Keith was on the couch in the living room watching Looney Tunes and thinking about going back to sleep. His favorite episode was on (the one with Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam fighting over possession of the singing sword) but he was way too drowsy to really enjoy it. He closed his eyes and sprawled back on the couch, chuckling to himself when he heard Yosemite Sam tell his pet dragon not to sneeze or he would blow them to the moon right before he started drifting back to sleep.
His nap didn’t last very long as his little brother Ralph came running into the room shouting just around the time he was nice and asleep. Keith grumbled for him to shut up and put his pillow over his head in hopes that it would drown out his younger sibling’s big mouth but it didn’t work.
It was the same thing every Saturday morning. Ralph would wake up at the crack of dawn and played by himself for a little while before he got bored and got Keith up and forced him to entertain him. No matter how much Keith protested, begged, or threatened him with bodily harm Ralph couldn’t get it through his seven-year-old mind that he didn’t want to get up early and play. All Keith wanted to do on Saturdays was to sleep as long as possible just like all the other kids in his fifth grade class got to do but instead he was usually up at around 8:00 AM playing with Ben 10 action figures with Ralph.
“Wake up Keith! You have to see what I found!” Ralph chirped happily.
“Leave me alone, I’m sleepy!” Keith mumbled, knowing it was a futile effort as he knew Ralph wouldn’t go away and leave him alone until he got up and did what he wanted.
He continued to whine and Keith reluctantly kicked the blanket that was on top of him to the floor and slowly stood up. As he yawned and stretched he thought back to the last time Ralph had wanted him to come outside and look at something that he’d found. It turned out to be a huge dog turd that the neighbor’s pet dachshund Cujo had left in the yard, and while Ralph had been extremely excited because he had never seen one so big come from such a little dog Keith hadn’t been as enthused.
“This better not be another turd or something.” He said as he slipped on his blue Chuck Taylors and tied them.
“It’s not! It’s something way better! Come on! You’re going to freak out when you see it!’ Ralph shouted, grabbing him by the hand and basically dragging him along behind him as he ran through the living room.
“Slow down!” he demanded, nearly tripping over his own feet.
Ralph pretty much ignored him and pulled him through the backdoor, through the backyard, and into the wooded area that was behind their house. Keith had never seen him so excited before (which was saying something since the boy was so ecstatic over seeing a couple of elephants hump each other at the zoo one time that he came close to pissing his pants) and had to admit that he was a little curious as to what he’d discovered that had gotten him so worked up.
“There it is!” he exclaimed, taking a moment to stop and catch his breath as he pointed over to a tall oak tree.
“Wow, Thanks a lot, Ralph. You brought me out here to see a tree. I’m so glad you woke me up to see it because I’ve never seen one before.”
“No, I’m not talking about the tree! Look beside it!”
“What are you talking about?”
“It’s over there beside the tree! It’s a time capsule!”
“How do you know?”
As soon as the question was out of his mouth he saw the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA TIME CAPSULE etched on the top of the item that was partially buried in the ground beside the oak tree. It resembled the top of a huge orange oil drum with a metal lid on it, and since it most of it was embedded in the ground Keith couldn’t tell how big it actually was. Judging by the circumference of the top of it though he could tell that it was a lot bigger than your basic oil drum.
“How did you find it?” Keith asked, reaching down and putting his hand on top of it, surprised by how warm it was to the touch.
“I was digging a hole to use as a trap for my Mumm-Ra action figure to capture the Thunder cats when I found it.” Ralph smiled, looking forward to taking sole credit for discovering it when the newspaper showed up to do a story about it.
Keith leaned down for a closer look at it and noticed a latch on the top of it. He assumed that it was used to open it and reached down and grabbed it. Before he pulled on it to open the top he got a very bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. There was a voice in the back of his head telling him not to open it because there was something horrible inside. He pulled his hand back as if he’d just touched a hot stove and stood there for a moment trying to resist the overwhelming urge to throw up that suddenly hit him.
“What’s wrong? Why didn’t you open it?” Ralph asked, sounding a little perturbed.
“I think that we should just cover it back up and leave it alone.” Keith gasped, feeling a little bit better than he had a few moments earlier.
“Because I said so. There’s something about it that I don’t like and I don’t think we should open it.”
“But I want to see what’s inside! I found it; I should be able to do whatever I want with it!”
“Tough. Leave it alone or I’ll tell Mom. How many times has she told you now to play out here in the woods by yourself?”
“Don’t tell her I was out here, I’ll get in trouble!” Ralph whined, sounding much younger than seven.
“Help me cover it back up and then come back home with me and I won’t tell her.”
Ralph reluctantly agreed and started kicking dirt back into the hole on top of the capsule, his dreams of fame for finding it shattered. Keith picked up the shovel that Ralph had used to initially dig the hole and helped out. Since the hole wasn’t too deep it didn’t take them long to cover it back up and once they were done they headed back to the house.
Ralph was pretty quiet during the walk home which was unusual for him since he almost never shut up. Keith did feel a little guilty about not letting him open the time capsule but he just knew in his heart that it wasn’t a good idea. He tried to explain this to Ralph but since it was obvious that he really didn’t understand what he was trying to tell him Keith promised him that he would by him a new Spider-Man or Batman toy the next time they went to the mall. This seemed to make him happy and Keith thought that it would help him forget all about the time capsule.
He was wrong.
A few hours later when he was sure that Keith was taking a nap Ralph made a beeline back to the woods with the shovel. It took him just a few minutes to dig up enough dirt so that he could see the top of the capsule again, and as his heart beat faster and faster he grabbed the latch. He felt a slight tingle run down his spine but ignored it, thinking it was just caused by the extreme excitement that he was feeling. He gave the latch a hard yank and was a little surprised by how easily the top of the capsule opened.
He peered down inside of it but couldn’t really see anything because it was so dark. He stuck his arm inside and felt around for a little while until his hand brushed up against something. He grabbed whatever it was and realized that it felt like a tobacco stick as it was thin and hard. When he started to lift it up into the sunlight to get a better look at it he realized that it was too heavy to be just a stick and he felt his heart pumping in anticipation as he wondered what exactly it was. Was it some sort of king’s scepter or a martial artist’s bo staff? He couldn’t wait to unearth it and right before he saw what it was he thought that his heart may very well explode from the excitement he was feeling. His excitement turned into pure terror just a mere second or two later.
He didn’t realize that he’d actually been hoisting a human skeleton to the surface by its arm until he gave it one final tug, freeing it from its dark, dank prison. He lost his balance and fell back on the ground, and to his horror the skeleton landed right on top of him.
It wasn’t a very big skeleton as it appeared to have been a young boy around Ralph’s age (or a midget) at one time. Screaming at the top of his lungs for Keith, his mom, his dad, or anyone to help him he managed to squirm out from under the skeleton and get to his feet. As much as he didn’t want to he took another look at the skeleton as it lay on the ground smiling up at him and wished that he had listened to his brother and had just left the time capsule alone.
It was right around the time that he turned to run home that the time capsule stated making a strange humming sound. Before he knew what was happening he felt himself being pulled toward it due to the strong suction force that it was producing.
He grabbed the oak tree and wrapped his arms around it but it was no use. As he screamed for help he lost his grip and was sucked inside of the time capsule. A second later the lid slammed shut and locked before he even had the opportunity to attempt an escape. The humming sound was almost deafening on the inside and Ralph covered his ears with his hands in a desperate attempt to keep his ear drums from exploding (it didn’t work). Soon the time capsule started vibrating violently before it began moving and rocketed itself deeper into the ground.
As Ralph pounded on the walls of the capsule and screamed as loud as he could to no avail it continued burrowing deeper and deeper into the earth until it was several miles underground. The tunnel it had created as a result of its journey collapsed in on itself, making the hole that Ralph had dug earlier disappear.
It kept moving downward for many more miles until it hit a layer or rock and could go no further. Ralph continued screaming until he lost his voice as layer after layer or dirt and rock fell on top of the time capsule, once again burying it so it wouldn’t be found again for a very long time, essentially becoming Ralph’s tomb.
In the year 2099 a construction company was hired to clear out the woods so that a strip mall could be built there. As one of the workers operated a backhoe he accidentally dug too deep and hit the top of the time capsule (like it had always done in the past it had managed to work its way closer to the surface over the decades). The worker (a guy named Vince that hated his job and just wanted to be at home killing a six pack of beer instead of out in the middle of nowhere digging holes with a machine he could barely operate) stopped the backhoe and hopped out of it wanting to take a closer look at what he’d hit. As his coworker Al looked on Vince climbed down into the hole and wiped the dirt off the top of the capsule and saw the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA TIME CAPSULE on it a few seconds later.
Thinking that there may be something valuable inside he promptly grabbed the latch and popped the top open, hoping and praying that there was a treasure waiting for him inside of it. He reached in and felt around for a bit until he grabbed Ralph’s skeleton. He pulled it to the surface and after looking at it with very little interest he threw it to the side, totally unfazed by it. Blinded by the thought that there may be jewels, bars of gold or other valuable items somewhere toward the bottom he stuck his arm down in it again and started feeling around for a couple of minutes until the humming sound started up again and he was sucked down into the time capsule just as Ralph, the boy before him, and countless other people before him had been over the last 200 years or so.
The lid slammed shut and locked and as Al looked on in shock and confusion the time capsule started to vibrate before it once again began its descent deep into the ground taking Vince-who was trapped inside and thought that punching the walls until his fists were broken and bleeding would somehow help him escape-with it.