Chapter 1

Mysterious Waters and the Box of Stone

The summer bugs glowed as they twisted and turned in the last moments of the nights darkness. Two identical fireflies flirted with the water on the pond. Frogs croaked a mysterious song

as the illuminated pair dipped near the edge of the water and the long reeds. The snap of a single sticky tongue shot into the air at them. Only a single firefly retreated over the pond bank across the dry wash and into the neighboring civilized yard with its fine-cut grass. In fullwinged fury it smashed into the clear clean window of the Salter home in the early morning light.

What was that?” asked the woman, packing her bags, only looking up for a second, and then readjusting her focus.

Where is that boy?” Adeline Salter said, while thrusting her hands into the air in frustration. Adeline continued to pack the two suitcases, one for her and the other for her husband George. Both suitcases lay open on the bed, already overflowing with intended contents. Soon they would be on their way to a vacation they had planned for the past eleven years.

They had been drawn to the canyon and, for some unknown reason; they knew that they must go there this season. Even before Martin, their only child, was born they had both felt the call of the canyon.

Have you seen Martin?” Adeline asked. George had entered the room and was quickly brought to attention by his usually timid spouse.

I think hes shooting some hoops outside,George said.

Its barely light. Whats he doing out there already?” she asked. The front door opened and in walked Martin, talking to someone. Whos with you?” asked Adeline from the back room, her hair in

curlers and not wanting the world or one of Martins friends to see her that way. Adeline heard the basketball hit the floor and roll to the wall. Martin, you put that ball away!

“No one, Mom. Its just me.Not wishing to be caught reading out loud, Martin rolled up the comic book he was reading and tucked it into his back pocket. Adelines fairylike qualities shined brightly as she flitted from bedroom to kitchen and then back again.

“Now Martin, you will water my plants, wont you?” she said, not wanting her favorite pastime of growing things to end while she was away. Adeline loved George and Martin, but something was missing from her life. Perhaps she would find it in the canyon that she had so longed to visit.

George Salter had given up his dream of riding across the country onboard a motorcycle to plant roots and become a father. He settled for the restoration of his prize possession, a red 1910 Flying Miracle motorcycle. Time was fleeting before the trip, so he worked on his toy, installing the new brake pedal he had fashioned.

There, thats nice and tight, he commented as he twisted the last bolt snug with an extra tug. Mostly the motorcycle sat in the garage covered by a blanket.

George, would you come and help me?” Adeline called, hanging out the back door and using that voice she was famous for to get his attention.

Martins basketball rolled down the stairs, bounced on the concrete and rolled into his room. He also bounced down the stairs and closed the door behind him. Martin tucked the ball under a shelf and returned to his mothers side.

Mom, what are we going to eat?”

Adeline had forgotten breakfast, but Martin hadnt.

Just make yourself some bread and butter and some bottled peaches or the Cheerios,” she answered, continuing her frantic packing.

Martin was the only child. He always wished he had a brother or sister, but his parents were silent about the subject whenever he asked why he didnt. Martin made do with an imaginary friend, Abernanthy.

Martin, are you talking to Abernanthy again?”

“No, Mom,he said, knowing that it upset his mother that he had this strange friend.

“He worries me,” she said tucking the last of her items into the over– stuffed suitcase.

Well, lets not worry about that right now. We are going on vacation and Martin will be with your sister and all her kids for the next week,George said, closing the suitcase she had sat upon to help close the latch. The car was loaded and hugs and kisses exchanged with their Martin.

Aunt Mary will be by about ten to pick you up, so you be good. Love you!Adeline said, giving her last instructions.

You too, Mom, Martin said, waving at his dad with a gesture of love. Adeline needed to stop several times at the filling station for a womans break she called it, but over the years George had become patient with

her needs.

“Fill err up, sir?” asked the attendant.

“Sure, and would you check the oil?” George replied. Adeline closed the heavy door behind her as she got into the car.

Ask him how far to the canyon, honey.

The sign said 40 miles about five miles back.That will be two dollars, sir.

George paid the man and they were on their way once more. It seemed no time at all had passed when they rounded the turn to discover the end of the drive and beginning of their adventure. Adeline saw it first and called out Lees Ferry!

The pontoons of the raft gracefully floated on the water of the Colorado River as the Salters were about to discover secrets that had been held silent within the majestic walls for thousands of years. Grand cliffs shot from the rivers edge a thousand feet into the bluewhite sky.

What is it that drew us here?” Adeline wondered as she gazed up at the rusty-colored cliffs. No answer came to her unspoken question. Secrets were calling them to the canyon. She felt solemn, apprehensive like a young girl on her first adventure to the playground. The first day had been a time of calm and becoming acquainted with the ways of the river.

So, has everyone had their fill of grub?” the boatman called out his rhetorical question to the passengers. All were fed and the sun fell away,

leaving the passengers to gather at the fire with the boatman and his stories of the river.

Play us something on that box,George requested to the young boatman that had guided them this far down river to their first encampment. The boatmans fingers strummed the strings of the guitar coaxing from them a tune. The song “Blue Moon rang from the weatherbeaten box. The moonlight on the waters of the Havasupi bubbled past in rhythm on its way into the Colorado River. The melody rolled a cacophony of pleasure from wall to canyon walls. The muted coral-pink cliffs of the Grand Canyon blocked the sky, except for a pathway of stars and a glaze of the moon were all that made it possible to know they were still on planet earth and not in an alien world as the landscape portrayed. Adeline could not resist singing her favorite song. She began to sing, “Blue moonand we were dancing alone... without a care in our heart...

The moment seemed everything she had hoped for this trip to be. “Finally away on the adventure of a lifetime with my man, she thought. In an instant her moment was dismembered when an unnatural cry stunned the tune. It died to silence, leaving only the popping of gasses from the logs on the fire. Again, the unrecognizable scream came from down the river, smashing its echo on every wall of the canyon, as had the music before its interruption. Everyone stopped what they were doing, frozen captives. Their souls for the moment bound in its grip. The fire flickered as if the breath of the screamer had disturbed its comforting glow, tossing it to and fro.

Adeline and George had saved pennies, nickels and even pop bottles to exchange for enough money for this, their once in a lifetime vacation. Why had they been drawn to the river and the canyon?” questioned George. All their lives they had been pulled like a pair of magnets to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Why? he wondered. With their dreams to come to the canyon finally realized, Adeline now felt as though her home, her warm bed and the safety there, was the only place she wanted to be. Thoughts of home only served to make her more terrified of the strange scream, more so of the screamer. What had been a festive mood had died

as the sound of the screams slowly faded.

George, what do you think it was?” Adeline softly asked, holding her arms around him for protection, from whatever was out there in the night.

Perhaps we were welcomed or told to get lost. I cant decide which.George felt like an invader here in this ancient place, intruding on graves of the long dead. There was no way to escape, so whatever the creature was going to do they would have to face it.

When morning came without incident, Adeline found that George had leaned against a rocky outcropping all night, staying awake as long as he could, ready to protect his wife. All that resulted from the events of the night was the stiffness he felt in his neck and the gooey glaze that covered his eyes when he awoke.

The river smells different in the morning, Adeline thought, breathing in the cool air coming off the river across the bush and tamarisk. The raft was pushed back into the water where Adeline felt just a little safer. Being back on the river put distance from the rocks where the sound had come from and her. It felt great to be on the river again. The sun was warm and the water pushed the raft ever closer to the canyons wonders and further from the reach of the screaming creature. Or was it closer to the entity that had cast a spell on the travelers aboard the raft? When it came time for lunch the rubber raft was landed at the foot of a beautiful waterfall. Long before landing the raft Adeline pointed her finger at the waterfall.

“How spectacular!

Ive never seen anything like it,replied George, who had regained his enthusiasm for the experience of the canyon.

Look at the rainbow, said the boatman, who had seen it many times in the water spray of the falls. As the water would fall it would twist as if it were dancing, chasing its own rainbow.

Come on George lets go up to the falls. Adeline and George climbed across painted stones. They climbed to the place where the falls splattered on the rocks watering the green ferns and filling a small pond. The fresh water filled a pool at the base of the cliff. Droplets landed on the couples faces as they approached the waterfall. It felt good, cooling them from the heat of the day. Slidelike ruts were cut in to the sandstone where the water poured over the ponds bank and across the rock down the hill and into the river. George wondered how many hundreds of years of water had passed there to cut the channels. The rest of the passengers had made their way to the same spot, marveling at the water falling from some hidden ledge many feet above them.

“How high do you think that is,Keyon Ranch, a fellow passenger said, while looking up to find from where the water fell. Yesterday, at the first turn on the river where the canyon walls shot up on both sides, Keyon had started to yodel. It was interesting, but rather weird. Keyon was a round man with massive arms. Nelda Ranch, his wife was ten years his junior. It took both her arms to surround one of his arms in a hug. She also gazed up at the edge of the cliff from where the water fell. She answered his question.

I think its at least 200 feet.All this water appeared to be escaping the desert lands, traveling down into the cradle of the canyon.

It must be hotter than Hades up there! Even the water wants out,Keyon declared.

George, isnt this wonderful?” Adeline said while running her hands into the cool of the falling waters. George did the same,

This water is clean and cool. He wiped it onto his forehead. Then Adeline undid the laces of her shoes. She took them off, placing them carefully by a rock to keep them dry. George was a little less ready to remove his footgear. Cowboys prize their boots and he wouldnt be caught dead without them on. But the water was too inviting. Cowboy or not, he just had to cool his burning feet in this heavenly liquid. His boots were placed next to his Addies before he strode into the cool of the pond. Two of the young girls from the raft sat down in water that ran down the stone slides. Water built up a pressure behind them, sliding them down the slide into a pool at the edge of the river. Soon everyone was sliding, everyone but Adeline and George. They were wading in the cool water in the waterfalls pond.

“Hold my hand, Adeline said, finding the rocks too slippery to stand on. She held out her hand to George. George reached toward her, but his feet slipped on the slick rocks. One foot went behind him and the other into the air, and his arms flailed aimlessly. The splash he made only Adeline witnessed. She laughed with that laugh that only a wife has when her husband makes a fool of himself. George spit and coughed the water from his mouth and throat, struggling to right himself back on his feet. He looked like a turtle on his back wrestling to turn over. The realization hit him that he was only in water a couple of feet deep. He moved to a sitting position on the ponds bottom, still a head above the water line. He

began to laugh at his predicament. Adeline had lost her footing also and narrowly avoided falling headfirst into the pool.

Whats this?” George asked, his hand resting on something that was lying on the bottom. It felt manmade, strangely familiar. George rolled to his knees where he could see the object. Its a sword, he said. He reached to the bottom, grasped the handle, and pulled to try to remove it from the water. It was stiff, smooth, and made of hard steel.

It cant have been here long. There is no rust on it, he said. He pulled on it and it began to rotate to where the handle rose from the water. At the same time a large round rocky slab behind the falling water rolled from its place. It traveled in a groove, sliding aside and grinding against the other stone as it did. Where the stone had been an opening was exposed in the cliff. There was a cave behind the falls, barely noticeable, even with the stone rolled away. He pushed the handle down and the rocky door rolled back in to place. Did you see that?”

Adelines mouth hung open, a look of disbelief on her face. It took a moment for her to reply and then it was just, Uh, huh.

George first looked to see if the rolling door had been noticed by any of the others from the raft. It hadnt, so he pulled the lever again moving the door open just enough that he might enter into the cavity behind it.

Was this the reason that they had been drawn to the canyon for so many years, or was this…?” George left the thought unfinished as he climbed into the falls, dripping water from his clothes on the already wet stone floor. It quickly trickled away into many open cracks.

The hole behind the falls was a cave, hidden until now for possibly hundreds, maybe even thousands of years. At least that was the way it seemed.

Adeline, come up here. You have got to see this!George said. His own echo startled him as he spoke. He continued to climb further, sliding his body past a fallen rock to where the cave opened.

Adeline had watched, focused on where she had last seen him. Wouldnt you know he would find something up there?” she said under her breath. She struggled for her first grip on the rock behind the falls, and then popped into the cave, wet but pleased with herself. George was waiting for her and the Kodak box camera that she carried on a strap around her neck.

Take a shot from here,George said, pointing out at the waterfall. She removed the camera from under her shirt where she had concealed it, hoping to keep it dry. The water spread a curtain over the opening, hiding the activities inside the cave. The cameras flash illuminated the green mossy covering on the walls of the cave, which glistened with a sparkle of droplets of water and showed remnants of carved stone steps. Someone had been there before them. George noticed the steps carved into the stone, took Adelines hand to guide her, and together they ascended the steps. The steps wound around in a spiral and were part of the wall of the cave. They showed generations of wear.

I wonder who did this?” George thought as he envisioned an ancient people striking the stone with a chisel to cut the steps. The walls of the cavern were rough and, moist and water seeped from the falls and into the staircase. They climbed upward inside the cavity of the mountain, step after step, until the mossy cushion under their feet disappeared.

What is it?” Adeline whispered to George. Instead of growing ever darker as they had expected, the walls of the chamber intensified in luminance.

Look. It is getting lighter, Adeline said. They could see the water trickling down the walls and onto the steps, the beginning of a tiny stream. Addie, do you believe this! Adeline and George had reached the

top of the staircase, holding tightly to each others hand, and were now standing in a room hewn inside the mountain. Light filled the room in the hollowed rock. The roof of the room was natural isinglass. It let in a drifting prism light. The rainbow of light came through, reflecting upon a finely polished sheet of metal, partly caked in dust. In the center of the room stood a pillar and basin cut from stone. It was all that remained from the rock that had been hewn away, leaving only the basin and stand apart from the rocky floor. On top of the pillar was the stone basin. The basin was partly filled with crystal blue water, a color that, at first, appeared to be projection from the prisms colors of the ceiling. In the center of the bowl floated a ball that rolled as the water poured from its center. The balls translucency allowed them to see a second ball within its center and another inside of that ball, each varying in its transparency. In all, George counted seven of the spheres from which the water flowed.

There are seven. How does the water come out of them?” He was

puzzled. The water seemed to come from the balls, not through them. Where is the water coming from?” asked George again.

Theres got to be a hidden spring, Adeline replied. Adeline cupped the water into her hands, first sniffing. I think its fresh. She placed it to her lips, sipped it and then drank a couple of handfuls. It was sweet, cold, the most wonderful water she had ever tasted. As she drank, her body tingled, almost sparking with pleasure. This waters is wonderful. She encouraged her husband to drink. George scooped his hands full of azure water and drank it.

Thats fantastic! He drank until he was filled. Watch this, Doll.He pointed to the inside of the ball as they watched the bowl fill from the spring within it. He wiped the remaining wetness on his hands across his Wranglers.

At a glance, the room appeared mostly empty, except for one small curious stone box that caught his eye. The box was shaped like a multi– pointed star. George could not resist picking it up. As he held it in his hand, he wondered if this was the reason that he and Adeline had been drawn to the canyon.

Look at this little box,George said, showing it to Adeline. She was the first to point out the strange carving on the side of the stone box.

What does this mean?” She pointed to the carving.

Dont have a clue,was all George said, before tucking the box into his backpack. Carvings of the same kind covered the cave walls.

Have you seen these?” Adeline asked, and then knelt near the polished metal sheet. She wiped away a centurys worth of dust, leaving only her fingerprints on its surface. The walls were covered in carvings, a symbollike language foreign to anything that George had ever seen. George examined the walls, running his hand over the symbols cut into it. He turned to his wife.

Were going to be missed, he said. Excitedly, they hurried back down to the falls and to the others.

We can come back when we are alone, George whispered to his wife. They felt lifted as they climbed back down from the cliff to the base of the waterfall. Perhaps they had discovered the reason they had been connected with this canyon for so long, or had they discovered something that would change them forever?

I feel great,Adeline said.

Me too,George replied. It was hard for them to tell whether it was the intrigue of their adventure or that fabulous spring water they found that made them feel this way.

The moon rose over the canyon with its full presence, lighting the cliff opposite the encampment with a lunar glow. Water lapped against the raft, pushing it into the sandy beach time and time again. The campfire danced almost in time with the guitar music and the songs washed away the thoughts of the scream, the cave, and all the events of the day.

George, lets go to bed,Adeline said, a twinkle in her eye that matched the moonlight. The laughter paused as the bedrolls were placed on the sand. Mountain sheep began to traverse the face of the cliff. The ewe, led by her kid and followed by an older ram, stepped surely as she came down the cliff face to the water.

“How are they doing that? Those footholds wouldnt hold my finger,George said, lying on his back, watching the animals from his sleeping bag. Adeline laughed as the sheep crouched on the cliff s face, almost agreeing with what George had said. It seemed as though the ewe had had enough of this trail, when the old ram placed his horns on her behind and gave her a shove. She gave him the look many human women give their husbands, and then moved on, crossing the sheerest part of the rocky face going down to the edge of the water to drink. After watering, the sheep climbed back up the cliff to disappear into the memories of the trip down the river.

All the sleeping bags were scattered throughout the Tamarisk bushes that lined the sandy beach. George and Adeline had found a spot that was more alone, away from the rest. As the moon passed over the edge of the canyon, every bush was light and every nocturnal creature was exposed. A ring-tailed cat pranced down out of a rocky crevice, its tail floating behind him in the air, appearing weightless. The rafters were asleep, except for Adeline and George, who watched as the cat walked across the sleeping bag of Keyon Ranch. The cat went on to retrieve a piece of meat from the scrap trash bag, and then moved away as silently as he had come, back over Keyons sleeping bag and off into the night. Hours later, when the moon had passed the canyon by and finished as guardian of the sleeping, something strange happened. In the shadow, Georges backpack began to produce a faint glow, a prism light, the same as the one that had shone

through the isinglass in the chamber behind the falls. There was no more moonlight, no source for such an event, yet it glowed brighter and brighter in the little hidden corner of the sand bar where the Salters slept. The flap on the knapsack unfastened itself, leaving the glowing stone box exposed. The box was of fine workmanship, a masterpiece of workmanship. It began to shake, rocking itself back and forth, dancing, and spinning. Its shape changed from the star shape to a ball, then came to rest in the shape of a threepointed triangle.

George slept, sound and deep influenced to dream by the star box. His body was weightless, flying in the night sky, looking down on the canyon and traveling back in time, as if all time had rewound itself to the gathering, to the gathering of all the materials that composed Earth. Then it started! Sparks flew in the darkness of the cosmos where winds began to whirl. Energy of a power unseen, a rocky core spun, attracting light, matter, and the frozen liquids that formed where nothing had existed. The first core of matter molded, begging a world. Then a second core of matter folded and molded, then a third. On and on it went until there were seven layers of spheres, each formed of different matter and each occupying the same space, yet spinning at different rates, causing them to phase into worlds separate one from another. Worlds upon worlds formed, seven times and with seven different set of rules to govern their base elements. Georges dream ended and he rested, unaware of the box in his knapsack.

The glow from the box ceased and the flap closed, covering the box within it. George rolled over in his sleeping bag and sat up to an awakening world. Two large birds swooped, dipping into the water and catching fish. From where he sat, he watched the boatman beginning breakfast. The smell of the wood burning entangled with the aroma of things cooking coaxed him from the warm bag. He was still softly remembering his dream of the seven worlds.

This was the last day on the river and George was already planning the return trip when they would visit the cave one more time.

Enterprise was their home; a town name that showed the desire of the folks that lived there to be industrious. Those folks were good, hardy stock from old Mormon pioneers who had settled the place in Utahs high desert, a lonesome valley with as much wildlife as the human presence

allows. There was certain peace of mind existing in this small town where life moved at a slow pace.

In the early morning, an eagle flew as servant of the mountain, with a tilt of his wings, he swooped into the valley. Something of importance to him passed the pond and the wash where the water trickled past. He passed over the line of cottonwood trees to circle above a tiny yellow house, watching for something, something yet unseen.

Adeline had to have a yellow house. That was all she wanted. No picket fence, just the house filled with lots of kids. Adeline kissed George goodbye. He patted her swollen belly with one hand while holding his black lunch pail in the other.

Goodbye, Honey,” she said.

Dont have that baby without me,he said, and then went out the door. George was the superintendent of the new electrical system, a lineman for the utility company. He loved electricity and all the electrical challenges it brought. The 1957 Chevy pickup with utility boxes sat idling in the driveway. It contained only one occupant. Dewy Tanner sat in the drivers seat.

Come you love birds. Cut it out. We have work to do.

Work to do? You mean I have work to do, George thought. He knew Dewy was a man who seemed to always be looking for a way to avoid doing any work. After all, he was the boss.

Alright Im coming!George let the glass door close and headed for the truck. Adeline waddled back through the snow to the house, after watching the truck reach the stop sign at the corner, which was her custom. The door clicked as it closed. Adeline unloaded the two new loaves of bread from the oven, laying them on her kitchen counter for cooling.

You look good this time,” she said, basting the warm crust with her butter brush. The aroma of bread was rich and the crust was golden brown. Ouch, she said, putting her fingers into her mouth to cool them after touching the hot pan. The heel, or butt end, as George called it, was the best piece of the loaf of bread. “My favorite slice,” she thought. The fresher the better, besides, butter melts better on hot bread, she mused as she smothered butter on her hot treasure. As she did, something strange happened. The house began to shake. Not the walls or floor, but the entire contents of the house whirled and darted about. As the commotion started,

she screamed, tossing the slice of bread into the air. It also began to spin as if it were possessed. Steam, still rising from the open end of the loaf, left a vapor trail as it shot into the adjoining living room. The other loaf of bread slid on the counter. Adeline grasped a cabinet with both hands. Her knees weakened and her balance was failing, a sick green feeling in her stomach, as the house danced all about her. The drapes on the windows didnt move at all, yet everything in the house spun. Cushions on the couch bounced off walls, the bread floated in the air, and the table and chairs in the kitchen whirled like tops. As suddenly as the buildings contents had been brought to their abnormal motion, all commotion ceased. As the whirling derby terminated, Adeline stumbled her way to the living room, where everything had come to rest.

What the heck is going on here?” Everything was back in its place, like nothing had ever happened. She rushed back to the kitchen, still wanting to toss her cookies. Freaky! The kitchen also was in order, the bread resting on the counter in its place. Even the end piece that she had bitten sat on the counter. Not a crumb seemed to out of place. Nothing was out of place except for the triangle box that hovered above the counter, glowing like the isinglass room. The box had changed shape, adding a new fourth corner and becoming a square. The box had not been there when all this started. The business of floating in the air was more than she could take.

Where the heck did you come from?” Adeline thought, afraid. “He has got to get rid of it. It was the box George had brought back with him from the cave of waters. It had been in Georges lockbox in the garage; however, now it sat next to the cut of bread she had buttered. “How could it have gotten in here?” she thought. Then she saw it, the photo she had taken at the falls on their river trip. Adeline looked closer at the photo that had mysteriously landed on the countertop. A watery form of a mans face was blended in the black and white image of the waterfall. Fear gripped her. She rushed from the house into the backyard. Anywhere is better than a haunted house,” she thought. She stood like a statue, stone hard with an equally stiff stare at the house, not wanting to be anywhere near that box. Adeline didnt feel the winters cold as she stood in the yard, covered in snow above her ankles. It was nearly an hour that she stood there, her mind running rampant, raising blisters on her thoughts while trying to make

sense of what had happened. Whats that?” She felt a warm sensation. Suddenly she was wet. Her water had broken. The baby was on its way.

The baby had not been due until January, but five days before Christmas the babies were born. Not one as they had supposed, but two bundles of joy, twins.

What a Christmas present! George said. We have twins, a little girl and boy. It was totally unexpected. No one had thought there were two.

Our little miracles, Adeline lovingly said, cuddling her son while

Martin held his sister.

They came home on Christmas Day. Adeline had dressed the twins in warm sleepers and then placed each tiny body into a candy cane striped stocking. These babies were a gift that the family had thought would never come. Martin never struggled for a moment with giving up his Christmas Day to bring the infants home. He treasured them. Being a big brother was the best.

Mom, look at this. Martin showed her a spot on the boys head where his hair grew in a red circle.

Adeline examined her little girl. She had an identical red spot, but on the opposite side. I guess I am Irish. Adeline had supposed that her father was of Irish decent, never really knowing because he had mysteriously disappeared when she was a young girl. Her mother died soon after. She had grown up with her mothers mother, Grandma Judd.

The only thing that had surprised her more than the red hair circle on the twins was the strange tree that had grown overnight and in the dead of winter. The tree had appeared directly in the spot where she had stood as her water broke. She had only been away a few days in the hospital with her new babies and now she also had her new yard baby. They had decided to name them Theron Lee and Twila Marie and simply the Winter Tree. The strange tree had sprouted and grown three feet seemingly overnight. Adeline welcomed the tree. She felt like he was one of the kids and she always had room for more children.

When George heard the story of the box and the house quake, he retrieved the box from the counter where it still lay.

Time to break you open, you little pest,he thought, worried that it could be a danger to his family. Lets find out what makes you tick, he said, talking as if the box could answer him. His conversation with the box

continued. So, speak your piece, little box. What do you have to tell me?” The box lay silent on the workbench. The vice squeaked at each turn as George opened its jaws. He placed the box in the waiting jaws, twisting the handle until the jaws gripped snug. George picked up his coal chisel and hammer from his workbench. “Smacktingrang the sound of a hammer striking the chisel. He swung the hammer again, hitting the chisel and hoping to break open the box. Nothing happened. The box held its secrets. George lined the chisel up with what looked like the point where the lid fit on top of the box. He swung the hammer again. Nothing happened. He clanked the hammer against the chisel several more times without even scratching the surface of the box.

George had never been able to explain the change the box had made while in his pack or in the kitchen. All of this had him disturbed, maybe even scared. Maybe youre not a box at all, but something else. He had come to believe that the box was a key fashioned to unlock something or a part of a machine of some kind, but now he had to wonder. I am sure that you have a secret inside. The box took his licks, smack after smack with a hammer, to no avail. Come on, little one, give me your secrets,George said. An hour passed while he worked, determined to open the box, yet it would not open. George brushed his hair back with his fingers, turned away, and walked in the house. He left the box snug in the vice, unchanged. He muttered under his breath, Please give me your secrets.” The next morning George returned to the shop to examine the thing once more. To his surprise, the box had opened. How had it opened and why, he wondered as he emptied the jagged golden arrowhead shard from the box into his hand. This must be something, he said, while turning it over and over in his hand. Ive had enough of this. He put the treasure from the box into his pocket. The box lay open on the bench only for a moment. Then it began to quiver, shake, and roll, closing its own lid. The stone box, with its carved exterior, rested on the bench like nothing had

ever happened.