Water dripped from the faucet, falling into a stone bowl. Moss, pulsating with each drip, covered the bowl; and the bowl itself was made of moss, fossilized. A middle-aged man, his hair thin and grey, sat across from it, staring. He was the only one awake, and one of the few individuals who was even at the facility.
His name was Robert Griffon, and he was very bored--a side effect of being in a Spartan, nearly windowless room. Coyotes sang outside, which under other circumstances might have provided some comfort. But there was something… off… about the sounds. Something different. He’d, if he could have, analyzed the sounds. Anything to distract from the horrendous boredom. He couldn’t, of course. He hadn’t bothered to read up on coyote sociodynamics. Instead, he re-examined the form for the shipment of replacement window panes. He’d gone over it twice already, and he knew he hadn’t missed anything—after all, he couldn’t, but it wasn’t like he had anything better to do. Again he cursed his so-called 'gift'. He couldn’t sleep, he couldn’t interact socially without having frequent seizures, he lived his whole life almost completely alone.
Anomaly appears to be a geological organism. Suggest using as paperweight, he wrote on a notepad. The only particularly interesting thing is that part of it is not composed of rock and that it pulses. Griffon flicked a button next to him and a pane of light shimmered into existence in front of him. “Species identification, please.” While Cognitio extracted a DNA sample, Griffon turned to the next item he was supposed to inventory. It was a tiny globe, much similar to any of the various antique globes one could find in stereotypical dusty old libraries. The only significant difference was that it was floating, and slowly rotating.
He tossed the globe halfway across the room, adjusting his throw so it would come to a stop in the middle of the room. Without looking, he knew that he had missed.
“The species is Takakia lepidoziodes.” Griffon recorded it, then tore off the notepad page and placed it, along with the organism, in a shoebox. “The rest of the anomolies waiting to go through processing will arrive by pneumatic tube. ETA five minutes.”
Griffon snorted lightly and idly worked on a theory of quantum gravity. As he did he ate yet another protein bar. The gnawing hunger that always plagued him--another result of his 'gift’--was getting intolerable.
“Music, please. Something ambient.” The computer complied. Rather unsurprisingly, the music was rather gloomy. Griffon changed a few values of various properties of force-carrying particles, and as usual failed to produce an answer that didn’t involve planets flying apart. Combining that with a multidimensional approach yielded promising results, however—though he’d have to look into them later, since the capsule arrived just then. Griffon peered in. One bright red fern inside a tiny Bell chamber, several test tubes filled with a curious glowing substance, a glass sphere holding a tiny rainforest, and an golden eyeball with twenty writhing optic nerves. Griffon removed each of them and immediately focused on the eyeball.
“Begin recording.” He turned the eyeball in his hand. “Play recovery notes.”
“The anomaly was purchased in a bazaar in Morroco while I was on vacation for the equivalent of three hundred seventy-nine dollars,” said Valeria’s voice, played by the computer. Griffon concentrated, and a lens mounted to a headband flipped down in front of his right eye. “The dealer claimed it was the eye of a dragon… though I doubt that, since it doesn’t seem to be reptilian in nature—it looks almost canine—and all known draconoforms are. From the nature of the optic nerves I presume it’s meant to go in an empty eye socket, though of course I’ve failed to find any volunteers.”
Griffon attached an alligator clip to one of the eyeball’s tendrils, which he had long ago sedated with an aerosolized tranquilizer. The alligator clip was in turn attached to a wire, which ran for a few meters before having been inserted into a data port. Several other similar wires were already attached. The screen was blank, of course; the eye wasn’t transmitting any information. It had taken him an hour to figure out what algorithm to use to convert the bioelectrical signals into something the computer could understand, and he was rather satisfied with that accomplishment. The eye twitched, and Griffon lightly misted it again with tranquilizer, then quickly finished attaching the alligator clips.
When the eye came out of the the trance, it immediately spun around and stared at its own tendrils. Griffon was suddenly very glad he had used Type 8 alligator clips; cold hard metal would infuriate the eyeball. “Please listen very carefully to me,” he said, pressing a finger to a tiny pendant around his neck that would, hopefully, enable the eyeball to understand him. “You are in Arizona.”
The eye moved to staring at him.
“We are in a facility built on top of a dimensional anomaly. Please nod if you are sapient.”
The eye stared at him, but did not nod.
“Eyeball does not become sapient once connected to a tool it can use to transmit information. Responds to sound.” Just to make sure, Griffon ran a small wand-like device over the eyeball and checked the reading. “Sapience sensors confirm lack of sapience. Beginning testing. Standard electromagnetic spectrum test coupled with standard testing for anomalous sensors.”
Visible, infrared, and ultraviolet were not surprises. X-rays, lifesigns, and beta radiation were mildly unusual, but nothing particularly exceptional. What was exceptional was the presence of what seemed to be some sort of anomaly detection system. When Griffon panned the eye’s field of vision over himself, he found that it showed him surrounded in what were three-dimensional fractals. The red fern was surrounded by an aura of raging flame, the sphere pulsed with dim white light, and the moss bowl was surrounded by motes of green light. The vials of glowing substance were only surrounded by the exact same light they had shown without anything but the naked eye, which, given that only their origin seemed to be anomalous, was expected.
“Recommend using in the Observor drone. Yes, I know that’s my pet project, but that’s not the reasoning. Since the Observor drone is intended to be used for studying anomalous wildlife, something that can spot anomalous wildlife, even shapeshifters, out of large groups of wildlife, would be enormously useful to its mission. And, for the record, I can’t reverse engineer it, that is why it is anomalous. So don’t bother asking.”
Griffon removed the eyeball from the alligator clips and returned it to a vat of mildly salty water, then turned to the red fern. “Cognitio,” he said, “extract a DNA sample…"