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Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual
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Enlarge: Osgood reviews his research into the mysterious Orb

The aged inventor divided his time between these memories and his ongoing observations of the Work. He had kept all the notes of his experiments on the Orb. He pored over them in the long evenings.

The only way he'd ever teased the Orb into activity was by pressing its buttons in a particular order. The Orb would light up and glow for nearly seven minutes, during which time it would hum softly. When those minutes had passed, it turned itself off. Osgood concentrated on the observations he'd made during those minutes.

He had used every sort of device to observe the Orb. He'd timed the incidents; he'd noted slight modulations in the Orb's light; he'd measured the pitch and duration of the hum. Yet as he read his notes over and over he found one thing he'd had no way to measure, and so could only describe: from time to time he had noticed slight odors coming from the Orb when it was active.

No one had yet found a way to analyze a scent or the composition of the air that carried it. This began to interest Osgood. If the Orb had a quality that could be detected, but not analyzed, it seemed to him as though its mystery might have been trying to reach him just as he himself had been reaching toward it. Perhaps it had been telling him what he wanted to know all along in a language he was unable to understand.

Could scent be a language? Could this be the way the ancients had communicated, and how their secret history was recorded? Osgood wished that he'd kept the Orb with him.

When he understood that he might now be able to translate the Orb's language he stared blindly down at the old notes, and Osgood wept.


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