Ah… UPS delivered the replacement valve, and Eithan could finally finish the washer’s repair. He removed the plate at the rear of the machine and pulled out the old unit, taking careful note of all the connections, electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic. The new valve clicked confidently onto the mounting plate, a confirmation that the replacement part was the correct one. It would be nice to get that pile of laundry back under control.
Such tiny screws. The length of those screws would not make it across his pinkie fingernail. Those things belonged in laptop computers, not large appliances. He positioned the first screw and reached for a screwdriver and—and the screw slipped from his fingers and plummeted! It skittered across the floor, emitting two tiny “dits” of sound before jumping under the dryer.
Damn! He knew this would happen. And yet he was careless anyway. Stupid! He pushed the dryer aside, using more muscle than necessary. He searched. Nothing. He pushed the dryer further and scoured with his eyes. He grabbed his car repair light and scanned the cement slab floor, which happened to be the same color as the screw itself. Even his brightest flashlight, pulled from the bottom drawer of his toolbox, revealed nothing. He pushed the dryer into a neighboring cardboard box with old toys that no one had played with in years. A hoola hoop cracked. He looked, swept, searched, and cursed, but it made no difference. Damn!
Where in heaven’s name did that screw go? Where? Where?
The following passage translated from Rarwtatl to English
The Daily Gazette
Date: 52nd star phase of the seventh month of the 288th year of the Honorable Emperor Cruxlrond
Mysterious Huge Object Appears in Flurtilia
Hundreds of witnesses reported the appearance of a strange object falling out of the sky in the middle of Flurtilia, crushing a steed housing where it fell.
Chaos ensued, as steeds and citizens fled in all directions. Constables struggled to maintain order. Two steeds perished, and five citizens suffered minor injuries. The medic priestesses say that the citizens should have a full recovery in a couple of weeks.
The object itself is of a dull gray color, as huge as a trakwank predator. It has a giant cylindrical column carved with helix grooves, and a wide disk at one end. The disk has one long groove cut across it.
The object has sunk deep into the ground where it fell. Authorities say they have no means to move such an object, and so it will remain there for ages to come, an enduring monument to an inscrutable mystery.
Mike Neis lives in Orange County, California and works as a technical writer for a commercial laboratory. His work has appeared in The Periodical Forlorn, Oddville Press and elsewhere. Besides writing, his outside activities include church music, walking for health, and teaching English as a second language. He is, by the way, a do-it-yourself homeowner.