Sunday, June 28, 2015


Breaking And Entering

Jack spent half the next day in an old coffee house across the street from the little curiosity shop, sipping coffee and leisurely reading various newspapers. He'd positioned himself on a worn leather armchair. he had a perfect view of the curiosity shop across the street. He had arrived at six o'clock in the morning and like half the patrons in the coffee house stayed nearly all day, nursing coffee and pastry. All day he watched the shop. No one had come or gone from it at all. Not even the owner. Jack recalled his first encounter with the man. he was friendly enough. Talked on and on about his shop. Jack hadn't detected any red aura about him but something was off. He just couldn't put his finger on it. Something had to be here. Something hidden.
Angela had gotten that strange gift for Frankie from here. The red boxes had come from here. Things the aliens used to lure and trap humans. From the brief info Frankie had decided to tell him about his ex-girlfriend, it seemed Frankie himself was struggling with not being compromised.
Frankie was scared. Jack had never seen his old friend like this. He knew for a certainty that he had to investigate the place again. Jack had a long and colorful history of theft and breaking and entering when he was a teenager. But this time it was for a good cause.
When the coffee shop closed he went to his rental car parked across the street about a block down from the shop. He hated spending the money for it but it wouldn't do to perform a stakeout on a motorbike. Jack got in the car with a last cup of coffee in a paper cup, setting it on the dash, with a small panini, and settled down for a long night. As the sun went down and the color of the neighborhood quieted down and faint street lamps came on he remained focused on the curio shop. Just like in the morning and afternoon, it seemed dead. He saw no one come into or leave the shop at all. How does the man stay in business? He wondered, eating his sandwich. Nevermind, dude. There's more than meets the eye going on in there. He recalled the store owner. Strange little man.
The perfect time finally came around eight o'clock in the evening.came. Jack had fallen asleep sometime at dusk. He woke with a start, it was dark. A few streetlamps and porch lights down the street were on but it wasn't so bright that he felt uncomfortable. He froze. There was the movement of a shadow in the window of the old Victorian house. As luck would have it, someone was finally coming out of the house. Jack tossed the empty coffee cup on the floor and lay down on the passenger seat, then peered over the dashboard again. The man looked around quickly, then he turned and locked the door. He was carrying a large bag strapped on his arm as he walked down the steps and disappeared into the garage. A few minutes later a car backed out of the driveway, its headlights briefly illuminating Jack's car. Jack bowed down low so as not to be seen as the car drove past and down the street. He watched in his left side-door mirror until the tail lights had disappeared into the nightscape. Time to rock and roll. Watched the house with hungry curiosity. What are you hiding in there? He watched for any other movement near the front of the shabby Victorian house. No shifting shadows or shapes to suggest that there was anyone else left.
Jack walked up the stairs and slipped a tension wrench into the lock, turned and worked it until he felt a little give by turning it counter-clockwise. he slipped the pick inside the upper part of the keyhole.
He heard voices of people walking home from dinner from a restaurant around the corner. He ducked down and moved to the left of the porch to hide himself until they passed. A car rumbled down the street. When things quieted down he tried again After a few seconds he was in. It was an old and rather easy lock. There was no gate and Jack was relieved for that.  He quickly slipped inside and closed the door.
It was dim inside, the back of the main store room  in shadow. The windows were wide open. but as most of the other houses and businesses on the block were empty this didn't trouble him. Jack took his time listening out for anyone and anything,  his eyes slowly sweeping the entire room. There were the usual curiosities and knick-knack items he saw the first time. Some quite glorious in their strangeness. Some rather macabre. But what was he looking for? The smell of incense was intoxicating and it was a different scent from what he picked up the last time he came. A very heavy scent. Almost. . .drug-like in its sensuous, rich overtones. Jack hoped it wasn't really a drug. He couldn't afford to lose his sense of urgency. He didn't feel his senses becoming fatigued or dull but certain drugs could work insidiously.
He wandered through the store looking for anything that might suggest something alien. This would be difficult. Curiosity shops by nature had many alien-like things in them. He passed by the old cast iron cages full of stuffed taxidermy creatures or terrariums full of odd looking plants and other odd things Jack wasn't sure of. The wind-up antique dolls were in their display case,except tonight they were still and silent, staring out at him with those creepy innocent looking faces. He remembered the flowers and plants of the colors he couldn't describe. These had fascinated him to no end. What if these things are like material from another place in the universe. Who ever heard of colors they couldn't describe? But he forced himself away from these. That woman Angela seemed to have a connection to this place. She was either one of The Others or working for them. He thought he heard something from the back of the display and shop room. He followed where he thought he'd heard it. At the back of the front room was a door. Jack slowly turned the knob. It was locked though with an old fashioned lock and keyhole. A sudden blast of car headlights sped through the room making him turn around and freeze. It was a large truck rumbling by down the street. He  listened out for any other noises. Hanging on the wall beside the door was a golden chain were two keys. He took up the chain and tried both keys. The second key, a long skeleton key unlocked he door. it let out a creaky sigh. Jack looked around. This room felt very warm and something about it disturbed him greatly. Which meant there was something in here that he needed to see. There were bookcases with glass cases filled with all sorts of liquids, even the requisite fetuses, animal and human. There were other objects too, strange looking metal boxes, armor, swords and many wooden boxes.
He heard the sound again. It was coming from behind. It was like a slight gurgling sound. He turned to see one of the fetuses moving around. Horrified and fascinated he edged over to the creature. The fetus was inside a hermetically sealed glass case filled with a reddish fluid. The case itself was lodged inside a wrought iron carrier.  It opened its eyes, or what passed for eyes. It spoke.
"Who are you?" Jack was taken aback but he'd seen enough strange things that he would find a way to take it in stride. After all, what had he come here for anyway?
"What are you?" Jack retorted..
"A prisoner," it lamented. Jack carefully stepped forward carefully to examine it. Inside its case was some kind of contraption that looked like a large glass tube by its mouth that served as a mouth piece. At the top of the case this tube flared out like a horn. it spoke through its little horn contraption again.
"Please, help me escape!" 
"But who are you? What are you? Really?" jack was wondering if someone had entered the house again while he was busy having a conversation with a fetus.
"I exist halfway between time and space. I must remain inside this glass case or I will no longer exist nor can I hang onto this world or dimension. I do not actually look like a human fetus in real life. This body only a shell or a place-holder I use to exist here."
"But I don't understand. Why a fetus?"
"I was punished for suspected crimes against my people."
"Crimes? And you think I'll help you?"
"Suspected crimes," it emphasized. "The suspected crime of helping humans captured by my people and killed. They have no true proof against me so this is how they punish me - they put me in the form of a completely helpless human being. a fetus."
"Your people have a real macabre sense of humor," said Jack.
"This is my punishment. To see but not to act or interfere with The Expansion. Not to sense, taste, touch or truly live, here or anywhere. My prison."
"How long have you been in there?"
"We've been here a very long time. Many, many years. Longer than you know. I don't need help out of the case, you can't do that anyway but take me with you. even if i die, I don;t want to stay here anymore," wailed the fetus.
"Look, calm down! I'll take you but quiet down. I'm not supposed to be in here. But first I want to know more about this place."
"What do you want to know?"
"What is this place hiding? What's here? i can't believe I'm talking to a fetus-"
"You're not talking to a fetus."
"Right. Are there any red boxes sold here in this shop? The owner told me no, but I think he was lying. Little red boxes that hold a way for aliens to get into here? if you are what you say you are, you'll know what I'm talking about." Jack demanded. The creature was silent for a moment.
"red boxes," it said. The fetus then twirled in its fluid for a bit then turned to look at him, its monstrous little body crawling up the glass wall of its prison.
"I've seen the little red boxes. He keeps them in the shop under the floorboards under a dingy, threadbare Persian rug. It's in the corner there by that totem." Sure enough, in a dark corner there as a tall wooden totem pole of a turtle ,a whale and a crow.
"Over there?"
"Yes. Why? Those things are deadly."
"I know. And how much do they cost?" The little thing gurgled. It sounded like laughter.
"You don't want one, do you? Oh, no-"
"Tell me! I don't have much time, kid, er, whatever!"
"Those aren't sold. Those are given to people who wish for some kind of suffering to end, some kind of problem they can't handle to go away. The price is their life. They are taken over by the Quantumin once they do open that box ad use it."
"The best word I can use to describe my people."
"Is the owner of this place an alien?"
"No. He's a servant. A worker for them. There are different levels of these humans who willingly or unwillingly work for the Expansion. He's a willing one as far as I've seen." Okay, so he's a minion.
"I need more information before he comes back.-" the house shook and all the lights blinked on and off for a split second.
"That's happened before here," said Jack more to himself. "What else is here? Something's hidden here, isn't it? A wormhole? Tell me!" he demanded.
"I know many things. If you want more information Please, get me out of here. I can tell you all you want to know. I promise!" It pleaded. Jack grabbed the case by its top iron handle.
"This house is a conduit for entrances for my people where they can travel through and see into this world. Albeit a small one. I've seen things. Glimpses of where other conduits are." Jack could see the soft red halo pulsing off of the creature even in its fluid. And he was tempted to take it and chuck it down a dumpster or against the wall here. But for a brief second its halo changed from red to a violet color to blue, and then red again. It gulped and gurgled, looking up at him through reddish fluid.  Jack's heart started to race. Would this be a good idea or the worse idea in the history of the world? Suddenly, he heard the front door opening.
"He's come again! You don't know the awful things he allows here! Get me out of here!" The thing whispered frantically. Jack no longer had time to think. He hid behind one of the large bookcases waiting for some one to walk in. But the owner didn't come into this room. Jack waited for what seemed forever, the room hot and stuffy to the point of suffocation. He heard the shop owner whistling and pacing slowly to the back of the house and then he heard a door open and shut and he heard footsteps going downstairs. Jack then tip-toed from the room, the floor creaking more than he was comfortable with. Closing the door as quietly as he could, he then raced from the house and into his car. Throwing the case into the passenger's seat he started the car and sped away just in time to see the owner of the shop struggling with his cane to come out on to the porch with a distraught and aghast look on his face as he watched Jack speed  away into the night.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


The Pit

"Quantum existence"  he has called it. A term foreign to me and to many men who study the natural world and the sciences. And yet, I believe what he says to be true. he says his people are beings that do not exist in the same way that the human being exists until they are observed. but then how do they relate to one another, or interact and build societies? he explained it that the explanation is the only way a human mind would comprehend their existence in this dimension they are from. I have thought on the matter, as I have no laboratory nor away to conduct experiments, and the being who conversed with me is gone and has not reappeared in some time, and i believe that they are semi-quantum beings - this quantum is a queer word, and they want to exist in our world. They once existed here as beings very much like us and it was said, had evolved to the position they are in now. it would seem they are unhappy as they are now. They evolved toward a point through the use of odd technologies to a state where they would be seen as angels or demons, but they seem to have come to hate their higher ordered existence. 

And the machines! They have created these insidious devices to infiltrate the human population. There are times i think the whole world has gone mad. perhaps now i see a connection. This one being who found me and looked, walked and spoke as well as any country gentleman here, is he benevolent? Or a malevolent being? I did not feel any sense of dread or fear as I have with some people. but yet, as the Scriptures say: "Satan keeps transforming himself into an angel of Light". . . how much more so would his disciples, human or otherwise do the same? I wonder. . . 

He'd guessed that this journal was written some time in the late eighteenth century. Jack pondered the writings in his mind, over and over again. he wasn't used to such thinking. he was more of a "think-on-your-feet- kind of man. But this journal had some fascinating things revealed in it. They would need to meet and simply discuss the journal, and soon. The writer was unknown but Andrew had kept this book hidden, rescued it from a trash bin at a con and this book might very well hold the key to defeating these redshifters. What surprised and excited him even more was that there were also drawings in this journal and among them was a drawing, crude thought it was, of the same symbol Dan had described at their last meeting, the ringed planet with out-sized rings. Andrew allowed him to come to t bookstore on an odd and very early Monday morning, to study it on his own again. Andrew wouldn't let anyone remove it from the room in the store. Jack would try to convince him again, as he wanted to study it at home. But right now it was time to do some investigating on his own. He wondered what Dan and Mary and Trillion were up to. They really should call more often, he thought. We need to keep up with each other. Jack  decided that he would do just that after his own private investigation. He had a few friends he wanted to quizz about the symbol. See if anything turned up.
. . .

When he needed information, Jack went old school. Years ago when he was still in high school he would turn on a red light and shine it in his bedroom window when he wanted to talk to Frankie or if he wanted Frankie to show him around town. Franki Valon was a mysterious guy who knew a lot of people in the underground. he'd met Frankie at a kegger when he was fifteen. Jack had often hung out with people much older than himself. The underground consisted of all sorts of characters, some weird, some dangerous, all on the underside of society, that seemed to come out of the night and fade away at dawn. They lived in a whole different world and existed it seemed in a different time and and space. Parties in the underground, if one were invited which was a feat unto itself, were legendary. Some so much so that those poor people who were naive and didn't understand the rules never survived the night. The more people who died, the more legendary the gathering and its host, it was said, but Jack wasn't interested in any parties today. He'd had his share of them in the past. He was on business. With the amount of weird going around Frankie was bound to know or have heard something about the redshifters, even if he didn't know what or who they were. Besides, Jack had a taste for one of those drinks they served at The Pit called the red hot.
Frankie's number always led to a voice answering service. He never answered. Jack dialed the number on his phone. The messaging service picked up.
"Yeah, Frankie, it's me, Jack. I know I haven't talked to you in a while. But I've got a question for ya. I think you might be interested in this." That would be enough. If Frankie wasn't too busy, he'd be by sometime this week. If he didn't find it of interest, he just wouldn't show.
It was Tuesday morning, two days later when he heard the special knocking pattern on his door. He strode to the door and opened it. there was Frankie, his hefty body dressed up in his well-worn, dark brown leather jacket, tailor made to fit his soft flesh like a glove, with large jowls and those merry gray eyes that missed nothing. Behind his jolly demeanor hid a lethal ruthlessness.
"Hey man. Long time no see. How you been, Jack?"
"I've been alright, how about yourself?"
"Things have been weird, man, weird, But it's always weird."
'That's what i want to talk to you about."
"So I heard. What about it?"
"Let's go to The Pit and talk about it there." Frankie' grays eyes lit up.
"That serious, huh?"
"Well, I also wouldn't mind one of those red hots." Frankie smiled.
"Car's waiting outside." He grabbed a jacket, got his wallet and shoes, and made his way down the stairs behind Frankie. Down below in the alley in the back of his apartment complex was the old Monte Carlo, gleaming and polished. Frankie had had that car since he'd first known him. jack was never really sure of its color. Just that it was dark. The car was empty, passenger's side door wide open as if someone had just dashed inside a house to grab something. The keys were in the ignition. 
"Not afraid of coming out here and finding it gone?" Frankie just grinned that wicked grin of his. 
"If somebody's bold enough to steal my car they'll find out soon enough what will happen to 'em. I've had a few try it. They end up in a place they don't want to be." 
The walls were very thin at his place. Folks heard all manner of business in the building and some did anything but mind their own affairs. Other tenants looked out into the alley, a few peeking out of their windows gawking with curiosity. If they only knew the real truth. he thought grimly. They got in. The car's engine purred softly. Frankie slammed his foot on the gas and drove off. 
You should have been a drag racer, Frankie." Frankie opened up a small case fixed into the lower dashboard and then glanced up into the rear view mirror.
"Looking for something?"
"I don't know. Sometimes I get the feeling I'm being watched or something. And other times I get the feeling that I'm sleep walking through life. Like somebody else is control of me. It's something I can't really explain. I've been into some hard stuff, but. . . I don't know. It was interesting that you called wanting to talk." Jack felt alarm bells going off in his mind but he said nothing for now. He'd wait until the reached The Pit. He took out a long, elegant, cigar from the box and lit it, the smoking end glowing fire red. Wispy tendrils of smoke uncurled and floated from the cigar spreading out through the window beside him. The warm air inside the car smelled heavily of cinnamon and copper. He settled in with his cigar. It would be a while before they reached The Pit. He sat back and enjoyed his smoke, taking peeks out the rear view mirror every now and then himself. 

Frankie was into a lot of weird stuff and helped run a small underground world. That world was rough. If Frankie felt weirded out, it was time to really pay attention. The redshifters were up to something new. Jack could feel it. Alienpocolypse, indeed.
. . .

They got out of the car and walked into the old Chinese storefront. The Pit was built under old Chinatown. Inside was an old elevator with an doorman.
"Good night to you, sirs. Good to see you again Mr. Frank," he said cordially. Frankie just grinned. it was the same old doorman he remembered when Frankie first brought him here back when he was still in high school. he was old then too. It seemed the man reached seventy and had stopped aging. Jack nodded to the doorman. They went down three levels far underground and when the doors opened they were at the massive black door, carved to look like a hell mouth, of The Pit. The underground was far larger than The Pit and extended throughout the city in hidden tunnels, some well lit, others not so well lit. One of the larger underground tunnels led from The pit into many other places. The Pit was a large and luxurious and club. It was Tuesday. Not a whole lot was happening which was fine for Jack. Frankie led him to a private table.

The scene before him was a rich, swank, deep red environ. The carpet was plush and the color of healthy blood. On the walls painted frescoes of gods and heroes of myth. An imposing looking man dressed in red leather motioned for him to follow.
“You are expected.” He said to Frankie with an odd, clipped accent Jack couldn’t place.
"Tell him I'll be there soon." The man bowed to them and left. jack sat down, taking off his jacket and setting his cigar down in a tray. It was a vast place for a club, with many rooms and sections, all darkly luxurious. In one room it was full of  tables, crowded with hundreds of people losing or winning their money. Jack remembered that when he'd first come. of course he'd been here a few times more since then. The gambling outfit had only gotten larger. Jack felt as if he was floating through hell; a hell outfitted in high, sophisticated taste.
The room was lit low dark and on the far side, built inside the wall and spanning the length of it was a marble fireplace with a roaring fire. The ceiling was thick, opaque glass and Jack could see the soft shadows of people passing over the glass ceiling, oblivious to this secret place. not even everyone in the underground could get in here.
 A woman in a tight red brocade corset and thigh high black boots came to their table.
"So, what are you having tonight?" But Jack was on business. he waved her away, reluctantly. Frankie gave her an appreciative once over as she moved away before ordering drinks.
"You mentioned that things have been weird. What did you mean by that? You've seen something out of the ordinary weirdness around here?"
"Yeah," he began slowly. "I haven't actually seen anything myself but I hear things. Things about people who aren't people. About people disappearing and coming back different. About people feeling like they've been up to things without their own knowledge, you know? Sleepwalking and stuff. Night terrors. It sounds ridiculous. But more and more people I talk to and hear about these things from than is normal. Sometimes I think something's happened even to me." He said this last part hushing his voice to a low whisper. Frankie rarely got ruffled or surprised by anything. This was serious. Jack nodded his head and took a  piece of paper from his jacket pocket.
"Have you seen this symbol before?" Frankie gave him a puzzled look. He but he picked up the paper and studied it before setting it back down.
"No," he said finally, "it's just a circle with a circle, Jack."
"It's supposed to be a planet with rings."
"Oh, is that what that is?" Frankie laughed and took a sip. "I thought you had something serious to show me, man."
"This is serious , Frankie. A friend of mine saw this symbol in a place he wasn't supposed to be in. He was nearly killed because of it. It doesn't look like much but it means something. I've seen a lot of strange and unexplained things too. Things I can't explain. So, i'm on a mission to investigate. Please, try to remember. have you seen this symbol anywhere? Even if it seems unimportant, trust me, it's very important." Frankie sighed and studied the paper again. Then he shook his head. He drank down his scotch and then made a sound as if he remembered something as Jack was putting the paper away.
"I don't think I've ever run into this but maybe someone else might know," he sad quietly. "Lt me think."
Jack took a look around, this time with interest. He wanted to see whether redshifters had infiltrated themselves in to the underground. So far, it was almost empty, not much was happening. He didn't notice anyone with a red outline glow. Jack's whole body went on alarm when one man walked up. Dressed to the nines, he wore  a well tailored Italian suit with a dark red tie. This red stood out like a beacon making Jack feel nervous. It called to him and repulsed him the way the girl with the pointy red shoes did in the diner. It spoke to him that something was wrong about this person. Jack feigned coolness but inside he was all eyes and ears as he took a slow puff from his cigar. There was no red outline that he could  detect. Perhaps he's a minion then. Doing the work without being one of them. One of their human minions. Or maybe. . . Mary and Trillion had said that there were more than one kind of redshfter and not all f them were aliens. This muddied the waters a great deal. But Jack was was used to swimming in muddy waters.
When the man reached the table Jack had quickly snatched the paper away and slid it into this pocket. The man gave him a questioning look but nodded to them both respectfully, a slight smile on his face as he greeted Frankie. Frankie frowned at him but grinned at the man.
"Ah, Quinn. I'm having a chat with an old friend. I'll be there in a few." Even though Quinn smiled his dark eyes were hard and unreadable. The irises were large and unfathomable, like black wells of ink. jack didn't like this at all. Jack was relieved he didn't see the paper, no matter how obvious he made the whole thing seem.
"What were you two looking at? Am I interrupting something important?" Way to go, pal! Jack thought, wanting to kick himself. He hoped Frankie wouldn't say anything about the paper. Frankie just laughed.
"Nothing you should be concerned with. private business. You know." Thanks, Frankie.
"I see. I'll be in one of the VIP rooms waiting. Oh, and Angela sends her regards, Frankie," said the man.
"How was last night? Where did you guys go?"
"We had a good time over at Ringler's. We might go out again."
"I'm glad to hear it," said Frankie 
"I'll talk to you later," said the man. Frankie grunted as the man turned and disappeared into another room.
"That symbol. I've seen it somewhere now that Quinn mentioned something that jogged my memory." Frankie drew back in his seat, looking around surreptitiously. 
"Didn't you and Angela used to date?"
"I was just getting to that. My old girlfriend, Angela once gave me something with something similar on it. It was some type of charm, she said. She was into all sorts of weird stuff. But now that I think on it, they were cufflinks, actually. And they were strange, unique. She knew that I liked unique things. These cufflinks were like liquid metal. They could shift their shape. She said they were made of a mercury alloy. I thought she was trying to poison me. I wore them a couple of times and never wore them again. I still have them somewhere. But they were crafted into a planet with rings around them. I'm not clear if it was the same exact symbol as this one." 

"Do you remember where she got them from?" Frankie sat back again, thinking. 
"Some place over on Ankeny Street, downtown. Came in a nice lacquered box."

 Jack remembered that certain little lacquered boxes held something deadly to humans. The aliens used them as a pathway into someone's life. It was one way they controlled humans. How they worked he wasn't clear on but the answer to Frankie's troubling night terrors had just been found. Mary had nearly succumbed to opening a box. The redshifters were here in the underground too. jack knew he shouldn't have been surprised by this. Jack fingered his cigar and took another puff, remaining cool.
"Ankeny," he said. "Thanks Frankie. You've been more help than you know."
"What's the big deal about Ankeny?"
"I'm not sure yet until I check some things out but I suspect there's a lot more to what the owner of that shop is selling than what most people are aware of."
"You think he's into some illegal business? Drugs?"
"Could be. I think it may be more than that. I just don't now exactly what, yet. He may know something about that symbol. Look Frankie, that symbol is connected to dangerous people. watch your back. and don't take anymore odd gifts or offers from anyone anymore. it's for your own safety. These odd tings aren't unconnected coincidences. I'm sure of that."
"You think these things are related?"
"I do. That's what I'm investigating." Jack didn't know how else he could help Frankie if the redshifters were already using him without his knowledge. He'd try his best.
Jack wondered if he really should divulge anymore information at this point.
"You know how it is. Other people just don't pay attention. But we do notice the extraordinary. You said yourself thing s were kind of weird."
"Yeah."Frankie sighed and drained the rest of his drink. "You ever get that feeling that you're drowning and you don't have a lifeline to hold on to? I have to say, that feeling appeared when I started dating Angela. In fact, when i think of it, a  lot of unusual things started happening to me around that time. Stellar woman, and hotter than hell, but boy she brings the drama and the pain. Turned everything upside down."
"Women like that usually do." Angela might be one of The Others. Or a minion. Jack thought. "You're mad that she's with this Quinn now?" jack asked. Frankie glanced around the room carefully. 
"Actually, no. I'm kind of relieved. I could barely handle her. She was something different. And not in a good way."
Jack hadn't seen Angela in years but she had the kind of dark, wild good looks no man ever forgot.. She'd never expressed an interest in him and now he saw that that was for the best. he was getting somewhere, he just hoped it wasn't a dead end. he would have to pay another visit the The little old shop on Ankeny again. Very soon. And a secret investigation on Angela would also be in order. But first he needed a little more information and Frankie had given him a generous foot in the door. People who brought on strange and dangerous happenings in a person's life needed looking into and since he was now a blueshifter, fighting against the coming redshift invasion, he had a job to do. Jack finally picked up his drink and sipped it. Then he set it down as Frankie was preparing to leave the table.
"If you don't mind Frankie, before you go, tell me a few things about Angela."

Thursday, June 18, 2015


The Trans-Resurrection Machine, Part 2

The last explosion was terrible. Clouds of thick, burning smoke started to fill the room and fireball flames began to engulf the place.
"What has happened!" Screeched one of the redshifters. "Fire! Fire! Save the machine! SAVE THE MACHINE!!" He screamed.
"I'll call the others! We can't save the machine by ourselves!" The taller one ran from the room.
"COWARD!!" Cried the other in a rage. Mary could hear all of this behind the door of the device. it woke her from the near hypnotic state she felt the machine was puling her into, and away from the strange visions, or were they shapes she saw in the fluid. 
Shots were fired and then someone opened the device door.
"Mary!" it was Dan.
"Dan! Untie me!" he took put a blade and began cutting the straps.
"Hurry!" Shouted someone. It was Jack.
"You don't know how glad I am to see you guys!" She said. The bonds were difficult to cut through and Dan began unraveling them by hand. When he was done she managed to force her legs out of the straps holding them down and rolled off the door.
"What is that thing?" He asked,
"No time. I'll tell you later!" She said.
"They're coming! More of them. They called for reinforcements. I think I hear sirens too," said Jack. Fire was running up the ceiling like wild fire. The way was blocked. He covered Mary with a long silver cape. He was breathing hard.
"We make a run through the doorway. As you get towards the entrance, leave the cloak behind. Hopefully we'll get out without severe burns. Come on!"
They followed him out. Mary could feel the fire hot against her burning. It was so hot she thought she'd combust into millions of tiny particals. Her scalp was felt as if it would melt off her skull and she brushed her hair frantically as Jack herded them into an old car. The building was burning, like a raging beacon tearing into the night. Jack jumped into the driver's seat and sped off, burning rubber.
"We were lucky. this was a small cell. We caught them off guard!" Said Dan.
'"How on earth did you guys find me?" She asked, wiping sweat from her face.
"The red trail was strong nearly all the way to this neighborhood. I sensed you as they were driving away. I called Jack and he brought the car and we tracked your essence until it dropped off sharply about five blocks south of here. At that point, we investigated the buildings and by happenstance we found this old abandoned one. The redshifters seem to like old abandoned buildings for certain reasons. Old buildings have old memory that they thrive and work from to build their wormholes. People don't seem to pay much attention to them either." Mary turned to look out the rear window. In the distance a flurry of swirling siren lights were gathering at the burning building as they sped away into the night.
. . .

In the tiny, dusty bookshop that was now their headquarters, they sat around a small stool. Mary was frazzled but wiser and more courageous than she'd ever felt. Everyone was gathered around her, Trillion draped a warm sweater around her shoulders. 
"I'm so sorry I got you into this." said Dan. "Maybe we moved too soon-" she frowned at him at first, and then smiled.
"Got me into what? I'm in this along with all of you. We either face them now or they'll face us down later. We have to find out where they're hiding. I'm, glad it happened."
"You are?" Asked Andrew, the bookstore owner, nervously. He chewed his bottom lip and wiped his thick glasses with the corner of his shirt. She nodded vigorously. Everyone began talking at once. Mary felt a self assurance she'd never felt before in her life. She hoped this wasn't some temporary adrenaline wave.
"Listen," she said, putting her hand up. Then she took a long sip of hot coffee and set the paper cup down on the stool in front of her. The others leaned in, falling quiet. 
"I saw something I wasn't supposed to see. Both Dan and I did." She glanced at Dan excitedly.
"What?" Asked Jack. "What they actually look like?"
"Yes, but more than that. They do have these strange, advanced devices, huge machines that they call trans-resurrection devices. They use them to transfer one of their own inside a human so that they can take over the bodies and live here among us." The store owner's eyes widened.
"I was afraid of something kooky like that would be revealed." Trillion gave only the barest hint of dismay but his serene countenance remained.
"So that's how they do it!" Said Jack.
"But that's not all. There are, I think, quite a few of these machines but they are very old contraptions. It suggests they've used them for a very long time. It reminded me of a Rube- Goldberg machine. Anyway, they have this program from what I heard, called the Settling, Seeding and Expansion. There seems to be a hierarchy too. I heard something about a High Sentinel among them."
"High Sentinel?" Asked Trillion. "Troubling."
"She oversees punishment for wayward, incompetent and rebellious hanyar attached to the Expansion project. She has never revealed herself to humans, so far as I know. And she's not the only one. Perhaps they've changed something in the structure of the plan." 
"Yes." They all looked at Trillion
"What do you mean?" Asked Dan.
"All I mean is that things are changing. It's been a long time since I've kept in touch with their more secret activities. High Sentinels are vestiges of the older hanyar societies."
"Tell us more about the machine. How does it work?" asked Dan.
"I'm not sure on the exact nature of how it works. Only that they strap you on a bed on the other side of the machine door and close you inside and you are lowered into a huge tub of fluid with electrical currents flowing through it. I don't know what sort of fluid they use or what substance it is. It was frightening and not just because of what it would have done to me but because of the energy I could feel from it. it was overwhelmingly hostile, the energies coming from it. The very instrument they use to destroy us. More scary than any weapon they might use," she said. They listened with rapt attention.
"I felt it too," said Dan.
"What did you see, Dan?" She asked. They all turned to him.
"I entered part way through what I can only describe as an inactive wormhole. That's why I'm still alive, and through the other side I saw a vault of some. I saw a trans-resurrection machine, Mary! Inside the vault. It looked similar from the other one. I had no idea what that strange looking thing was at the time but it was another one of those devices! I'm sure of it!"
"Did you see anything else?" Asked Trillion.
"Yes. I noticed an odd symbol of a planet with out-sized rings. I wonder if that is where they came from?"
"Not likely," said Mary.
"Why do you say that?" Asked Trillion
"Because they come from subspace. They are subspace beings."
"Subspace! You aren't -" said Jack.
"Oh yes," said Mary firmly. "They said so."
"You heard them say all this?"
"They were going to kill me so they felt free to talk." Trillion folded his arms and leaned against the wall.
"My people the hanyar come from another place in the universe humans have never seen and can't imagine, somewhere on the other side of a singularity, somewhere near a planet with rings for from this solar system. They want to live in this world and in this dimension. But most want to take it over. They desire the kind of life that humans call life, to taste, touch and see and experience things the way you do.They want everything you have. They are dissatisfied with where they've gone as a species and wish to take over this world and take over your bodies as well."
"But if they only want to live as we do, why do they have to destroy us?"
"A people with a hostile, militaristic bent see things through a very limited scope. There is no room for others different from them and there is no room for others when those others have what they desire. We have countless examples of hostile human cultures that have eradicated others when it was unnecessary to do so. Greed and selfishness are the only excuses they need," said Trillion.
"You're right. And they know that some of us can detect them now," said Mary. Trillion sighed heavily.
"Yes. Once they thought they'd destroyed all sensitives, but they didn't. I and my co-workers have helped protect sensitives from them. I once thought we could find and protect all of them. We couldn't."
"You say, 'we' Trillion when you are one of them," said Mary gently.
"I know. I have been here for so long and so invloved with helping humans that I no longer feel as if I'm hanyar any longer."
"That's because in a way, you are one of us now. or at least I think so," said Mary. 
"I think our powers are growing and becoming clearer," said Dan. "I could sense you, Mary, your emotions, your fear, when they took you away."
"Yeah. We could almost track you because of that," said Jack.
"This will only help us all as things grow darker," said Trillion. "As for the plan, so far, you all managed to destroy one small alien base. That's important."
"It was two-"
"Actually just one. The wormhole you saw and were nearly pulled in through Dan was not destroyed. They can't be destroyed by fire. The building was burned but the wormhole remains, mostly likely they collapsed it and moved it to another location."
"I guess we gave the bastard the opening salvo then," said Jack. They all grinned.
"You did and I'm proud but don't be too confident. I think you all should lay low for a little while. I'm sure they're looking for the cause of this problem. It wouldn't be the first time humans have detected and ruined their plans," said Trillion. "In the confusion of two important places being targeted they'll be worried that they can't detect you. Yet."
"Then this should be a tactic we use again? Attack and lay low?" Asked Jack. Trillion nodded.
"If we use guerrilla-style tactics it needs to be when we have more power on our side. This time was a fluke. It won't happen again this easily. We've got to hone this down. But I have an idea," said Dan.
"And what's that?" Asked Mary.
"Some techniques I learned from Trillion. We need to have another meeting next week here. We need to be able to sense and know for certainty where the other places are, the other machines, and take them all out. And also," he said grabbing a piece of paper with a red marker and drawing a symbol on it and showing it to the others. "We need to find out what this means." It was the symbol of the ringed planet. Mary saw the little bookstore owner shift nervously in his seat.
"I can't imagine why a bank vault would have a sign like that and I don't know of any logos of companies with that particular symbol." 
"Let me see the symbol up close," said Jack, reaching for the slip of paper. "Maybe I can do some research on it after we leave here tonight."
"Research? How?" Asked Mary.
"Trillion said they've been here for a long time, right? There must be something out there that can shed some light on this. I have some interesting underground connections. Maybe they can turn up something?"
"Just be careful that you aren't asking one of The Others in disguise. I know that you guys can detect them now, but there just may be a few that are much harder to detect in the traditional way. That's what I'm trying to work out now. Besides that, remember, some red-shifters may be human. Only part human because of trans-resurrection or because they have no human feeling for others." This made Mary perk up.
"Hey, I can handle this," said Jack, grinning.
"I know you can. Just. . .be careful," warned Trillion.
"If I may, Jack, I have something to show you that you might find very interesting. I'd like to show you before you leave here tonight." Andrew turned to Dan. "Dan, do you remember the old book I showed you?" Dan's eyes got wide.
"Oh, yes!" Andrew glanced at Mary.
"Mary, you'll want to see this too, so stay awhile longer." They were all buzzing with even more excitement now. It seemed things were coalescing around some important paths to answers.
Mary rubbed her hair absently.As fearful as she was, she felt something awakening in her. She'd nearly crossed the threshold into a kind of death. She was able to study the inside of that threshold before being rescued. The experience left her wanting to know what the symbols and the other. . .things she'd seen in the pool, were.She would go home and ponder what she saw to make sense of it. There had to be a pattern here. Perhaps if they could decipher the pattern, they could defeat The Others. The symbols and characters had to mean something. Perhaps they were directions on how to build one? What if they could build one? It seemed crazy to even imagine such things. But she'd faced death and lived. They all did. She felt bonded to them more than she had before. And brave, an emotion she had never experienced before. She smiled.
"What is it, Mary?" Asked Dan. She shook her head.
"Nothing. I'm just ready for what's coming. I'm ready to fight."
"So we all are," said Jack.
"Dan, I'd like to study the hotspot map you created at your place again," she said. Andrew turned to Trillion.
"What are you going to do until the next meeting?"
"I have other sensitives that I've rescued out of the darkness, to train."

Andrew pressed his hands against his knees, bewildered. He had a hotspot of ragtag avengers assembling under his own roof. How long before they got found out? And what would happen to them all? He feared to think on it but he'd had some inkling of what he was getting himself into when he forged an alliance with the mysterious Trillion. Being near such special people helped him to feel he was adding something important to the cause. And he was. In fact, there was one thing he and Trillion were keeping in store for later that would be sorely needed one day. What did I get myself into? he thought, fiddling around in his apron pocket for the old skeleton key.
"Before I get the book, anybody for more bad coffee?"

Friday, June 12, 2015


The Trans-Resurrection Machine

Mary struggled against her restraints.
"It will only hurt worse if you continue. Why don't you lie still?" Said the hissing voice. It chilled her. It wasn't human. She wondered what creature possessed that eerie voice. She was tied down to a hard, cold surface. She'd been here for what seemed hours and she'd been blindfolded before being brought here, wherever here was.
"Where am I? Who are you?"
"Be silent. You will know soon enough." Seconds later she felt a terrible sting and a burning sensation in one of her arms, as if a long, large needle had been carelessly inserted. Then something was being wound around her head. She started to feel panic rise again. What was this. . .person. . . going to do to her? Somewhere in the room she could hear the soft noises of medical equipment being handled. Above all that stood out to her was a regular beeping sound, like a pacemaker, as if it were in tune with her own heart beat.
"How did you find the place?" Demanded the raspy, inhuman voice.
"I told you already! I was wandering around, going for an evening walk, and I was just curious about the buildings in the old rail yard. It looked abandoned."
"Do you always break into abandoned buildings?"
"No, only I was curious about it as all. And bored."
"You lie. Why do you humans always lie? A defect in you." She received a hard slap and she cried out again. Mary's thoughts raced. She tried to think of something calming, anything, to ground her. She tried to think of something that might. . .she felt a slight rumble as if there were an earthquake, and it suddenly stopped as soon as the sensation had started. There was a brief silence and then someone else entered the room.
"What?" Said her captor in annoyance.
"You know what," said second voice in cold anger from what Mary could discern.
"I couldn't get my agent inside from the box. She wouldn't open the box, stupid woman! I'll send your agent in by another way or by another's agent. Someone more compliant this time. I-"
"Never mind! You've failed. But you're not accountable to me. Surely, you would know that by now. How one as inept as you were allowed into the first waves of the Expansion, Seeding or the Settling is baffling. When the High Sentinel arrives, you can explain your failure to her." Mary felt a shock of cold fear, sensed it like an overpowering scent. It smelled like burning ice. She was sure this fear had come from her first tormentor. Footsteps came close to her, stopping.
"I was allowed into the Expansion project-"
"You were allowed in because your progenitor was one of the best and strongest of your family tree for the project and because he had so many connections with the other strongest, smartest progenitors. Nothing more. I suppose genetics really isn't everything."
"You speak as if you are my progenitor or instructor-ward," he hissed angrily. "You are not. Beware how you deal with me." The second one blithely ignored this warning.
"Our little bandit. I see you've been tormenting her. Stop right there, before you overstep your mark, once again. That's why they keep you here, in the dark working like a rat. She has a red mark on her face. You struck her?"
"What of it?"
"You never did learn discipline, did you? And you wonder why you've been relegated to bottom-rung status and grunt work," the second voice said imperiously. "In all of your playing with the subject did you prepare the device like I asked you?"
"The device is ready."
"Prepare the subject." Prepare me for what, exactly?
"The subject is ready," snapped the other one.
"Did you prime her with a numbing agent?"
"I did." hissed the other voice.
"You didn't finish the job. Must I do everything? With fools like you entering the Expansion it's no wonder it's taking so long. Step aside." The sack was yanked off her head and a tubing device was wrapped around her head. Then thin tubes were inserted into her nostrils, far up until she thought she would black out. A thin stream of blood trickled down her right nostril. Her mouth was forced open and another tube inserted down. She began to gag violently and struggle. The second being held her down and tightened the restraints. There was shuffling of footsteps in the room.
'Now," she heard the imperious voice say, "I think we can make you useful to us without the normal tactics of getting humans to behave and cooperate." Rough hands took off her blindfold. She was in a dark room set up as an operating hub. It was dusty, she could feel the grit in her throat. At one end of the room, before her stood  a frightening looking edifice. It had the look of an ancient looking machine. The device seemed to hum, a sensation she could feel in her bones. It filled the room from the floor to the ceiling on that side of the wall.
"A rather old contraption, quaint even, but it remains very useful and valuable."
It was frightening and she couldn't understand why. It looked like a huge outdated, useless computer, like a Rube-Goldberg contraption, but something about it frightened her. The red light energy shifting from it swirled and roared in her vision.

This represented certain doom.

As she looked upon it with her own eyes,. it was bathed in faint red light shimmering around its edges, like something poisonous cut out of time and space and pasted into this world. Something that did not belong here.

There was a person standing next to her. He looked like a normal man. He was slight in build with unremarkable, nondescript features. In fact, he looked very much like the kind of person to blend into the background, someone no one would notice at all. And in his ordinariness, he was had an eerie and powerful presence.
"So you can see us? I'd thought we'd rid the world of such ones," he hissed.
"I'd thought so too, but remember that this ability is a genetic anomaly that can appear spontaneously in human beings. We are working on a way to completely eradicate it. Until then, we'll find this one useful," said the other. He too was a man of average features difficult to describe as there was nothing striking or interesting about him either. He was shorter and rounder than the other man.
"Do you know what this is? Mmmm?" He asked.
"What is that?" She asked. .
"We have quite a few of these. It is one of the ways we can control human adepts that are needed for our plans. You're going to be altered anyway, so I'll tell you before we put you under. It's a trans-resurrection device, or machine. It's one of our rmost important inventions, worked on and mproved over the centuries. We could not build it on our original home in such a way that it would work here, but we found that we could build it here. We use it to allow our kind to cross over from where we exist in our natural state, in time and place, to Earth. We can exist quite comfortably within the framework of the human body in this dimension, out of subspace. In fact, most of us find it desirable for it is in the human being's body and brain that we are better able to study the universe and its secrets. But it is a sort of death before life for us. This machine renders the human being pliable mentally, like a person of retarded mental capacity, and eventually into a vegetative state. However, by then, the body is fully conformed to our own physiological and mental needs and the human merely becomes a reanimated puppet or suit as we take it over and become acclimated to the new environment."
"Home?" She gurgled with great difficulty.
"Human body, existing on Earth. That is home. By taking over the brain in the body through this machine the human's mind is severely stunted as well as their personality and they eventually die but by then we have taken over the body. It isn't painful, don't worry. You will still be human on the outside but you will have entered into an altered, higher state of existence." He gifted her with a grim smile.

The room began to tremble again and they stopped.
"What was that?" Asked the taller one. The other studied Mary with murky, gray-brown eyes that seemed to shine.
"I think it's her. Hurry! Let's get her into the device. She's a powerful one. We can use her and through her, find all others like her who are hiding from us!"
"No!" She tried to shout but the tubes prevented her from getting the words out. But she felt as if her concentration on the room inside and her fright and anger were causing some type of effect within the machine too.
"The machine! It's not as stable as it needs to be. Something's happening!" They lifted her up and opened the door of device and laid it flat, laid her on it and strapped her down even as she struggled. She managed to kick the taller one in the head. He hissed at her.

Outside there was an explosion. They stopped for a few seconds, studying the entrance door. Then they proceeded to lift the device door up and close her inside. She could see electrical currents flowing through in patterns in a tub of opaque fluid that filled the machine. The device began to slowly lower her down into this tub. The energy through seeming red felt, cold, cold as snow and she felt her face becoming numb along with the rest of her body as the numbing agent kicked in. She couldn't move the way she wanted anymore. She felt helpless. She hated feeling helpless and afraid all of the time. She'd learned so much from her short interaction with these two aliens, yet now she would never be able to tell the team. She would never be able to warn them or Trillion about what she'd seen. She could feel the power of the device enveloping her. She examined the inside even though it would be of no use. When she came out, she would not be herself, she would be a reanimated husk for one of the redshifters.

There was another explosion. Then another one. The third was so powerful that the entire room and the device shook. It sounded as if the building was breaking apart.