It’s a tee. It’s a dress. It’s the new Graphic T-shirt Dress.

Technology Failure

The young man was sweating fiercely under the tarp. The shade of that tarpaulin was the only shade within fifty yards of their base camp. The Gobi is very unforgiving at this time of year. Bill stopped troweling the undisturbed sand to take another long swig of the tepid water in his drinking bottle.

After a short break, he resumed his careful troweling of the sand. His slow but steady digging had opened a shallow square of the densely packed sand. He was careful to stay within the boundaries that had been marked out with orange florescent plastic tape. His was the first of sixteen squares marked for excavation. As he scraped away the small rocks and sand, his trowel clicked on something solid buried there. At first he thought it was just another of the hundreds of rocks he’d encountered today. But the ringing sound his trowel made as it contacted the object told him that this thing was probably made of some kind of metal. He looked closer at the object and was surprised to see something that was not a natural object. It was a dull metallic pointed thing sticking up out of the sand and small rocks. He called out for the professor to come and examine the object before he resumed excavating. The professor stopped his supervision of the four other students who were busy erecting a large tent with no sides.

The professor was surprised to see a discovery of any kind so soon at his dig. He called the other archeology students he’d brought with him to look at Bill’s diggings. He told them all to be careful where they stepped and to take note at how well Bill had followed the outlines of the tape marking his square. Then he actually took a good look at what Bill had discovered. After his shock at the realization that Bill had made a significant discovery, he told everyone to take a careful but good look at the small metallic object jutting up out of the sand. Everyone took their turn and looked at it. When they all had a good look, they suddenly started talking, all at once. Professor Siegsen called for everyone to quieten down. He reiterated his words about being careful and observant lest they overlook or possibly damage something when they got their turn to dig.

The professor turned back to Bill Miller and told him to continue digging in the rocky sand. Professor Siegsen had been wondering how he was going to convince one of his brightest students to stay with archeology. He knew that Bill Miller was becoming bored with archeology and was thinking about changing his major at the University. An important discovery here would probably change that and the professor was about to get his wish. He sensed that Bill had made a major find, but he said nothing and let Bill continue with his discovery.

Bill continued to trowel away the sand and small rocks but now he had a purpose. He was highly charged with excitement when he uncovered another point of metal and the top of a dome of the same dull metal between the two points. Bill thought the points looked like horns now that the metallic dome was exposed. They reminded him of the old idea about Viking helmets that turned out to be false. But here was what looked like a helmet with two horns. As he dug a little deeper at the front of the dome, he encountered a rolled edge that convinced him that this was indeed some kind of helmet. He called for the professor once again.

By the time the professor arrived, Bill had uncovered the front rim of a metal helmet and he could see what looked like the forehead of a skull inside it. He stopped and waited for the professor to get a look at it before he went further. When the professor saw what Bill had exposed, he called a halt to everything and told the bunch of eager students to take the rest of the day off. They had been setting up an open tent area where the team could stay near the dig site. The tent was big enough to shelter the two old Land Rovers as well as all the people there. Although everyone wanted to stay, The professor had little trouble convincing them to return to their permanent camp.

The professor returned to Bill’s square to get a much closer look at what he had uncovered. After another hour of digging and troweling, a complete head and armored shoulders had been unearthed. The funny thing was, this wasn’t a human skull. The professor made an educated guess and decided that it must have been some kind of reptilian being. The head was huge and the shoulders were more than four feet apart. If the scale of humans was similar, then this being was more than twelve feet tall. Talk about a discovery! This was the proof of another intelligent species on the Earth! And it was obviously a warlike species. The armor was proof of that. The professor knew he had to call a stop to this and notify the University and the authorities. But before he did, he decided to allow Bill to dig a little more to reveal more of the creature.

By the time sunset was about to happen, Bill and the professor had uncovered the being to just below the chest. The being had mummified in the hot sand of the Gobi. Its armor was of a dull color and of a metal that the professor couldn’t identify. He tried to take a small sample of the metal but it was harder than the steel of his knife and he couldn’t even scratch it. The professor got very excited about that but said nothing to Bill.

What little they could see of its face was definitely saurian in nature. It had fine scales on its face and the mouth was open in a grimace, exposing large, sharp teeth made for eating meat and ripping flesh. Those teeth looked like dinosaur teeth to Bill. He shuddered slightly, but kept troweling the packed sand and small rocks.

The professor said that they should probably attempt to remove the helmet tomorrow. Doing so would expose the shape of the head, which was elongated at the back. He touched the face lightly, but was startled to see the face move slightly. He drew back his hand quickly, fearing he may have destroyed the facial features of the being. But after a moment, the face covering slipped off to reveal a more human-looking face behind it. The being had been wearing some kind of war-mask that looked like a dinosaur face. It was meant to terrify its enemies. The mask was remarkably tough, so it also served as a kind of facial armor. A quick examination by the professor showed that it filtered the air as well, serving the purpose of a gas mask too.

There were many complex-looking devices embellished onto the being’s chest armor. Bill had been careful to only use his bristle brush to clear the sand away from those devices. He didn’t want any criticism later on. This was his chance to shine and he didn’t want to blow it.

By the time night had fallen, the professor had gotten one of the Coleman lanterns lit and it threw an odd light on the being in the sand. Bill had cleared away most of the sand nearly to the waist when his trowel clicked on something metallic in front of the being. As he dug around it, he came to the conclusion that it was the being’s knee. It seemed as if the being was sitting down. Bill thought that odd, but kept troweling the sand and small pebbles away from the body.

The professor’s curiosity got the better of his good judgment when he touched one of the odd decorations on the side of the being’s left forearm. To his surprise, the cover popped open to reveal a very alien kind of instrumentation glowing in the stark light of the lantern. He was startled and amazed to see that this being’s armor still had some kind of power showing.

After a fast-moving moment, several lights on the being’s chest lit up and some sounds began to emanate from the armor. There was a quick whiff of ozone as some kind of energy began to play over and in the being’s armor. Apparently, the armored suit that the being had been wearing had an internal power supply that was beginning to energize. A high-pitched sound and vibration shook the body and began to move the armor out of the dirt and sand. After a few moments, the body in the armored suit had been elevated to the surface of the dirt and was lying on it’s back on the desert sand. Incredulously, Bill and the professor watched as a series of lights and sounds blinked and clicked within the being’s armored suit. Something automatic was happening that played an energy field over the being inside. They were stunned to see a few jerks of movement from this dead body on the sand.

After several minutes, the being opened it’s eyes to reveal gray eyes that looked around slowly and locked on them. It moved it’s right arm to touch a spot on it’s chest. The energy suddenly seemed to increase in intensity. With each moment, the being was gathering more strength and power from it’s armored suit. The being took it’s eyes away from the two men for a moment and looked around quickly. It saw the mask it had been wearing on a dropcloth that the professor had laid on the desert sand. With a wave of one of it’s fingers, the mask flew through the air into the being’s hand. The being applied the mask to it’s face and it seemed to bond to the suit automatically. With that action, the being’s armor was complete and an energy flow began to corruscate over the armor. Unbelievably, the creature began to try to stand. As the being rose from the ground, sharp spikes began to emerge from the armor in various places. The creature stood erect and began to move toward Bill and the professor.

Both men had been shocked into motionlessness by these activities, but when the being advanced on them, its intentions were clear. They both ran off in different directions at the same time. The being raised its arm and aimed some kind of energy weapon that was built into its armored arm. A lance of energy burst forth from its arm weapon and the professor was bathed in a horrible yellow light for a few seconds. That light showed the professor’s body being quickly incinerated by the beam. Then the being looked at Bill, who stopped running when he saw the professor’s body bathed in the yellow light. He stood transfixed as the being’s eyes glowed malevolently with a red light and locked onto his. He knew that he too would be incinerated just like the professor had been.

But suddenly, there was a flash of electric-blue light as the creature’s helmet began to spark and smoke with a loud, buzzing sound. A huge arc of blue lightning arced to the ground and the creature’s eyes, visible now that the mask had fallen away, had pointed skyward and the creature fell forward heavily to the ground. As Bill looked on, the creature’s armor had a hump on its back that was obviously the source of its power. That hump was beginning to glow and Bill instinctively backed away from the scene. When he turned to run, a loud buzzing and popping sound wailed out of the hump as it turned white hot and exploded in a burst of white hot metal liquid spraying in all directions. After a few seconds, Bill turned to look back only to see a circle of molten sand and rock where the creature had fallen. The overhead tarp, the dropcloth and everything flammable within twenty-five feet of where the creature fell was burning.

Bill marshaled his thoughts as the other students began to arrive on the scene of devastation in one of the four-wheelers. Everything had happened so fast that he wasn’t sure what he was going to say to them. He was tired, dehydrated, dirty and still in some kind of shock when the other students got to him. He managed to stammer out that the thing must have been some kind of bomb or other military ordnance left over from the last war. That explained the weak explosion and heat, but he knew nobody would believe his story about the creature. For now, he told them that the professor had asked him to step away from the device while he took a look at it. He must have triggered the bomb somehow. When he kept repeating the same thing over and over, the team doctor gave him a sedative and decided to talk again in the morning.

No one ever found out the truth. Bill decided to go into another, more productive area of study at the university after the investigation. He went into the field of engineering and went on to become a successful engineer in a civil engineering firm. He never talked about what happened out in the Gobi after that.

Technology Failure

Jim Hall

Fayetteville, United States

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Artist's Description

Archeology is usually very boring until someone makes a find. Bill and the professor made that find. Pity that it didn’t work out like they thought.

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