Snakes and Pills

209 - tart

The excavator's claw dug into the nearly-solid ground, scooping up another bucket of the earth. With a pull of a lever, the boom lifted the dirt up from the hole. The machine's exhaust pipe bellowed up a column of soot.

Kevin gave very little consideration to the marvel of modern technology he sat upon as he squeezed another lever, rotating the entire beast around on its treads so that he could dump the dirt into the waiting dump truck.

A dump truck that, when full, would drive off to another site to deposit the dirt in a new spot. Thus, the planet was slightly rearranged.

Kevin's thoughts were consumed by the crumminess of the little fan in the operator's cab. Blades spinning with all their might, they were still no match for this July heat. Sweat beaded down his forehead, mixing with the air to create a light paste of soot and dirt.

With the mentality of a drone, Kevin continued his work. As long as the routine continued, he required very little function from his brain. Unfortunately this allowed him to focus on the heat and the number of hours left until he could go home.

His vehicle lurched unexpectedly, accompanied by a loud metallic screech, enough to jar him from the monotony. Kevin looked to where the machine had been digging. Through the dust, he saw some white mixed in with the brown.

He guessed it was ice. He always marveled at how long permafrost could survive, especially in weather like this. His excavator should be able to work through it, but he would have to pay more attention to how he moved the machine.

Kevin worked the levers and tried again. The excavator's blades met the same resistance. Curious, he dragged the claw around on the white surface, scratching at it. He uncovered more gray-white amongst the dirt.

This wasn't ice, he realized. It was something man-made. Concrete, and thick. He continued to dig around the object, exposing more and more of it. He feared that he had stumbled upon an abandoned septic tank, but the largeness of the object that he had uncovered so far led him to believe it was something else.

One of the nice things about his job was how little oversight there was. The only other person present at the worksite was the dump truck driver, and he cared little as long as the load was being filled. Kevin was therefore free to pursue his interest in this object, digging around it.

It was certainly some sort of enclosed structure. He continued digging until he finally uncovered something that looked like a hatch. It was raised up from the top of the structure by three or four feet, and though it was covered in concrete, Kevin could see a line running through the middle where it looked as if it could be opened.

He filled up the dump truck, which headed off down the dusty road. He would have a few minutes to himself until a new truck reappeared in the old one's place.

Kevin switched his machine off. The surrounding woodland grew astonishingly quiet. He dismounted and walked along the newly-unearthed structure. The concrete was solid, built to survive almost anything.

He approached the hatch and pressed down upon the sealed lid, contemplating if he should even attempt to open it. Maybe it really was a huge septic tank. Curiosity killed many a cat.

But someone was going to try to open the thing when they found out about it, anyway. Kevin reason that it might as well be him.


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