I considered the finned aluminum box carefully. According to Max’s notes, inside was a stone which gave off heat. At various times the stone grew to burning temperatures, but most of the time it was the same as a hot cup of coffee, pleasant at first, but uncomfortable the longer you held onto it.
The box acted as a heat sink, dispersing the excess heat so it didn’t build up. Max had gone through a few variations until he talked to a mechanic that suggested a finned designed like a radiator.
I held my hand over it. It wouldn’t burn at the touch, but I still wasn’t going to take any chances. I used a pair of kitchen tongs to open the lid of the box. Inside, I saw two halves of a geode. Each half had black, red, and orange crystals in a variegated pattern. As soon as the lid came up, I could feel more heat, but it wasn’t uncomfortable, right now.
I looked closely at the orange crystals, even using a magnifying lens and flashlight to get a better look at them. I looked back at Max’s notes, confirming. The original notes made no mention of orange. Before, the crystals had been mostly red with black at the base. Now the top halves of the crystals were orange, and a few of them had flecks of yellow on the very tips.
Whatever this thing is, it’s changing. It looks a little like fire trapped in stone.
I had no idea what this stone was, or how it could do what it did. I didn’t trust a geologist enough to analyze it without freaking out about a new discovery to have it analyzed. At least not yet.
I settled for a picture. I might be able to get an idea about the composition from the various colors. I closed the lid again, and then pulled over my insurance policy. I got one of those fireproof safes, only I intended to use this one in reverse. I lowered the finned box in with tongs, then sealed it shut, tucking it into a corner with no flammables nearby. I didn’t relish leaving the item with the rest of the stash, but it hadn’t flared up for Max, so I hoped it wouldn’t flare up for me.
I scrubbed a hand through my hair. The more I delved into Max’s collection, the more worried I got. It was only a matter of time until I stumbled on something that would get me killed.
I went to the next item on the list.