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We had been watching the coast day and night for weeks, to no avail, before the strange lights appeared to us. First at night, six or seven blinking in a straight line across the black sky, then more often in the afternoons. Then the jets (all-black but otherwise unmarked) started coming, flying low enough that we could see their reflections in the waves before they disappeared behind the trees. One day, after three of them had flown over the beach within an hour, we decided to drive down and investigate.

On the beach, spaced equally apart like an orchard, was a forest of sand-encrusted limbs rising upwards from the ground-they looked kind of like demonic termite hills. Most of them stood jaggedly upright, almost ten feet tall. Some veered out dramatically or arced over themselves like crazy roots growing backwards, and then some weren't much more than knee-high blobs.

"Fulgurite," Matt said, and before I could look it up on my phone, he finished his thought,
"it's like petrified lightning."

With some effort, he kicked one over and it reluctantly fell, uprooting nearly four more feet below the sand. We both instinctively crouched to inspect the base. Melded to the glassy stump was a metal device remeniscent of a waffle maker. I got out my hammer and went to work trying to dislodge the device, when overhead came the sound of another plane approaching.

By the time the device was freed and in hand, the plane was nearly on top of us, flying so close to the ground I thought it was going to crash. I pried the device open just in time to hear Matt yell,

"Open it!"

When I opened my eyes it was night. I couldn't find Matt, so I walked back up the beach. The car was gone, so I had to walk back to the cabin. Matt and Oliver were there, and let me in with a surprising lack of concern on their faces.

"Did you just get back?" Oliver asked.

"Uh?" I was really confused. Matt had already disappeared into the kitchen, and Oliver was motioning us to follow.

"What the... fuck. Is that the waffle maker we found?" I asked, having some slight difficulty talking.

"You don't remember anything?" Matt asked.

My phone vibrated in my pocket. I took it out but it seemed to be malfunctioning. There were weird spiraling colors on the screen, like a fractal pattern beaten to death with magnets.

"Yeah, my phone's toast too. Oh well!" Oliver said.
I noticed the symbol on the waffle maker was glowing: a rainbow-colored infinity symbol.

"What happened?" I asked, still staring at the machine.

"This thing is like a key, or like a universal key maybe..." Matt tried to explain.

"You know how the universe is basically infinite," Oliver chimed in, "this is like a phaser pedal, but for the universe,"

"It's like, if outer space was a building, this is like, the sprinkler system, but instead of water, it sprinkles out acid"

"If outer space was a building, this is like if the ground in the building was lava,"

"It's like, not a place. But, I don't know. It sorta is. It's crazy. It's called Technosnake. It's awesome,"

"Alright," I said finally, "When can we go?"