, they left discolored lines in the strata. Strange dirt, encased by normal dirt on either side.
We had no idea what the giants were. We kept hoping we would find remains. We wondered if we would even recognize them if we did. Until we did, or until we found drawings, or paintings, or some other images of them, we’d never know what they were like.
We only knew they were giants. And they lived here. Millions of years ago.
This is written for Week 52 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. Since I got Week 51 out of the way, I can slowly catch up. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.