Truth in Advertising
Jonny grabbed the old box from behind a trunk in the corner of the attic. A thick layer of dust obscured the words written on its side, but it was roughly the same shape and size as the box of his Grandpa’s war photos. He was sure it held some treasure.
The box was light, and he didn’t hear or feel anything shift inside as he pulled it free of its long confinement. Setting it down on top of the trunk, he gently lifted the dust caked lid.
Inside, a narrow black cylinder lay encased in styrofoam. At one end of the cylinder was a thin metal wire, the other was topped by a bright red button. On the side was a yellow sticker which said in big black letters: WARNING.
“Hey Benji! Come check this out!”
His younger brother dropped the old army helmet he was messing with, and hurried across the room to kneel with him in front of the trunk.
“What do you think it does?” Benji asked.
“Hand me the lid.”
When Benji gave him the lid, he scrubbed across it with a nearby rag, and blew the remaining dust into a billowing cloud. When the air cleared and their coughing subsided they both peered eagerly at the box-top. It was a dull yellowish color that had probably once been white, printed with faded red words: Universal Igniter, Guaranteed to Ignite Absolutely Everything!
“It’s some sort of electric lighter,” Jonny said, plucking it free from its styrofoam bed.
Grabbing a piece of paper that had fluttered from the opening box to the floor, he touched the tip of the Igniter’s wire to a corner and pushed the button. There was a soft click, and a blue spark leapt from the tip of the wire.
The sun’s red rays beat mercilessly down on Xilznkat as he stood, staring in horror at his wife and child. Where they lay, crumpled on the ground like the discarded husks of a s’ran fruit, the sand around them stained violet with their blood. Not an hour past their pedipalps had waggled in joy, and the chirrups of their laughter filled his ears; now they were still and silent, taken from him in a moment of the gods’ cruel caprice. With a howl of rage he raised his hooks to the sky and cursed the gods as none of his people ever had before. And perhaps it’s no surprise that he thought he was to blame, as the world burst into blue flame, destroying all that there ever was.