Tuesday, April 1, 2008


The black box was discovered only because a curious child in the area had the habit of prising up rocks to check for worms hiding underneath. The child, a young boy, turned over this particular rock on this particular day, only to find the black box, which is really more of an grey-brown, enveloped almost totally in the dirt.

He scrabbled at it with his fingers for a bit and then used his shoe to kick it loose from its tightly packed resting place before lifting it up and putting it down next to his bicycle, upon which he had ridden some five kilometres from his home and had decided, for no particular reason, to turn the handlebars and swerve off from highway just because he felt like it and consequently discovered some interesting looking rocks which, in the end, turned out not to be rocks, but rather the remnants of a chartered plane.

The black box had a green light hidden in its side panel, a blinking green light that pulsed every two seconds and which the boy noticed only after giving the black box a thorough going over, as any curious child would when confronted by an unfamiliar object. When he eventually read the tiny lettering on the underside of the box that told him that whoever found the box should ring the Aviation Authority, he pushed his fingers through his hair and whistled softly.

The boy pondered the logistics of transporting the black box home, whether he would be best to hold it under one arm and steer with the other, or whether he should attach it to the bike, or to himself, somehow with the length of chain he used as a bike lock when he parked his bike in town. When the boy picked the box up, he discovered that he couldn’t, in fact, fit it under one arm. It wasn’t just that it was too big, or too heavy. It was just that it somehow didn’t fit. Likewise, the chain he used as a bike lock was too short to fit around the box and besides he had no real way of securing the box with one piece of chain.

So the boy pushed his fingers through his hair again and made his decision. He picked up the box with both hands and carried it that way, with both arms wrapped around it, back to the side of the highway, pausing only to mark, with a set of small stones, the place where he should stop and collect his bike later on.

When the boy was inevitably asked, later on, why he didn’t just leave the black box where it was, cycle back into town and return with a parent or guardian, possibly in a car this time, the boy simply replied that he thought it wasn’t right to leave something so important sitting out there under a rock, something that so obviously was meant to be kept safe. When the boy was asked if he knew what the black box was, he just shook his head.

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