Nigh Cries, Part Eight

StranglingBy

Timotei

Erik did not consider himself to be overly brave.  In the normal flow of events, bravery was another emotion to be discarded like any other.  It was an alien concept anyway since, until today anyway, it was not necessary.  Cold World did not have any crime.  The more society divested itself of emotion, the less likely strife and turmoil arose.  People didn’t steal, kill or destroy one another.  The people of Cold World were simply too involved in the pursuit of knowledge.  All other occupations were a waste of valuable time.  Erik could not even remember if he had ever had a fight, an argument, or anything with anyone.  Just the thought made him feel lost and confused.  Having never raised his hand in anger toward any other living being, how was he supposed to confront the nightmare waiting for him in Professor Voguebuk’s lab?

Erik tried asserting his rational mind over the question.  Whatever had shredded the professor was probably done.  It stopped with the professor when it could just as easily have ended his life.  But it hadn’t and he was still alive; therefore, he wasn’t the target and could proceed to investigate further.

Erik stepped cautiously towards the professor’s lab, careful to step over the pool of blood that was spreading slowly around one half of the professor’s body.

The door to the lab was not locked and gave way easily to Erik’s gentle push.  The lights inside flicked to life in starts and bursts of pale green and yellow until a soft white light filled the open space of the lab.  The lab wasn’t very big Erik thought.  His own study hall was far larger not to mention his experimental space.  Somehow Erik expected more but with a shrug he moved towards one of the work benches that lined the eastern side of the lab.  There spread out on the bench surface was a large but deep saucer type plate with trailing wires that ran through the liquid in the plate.  The liquid itself was not quite sheer enough to see the bottom of the plate but seemed to shimmer as tiny waves crossed its surface.  It was then that Erik noticed a dull hum that lingered about his ears without any apparent direction.  Erik wasn’t sure exactly where the humming was coming from but it did appear to be strongest just over the plate of liquid.

The wires leading out of the liquid were connected to patch panels that fed a row of circuit cards that pulsed with translucent green and yellow lights.  Small LEDs pulsed in rhythm to the tiny waves dancing across the surface of the liquid.  Erik centered himself in front of the work bench and slowly peered into the liquid.  The liquid had a metallic appearance and Erik could almost see his image on the surface.  He wasn’t sure exactly what he was seeing but the liquid seemed to react to his presence.  The tiny waves that had been gently racing across the surface of the liquid froze then proceeded to move in a directly way as though orchestrated and on cue.  A small image appeared to Erik on the surface of the liquid.  It was a planet but it wasn’t one Erik had ever seen.  It was dark and menacing.  This was the dark realm Erik reasoned.  The professor had discovered a gateway of some kind to the dark realm and Erik was looking right at it.  How had he done this Erik queried?  This was stretching his imagination to believe that the professor had achieved something like this without his knowledge.  Erik put the selfish thought aside for the moment and peered again into the face of the liquid.  A new shape began to take shape and when Erik realized what he was seeing; her hand had full possession of his throat as her arm stretched out from the center of the plate.  Erik tried to jerk away from her terrible grasp but her grip was like steel.  The liquid in the plate was splashing all over the bench surface and some of the trailing wires came out of the liquid altogether.

Erik could not even scream.  He knew that he had only a few moments before he passed out.  His air supply was completely cut off and his vision was starting to blur.  He had never encountered another physical force so powerful.  He felt helpless, stuck like a fly in maw of a Venus fly trap.  Just as Erik was about to pass out, he tried one more time to dislodge her hand from his throat.  He failed and as he felt himself starting to slide to the lab floor his flailing hand disconnected the wires from the plate and with a blood cuddling scream she let him go.  Her hand paused briefly, her arm extended above the liquid’s surface to the elbow.  Her palm was facing Erik like a cobra preparing to strike and then she curled her hand into a fist and started trembling in rage as the arm started sinking back into the plate of liquid.  In an instant, the hand was gone and what liquid remained in the plate was unmoving and clear.

Erik gathered his thoughts and on wobbling knees he backed away from the bench.  In the space of a few minutes, Erik almost died but he also discovered what Dr. Voguebuk was trying to tell him.  There was a way to bridge the distance between Cold World and the dark realm.  There was something in the dark realm that wanted him dead and Erik thought he knew why.  Erik was one of two individuals that could understand what adhesion breakage was and how to stop it.  With the professor dead, he alone held the key to stopping this cataclysmic event and someone or something in the dark realm knew this.

Night Cries…Part 6

Techno City 12Night Cries Part 6

By

Timotei

Erik waved over his data pod and found the name he needed, Dr. Voguebuk.  Dr. Voguebuk was one of Erik’s earliest mentors and one of only a handful of people that had the intellectual capacity to understand him.  If anyone could help explain what Erik was experiencing it was Dr. Voguebuk.

After Julia’s shapely form disappeared from Erik’s peripheral, he started on his way to Dr. Voguebuk’s office which wasn’t very far from his own lab.  Erik didn’t walk much, not when sky boards made physical locomotion redundant. Today, he needed it.  The events of the past few hours had drained him.  He felt weak and off balance.  This was a new experience for him and he didn’t like feeling lost and uncertain.

Techno City 7

The sky boards were whizzing by him, various people in all manner of unified dress were headed this way and that.  Some stood motionless atop their sky board reading from their data-grams without a care in the world.  They were completely disconnected from reality it seemed.  The data-grams floated in front of their eyes, flashing the latest world event before them.  Others were speaking into the air, conversing via electron probe-lines with colleagues or whomever.  No one walked anymore and the sight of Erik making his way across the great bastion way went unnoticed.  No one cared and Erik wouldn’t have either but today was not a normal day and Erik noticed a little of everything as he walked.  There were weeds growing along the bastion way!  There were rustic streaks of oxidation painted across the base lamps that lined the bastion.  Pieces of paper flirted and tumbled across the picturesque lawns that abutted the office spaces on either side of the bastion.  There was a faint odor in the air near one of the rain run offs.  Erik glanced around for the origin of the foul odor.  Down into the run off lay a lumpy hairy form.  A cat, from the looks of it, lay sprawled along the grating, its hair and flesh rotted away.  Erik paused, starring at the dead thing in amazement.  He had never seen so much garbage and debris in Center City downtown.  The rover bots ran on 24 hour cycles and these things should not have been missed.  Erik made a mental note and continued on.

When Erik reached Dr. Voguebuk’s office, he found the old man wheezing slowly, hunched over his desk.  The adjacent lab was dark but looked empty.  None of his normal attendants were on hand.  He was alone, something Erik found disconcerting.  The professor was never alone.  He always had students about.  His lab was always abuzz with graduate student activity and his desk seemed perpetually surrounded by candidates seeking an audience with him.  Erik approached the slumping man.

Dr. Voguebuk was 76 years old and he looked every bit of it.  As Erik got closer he could see the deep lines of age etched into his worn face.  He really looked old and tired.  He barely registered Erik’s presence.  He slowly lifted his face to look directly at Erik.  His shoulders were heaving slowly as he appeared to struggle to draw enough air.  Erik was puzzled by this because although Dr. Voguebuk was old, he was in very good health last he heard.

“Dr. Voguebuk, are you alright”, Erik whispered.  There was a pause and Dr. Voguebuk glanced around his office and then at his lab window.

Slowly and with strain, Dr. Voguebuk replied, “No.  I am not.  Why are you here?”  His words were barely audible.

“I saw something I cannot explain and I was hoping you might be able to help me understand what it is I saw”, Erik said.  At that, the doctor’s breathing slowed.  He straightened himself and looked up into Erik’s face and into his eyes specifically.  Eternity seemed to pass before he spoke.

“I am afraid Erik”, the doctor wheezed.  “If you can’t explain it, and the event has brought you here to my door, then I am afraid the trouble is far bigger than any explanation I provide can handle.  What happen?”

Erik shared the whole story with his mentor.  He left out no detail and was precise in his telling.  He even shared his observations during his walk to the professor’s office.  When he finished, Dr. Voguebuk’s face was pale.  The professor nodded his head and looked down.  Erik thought the professor was about to collapse and moved towards the old man.  Dr. Voguebuk lifted a hand to stop him and pointed at his workstation instead.

“There at my workstation is the answer I believe you seek”, the professor said.  His breathing grew labored again.  Erik walked to the workstation and saw the various hand written notes and pages of formulas.  They all looked the same as through the professor had been repeating himself over and over again, performing the same proofs with the same results.  Erik sat at the work station and began pouring over the professor’s notes.  It didn’t take long.  Erik spun in his chair and looked directly at the professor, a look of incredulity spreading across on his face.

“Is this what I think it is Sir?”

The professor rose, his legs shaking, weak with strain and said, “Yes, it is.  One of my graduate students came across a particular effect after applying the Third Theorem of JorgonBass.  We had never encountered this particular effect and started running tests to confirm the results”, said the professor.  The Third Theorem of JorgonBass suggested that when anti-matter was held at zero molecular activity, a chain reaction occurs that produces solar radiation equal in proportion to the mass of the anti-matter being held at zero molecular activity.  It was JorgonBass’ theorem that made the great skybridge possible.  It was a breakthrough in modern quantum physics and it was one that Erik himself often applied in his many inventions.

Techno City 14

“We ran countless simulations and always the same results”, said professor Voguebuk.

Erik asked, “what was the effect Dr. Voguebuk?”

“Adhesion breakage across the fifth and sixth parallel”, responded Dr. Voguebuk.

Erik’s jaw dropped.  “But that’s not possible Sir, it can’t be”.

“You’re looking at the results in your hand my son.  You saw it and I didn’t have to explain anything.  You saw the results for yourself Erik”.

“Professor”, Erik began to pace the office as he spoke, “If there is adhesion breakage, and across the fifth and sixth parallel…that means, that means that our world could phase into…” he couldn’t bring himself to say it.

“Immaterial sludge”, the professor finished for him.  “Once the fifth parallel collapses, our world will cease vibrating at its present frequency. Once that happens and the sixth parallel cracks, we will start a wobble that will change our solar orbit and bring us into complete phase with the dark realm”, the professor finished and sat back into his chair.

“Sir is it possible that we’ve already started a glide path into the dark realm”, Erik asked.

“Erik, I, yes I suppose it is possible”, said the professor.

“Could that explain what I saw and experienced today?”

Techno City 13“Son I believe it might.  You didn’t imagine this.  Given our current phase and influxuity, you may have experienced inhabitants of the dark realm but since no one has ever encountered any of these entities this is speculation on my part”, explained the professor.  “The question I would want answered were I you is why you?  Why and how did it find you and appear to you?  Why was it so personal in its attack?”

Erik mulled over the professor’s statement silently.  Something had to be done.

“Sir, have you shared your findings with anyone else”, Erik asked.  I noticed your office and lab are completely empty.  Where is everyone?”

“Erik…what I didn’t share with you is what happened after each experiment.  Each time we ran a model simulation and reproduced the effect of the Third Theorem, we would lose an attendant or a graduate student.  They would just vanish.  It was as if they were never here.  We simply could not find them or account for them in any physical or meaningful way”, retorted the professor.

There was silence between them.  Except for the low hum inside the professor’s lab, the office and surrounding area was completely still.  Then Dr. Voguebuk spoke.

“I may have solved part of the effect Erik.  I started working a reduction on the effect, something that would not involve any other person or put anyone else at risk.  Each time I ran the reduction however…it cost me.  I can’t explain it, but parts of my internal organs have started phasing in and out of the present space.  My heart stopped last week and had it not been for my health tech-bot, I would not be here speaking with you now”.

Erik’s face brightened.  A problem had presented itself and now he had a purpose, something he could devote his immense intellect towards solving.  “How can I help professor”, Erik said, hoping rising in his voice.

“My derivations are inside my lab along with the last reduction model.  I also have additional notes on my system processer”, professor Voguebuk exclaimed.  The professor started to rise again when sirens started blaring inside his lab.  The whole room began to shudder and the floor beneath them vibrated violently.  The whole left side of professor Voguebuk started to pulse and shimmer then vanished in a bloody shredding of flesh and bone.  The horrified scream of the professor lasted but an instant as he collapsed in a heap upon his office floor.

Erik stared in utter disbelief.  His mind was being assaulted.  His ears were overwhelmed by the sirens screaming from within the lab.  He felt paralyzed with fear.  He had to move, he had to do something.  He closed his eyes…and the sirens stopped.  The floor stopped moving and all that remained was the twisted ragged remains of his mentor, Dr. Voguebuk.  The floor was thick with his blood but Erik stepped cautiously through it and made his way to the lab.  Looking back at his mentor’s form Erik felt a sudden pang of loss.  He couldn’t really process it but it was a new sensation for him.  He felt something.  He couldn’t dwell on that right now.  The professor died trying to solve the effect of the Third Theorem.  Erik would see to it that he did not die in vain.  The answer was in Professor Voguebuk’s lab and that’s where he needed to start if he was going to save Cold World.

Night Cries…Part 5

Fear of Dark 7Night Cries Part 5

By

Timotei

 

Soft echoes rang against the inside of his skull, bouncing vague thoughts and memories through his cluttered mind.  Erik felt himself shaking back and forth, a still yet small voice calling his name quietly at first and then with increasing panic.

“Erik, wake up son”, he heard his mother say…his mother?  Erik opened his eyes slowly, fearfully, not sure of what he was going to see.  His mother’s soft smile greeted him.  Erik launched himself into her arms, trembling as he clung desperately to her.

“Mom”, Erik gasped.  “Are you ok”?

“Erik, of course I’m ok.  Are you ok”, she responded.  “You’re drenched.  Why were you sleeping in my doorway?  Where you sleep walking?”

Erik paused; his mind began processing the night’s events.  He had to remind himself that his earth mother was not aware of Cold World, or for that fact who Erik really was.  To her, Erik was just an eight year old, curly headed boy, who likes to play all day and tell fantastic stories.  In truth, Erik was a 25 year super genius from an alternate world known as Cold World.  He had effected his greatest invention in a quest to save himself and his world from the after effects of Divestiture.  Divestiture was the process wherein the citizens of Cold World cut off all social and emotional development in pursuit of pure knowledge.  Children were indoctrinated at the earliest to shed emotional contacts including parental ties.  Everything in Cold World was driven towards the development of pure knowledge and technological advancement.  The sages of Cold World had long ago reasoned that human emotion hindered evolutionary growth, that society could never outpace its suicidal tendencies unless it divested itself of all human emotion.

Slowing his breathing and regaining his composure Erik said, “I don’t think so mommy.  I think I had a dream and it scared me, but I don’t remember what the dream was about.”

“Let’s get you back to your room then.  How about I make you some pancakes and maybe some of the dream will come back to you.  If it doesn’t then don’t worry about it because the bad dream is gone and you never have to worry about it again ok”, his mother soothed.

“Ok, pancakes, yes”, Erik feigned excitement.  Pancakes always fixed everything and they were his favorite so that would help distract his mother.

She carried his little body securely back to his own room and sat him down on his bed.  She brushed his blond hair away from his eyes and said, “Get yourself cleaned up and ready for the best pancakes ever.  They should be ready in about fifteen minutes ok.”

Erik nodded his head with a bright smile.  As his mother departed, his mind again started racing through the images of last night.  His earth mother was alive.  She had not killed her.  He must have been dreaming but was it all a dream?  His earth mother didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary in his room.  The stench was gone.  His bed was dry.  He looked at Fran.  His brother was still asleep.  But it was all so real but there were no signs, nothing that he could detect lingered from her.  Erik rubbed his eyes and headed to the bathroom.  As soon as the bathroom lights came on he saw it.  On the medicine cabinet mirror just over the sink, scraggly writing stretched across the entire mirror surface.  The words, I’m not done with you boy” dripped eerily across the mirror as though a boney finger had traced the words through a hazy, frost covered surface. 

Fear of Dark 3

Erik started to make a sound but nothing could get through his constricted throat.  He was suddenly paralyzed with fear.  He started to turn when the bathroom door slammed shut so hard the floor vibrated.  The lights began to flicker when Erik heard his earth mother shout up to him, “Erik, what was that?  Please don’t slam the doors this early. You might wake your dad.”

Erik tried to reply.  He wanted to say something, anything, but the sounds wouldn’t come out.  The lights continued to flicker then they died.  The bathroom was dark.  The room was engulfed in silence and all Erik could hear, no feel, was his own heartbeat.  He reached for the light switch and flicked it back and forth and the lights again sprang to life.  The tub was full of water and in the water a form appeared just beneath the surface.  She opened her eyes and grinned at him.  She started speaking and through the bubbling water terror laced words burst into Erik’s hearing, “I’m going to end you boy”, and with that she started thrashing around in the tub in an attempt to get out…but she could not.  Her efforts splashed water all over the floor and walls.  She raised herself halfway but could get no further.  Boney, scaled fingers gripped the tub’s edges as she sought to pull herself free.  She stretched out her gaunt, encrusted hand, elongated fingers tipped with broken but razor sharp claws, towards Erik.  Her eyes blazed out pure and simple hate and she was focused on the boy.  She started screaming and howling so loud that the bathroom walls vibrated.

“I will have you boy, I will have you boy, I will have you boy”, she shrieked over and over again.  Her sunken chest heaved violently with every word.  Her face was twisted with effort.  Her eyes were red with bloody passion and determination.  She spun around in the tub, kicking and screaming until the tub began to rock itself loose.  The plaster and molding started cracking and falling to the floor mixing with the already splashed water and creating a white paste on the bathroom floor.

There was a pounding on the door.  Little Fran called to Erik, “Erik…what’s going on?”

Erik withdrew to the far wall and sank to his knees.  His whole body shook with fear.  He closed his eyes and started screaming as loud as he could…