Three close friends decide to ask their science teacher about a mysterious red cube that nearly leads to interplanetary conflict.
“Are we in agreement?”
Mya stood over her two best friends who huddled together around the concrete table and bench. They sat together in silence, thinking over Mya’s proposition, as the cube at the center simply emitted a gentle pulsating red light. Each side of the solid red cube was a couple of inches long. There were no ports, holes, or any way to open it. They tried and even tried to break, but it wouldn’t crack or get any scratches. Joining the cube on the table were their packed lunches and phones.
Omar adjusted his black cuffed beanie sporting the logo of a podcast reporting local ghost stories to cover his ears from the November chill better. He would instead prefer to have lunch inside the cafeteria. Still, he understood why Mya wanted the privacy to meet outside their high school.
The cube jumped into the air a few inches. All three of them jumped when the cube did.
Emma adjusted her gold metal glasses. “The cube is becoming more active and brighter.”
“I can’t believe that thing is still glowing,” Cooper commented. “It should’ve drained its batteries by now. We’ve had it for almost a month now.”
“Are we in agreement with showing this to Mr. Haines after school?” Mya repeated.
The cube jumped again. When it landed, it was slightly bigger.
“Did it just grow?” Omar asked.
Emma pulled out a small measuring tape from her lime-green backpack and measured the cube. “Omar is corrected. It’s five millimeters larger than yesterday. It’s almost twelve centimeters.”
“Okay, I think we should show it to our science teacher,” Omar admitted.
“Yeah, we should see what Mr. Haines thinks,” Emma agreed.
“Then we agree,” Mya said as she sat down on the bench. “After school, we show him the cube.”
A pale man in a dark suit, in a dark room, appeared on all of their phone screens, facing the camera.
“Thank you,” the unknown man spoke with a raspy crackle. “I’ve received all of the information I need. Goodbye.”
All their screens went back to black.
After a moment, Emma was the first to speak. “That was weird.”
“Yeah,” Mya agreed.
The three of them tried to turn their phones back on, but couldn’t.
“Can anyone get their phone back on?” Mya asked.
“No luck,” Emma said.
“Ditto,” Omar added. “This has to be some sort of prank, right?”
“By who?” Mya retorted.
Omar shrugged. The cube hopped, but this time no one flinched.
“I’m starting to think we should’ve thrown this back through that purple crack at the lake,” Emma commented. “This has to be alien tech.”
“There’s no such thing as aliens,” Mya retorted.
“No such thing as glowing purple cracks, but we saw one of those,” Omar snapped.
“Let’s not fight,” Emma said, jumping in to prevent an escalation. Both Mya and Omar apologized. “Good. It’s my turn to keep watch of it, so I’ll put it in my locker until after school.”
The other two agreed and continued with their lunch.
Mya always wondered why Mr. Haines was still teaching classes. For starters, Mya would never admit to anyone, but she thought he was way too good looking to be a teacher. Then there was the fact that he had a popular science show with millions of followers online. She knew he had to be making way more money from his channel than he did as a teacher in one of the lowest-paid states. Though today she was grateful that she had someone brilliant and caring, she could talk to about something so bizarre.
All of the students from the final class had left when Omar and Emma joined Mya outside Mr. Haines’ door. Emma’s backpack bounced, catching Mya’s attention.
“It’s been rambunctious,” Emma explained. “Let’s get inside.”
The three of them went inside as their teacher cleaned the foamy mess from today’s science demonstration. Omar closed the door behind them and locked it.
“Hey, Mya, Emma, and Omar,” Mr. Haines greeted. “What brings you here?”
“Pull it,” Mya whispered to Emma.
“Oh, right,” Emma said, caught off guard.
Emma sat down her backpack, pulled out the red cube, and sat it down on the table. It sat on the table for a moment with no one saying a word until it bounced up, a few feet high.
“That’s cool,” Mr. Haines praised. “Did you make this?”
“No,” Mya confessed, then she began to ramble. “We found it about a month ago. We can’t seem to open it or break it, and it’s always been active. We figured its batteries should’ve died out by now, but it hasn’t and seems to be getter bigger.”
Mr. Haines rubbed his chin in thought as he studied the cube. “By any chance, did this come out of a purple crack?”
The three students were all taken by their science teacher’s exact guess.
“Yes,” Emma said with slight hesitation. “We found it at Lake Thunderbird, collecting specimens for your assignment when it popped out a purple crack on a tree.”
The cubed jumped, but when it landed, it changed shape to a six-legged spider-like robot.
“The prince has been born,” the pale man announced from the back of the classroom. Everyone turned their attention away from the robot to stranger, who made his approach. “I’ve been hired by the 9S Family to retrieve their child that has ended up on Earth.”
“You heard the man. Give them their kid back,” Mr. Haines ushered.
Mya picked up the baby robot and handed it to the pale man.
“Thank you for watching over the child,” the pale man said, taking the robot.
The door burst open, unbroken, with a short, buzz-cut female police officer. Emma shrieked. The officer’s name tag read, “Mists.” She pointed her gun at the pale man. Omar put up his hand in reaction while Mya stood frozen.
“You are an unauthorized visitor to Earth,” Mists ordered. “Step away from the children and come with me.”
“Officer Mists,” Mr. Haines addressed. “This person is simply retrieving a lost child that my students found. No need to panic.”
Mists took a good look around the room. She put away her weapon, creating a collective sigh of relief.
“I don’t know what’s going on here,” Omar spoke with a tremble.
“Don’t worry about it because you’ve been pranked,” their science teacher announced dramatically.
“What,” Mya uttered, annoyed.
“Pranked! You see, I knew a bunch of my students would be at the lake that weekend, so I set up these contraptions to surprise them with these cubes. You’re the first to bring me one of them.”
“So the pale man,” Emma started to ask.
“Hiding in the closet,” Mr. Haines answered. “The robot is a new invention made by a friend, and the officer here is also a friend of mine. I hope you learned a valuable lesson in keeping secrets.”
“I can’t believe I didn’t suspect you,” Omar said, shaking his head in disbelief.
“Now, head home and enjoy your weekend,” their teacher said, leading them out the door. He closed the door behind them and promptly turned to Mists. “I have never lied so fast and well in my life.”
“Should I wipe their memories?” Mists asked.
“No, I’m positive they bought that prank story. It’s not the first time I’ve pranked my students.”
“Very well,” Mists said and faced the pale man holding the robot. “Let’s get you two back to your planet.”
This prompted short-story is inspired by the idea, “You’re scrolling through social media, like usual, until the screen goes black, it goes black on all your friends’ phones too. A pale man in a dark room is showed speaking on the screen, ‘Thank you, I’ve received all the information I need, Goodbye.'”