Friday, November 28, 2014

Knowledge and Mysteries

Stardate: August 1, 3999


So you say that the northern stargate is under repairs. which means I must wait even longer. I suppose I have no choice. Something interesting did happen today at the station. The techno-mages came through today. For me, they were the sole source of mystery and  intrigue. At least, the kind I enjoy.

I am always fascinated by these mysterious ones. I managed to work up the nerve to speak to one of them who happened to be strolling alone on the promenade. I asked him if he would mind some company. He was gracious and said that he would not mind at all. He told me that most either fear them or shun them, seeing them as purveyors of nonsense or dangerous ideas. from what I've seen most people seem to be in so much awe of them that they are intimidated. He was glad for the company, I think. He was a tall, thin elegant man and I could not place his accent. He said that the arcane knowledge of the Old Ones of long ago who spawned the knowledge we have in the universe is going away. That so many do not care about the arcane knowledge and the mysteries of Life. He spoke of many things, of things mundane and divine, of the dark things and the Light and the Way in between. I asked him how his order had acquired the great knowledge and and he explained how the human being is the physical center of the universe. We walk between the smallest known particle that makes up matter and the largest known heavenly bodies, galaxies, and how because we sit in between these two ends we are in the perfect position to explore and learn. We can manipulate energy, time and matter if we are willing to listen and explore the secrets of the heavens. Finally, he mentioned briefly the Starry Lathe of Heaven. Most people believe it to be only a legend. He said it was both legend and truth. Of course he did not have to convert me to this idea. All legends have truth. I told him that you were on the hunt for it. He smiled and seemed surprised but I told him that you and your friends are of the Old order of  the Knights of the Northern Star. He said that they, though not privy to the deepest secrets of the universe like the mages are keepers of the old legends and myths and that they are the first guardians of the arcane knowledge of the universe. He seemed pleased to hear of your mission and he said that your journey to find it, even if you do not find it, is just as important as finding it. I remember you had said something similar before you left. I was sad for his leaving. I wanted to know more. I think that I might have been an acolyte at the feet of a techno-mage if I hadn't met you.

As for the other matter. I haven't seen him in over three weeks and I have not heard from him at all. The presence of the techno-mages upon the ship seems to have kept him away. Except when I was with the old mage on the promenade garden and he was watching us, hidden in the shadows of thick grape vines. The mage seemed to sense his presence and warned him to be gone, giving him a baleful look. He scattered like a pest in sudden light. I have not seen him since. But the techno-mages have passed on far away to a place in the universe that I know not what. They are guardians of all wisdom and sagacity among humankind. Without them - I fear to think of what things will eventually fall to. But perhaps I bore you with my thoughts. I was hurt to read that Kristoff fouled your great mission from the beginning. I told the mage of your trial. I remember he said this: "Even failure to find the lathe, the Great Work is done, for to search for it with a true heart a spiritual transformation takes place within." I long to hear more of your struggles of the mission, if it would not bother you too much my love.. Perhaps I can piece together wisdom from it while I wait here. 
Until I receive your next transmission, I await your coming.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Deception

Stardate: July 1, 3999

My dearest Magdalene,

Your letter came late today. It is only tomorrow that I will be able to leave this place. But the stargate nearest the outpost is under major repairs and I must reach home through a more circuitous route and by another ship. The poor captain's scow just won't make it past this outpost.

The expedition - When we had all arrived at our meet point, Kristoff  (that old bastard!) was there. I knew we'd have trouble as soon as I laid eyes upon the rascal. Sure enough the first day of the hunt we found that our hunting party had been redirected fraudulently to the Parri system instead of where we'd find the actual first clue, a planetoid on the edge of the Rhovanion system. Through trickery and bribery he managed to l get a huge lead on us. Thankfully, I caught the mistake halfway to the other star system. That was the least of our problems.

But I sense something is amiss, love. Tell me, why is it that you do not go out? Why can you not enjoy your lounging in the cafes or elsewhere on deck of the station as you once did? Are you ill? Is someone menacing you? I will be traveling through asteroid belts and the planetary system of Bandersnatch with its planets full of vast rings. transmission will by near impossible and I may not be able to send a letter in a while my love. I hope you get this one. Until then, I am coming.

R. Vaughn

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

In Your Starry Wake

Stardate: June 1, 3999


It has been too long since we'e seen each other. Sometimes I think we have come round full circle again into the life of new lives. My impatience talks through me. I dreaded to read about your ship, stranded in the black maw of space at a dull outpost. Please, you must tell me more of your wondrous hunting expeditions, darling. You have such a way with words. It would come alive for me as I wait for you to come back.

What happened love? Why did it end? What tribulations and trials did you and your band of brothers suffer before the thing failed? And please, do not stint on detail as you know I want to know the whole bloody truth, since you are not here with me. I sit in the cafe at times with my bitter espresso and watch shooting stars through the viewports, through the steam rising in my cup. Lately, I have not been able to come and sit and lounge as freely as I was once able to. I stay in my rooms more these days. It gets so stuffy in the station. The air-conditioning is not working properly. Anyway, I have a better view in our quarters here, in our tower bedroom. I wait for you, husband, when you arrive, with your band of brothers in your starry wake, looking toward celebration of warmth, ecstasy and love.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

My Dearest Magdalene

Stardate: May 1, 3999

My dearest Magdalene,

It is with both great excitement and trepidation that I am writing to you. The hunt for the Starry Lathe has fallen apart. Once we were all intrepid adventures voyaging across the inner arm of the Milky Way on our wild, hot-blooded chase. Now, well, I fear to reveal all that has happened as it would be a great humiliation for me and my men. It has made me rethink my life. Certainly not with you. If anything, I am even more eager to be with you than ever before. So, I am coming to you. Look for me in the stars each night before you go to sleep. One day I will be with you.

As for my trepidation. The ship I have bought a ticket on to journey back is in bad working order and I am so very far away. The engines are weak and are going out and when they shall be fixed the captain cannot say, for he is of poor means and little influence. He is not a captain in any official capacity but a civilian with a few ships and a means to make a little money carting people here and there. Or did have the means. Anyway, we are stranded, I hate to say it, on a lonely star port in the middle of nowhere. Though the heavens are beautiful as always, none so beautiful as the soft shape of your face and the stars in your dark eyes. Until I see you again, my dearest Magdalene. I long to be with you again.

R. Vaughn

Monday, July 28, 2014

New sci-fi romance serial: You Drop Stardust

The first ten episodes of the blueshifters is finished and will soon be available in ebook form for $0.99. For the next month I will be introducing a new serial to readers of the blog, a romantic science fiction serial called You Drop Stardust. If you've ever read the Griffin and Sabine series by Nick Bantock then you might like this new serial. This will be more of a flash serial and the story will unfold in the form of letters - or in this futuristic case, ship log posts and electronic messages.

I hope you have enjoyed the blueshifters, and part 2 of that serial will start in the winter. Also, take a look at my official publishing website, for more stories from me. So, stay tuned. . . .



While the others were off doing their own investigations, Trillion's own comings and goings about as mysterious to them as their new found powers, Dan and Mary decided to investigate his findings on the map.
Their investigation took them into the desolate and lonely North Industrial District, a place full of abandoned boxcars, long, low gray stone and metal buildings built before the 1930's, potholes, wide tracts of littered land and train tracks everywhere. In fact, half of it was basically a railyard. Feral cats and dogs sometimes haunted the place, and the occasional warren of wild rabbits.
With the exception of a few trailer trucks rolling in from the single main road into the yard it seemed quiet for miles on end.
"So, what are we looking for again?" Asked Mary fumbling with her phone.
"Something. . .something big. You know like what we may have located on the map, remember? A place emanating with a lot of power. Try to feel your way around here if you can. I know that sounds all woo-woo and everything but-"
"I know what you mean," she smiled.
'When are we going to meet with Trillion again?" She asked.
"I don't know. Soon, I hope." We still need guidance, he thought.
They spread out across on of the old unused traintracks half-buried under concrete. New working tracks had been layed down beside them. Mary seemed especially jumpy, hopping at every shadow and kicked up pebble.
"What?" Asked Dan.
"I just want to make sure no one is following us. Remember that dark red car I told you guys about? Sometimes I would catch the car following me down the street coming home from work."
"Oh yeah. Jack said he'd seen it before too."
"Well, I call who ever drives it The Watcher." Dan recalled his encounter with the hoodlums that threw him in the river. Were they all connected with this Watcher? Did they work together or for different, disparate parts of an organizational whole? No matter how, they all worked against humankind. Dan and Mary walked for some ways, sometimes investigating old train cars, abandoned truck trailers and such. Besides finding a few holes and vagrants sleeping in them, there was nothing else really they'd found.  But the district was very large, stretching all the way toward Swan Island to the Broadway Bridge. A train was approaching from far off, a freight train. They could hear the whistle wailing in the far distance.
"My legs are tired. I haven't done this much walking in years," said Mary after about an hour. The slipping whirl of the Max light rail train sounded just outside the industrial district to the right. From there were exits off to the highways.
"Let's rest a bit." Dan was getting tired as well. So far they had no luck. The dull roar of the light rail, cars going off the highway to the freeway and just the general noise was tiring and taxing on the sensitve mind. He went and sat on a large piece of log. Mary plopped down beside him, catching her breath. Between that and the noise coming from the road before them and the general noises of the rail yard, he'd nearly missed it. But something was coming to him. He could feel it like a low heart beat. At first Dan thought it was his imagination.
"Listen to yourself carefully. Do not dismiss a single feeling until you have examined it to the full and know it is mere minutiae." Came the voice of Trillion from a previous lesson. He closed his eyes and stroved to block out all mental noise. Then the layer of physcal noise receded until he could focus on the slow thrum. It was there, scattered seeming around this particular spot. Thud. Thud-thud. Thud. Thud-thud. It was low but it was there, and constant. He opened his eyes finally to see Mary with a look of pure concentration on her face and her hands to the ground as if feeling the power flowing from the ground. Now that's an intersting way to examine it. he thought appreciatively.
"You feel it too now?" he asked. she nodded. Then she took her hands from the ground and wiped them together to get rid of the dirt.
"You were right. If there's a power source like the one in the bookstore, it's here."
"I'd say it's coming from the west, so we need to walk west of here," he said. They got up and set off west and the farther they traveled the railyard, the stronger and louder the power source became to them. The highway noise was distant when they finally stopped. Dan could feel the power underneath them surging like the heartbeat of some mighty animal. They finally approached a long roll-like building before them. It was a non- desctript looking place with shaded windows, some of them boarded up and a parking lot full of gravel. It was a two-story building and on the outside it had a sign that said: Rocket Ready Corp.
"It's coming from there. I can feel it." Mary simply nodded. In the distance they heard the rattled groaning of a trailer truck heaving over old rails and coming down the gravel roads.
"We should hide!" She urged. They ducked behind the large blue garbage bin to the side of the building. Sure enough, the truck came careening up the driveway of the building. The engine shut off and someone climbed out. Dan could only hear the crunch of footsteps coming up the gravel and then up the steps into the building. He peeked out just in time to see the glass doors close slowly.
"Did you get a look and see who it was?" Mary asked.
"No, couldn't see them but the building's unlocked. If only we could get in without having to deal with the receptionist or help desk," he said.
"I could probably get us past that. I used to work, briefly, as a dispatcher for a railer transport company years ago."
"Yep. Can't promise we'll make it past the door but I'll give it a try."
"We're dressed a lot like transport drivers. I'll pretend we're coming in looking for work and that we'd heard about openings."
"Okay. Let's do it."
"By the way, what are we looking for once we get inside?"
"Anything that pings our senses to the power source. You can still feel it can't you? This is a sensing mission."
"Yeah. Like a heavy low buzzing that grows louder and more powerful with each step." she said. They moved from behind the bin after Dan checked over the scene to make sure no one was watching and they went up the steps and inide. Dan was the first to open the glass doors. Inside was the reception desk but no one was there. They heard movement and voices somewhere in a room down a hall, copiers going, a fax and other office sounds, but the front room was deserted. The lights were on and it did look as if the building was staffed with people, however.
"Come on before someone comes out!" he whispered. They tip-toed around the counter and off down the right side of the hall. When they got down to the end there was an exit door and then another door leading downstairs. Far down toward the other end of the building they heard shuffling and someone coming out of a room. Dan tried the door. It opened and they both went down the stairwell and into the basement.
"It's stronger down here," she said quietly. 
"Yeah," he whispered. He could feel it and she could too an inexhorable thundering on the mind. Power, a great source of power was here. In fact, he could feel it thrumming, beating in his bones and teeth like the deep drum of a great heart.
"I think we've found a lodestone, so to speak. I wonder how many exist," said Mary. They came to a door on the third level down the stairwell. This door felt warm to the touch. Dan slowly ran his hands over the surface, trying to understand what might lay on the other side. The door had a window of thick, dark glass.
"If we get caught we could end up in jail," she said.
"If we get caught we could end up worse. But this is the only way we'll find out anything. Ready?"
"Ready, no matter what," she said heaving a sigh. He touched the door handle. It was warm and he felt a buzzing sensation through his skin. He could detect no obvious lifesigns behind the door. He turned the knob. It opened to him and they were inside what looked like a boiler room. The door clicked shut behind them. Mary nearly jumped. Dan held her close and her face turned beet red.
"Sorry," she said. He smiled. They moved through the boiler room and rounded a corner and both of them felt a jolt like an electric shock. Around the corner was what looked like a large mass, or machines covered with diaphanous materials, curtain-like that swayed and moved slowly. Light under it pulsed rythmically. This object, whatever it was, was a great source of power.
"Is it a doorway or a hole in space and time?" Mary asked quietly.
"I have no idea. Wait here." Dan said and he crept forward, taking out his phone camera getting ready to take pictures. Mary brought out her iPhone to record what he was doing. Dan gingerly crept forward to the mass of light. At certain intervals it seemed to flicker and pulse louder than usual, then it would go back to its regular movement and slow pulsing. Suddenly, the door to the boiler room opened. A blinding realm of red light flashed before his mind's eye. Mary had a terrified look on her face.
"Run!" Dan hissed. "Hide!" The mass began pulsing violently with red and violet light and Dan lost his balance and fell in. Mary screamed right has deliberate footsteps turned the corner. She turned and made to scream again but then covered her mouth in shock, shaking her head in fright.
"Help! Help!" She finally shouted.
"A little late, don't you think, my dear? YOu have no business here and you've come to the wrong place for help." 

* * *Look for Part 2 of the blueshifters in the Fall of 2014!* * *

Friday, July 11, 2014


Little Old Shop

Jack looked over the card she'd given him once more. The directions were scrawled haphazardly on the back. On the front was simply a phone number and the letters S. C. T. He'd called the number several times and got no answer. How Mary ever managed to find the place was beyond him. She'd said that the directions were those she'd written herself after finding it by accident. Or it seemed like an accident, anyway. How she managed to get anyone else on the other line seemed an impossibility. But at least he had
an address.
Today he decided to ride his motorbike. Over the past weeks he'd found that his sixth sense, his ability to detect those who were different was changing, becoming stronger. His body developed an odd sensation of fire sparks exploding. At first it seemed simply like stress but he was learning to understand when it came and went - when he saw one of The Others -  and he was learning how to keep his responses under control from Trillion. He breathed deeply, calmly. As he passed by streams of traffic he did not find or encounter any of them on the ride there and for that he was thankful. He was still trying to get a handle on his own responses to things.
Turning up S.W. Ankeny street, he slowed to a leisurely pace, looking for the address. He found it sandwiched between two business houses. It was a tiny, rather old, shabby Victorian-style house. Very shabby in fact. He rode his bike up the side walk and parked it at a smart park meter, paid the meter and stood in front of the house. It was early afternoon and the business crowd was out to lunch. It was quite busy and noisy on the other blocks. This one was strangely quiet. He felt outward with his sense to see if he could detect anything odd or unusual. He could detect nothing out of the ordinary. He walked up the small high steps and peeked in. It looked dark inside. Turning the door knob slowly he opened the door and
stepped inside.
Inside the shop burnished scents of incense greeted him. And something else that he couldn't place. An essence of some sort. He slipped through the tiny foyer and onto a dingy looking shag carpet that announced the main room of the shop. It looked dim and Jack gazed at the containers, terrariums, gilded boxes and old cast iron cages. He saw the oddest things in these containers. Plants of colors he could not describe, old dolls that moved and danced to music after being wound up and other, more mundane antiques. Jack, normally would never have any interest in such things but found himself so caught up he didn't hear the figure at the counter around the corner. Gazing at a silver cube balanced on a point he watched in interest as it shifted and rotated its links like a Rubik's Cube. So much so, that when he slowly turned the corner the clearing of a throat made him jump. And he wasn't used to people making him jump and he didn't like it. There was a man standing at the front desk and counter. He was average height and build, on the thin side with brown hair and brown eyes. He smiled cheerily.
"Hello!" He said with a slight accent Jack couldn't place. "What can I help you with today? Are you looking for something special?"
"Actually, yeah." He was feeling a little nervous now that it came to it. "I have a friend who had a box. A, uh, red box. Says it can help you if you run into a lot of. . .problems in your life?" He asked expectantly. The man gazed at him with a question mark on his face. "You know, sort of like a magic box?" he said quietly, feeling stupid.
"Problems? Red box? magic?" The man laughed. "Sounds like a very special fabled object to me. One not normally given out."
"Yeah well, I was just following up on some info she gave me. That's all."
"Nope, sorry. I have a lot of cool things in here but magic boxes ain't one of them."
"So," Jack said, trying to sound casual and knowing he was failing. He didn't care. He was here wasn't he? That was enough. "How long have you been here?" At that the man smiled broadly, seemingly glad to talk about his business and his proud, dusty little establishment.
"For quite some time. Twenty years to be exact. It started with my father opening the shop in July, nineteen- eighty. Oh, take a look around. See if there's anything you like. Anyway. . ." Jack decided to do just that as the man chippered on about how his business was first got off the ground by his grandfather. Jack turned slightly to take a look at the antiques and object d'art around him, some quite fascinating. Jack was looking for red. Anything red that pinged his sixth sense. Nothing was coming up. In fact, he saw no red objects on this floor of the shop at all. He tried to feel for anything strange or off. He felt nothing as he slowly made his way past aisle after aisle and table after table. At first he passed by a music box that suddenly began playing, its top sprouting off the base and a ballerina twirled around furiously. At first the music sounded twanged and mauled, as if wound up to fast, then it slowed down. At the same time Jack thought he detected a sudden jump or buzzing in the air, and for less than a split second the whole world had its lights turned off. It was only a fraction of a moment and normally he would have thought it an odd but passing experience of the imagination. Not this time.
". . .by that time my grandfather, who helped him get the place off the ground passed away and then it came to him fully," said the shop owner. "Oh! What was that?" The man stumbled at the fraction of energy surge and behind the counter Jack saw he had a cane that he was propping himself up on. He tipped and fell over against the counter.
"You alright?" Asked jack.
"Yes, I think. That felt like a large blip that time. The lights went out and came back on. But never mind that. That happens from time to time here. It's a very old house and the electrical wiring is ancient. Makes it kinda finicky in this place."
"Yeah, I see what you mean. My grandma had a house like this. Same kinda problems. Plumbing was old too," Jack said. Something's here. I can feel it. he thought. Whether the owner himself was odd, Jack couldn't tell. He seemed and felt normal to jack's senses. And he saw no red on or about his person. No articles of clothing, no aura. In fact, he couldn't read anything off the man at all and that was a whole other kind of strange. But there was something else now that Jack's senses were able to examine the surroundings from inside. Something was off. That's it! It felt as if he had entered a hideout. A place was  cocooned away from the everyday world for a specific reason. Jack's stomach dropped. Something was hidden here. He couldn't tell if it was hidden from The Others or from regular people. Jack found a small china saucer and brought it up to the counter.
"Ah," the man said appreciatively. "Nice choice. For you mother?" he inquired.
Nosy aren't you? Jack just nodded and smiled and said nothing. The man rang it up, wrapped it in tissue paper than placed it carefully in a brown paper bag and handed his purchase to him.
"Hope to see you again. I don't get too much business these days. The recession and all."
"Yeah well, you might see me again. My mom loves knick-knacks," said Jack. Oh yeah, I just might come again, except not when you expect it.
. . .

Jack rode his bike back there again in the night. He parked the motor bike two blocks down this time and walked softly toward the little old house.The night was hot but the cool air coming in made it bearable. He glanced over his shoulder, expecting to see someone jump out at him, like red shoes, for instance. He'd caught a glimpse of a man yesterday with that red aura essence around him like a dirty halo in the super market. His senses were getting stronger. He'd felt ambivalent about it but it was one weapon he had against the bastards.
As he came closer to the house he slowed his pace. The windows were closed shut tightly and all the curtains drawn. However, he detected a dim light in a window on the left side of the house. Looking around to make sure he wasn't seen, he slipped in beside the house. He could certainly feel it now, where as before it was like a lukewarm whisper. There was a power source emanating from deep below this house. It was like a hum of energy that he could feel rather than hear. The night was silent except for the crickets and the occasional car rolling down the street.
He got close to one of the windows hoping for some glimpse of something he was not sure what he was looking for. A fleeting, terrifying thought occurred to him of the blackish red car that nearly ran him down a few months ago. Focus, man! He thought he detected a shadow passing through a room in the back of the house. Faintly he heard footsteps. He crept toward the back of the house and toward the back door. He wanted to find something else to report back and still wondered if the shop owner was lying to him. He crouched down, beginning to wonder what he was looking for. He didn't have long to wait. His senses detected a massive, burst of energy ,a disturbance that felt to him like an earthquake. It lasted maybe five seconds but it was enough to bowl him over to the ground. A sweat broke out and he gasped for air. Jack stayed put, locked to the ground, his heart hammering for what seemed like an eternity. The last embers of sunset had disappeared and it was starry night now. He looked up and heard the back door slowly opening. Though his bones felt heavy he lunged up on his feet with all his power and stumbled out of the backyard and down the street. He found his motorbike and rode off.
He would have no answer for anyone about whether the red box came from that place but something was hidden there, something big! And perhaps that old man really was a liar. Come to think of it, Jack couldn't quite remember what the man looked like. It was like his face disappeared from the memory like mists in the afternoon sun. No matter how hard he tried to recall what the man looked like, his features, nothing descriptive came to him. His senses pricked again at this thought. That was strange. He'd at least make a note of that once he got home.
But there was one thing he could remember about the place.
I wonder if I've found the mother portal? I have to tell the others what I've found!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Burn It

Mary's hands shook as she unlocked the door and led them in. She turned on the lights.
"I turned all of the mirrors in the house over, as you can see. Anybody want something to drink?" No one answered.
"What about your bathroom mirror?" Asked Dan.
"That's the only one I can't control. It's also the one where this. . person. . .appears to me the most."
"What about the box?" Asked Jack. Mary blew a hesitant breath out. She shivered slightly.
"Right. The box."
"Before you bring the box out, tell us more about it. What do you think it is?" Asked Dan sitting down on the couch.
"Sort of like a Pandora's Box."
"What happens if you open the box?"
"That's the thing. I'm not exactly sure. I just know from what other people have said that once you open it, some contract goes into effect."
"You said someone was stalking you after you got the box."
"Yeah. Like they expected me to open it immediately. And when I didn't that's when I noticed the feeling of being watched."
"And harassed," finished Dan. She nodded.
"You said the box was supposed to fix problems. Can I ask what kind of problems you were having? Or is that too personal?" Asked Dan. Mary's face paled.
"Alright, don't tell us. That's fine."
"No, no. It's ok. It's just that it's hard to talk about right now. I'll go get the box." She left down the hall. Jack stretched out and leaned against the wall.
"A box that fixes things. First time I've heard about that. I never had anyone offer me anything like that.
"I think they approach each person differently." Said Dan.
"It reminds me of those people that go to the crossroads and make a deal with the devil for some power or success for a certain amount of time."
"It does sort of have that vibe. Like if you open it, it steals your soul or something. Except we aren't dealing with devils and magic. Something else is going on here."
"I once heard someone say that technology that is sufficiently advanced looks like magic."
"I think that's true." Mary came out with a deep red, small, lacquered box and she set it on the table as if it were radioactive.
"Did you ever shake it?"
"Yes. There's nothing in there as far as I know without opening it." Dan took it up and turned it around in his hands. It felt slightly too heavy for its size.
"I wonder what would happen if we burned it."
"Burn it?" They both asked.
"I'm thinking if this isn't magic, and I don't believe in magic, it's a device that allows them access to you personally somehow, or allows them to enter your mind, or. . something."
"But they already have access to us. They're here," she said.
"Yes but there is something more they want. Or else why give you this thing? What's the point? They need you to open it Mary. It's like a drug dealer on the street corner or even a cartel." Dan's thoughts were racing now.
"If no one took drugs they don't have business. They need people willing to take them I order to get them hooked and to make money. A steady supply. What if these aliens needed more from us than just our planet? What if they needed something from us?"
"Like what?" They asked.
"I don't know. What if they needed our permission to control us? They can watch us sure. They can send people to persecute us or kill us but those of us who can see them, like we can, what if they needed mental and emotional control over us in order to really do what they want to do?"
"And by controlling those of us with special powers they can have easy control over the entire population?" Asked Mary. Dan nodded.
"That's like when a nation colonizes another nation they use certain people from the conquered nation and recruit them as allies either by giving them some power or some other trinket. Finding some way to control and work through them they can, in turn, have power over the rest of the population. What if that is what they need? The last key? I'm not saying that is the answer. But it could be."
"Good thinking, Jack! I wonder what would happen if one of us came into the bathroom with you, Mary. If this person would appear again while we're with you."
"I doubt it."
"Well, we'll worry about that person later. I say we take this thing outside and burn it. See what happens. What do you guys think?"
"Let's burn it." Said Jack.
"Yeah. Let's burn it." Said Mary. They all went outside after sundown to the back parking lot of Mary's apartment building.
"Are you sure we won't get reported by somebody?" Asked Jack.
"The assistant manager is gone for the day. He doesn't live on the premises. We shouldn't have too much trouble. The night monitor gets here kind of late and he's kind of lazy."
"We just need to work quickly. Besides I have a theory. . ." Said Dan."
"What theory?" Asked Mary.
'Shh!" He balled up the stack of newspapers they took from the stand out front and some torn pieces of cloth Mary gave him. Jack took the bottle of whisky and poured this over the pile. Dan lit the match and after the pile of papers and cloth had brightened into bloom of fire, Mary put the box in the fire. she added a few pieces of twigs to feed it. The wood from the box crackled and popped and they all stood around watching it closely when they felt something like a small quake shaking the street.
"What was that?" Said Jake. It caught them completely off guard. And then there was a keening, blaring sound. An alarm was going off.
"Fire alarm?" Asked Dan.
"That's not the fire alarm." Said Mary. Then she pointed to the box in horror. The thing had burned quite quickly into ash and widening crack was forming in the ground around it. The ashes of the burnt box were seeping into this crack and the crack grew like a widening wound in the earth.
"I think. . I think that box did this!"
"You think?" Said Jack. "Look at that?" He pointed. The ashes were turning blacker than black, like some live substance slinking away out of sight. As this substance disappeared into the crack, smoke rose up from it along with an acrid, metallic smell. The air took on the scent of noxious fumes.
"Let's get out of here!" Said Dan. Neighbors and other apartment dwellers were stirring from their rooms to see what the commotion was. The alarm gradually became so loud that they thought their eardrums would burst and then. . it stopped, as suddenly as it had come. The hole in the ground had engulfed the ashes of the box along with the substance left behind.
"So this box turns into black goo when burned. That's like nothing I know of on earth." Said Jack.
"I think the goo was in the box and it served  a specific purpose. a directed virus, maybe?" Asked Dan.
'Or some kind of biologic implant or device." Said Mary. 
Mary led them back inside as sirens began to call in the distance. Her bathroom lights were flickering on and off. Dan could tell she was nervous. They were all shaken. She started toward the bathroom door but Dan put a hand on her shoulder.
"You don't have to go in there alone."
"I'm not," she said. "We started something. Kicked off an alarm." She went to the bathroom and closed the door and then sat on the couch.
"So, my theory was half way right. I was thinking that if we destroyed that box especially within the circle of stations, that something weird would happen. I didn't think it would happen so quickly. But that box was mighty important if alarms were going off and the ground is opening up to swallow it."
"I think you might be on to something about a biological or living device. I think it was designed to infiltrate the human body," Said Jack. "Now I've got an idea." 
"What is it?" Asked Dan.
"Before we check out some of those "hotspots" you mentioned earlier, I say we go find Mr Fix-It and have a talk with him."
"And why would we want to do that?" Mary asked.
"We need answers. I want to know who this guy really is. Maybe I'll go alone. Case out his place for a while before I approach. You know?"
"I don't think it's good to confront The Others alone, Jack."
"We can't all be together all of the time. Osme of this work will have to be done when we are by ourselves. I want to know who this guy is. What he is. What if he's like us? An adept but for their side?"
"Either way, Fix-It guy is dangerous if he's giving out things like that red box. He's giving The Others access to humans." Said Dan. Suddenly there was a strange sound in the bathroom. It sounded like live wires and electricity, untamed. Under the door they could see electrical lights flashing and blinking.
"Oh my God." Whispered Mary.
"Mary, I suspect your apartment building is connected to a power source of theirs. Remember the map? That box might somehow be related to that power source and when we destroyed it we alerted them to its destruction and perhaps cut off a line of power or even communication they had. Not only do they not have access to you but they don't have access to this device any longer. if it can even be called that. I'm thinking on the fly, so this may sound off the wall." Said Dan.
"It makes sense considering what we're up against." Said Mary.
"Jack, maybe you should check out this Mr. Fix-It guy who gave her the box. Perhaps Mary and I will investigate the power source I suspect might around this area. Let me know what you find."
"Will do," murmured Jack, more determined than ever now. They all three stared at the blinking lights under the bathroom door. Jack turned to Mary. "Give me his location. I'm convinced now that he has some information we need."

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Dark Horses

The map was criss-crossed with myriads of lines and decorated in strategic places with a few red pins or arrows. Dan paced back and forth with his arms folded.
"Think again guys. All of the places you encountered that odd feeling or even saw something or someone that didn't look right to you. Any place!"
"Even our own p. . places?" Stammered Mary. Dan and Jack looked at her.
"Yes, Mary," said Dan. "Especially your own place. What did you encounter there?"
"Well. . . about a year ago  I was having a lot of trouble in my life and things got so bad that I was desperate to make them better. A friend at work, or I thought she was a friend anyway, she told me about this man who fixes things. Mr. Make-Right, they call him," she rolled her eyes. "Anyway, to make a long story short, there's a box that he gives you. It's. . .well, it's red."
"Creepy," muttered Jack.
"It gets creepier. Before I took the box home - he said not to open it until you are sure you know you can handle the aftermath of whatever is fixed in your life - well, his words gave me second thoughts on the box. You know, I've had problems before that were pretty rough and I got through them without some magic box. I also got the feeling after a few days of owning the box that I was being followed and watched. Everywhere I went I got this bad feeling. I'd noticed a car following me home from work. At times it seemed black and other times, dark red. Several times I thought I caught it trailing me." Jack sat up straight and his eyes widened. Dan glanced at him but motioned for her to continue.
"And then, whenever I looked in the mirror my own image talks to me."
"What?" They both exclaimed.
"Yes! it's no lie. She has tried to convince me to open the box and use it. Threatens me. Sometimes I can't go home unless I turn the mirrors over or break them."
"I need to see this. . box." Said Dan.
"No!" Mary shook her head frantically.
"Mary, Mary. Calm down. Right now we will continue using the map to find the enemy but we need to discuss the box. You said that your image harasses you about it while at home?" He asked. Mary nodded.
"Does this happen to you when you stay somewhere else?"
"I haven't noticed it, no. Only at home."
"I've never heard of this." Said Jack.
"Me neither." Seeing Mary's distress Dan turned back to the map. "I met the group of punks on the waterfront, right here." He marked the location where he was thrown over the waterfront with a red pin. His eye twitched involuntarily to even mention it.
"Ok, so we have nine places so far throughout the city where we have encountered The Others."
"What do we do next?" Asked Jack.
"We can place listening devices around some of these places, bugs. I ordered some off an internet store in Japan. I see no reason to wait for Trillion to give us further instructions. Snooping is something we can do on our own. But, he gave me these pulses. They draw the redshifters, attract them like moths to flame. We draw them out and we shoot. we won'r be using these yet though until I hear from him."
"What about people who serve them?" Asked Mary querulously.
"We stun them with pepper spray. Unless they try to kill us and indeed some of them will. It nearly happened to me. In that case, defend yourself. Look, we're not looking for fights - yet. We're studying where they are. Where they can be found. Redshifter hotspots, if you will." Dan crossed the room, stood back and examined map. He made a sound of startled surprise.
"What? What do you see?" Asked Jack.
"It's. . it's a pattern. Or it seems like one. Look at the shape. It's like a circle with satellites all around it. Look!" The other two stood up and approached the map.
"You're right." Indeed it did seem interesting. The redshifter hotspots they had already found all circled around an old warehouse in the industrial district.
"It's not really a pattern yet, though." said Jack. "For that, we have to find more and see if the other hotspots, if there are any more, look like this."
"That's true." Dan looked at Mary.
"Mary," he said in concern. "You're apartment is one of those satellites, if indeed it is one. I find it interesting that this person confronts you only at your home. Why don't we go to your place first?" Mary blew out a nervous sigh and nodded.
"Ok. My place first."
"But what exactly are we looking for at any of these locations?" Asked Jack.
"Anything strange, weird, out of the ordinary. Anything that trips our red radars." Dan said. "Right now all I've got is maybe. Maybe the hotspot in the middle is a power source. And maybe Mary's red box is a clue as to what kind of trouble we're up against."
"Well, we've got one advantage right now," said Jack. "They have no clue who we are and what we're doing. How long that lasts is another matter."

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


The Meeting

Daniel sat back and tried to relax his muscles. They were still sore from his deathly ordeal but his recovery had come quickly. He had not seen Trillion in about a week.  He felt and even heard things with more regularity now. He was on his way to a bookstore to meet the team.
The team consisting of people who were like him. They could see the beings that had infiltrated human society. Red-shifters, Trillion had called them. The Others.
The passed by a the Glass, a small and popular music venue. Someone big was in town. There was an impossible line snaking all the way around the block. The taxi rounded the corner a block down toward a tiny, rundown looking building crammed in between a pub and an old pharmacy. It was pouring rain and Dan's senses were on high alert. Hard to get used to. His feelings of helplessness and out-of-control experiences had gone away. The black outs, the feelings of flying. Gone. These were burgeoning aspects of his talent of discernment. Thankfully that phase was gone.
The taxi pulled to a stop in front of a pitiful looking bookstore. Dan paid the driver and pulled his coat up around his head to shield himself from the rain. It looked dim inside. He tried to push in the door, hearing the taxi drive away.
"Come on, come on!" He said impatiently. The door was locked. He banged on the door, feeling rain slide down his back. Finally the door opened. A short man with thick, wide glasses peered out.
"Hi. I'm Dan!" The man opened the door wider to let him in and Dan pushed his way in from the rain.
"Nasty out there." Said the man, closing and locking the door.
"I don't usually close up this early. This is cutting into profits you know, Trillion." Said the little man. Dan looked around. the smell was musty and very old. Profits, huh? he thought.
"By the way, I'm Andrew. I own this palace." He said dryly. Dan nodded.
It appeared he was the last one to arrive. There were four other people gathered, Trillion among them.
"Glad you could make it, Dan." Said Trillion in his usual gentle voice. Dan now turned around and got a good look at the team. There was the bookseller Andrew, short, harried looking and a little disheveled. There was another man dressed in black with jet black spiky hair, scuffed boots with intense eyes boring into him.
"Jack." He said curtly. He nodded slightly but didn't have much to say beyond his name. There was also a young woman. She looked she smiled but Dan felt it was more out of nervousness than anything else. She had a jittery aura about her as if she felt she were being chased. Not surprising given the circumstances. But there seemed to be a heightened sense of fear in her.
"I'm Mary." She said and reached out her hand to shake his. He shook it.
"Good to meet you." He said. Of course there was Trillion, or T.
"Well, let's get started. I brought you all here because of your gifts. Also to bring you out of the wild and into safety." Said Trillion. "And Andrew here, a trusted friend and one who believes in the existence of the Others was good enough to lend us his store for our meetings. You are all here because you can see what others can't. You see them outlined in red. That is for a reason. Their aura gives off such a color. Some humans, like yourselves, have been imbued with the talent to fight the coming takeover. Super powers, you might say."
"Super powers?" Asked Jack with a slight smirk.
"Super powers. You  have the ability of a sort yourself and you doubt it?"
"I didn't say that."
"I can hear it in your voice." Said Trillion. Jack made a dismissive noise. Trillion smiled mildly and went on. Dan interrupted.
"I once heard you call these Others red-shifters. Why did you call them that?"
"Yeah." Asked Mary. "I'm curious too."
"In physics, red-shifting happens electromagnetic radiation or light from an object moving away from the observer is increased in wavelength, going toward the red end of the spectrum. Simply put, a red-shift happens when light moves away from an observer. In terms of how this affects us, it is an ethical, moral one. Those who are red-shifters move away from what is beneficial or good for all living things, save themselves. They are the enemy. So, we apply a physics  principle to the moral issue at hand. They move away from the light of goodness while those in blue turn toward and are supportive of life on this earth."
"So, can humans too be red-shifters?" Asked Jack. 
"Most certainly." Said Trillion. Then he went on. "This place is one of the portals that needs to be protected from them. One that as of now doesn't work. All of the portals we know of are closed and hidden from the others."
"How do you hide them?" Asked Dan.
"They have a protective barrier. Each building that houses them has this invisible barrier over it. It can't be seen. It's a cloak but it works to cloak specific things within a space instead of the entire space. Over time you will see more of what I mean but I do mean to let you have a look. This place is our portal. Andrew and I have to get it working. Come. I'll show you what I mean." Trillion and Andrew led them to the back of the store and downstairs. It was filled with cobwebs and reeked of a dank mildew smell.
"Can't be good for books?" Said Dan glancing at Andrew. Andrew shrugged.
"I'm near broke. Had an incident here some months ago which caused it. Tell you later. I'm trying to do something about it. I swear." Once they got downstairs Trillion went to the back of the room. It was lit with a a bare, flickering incandescent light bulb. Trillion pulled back a series of old shower curtains to the back wall. Except the wall was not there. In place was what looked like an opaque, web-like or space. Behind it was a soft humming and muted light seemed to flicker on and off every few seconds.
"What the. . ." Said Jack.
"Can we touch it?" Asked Dan. Trillion looked at Andrew then at him. Andrew nodded.
"Be careful. It is dangerous. Ethers and gases and things that you don't want to breath in for too long." Dan moved forward to the invisible wall and gingerly touched the opaque mass. It felt like spiderweb and mist, a strange sensation. It also felt wet. He pushed his hand farther in and it disappeared.
"Wow." Murmured Mary.
"So, this place is like a tunnel or like a wormhole?" Asked Jack.
"Yes. With these portals we can monitor the movements of the Others and hide and escape from them more easily. When we fix it we can fight them more effectively. We will have an edge."
"How did they get here? The portals?" Asked Dan.
"A good friend of mine. My captain. He created them. He died in the last great battle with the Others. This was a century ago. He only told a few of us where these places were and had them hidden first within old abandoned buildings and then when technology took its leaps and bounds during the Industrial Revolution through the web cloaks. he himself was known as an inventor rivaling Tesla."
"Dan, what does it feel like?" Asked Mary.
"Like fog or mists. Sort of wet. and weird." Once you put your hand through it disappears as if it never existed. So, will we meet every week?" He glanced at the other two.
"I don't see why not." Said Mary hopefully. She clutched her stomach absently.
"Every Monday?" Asked Dan.
"Every Monday." Said Jack. There was screaming and then the sound of wailing sirens outside. They stopped talking until the sound died down.
"Every Monday then. So what do we do with all this time between Mondays?" Asked Dan to Trillion and Andrew.
"Hunt the enemy." Said Trillion.
"Sounds good to me." Said Jack.
. . .

The others were sitting round quietly drinking coffee. Andrew had brought out his ancient and filthy coffee-maker and a few dingy cups and offered coffee. Jack and Mary and were quietly speaking with Trillion. Dan himself wandered through the isles looking at the books. Andrew's store was a used bookstore and naturally, full of old, dusty books. Piled high on shelves full of old, old books. He glanced at his other two team-mates when Andrew suddenly rounded the isle. He brought him a cup of coffee.
"Thought you might want one. Might help you brainstorm. Work things out. I always work best at night." He handed the cup to him. Dan took it and thanked him. He took a sip. It was terrible and weak but it was the thought that counted.
"I was wondering," Dan asked, "how did this guy build these portals here? Who is Trillion? You know him? he must be like the guy who built this place. Special."
"Trillion calls himself a outsider and sometimes a helper. He has special abilities too but different than yours. He doesn't go into great detail about himself though." Andrew took a sip of swill.
"Is there any history or information about these "Others"?
"Like a book?"
"Well, there is something. It's a diary of sorts. It was written by a guy who lived over a hundred years ago. He kept a journal of various things concerning strange events that he saw near his house. The journal ends abruptly. The problem is the man was mentally ill. Or mad, as they used to say long ago. However, much of what he writes in relation to the others is very interesting and informative. Almost like a road-map to seeing the others if you don't have a special ability."
"And no one knows what happened to him?"
"No one knows. He just vanished."
"Nothing just vanishes."
"He did."
"Can I see this diary?"
"Follow me." Andrew lead him to the last aisle of the bookstore but instead of plucking a book from the shelf he went to a small room beyond the door, opening it up with an old skeleton key. When he came out he had an old book in his hands of cloth and brown leather and yellowed pages. There was no title or writing of any sort on the front cover.
"This is a direct copy I made of it. I have only one other copy. I used to think it was just a diary of a mad man's scribblings. Found it in the trash at WorldCon some years ago. But after meeting Trillion this book is almost like a Bible. There are things in here that this man saw and knew that you won't find anywhere else. You guys are like this guy. Except in a better position because you can truly fight them. I have a feeling he was taken or maybe even murdered. You have an advantage this poor guy didn't. You can see them and they don't know it. Yet." Dan took the book.
"Here, you better take this back. I don't want to spill it." Said Dan.
"Oh yeah." Andrew took the cup back. Dan fingered the book's dog-eared corners.
"So we are embarking on a new era." Said Dan quietly. Andrew nodded, his eyes almost comically big behind his glasses.
"I feel like I've been dropped in the middle of They Live."
"That's because you are." Said Andrew. Dan went back to the front of the room. The others were getting ready to leave.
"Wait! Mary, Jack. Let's get numbers. I want to meet with you guys as soon as possible. Tomorrow maybe?" Said Dan getting struggling through his pockets looking for a pen.
"What? You don't have a cell phone?" Asked Jack.
"I lost it and didn't have much time to get a new one, recovering in the hospital and all." Said Dan. I can tell this guy is gonna be prick. They exchanged numbers.
"Friday then? And then Monday here?"
"Yeah. Friday then." Said Mary. Anxiety was pouring off of her in waves. Mary is really nervous. Wonder what she's seen? he thought. 
'What will we be doing Friday?" asked Jack.
'Well, my idea is this: Map out every place we know these red-shifters hang out." All three filed out of the bookstore, planning the next meeting in hushed tones.
. . .

Andrew closed the door, locked it and flapped the sign around to indicate the store was closed. He turned down the lights.
"You think this will work, Trillion? We're up against something we don't fully understand yet."
"We don't have time to wait anymore. We've waited too long already. We do understand enough to realize that the others are a threat to human existence, that they have failed in the past and have learned from their mistakes. They won't make the same mistakes again."
"I wish there were more people in the world like them."
"There are. My job is to find them, turn them into fighting machines or spies. Whatever it takes to win the looming battle."
"Let's hope that doesn't take too long. The world is getting darker all the time and most people are oblivious to what is going on. We may already be too late."
"I know." Said Trillion, buttoning up his long overcoat and getting ready to head out into the pouring rain. "I know."