Now that, thought Arthur, is odd. Beside him, Cathy gasped. Gary’s strangled “What...?!?” was the only other sound. For a frozen moment they all stared at the apple, pristine and glistening on the pedestal.
As apples go, it was a perfect specimen. Red, shiny, smooth. Exactly, in fact, like the first apple that had appeared two weeks ago, the first time they had tried the experiment. That time, when the apple appeared, plucked out of 1320 AD, where it belonged, and brought forward to 2027 AD, there had been cheers and backslaps of congratulation. They had finally done it - gone back through time and retrieved an object from the past. They had been hoping for something a little more indicative of the targeted time, something like clothing or an implement they could precisely date, but instead, the apple had appeared. It had been analyzed thoroughly; x-rayed, its DNA checked. Everything indicated that it was exactly what it appeared to be - an apple, at the peak of ripeness.
Emboldened by their success, they had run another trial today, with 300 BC as their target. And again, an apple had appeared.
In that moment of stunned awareness, as they all stood frozen, staring at the apple, a trickle of unease crept up Arthur’s spine. There seemed to be something slightly malevolent about the fruit. Nonsense, he thought, shaking off the feeling. Do the tests. We’ll figure it out.
“Setting?” Gary began the post-trial check list, glancing at Arthur, who saw the same unease in Gary’s eyes.
“300 B.C.” Cathy was businesslike. “It ran perfectly,” she added, defensively.
They continued in this vein, coming to the end of the list. They once again had performed a perfect trial. For a moment there was silence. Then Gary exhaled.
They looked at each other, then Cathy picked up the phone.
“Sam? Cath here. Do me a favour - check and see if the apple is still in storage.” She waited a moment. “Ok, good. Just checking.” She replaced the receiver.
Arthur broke their inertia. Striding over to the apple, he lifted it off the pedestal and gave it to Cathy.
“Well, take it for tests. We’ll try again two weeks from now.”
Once again, the new apple proved to be a perfectly normal apple, with slight genetic differences from first. It joined its mate in storage, and the group gathered again for another trial. This time they decided to retrieve an object out of 1964, a little closer to their own timeline.
When another red, shining fruit appeared, Arthur snarled in frustration. Gary rubbed the back of his neck, thoughtfully. Cathy swore.
“This is crazy! What is going on here?” Cathy’s frustration was shared by all of them.
Arthur studied the apple, a hollow feeling in his stomach. Something was definitely not right.
“I don’t get it, “ he said, finally. “Our parameters clearly state any inanimate object, not just....fruit! “
Gary, who had turned pale, spoke up.
“I think it’s a message.”
The others turned to him, incredulous. Cathy snorted.
“From who? Little green men? Come on, Gary, get real.”
Gary stood up taller.
“No. From God.”
Arthur and Cathy stared at him, speechless. Arthur knew that Gary was religious, but this was a bit much.
“Right, Gary. God. What’s he trying to say, ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away?’” Cathy’s nervous titter was the only response.
Gary didn’t laugh, but stepped toward the apple, deep in thought.
“No, really. Think about it. An apple. Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve.” He turned pleading eyes on them. “Don’ t you get it?”
Arthur and Cathy glanced at each other, then back at Gary.
“You’ve got to be kidding, “ Cathy said. “You think this is the apple from the Garden of Eden? We set the time for 1964, for Pete’s sake!”
“C’mon, Gary. You can’t believe this is THAT apple. That’s all just a fable, anyway.”
Gary shook his head, impatient.
“Listen. Think about it.” He spoke earnestly, willing the other two to understand.” It represents a choice, just like the first apple. Between good and evil. God is telling us that we need to think about what we’re doing here. I’ve had my doubts about this from the beginning. You all have. It’s wrong. We shouldn’t go any further.” He spread his hands out. “It’s a choice.”
They all turned and looked at the perfectly ripe apple.
From behind them, a hiss.
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