The Sandpit Oracle (HTML excerpt)
 
The sandpit is circular, some ten feet across and two feet deep. It is bounded by the cement walls of a shallow pit in the floor such that the surface of the sand lies about three feet below your overhanging toes. In the center of this ritual circle, the toy bulldozer stands, immobile as any toy with no child’s hand upon it.

You flip your quarter out over the guard rail and into the sandpit. The bulldozer goes to work.

Its movements are unhurried and precise, and so nuanced as to suggest an unexpectedly fine level of articulation in its construction. It spins once, twice, performs three full revolutions in place as though fixed to a vertical axle, then it reaches out to scoop up a handful of sand.

“Very nice,” your brother is saying. “Very convincing. You could almost believe it’s moving by itself.” He delivers it with Schrodinger’s best sarcasm; his sincerity will retroactively depend on his audience’s reaction. The curator gives him no reaction at all. “Seriously, though, how’s it work? Remote control?”

The curator smiles an inscrutable smile and spreads her hands in a gesture indicating your guess is as good as mine.

The bulldozer has deposited its burden directly across the circle from where it picked it up. Now there is a hole behind it and a small mound of sand in front. Half-buried in that mound is a small toy goat, the sort that might stand beside a model railway track. You wonder what it means, what facet of goathood it references, what relevance that might have for you....
__
This has been an excerpt from the Friday Fictionette for January 13, 2017. Subscribers can download the full-length fictionette (955 words) from Patreon as an ebook or audiobook depending on their pledge tier.

Cover art incorporates public domain photography sourced from PublicDomainPictures.net.