I came across this story as one of my current Humanities class assignments. Thanks to 27 for his help in converting it from PDF to Word so I could post it.
“The Voice from the Cube”
by Nelson Bond
All Xuthil seethed with excitement. The broad highways, the swirling ramps that led to the public forum were thronged with the jostling bodies of a hundred thousand inhabitants, while in the living quarters of the capital millions unable to witness the spectacle first-hand waited anxiously by the menavisors for news.
The curious cube had opened. The gigantic slab of marble, its sheer, glistening walls towering hundreds of feet above the head of the tallest Xuthilian, its great square base more than a hundred home-widths on each side, but a few hours ago had opened – one smoothly oiled block sliding backwards to reveal a yawning pit of blackness in its depths.
Already a band of daring explorers, heavily armed, had penetrated the depths of the curious cube. Soon they would return to make a public report, and it was this which all Xuthil breathlessly awaited.
None living knew the purpose – or dared to guess the fearful age – of the curious cube. The earliest archives in Xuthilian libraries noted its existence, presupposing divine origin or construction. For certainly even the accomplished hands of earth’s dominant race could not have built so gigantic a structure. It was the work of Titans, or a god.
So, with menavisors dialed to the forum for the first mental images to be broadcast therefrom by members of the exploration party, Xuthil hummed with nervous activity.
Abruptly a pale green luminescence flooded the reflector screens of the menavisors, and a thrill coursed through the viewers. The exploration party had returned. Tul, chief of all Xuthilian scientists, was stepping upon the circular dais, his broad, intelligent forehead furrowed with thought. His band of followers trailed after him. They too walked leadenly.
Tul stopped before the image-projecting unit. As he did so, a wavering scene began to impress itself into the minds of his watchers – a picture that grew more clear and distinct as the mental contact strengthened.
Each Xuthilian saw himself walking behind the glare of a strong torch down a straight marble passageway, through a high vaulted corridor of seamless stone. Cobwebs and the dust of centuries stirred softly beneath his feet, the air musty with the scent of long-dead years. A torch swung toward the roof of the passageway, and its beam was lost in the vast reaches of the chamber above.
Then the passageway widened into a great amphitheater – a tremendous room that dwarfed to insignificance the wide Xuthilian forum. Telepathically each viewer saw himself – as Tul had done – press forward on eager feet, then stop and swing his flaring torch around the strangest sight a living eye had ever seen. Rows upon rows of recessed drawers, bronze-plated and embossed with hieroglyphs –these were the contents of the curious cube. These and nothing more.
The picture wavered, faded. The thoughts of Tul replaced it, communicating directly with each watcher.
“Undeniably there is some great mystery yet to be dissolved concerning the curious cube. What these drawers contain we do not know. Archives, perhaps, of some long-vanished race. But it will take long years of arduous labor with the finest modern equipment to open even one of the mighty shelves. Their gigantic size and intricate construction defies us. If living creatures built the curious cube –and we may suppose they did – their bodily structure was on a scale so vastly greater than our own that we are utterly unable to comprehend the purpose of their instruments. Only one thing found in the cube was in any way comparable to machinery we know and employ.”
Tul turned and nodded to two of his assistants. They moved forward, staggering under the weight of a huge stone slab, circular in form, set into a greater square of some strange fibroid material. Attached to this giant dais was a huge resilient hawser, larger in width by half than those who bore it.
“The cable attached to this slab,: continued Tul, “is very long. It reaches all the way into the heart of the curious cube. Obviously it has some bearing on the secret, but what that bearing is, we do not know. Our engineers will have to dismember the slab to solve its meaning. As you see, it is solid –“ Tul stepped upon the stone….
And as Tul stepped upon the push-button, quiescent current flowed from the reservoirs dormant for ages, and from the depths of the curious cube an electrically controlled recorder spoke.
“Men –“ said a human voice – “men of the fiftieth century – we, your brothers of the twenty-fifth need you. For humanity’s sake, we call on you for help.
As I speak, our solar system is plunging into a great chlorine cloud from which it will not emerge for hundreds of years. All mankind is doomed to destruction. In this specially constructed vault, we have laid to rest ten thousand of the greatest minds of Earth, hermetically sealed to sleep in an induced catalepsy until the fiftieth century. By that time the danger will be ended.
The door to our vault at last has opened. If there be men alive, and if the air be pure, pull down the lever beside the portal of our tomb and we will waken.
If no man hears this plea – if no man still alive – then farewell, world. The sleeping remnants of the race of man sleep on forever.”
“Solid,” repeated Tul. “Yet, as you can see, it seems to yield slightly.” He continued dubiously, “Citizens of Xuthil, we are as baffled by this mystery as you are. But you may rest assured that your council of scientists will make every effort to solve it.”
The green glare of the menavisors faded. Xuthil, perplexed and marveling, returned to its daily labors. On street corners and in halls, in homes and offices, Xuthilians briefly paused to touch antennae, discussing the stranger wonder.
For the voice from the curious cube had not been heard by any living creature. Sole rulers of the fiftieth century were ants – and ants cannot hear.
- Source: 100 Great Science Fiction Short Short Stories, edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin Harry Greenberg, and Joseph D. Olander, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1978, pp. 172-75
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Thread: "The Voice from the Cube"
04-10-2004, 05:01 PM #1
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"The Voice from the Cube"
04-10-2004, 05:06 PM #2
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- Mar 2002
- Loco madidus effercio in rutilus effercio.
You are most welcome Cheffie. It was good to get back to grassroots typing again. There isn't much call for great "keyboarding" when all I pretty much do all day is data entry.If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)
"I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD
"Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)
Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!
impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto
IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.
04-12-2004, 10:28 PM #3
Take that Xuthil!
Them ants are gonna love this one....Be safe y'all!
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"Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati"
04-12-2004, 10:36 PM #4
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Hey Ladder8, you're 100 now.
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