By Shawn Pollock
By the fifth day, the dig wound down with little to show. Dr. Dimmick and his assistants focused on an area in the western portion of the land mass, once known as North America.
Three years ago, when the radiation on planet Earth had fallen to a safe level, the academics had received permission to study their ancestors, those who had not fled Earth before the war, or who had returned from the first Martian settlements to join the fight. These studies had been a boon for the historians and archeologists, who teleported to the planet in droves to make use of their generous government grants.
Today, though, Dimmick felt that money draining down a hole of diminishing returns. This dig served merely to show that there had been too much destruction, that Earth had taken too many of its secrets with it when it died.
A cry from one of his grad students deep in the hole roused him from his thoughts. “We found something!” Everyone rushed to the edge of the pit.
Dimmick’s interest rose at the sight of a rectangular blue box, emblazoned with the word “Rubbermaid.” Most of these had melted in the nuclear fire, their contents destroyed. This one, however, looked perfect. He scrambled down the side of the crater to grab the box and pull it to level ground. The students clustered around him as he opened the lid and spoke into the recorder.
“Publications entitled Rolling Stone and Circus, dated Earth years 1995 through 1998. Compact discs by the following recording artists: Alice In Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, and Metallica. Three boxes of baseball-related trading cards, unopened.”
The students bagged these items. The museum had others already, but it wouldn’t hurt to archive some backups.
Then, at the bottom of the bin, Dimmick saw it. A gasp ran through the group.
“Is it…?” one of the students whispered.
“I think so,” Dimmick said. He picked it up, afraid it would disintegrate in his hand. “Everyone, I’m taking this back to the university immediately. Catalogue the rest of our findings. And I’ll see you in class next week.”
Dimmick ran for the teleporter, with the specimen encased in the strongest force field he could power. He leapt into the teleporter’s footplate and barely felt the tingle as he zipped back to the university grounds.
As he hurried across the quad, Dr. Horst was waiting. “Your students informed me. Will it really complete the collection?”
Dimmick nodded, and together they rushed to the museum room that housed the university’s newest display, the culmination of years of study and countless digs. Passing under the blue and yellow Blockbuster sign, they walked among the shelves until they found the empty spot. Unlocking the display case, Dimmick slid the specimen into place.
“Are you sure of the positioning?” Horst asked.
“Let me double-check.” Dimmick opened his research notes. “Yes, Happy Gilmore, Earth year 1996, goes between Billy Madison and The Wedding Singer.”
The two stood a moment, admiring the display. “Someday we’ll be able to recreate the technology they used to actually watch these,” Dimmick said.
Horst’s voice trembled with emotion. “That will be a great day for history.”