Author’s query: Is this story ever going to end? Goodness, I hope so, if only because I want to write other things!
Continued from Chapter 50, here.
I should have been paying more attention to the ground below the helicopter, before it descended to drop me off. Maybe if I’d seen more of the surrounding area, I could have a better idea of what I faced, just how many resources might be here for my disposal.
The combined militaries of the rest of the world, the parts untouched by the Event, had clearly been busy during the months that I’d been exploring Dark America. I stood at the entrance to what looked like a small village of military tents, their camouflage patterns standing out against the waving grasses of an open field.
All around me, the tents bustled with activity. Men rushed back and forth, carrying everything from papers to heavy boxes. For most people, the level of directed activity might have seemed overwhelming. Continue reading →
Continued from Chapter 49, here.
Major Karla Starling might not have heard of my name, but it soon became apparent that someone, higher up on the military food chain, knew of me. As soon as Starling spoke my name into the receiver of the phone, I saw her posture shift. Her back straightened and her head rose, and she risked a quick, appraising glance back over her shoulder at me before turning away to speak.
Five minutes later, she lowered the receiver back to the desk in front of her and turned to face me. Her eyes ran over me, but she didn’t speak for a few seconds.
“Well?” I asked. Continue reading →
Continued from Chapter 48, here.
“Now, Captain Richards,” Starling called over her shoulder as she led me out of the interrogation room and up towards the main deck, “let me tell you about what we’ve been facing, while you’ve been vacationing in this ‘Dark America’ you’re describing.”
I had to fight to hold my tongue at that ‘vacation’ crack, but I kept my mouth shut. Major Starling hadn’t known the rest of my team, and although she likely realized what I’d lost, she perhaps thought that humor would help me move past it. She was wrong, but I wasn’t going to waste time fighting her. Not when she might prove to be my only ally.
We reached the main deck, and Starling turned to head towards the ship’s castle. The bridge, I guessed, was our destination. “I hate to burst your bubble, but your disappearance didn’t raise headlines,” she said. “I’ve heard of Nathaniel Hobbson, but I haven’t heard of you – or your team – before now.” Continue reading →
Continued from Chapter 47, here.
Eventually, after much back-and-forth, we managed to work out some sort of agreement on the truth of my identity.
The woman who greeted me on board the offshore destroyer, Major Kara Starling, seemed razor sharp. From the moment that she greeted me, tired eyes still possessing the strength to bore straight through my defenses and into my head, I knew that she’d instantly skewer me on any lie that I tried.
So I told the truth.
In hindsight, that might have been the bigger mistake. Continue reading →
Author’s note: I’ve just started an internship at a tech company, so these updates may be a bit slower for the next few posts.
Continued from Chapter 46, here.
The next morning, I headed off, once again into the unknown – alone.
Sara had to stay behind, back on that hill overlooking the town. Several times, I considered taking a blade to that horrible cord that bound her to the monstrosity, the Unity, that reared up over the horizon behind her. I knew, however, that doing so would likely hurt her more than it would help, and could even kill her.
It broke my heart. Sara looked, acted, felt exactly the same as before. But it wasn’t quite her, just like how the vision of my wife, inside that dream, hadn’t exactly been my wife. It had spoken like Alexis, looked like Alexis, moved like Alexis – but in the end, it turned out to just be a projection, a wax figurine.
And when I forced myself to cast aside the veil of emotion, I had to acknowledge that Sara wasn’t quite her normal self. Not any longer. Continue reading →
Continued from Chapter 45, here.
After five minutes of sitting under the shelter that rose up from the ground on command from Sara, watching the sun set, I finally decided to break the silence and speak again.
“Sara, is there any way for us to re-open a door to that middle place, the in-between?”
She looked back at me, her face curled up in a frown. “I don’t know. I don’t think so, or I can’t. Other people went there, but it was just sort of…” She paused for a second. “They say that it was like reaching your arm into a bag that you can’t see inside. You just sort of fumble about for whatever you want.” Continue reading →
Continued from the previous chapter, here.
I looked at Sara, first at the raised fingers of her hand, and then back at the huge organic constructs breaking through the ground, miles in the distance. “And that’s you?” I asked weakly.
She smiled, gave me a little wave by wiggling her fingertips. Moving simultaneously, with no lag time at all, the huge shapes stabbing up at the sky in the distance bent down, then rose back up. A minute later, the wind from this movement nearly bowled me over.
Sara was… Hell, I didn’t even have the words to describe it. Desperately, I wished that I had anyone else here, any other team member to help me try to understand. Continue reading →
Continued from Chapter 43, here.
I was once again back in darkness – but this didn’t feel like the mindless, empty void of earlier.
I felt pressure of a sort – and when I pushed at it, I could get the thinnest sliver of brilliant light, piercing into my skull.
Wait a minute – I had a skull! I pushed again, felt those brilliant slivers enter, not quite so blindingly bright. I reached out to lift one hand up to block some of the glare, only realizing as I did so that this also meant that I had hands, which presumably were connected to the rest of my body!
I finally managed to open my eyelids, sat up and looked around. I lay… Continue reading →
Continued from Chapter 42, here.
Standing there, in the strange simulation of reality that was too vibrant, too real to be truly correct, I felt my fingers tighten around the cold steel of the crowbar that was leaning up against the half-torn-apart car. Gripping it so tightly that the beveled edges bit into my skin, I brought it up and swung it at the head of the thing that wasn’t quite my wife.
The crowbar swung true. It flew right towards Alexis’s forehead, and I felt a burning scream inside of me, a scream at the idea of doing this to something with the face of my wife, even if it wasn’t really her, just wore her skin- Continue reading →
Continued from Chapter 41, here.
“You’re not serious,” I said to this mental construction, whatever it was, of my wife, sitting on the couch of a stranger’s house beside me and smiling with love at me as she rubbed my hand between her fingers.
“What’s scaring you, husband?” Alexis kept smiling, didn’t stop moving her fingers against mine. Somehow, that closeness made it even worse. Continue reading →