* I found this story in a folder on one of my hard drives. I think I might submit it and see what happens. I have decided to reprint only half the story here as I do not want to give away the ending as I feel it is, well, pretty good. Certainly not your big explosion or shock-and-ah, kind of story, but one that I hope makes people think not only about how small we are in the grand scheme of things, but also will help people realize that we only live once and we need to make the most from the one chance.

“It’s a globe,” the man who had introduced himself as Tom when he walked into the lab said to no one in particular.

“Yeah, that’s right.” Eddie answered back as he sat at his computer desk studying images of the globe on a computer screen. “Is that all you have to say about it?”

Eddie had seen Tom’s type come in and out of his lab for almost a year now. Many of them were like Eddie himself: PhD’s who were trying to gain some hidden understanding of what the globe represented, while others were like Tom who were told by their superiors to “go down stairs and see something really cool if not bizarre.” Eddie, like many others who had walked through that door, had his own theories about the globe, but he was still a lonely tech, low on the totem pole and really nothing more then an educated security guard whose job it was to make sure that the object in question didn’t disappear. When he wasn’t doing that he was ten floors up mixing various chemicals together for Dr. Hennson. He didn’t know why, but again it wasn’t his place for a recently graduated chemist from Penn State to ask questions of the higher ups. When he got some experience under his belt and possibly moved out from underneath these fossils that had been working in the same labs all their professional lives, maybe then he could throw out an idea or two, until them he kept his theories to himself or written down in his journal.

Still, the secrets that the globe held tight and that where now up to him and the others working in the lab to decipher have intrigued him for quit some time now, and while the meaning of the globe escaped him like it did all the others scientists, he did find his work on it interesting and mentally challenging, always leaving him coming back for more.

“Look closer.” Eddie asked of Tom as he looked over and saw that the man was completely dumb founded by the object and coming up with only blanks as too it’s origin.

“Yeah, hum. . .” was all that Tom could answer back.

The globe in question was shinny, but slightly transparent at the same time with a metallic ripple as part of the skin that reverberated across the surface when ever you picked it up. When it was sitting on its specially constructed pedestal, as it was right now as Tom starred at as if in a trance, it had the appearance of any normal globe – it had oceans, land masses, almost as if it was a three-dimensional snap shot of the Earth taken on a perfect cloud free day.

Everything about the globe was incredibly detailed. The land masses had well defines edges, such as San Francisco Bay, and the high lands of many of the world’s mountain ranges where discernible. The Andes were heavily snow capped, while the Rockies had little snow in comparison – A picture of the Earth while it was winter time in the southern hemisphere, Tom wondered to himself. The polar ice caps seemed immense in their size and thickness. Palmer Land, in the Antarctic, was less prominent then it was at present, while what today was know as Wendell Sea and the Bellingshausen Sea where non-existent, just another chunk of ice continuing off from the main parts of Antarctica. Tom couldn’t help but wonder what effect this subtlety had on The Dark Passage – an area of the sea where the Atlantic met the Pacific with destructive and violent storms. Would this increase or decrease the weather patterns there or, have no effect at all?

The other main landmasses such as The Americas, Africa, and Asia looked almost exactly the same to Tom. Only after picking up a globe that he had brought with him from his office did he start to notice slight differences. There was less “Florida.” Water had reclaimed many parts of the land mass there, as was the case in Baja California. And lakes in Louisiana where larger and the delta there seemed to extend out much further into the Gulf of Mexico.

“Is there something I’m missing?” Tom asked Eddie as he took a step back and leaned against a nearby wall, folding his arms in frustration.

Spinning around in his computer chair, Eddie looked over at Tom who continued his relentless stair at the globe. “Is that all you see?”

Tom nodded.

“Then, yeah, there is a lot you are missing. They really don’t tell you noobies anything when they send you down here, do they?” Eddie asked, getting up from his desk to lean up against the wall next to Tom.

“And I suppose you are the in-house expert?”

Eddie shook his head, despite the fact that he did consider himself the in-house expert. “Nope. I’m just a-nobody lad assistant, but I still noticed a lot more than you the first time that I saw the globe.”

“Oh, really? And what did you notice that I’m not seeing?”

Leaning up off the wall, Eddie walk over to get a closer look at the globe which, at the moment was in its protected housing behind an inch thick barrier of bullet proof glass and sitting on its pedestal.

“I can’t tell you that, it wouldn’t be much fun then would it. What I will tell you is that you haven’t yet scratched the surface of what this has to show you.” Eddie said making hand motions towards the globe, reminding Tom of Vanna White. “Hell, not even I have begun to understand or interrupt all this has to say.”

This was an understatement, Eddie thought to himself after he said it. It wasn’t what the globe had to show by looking at it, it is what it had to show you through what you couldn’t see.

Standing silently against the wall, Tom continued to stair in silence.

“What are your initial reactions so far?” Eddie asked, trying to help the scientist along. “Why would the powers that be want you to come down here to take a look at a globe?”

Well. . .” Tom started. “My background is in hydrology and climatology and considering the fact that this is one of the most secure agencies in the United States dealing with highly sensitive research, I doubt that this is just a globe. My guess is that this is someone’s mock-up of the Earth in ten, twenty years, after the first effects of global warming start happening. But then, why would the scientists working here even care? Climatology is not top secret, neither is geography.”

“I never thought about it like that.”

“Then I’m correct?” Tom asked as he walked over to stand on the opposite side of the viewing platform.

“No, well, possibly, but no.” Giving Tom a deceptive smile, Eddie walked over to where he was standing.

“I don’t understand.”

“Well, I would agree that this is supposed to represent the Earth at some future point, in fact I know that to be true. And there is a reason why this globe has ended up in this facility. The problem with your theory is that this globe is half a million years old.”