Asteroids (February 2019, Round 1, Day 4)


The room was empty of people and full of things. Halpurn stood in front of the chalkboard he’d just unearthed and read the sole word he’d found on it again. “Asteroids?”

Halpurn pulled out his handled and set it to Image Capture to add this scene to the rest he’d collected since the excavation started. Of all the other things he’d seen, this one left him the most unsettled. This room was, he’d decided, a classroom. It had all the telltale signs and supported their theory on when this structure had last been in use. 

It was the word on the board that stood out. If the rest of their data was correct, this structure had been for the young of the community. He could picture what the room would have looked like when it was in use. Being in the room gave Halpurn what he needed, and the chairs, tables, books – all the artifacts – painted a picture.

That was why they sent him, after all. It would be up to him to load his impressions into the Hub so that a full picture of how these people lived could be available for study. That word, though, shouldn’t have been there. 

“Almost done, Halpurn?” Eston, his research aid, poked his head into the room. “We’ve got more of this site to catalog before dark.”

“Almost.” Halpurn turned his back to the chalkboard. “Eston, what do we know about these people?”

Eston snapped to attention and provided all the data available on the people connected to the site. None of it was new to Halpurn. He’d done his prep like always. He needed to hear it now, in the room, to help him make sense of things. As Eston chattered on, Halpurn moved around the room, touching different items as he went. When he got to a doorway at the back of the room he stopped.

“Enough, Eston.” 

The door didn’t fit the rest of the room. Where the walls were, as to be expected, built of the slats made from trees, this door seemed like something more fitting to Halpurn’s time than that of this building. 

“What is a 3010 door doing in a 1950 building, Eston?”

Eston thought for a moment before offering up, “I have no idea, Halpurn.”

“Helpful.” Halpurn raised his hand to hover his palm an inch from the door, careful  not to touch it. “I don’t think it’s empty, Eston.”

“You don’t think what is empty?

“The room beyond this door. Are you sure nothing registered down here?”

“Nothing, Halpurn. You and I are the only ones here.”

“When was the last time someone was sent down here?”

Eston thought for a moment, longer than the last time, and then said, “No one has been sent here since the asteroid hit.”

Halpurn looked over his shoulder to look at the word on the chalkboard. “Right. And these people didn’t know what was coming, right?”

“Correct, Halpurn. The asteroid wasn’t intended to reach here, so there was no way they could have known to expect it.”

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