Joseph stopped a few steps into the lab, the scuffing of his feet unusual against the normally pristine floor of the room.
"Sean, why is there sand all over the floor?"
His lab partner's head poked out from behind the pile of boxes obscuring a bench top on the other side of the room.
"Hey Joseph, you've got to come see this. It's making things out of sand."
Joseph worked his way around the maze of tables and stools that had been haphazardly dragged out of the way to form a clearing at the center of the lab. As he neared his partner, he could make out piles of what looked like...
"Glass. It's making glass things out of sand, actually. I'm not sure what the pattern is, maybe it's all some kind of history lesson. Some of these appear to be knives, or swords and such. Some might be armor pieces, like this helmet." Sean hoisted a large translucent dome shaped roughly like a helmet, but half again as large as either of them could fill with their own head. "The guy that wore this must have been a real fat head." Sean laughed at his own joke, setting the helmet back on the floor, careful to avoid the numerous spines and fins that raked backwards along its top. "Damn near cut my hand off on one of those," he said, pointing to a dorsal fin like protrusion, then to a bloodied gauze bandage wrapped around his forearm, "freakishly sharp. Strong too, I dropped it when it cut me, didn't so much as scratch."
Joseph stepped completely into the cleared space and studied the small strobing ball of light on the floor at its center.
"What is that, exactly, and where did it come from?" he asked, walking slowly around the object, careful to avoid the artifacts scattered around it.
"I was working on the thinning space problem, and had the test rig up and operating within spec when that dropped out of thin air onto the counter. It knocked over some of the samples, and when I scattered cat litter to clean them up, it started enveloping the litter and making things. The first thing was that spherical piece over there, " he pointed to a opalescent ball with a dark smear down the middle of the side facing them, "I poured more, but it just pulsed at me." I tried a bunch of different things, salt, sugar. Sweeping compound got a minor reaction, but it wasn't until I dumped the sand from the old ant farm that it made something again. It made one of those knives, and then pulsed at me like crazy until I gave it more sand.
Joseph watched as Sean dragged a plastic bag of children's play sand from a stack in the corner of the room, splitting the bottom open with a utility knife and letting it spill out, adding to the pile already on the floor. The glowing ball sat motionless, pulsing with a light almost too bright to look directly at.
"I'm not sure what it wants to make next. There's five bags, thirty kilos apiece, that's a hundred and fifty kilos of sand already. I've only got a couple more left and then I'll have to go back to the hardware store for more."
Joseph stuffed his hands deep into his lab coat pockets, absently shuffling his feet on the sandy floor as Sean tossed the empty bag aside and walked back to the pile for another. Niether of them noticed the smear on the opalescent sphere narrow from the bench on which it sat, nor the long form that was taking shape on the floor at their feet.