It happened with the turn of the leaves, when things change from green to precious gold. I didn’t know what I was looking for, just that I was looking. I didn’t need anything to search for because I never found it anyway. Just looking was enough. The shiny disk of the metal detector glinted in the sun, offering promises never fulfilled. I didn’t mind. It was a nice excuse to go outside. I always needed one; I could never allow myself to enjoy the world without some tangible reason for it. So I looked for metal.
Then one autumn’s day I actually found some.
The detector startled me as it bleeped wildly – after all, it was a sound I’d only heard once before, when I tested the thing as it came out of the box. I stared at the flat, bare ground before me, confused as to what came next. I’d never anticipated this moment. Eventually I got onto my knees and dug into the soft earth with my hands. It wasn’t particularly cold yet and the soil came away easily. I kept digging and never found anything but I was so curious I couldn’t stop. When I got to about a foot down with still nothing, I tried the metal detector again. It bleeped, so I kept digging.
The sun was setting and I was still digging. I would periodically check to see if the mystery item was still there. It was. I kept going, until I was certain I’d gone down further than the metal detector’s range. My hands bled but by that time I couldn’t feel them anyway. I plunged them down to take another scoop of earth and they smacked into something cold and hard. I dusted the loose soil away frantically, revealing something smooth beneath.
I frowned. The full moon was high in the sky, casting silver light into the hole. It was a face. A metal face with dead, circular eyes and a hollow rectangle for a mouth. Everything smelled like soil and blood.
I flinched at the metallic voice. It hadn’t come from the face. It had come from behind me. From the metal detector.
I looked back to the face. Both eyes were lit with a soft blue light, the left one flickering. My mouth was dry and slowly the feeling was returning to my hands. They burned and shook.
“IS IT TIME?” asked the metal detector. I turned and picked it up, inspecting it. It looked normal, with no spot I could guess at as being speakers.
“Time for what?” I asked it, feeling silly.
“IT IS TIME,” said the face behind me, and something hit me on the back of the head.
I fell face first to the ground and darkness took me, and when I finally woke again Edinburgh was already gone.