The object sat between the exposed roots of the massive oak tree. It was roughly the size and shape of a large egg and had a bright metallic sheen — every few seconds the metallic sheen would disappear and be replaced with a random color.
James and his friend Andrew squatted near the base of the tree and stared intently at the shining object.
“What is it?” Andrew said. “It doesn’t look like the other ones.” It was Easter Sunday and the two boys had been hunting for eggs all afternoon in the park. Both boys had collected a good number of brightly painted Easter eggs — none of them looked at all like the glowing object sitting near the tree.
“It sure is shiny,” James replied, staring at the egg. He reached towards it.
“Don’t!” Andrew suddenly cried, slapping James’ hand before he could touch the egg. “It doesn’t look right.”
“Hey!” James said, rubbing his hand. “I know — let’s poke it with a stick.”
Andrew nodded, immediately starting to search for a good poking stick. After a few minutes he located a suitable twig and carried it back to the tree. The two boys watched the egg change from red, to blue, then to violet.
Andrew slowly extended the twig towards the object. When the tip of the twig contacted the egg, there was a flash of light as bright as a camera’s flash bulb. The boys screamed and jumped back from the tree.
“You okay?” James asked, looking worriedly at his friend.
Andrew nodded, his eyes wide. He turned his hand over — there were black smudge marks where he had held the stick. “It felt like the time I stuck my finger into that light socket. But worse.”
“Where’s the stick?” James asked, looking around the tree.
“I don’t know.” Andrew replied, staring at his hand. “I must have chucked it.”
The boys approached the egg slowly. It looked the same as it had when they had first discovered it.
James picked up a small rock. Crouching close to the tree, he tossed the rock toward the egg. It was a perfect shot and the rock hit the egg dead center — there was another bright flash of light and the rock disappeared.
“Holy crap,” James said quietly. It was his new favorite phrase, courtesy of his older brother.
“Let’s try a bigger rock,” Andrew said. The two boys found a large rock and carried it to the oak tree. It was very heavy, and they struggled to hold it above the egg.
“Careful,” James said. “Make sure it’s right over it. Okay, on three.”
Andrew nodded as James started counting. When he reached the number three, they released the rock and it landed right on top of the egg. Once again there was a brilliant flash of light, except this time the flash was accompanied by a loud popping sound as the rock vanished.
“Holy crap,” James said again. The last flash of light was so bright that he was seeing spots. He blinked in an effort to make them go away.
The egg returned to a metallic sheen for a few moments, then resumed changing into various colors. The boys stared at the egg, and did not hear the approaching footsteps until a twig cracked right behind them.
“All right, more eggs,” the voice boomed. Andrew and James turned to face the new arrival and their hearts sank. It was Henry Dickson, the most feared kid in their school.
The poster child for every bully that had ever infected the public school system, Henry spent his days creating misery for others. He had a seemingly endless capacity for inflicting pain, and delighted in finding new victims. Henry Dickson was, and always would be, a complete asshole.
“Hand them over, girls,” the bully said with a smirk, pointing at the boys’ half-filled buckets of Easter eggs. “I’m hungry.”
“Those are ours!” James protested. He had spent hours filling his basket and was not about to give it up easily.
Henry’s smirk turned into a snarl. Without another word he stepped forward and shoved James into the dirt. As James struggled to get to his feet, Henry clenched his fists.
“Hey!” Andrew shouted, running to the defense of his friend. He launched himself at Henry and hit the larger boy square in the back. Caught by surprise, Henry lost his balance and fell to the ground on top of James. The three boys struggled in a heap, but Henry was much stronger and regained his feet first. His face a mask of rage, the bully lunged towards Andrew.
“Whoa,” Henry said suddenly, seeing the shining egg. “What is that?”
Victims forgotten for the moment, Henry approached the oak tree. He stared at the shining egg for a few moments then reached out to grab it. Andrew open his mouth to warn Henry but his voice was muffled as James clamped his hand over his friend’s mouth. James shook his head as Henry’s fingers touched the egg.
The flash of light was so bright that James and Andrew were momentarily blinded. This time the sound was more like the crack of a minor thunderstorm. Henry vanished, leaving only a crisp odor in the air not unlike the smell of burnt bacon.
Ears ringing, the boys blinked rapidly as their sight slowly returned.
After a long moment, Andrew looked at James. “We should tell someone.”
“Yeah, “ James replied. “I guess we should.” He paused. “After we find some more eggs.”
Andrew nodded in agreement and the boys grabbed their Easter baskets. With a nervous glance back at the oak tree, the two friends made their way back to the path.
In the shadow of the oak tree, the egg changed from red, to green, to violet.
Patrick Perkins writes in British Columbia, Canada.