Friday, 13 June 2008

Fictional Freakouts: The Phantom Brigade Issue #3

New to this blog serial, then check out the other issues...
Issue #1
Issue #2

"Have you seen enough Miss Grail?"

Emma thought her heart stopped.

"Well," asked Thorn, "Doctor Chambers could open him up again if you want to see more? Though I must warn you, it's very disgusting."

"And smelly," added Chambers.

Emma stepped out into the window of the observation deck.

"You knew I was here," said Emma.

"We knew when you were coming when you called your friend," replied Thorn through the glass. "Who is probably talking to studio security now."

"He knew you were coming here," said Dr. Chambers. "I thought you were just going to take the tour, now I owe him a steak dinner."

"And not a cheap one at that," added Thorn with a smile. "It's the only way he'll learn to never bet against me."

"What's going on?" asked Emma.

"Let's go to my office," said Thorn as he came into the observation room. "I'll explain what I can."
"Is that really an alien?" asked Emma as she sat on a dark blue couch across from Thorn's broad oak desk, that looked more at home in the office of a 19th century bank than the cool modernism of the office.

Thorn nodded. "It's an alien."

"As in from another planet?" asked Emma. "Not just from another country or something like that?"

Thorn shrugged. "Another planet, another galaxy, possibly another dimension, or even another time. The only thing we're really certain of is that he's not from this Earth. Can I get you something, coffee, juice?"

Emma shook her head. "I'd rather know what's going on. Why was that thing in my driveway, why did I come here, and why--"

"Were we in a plane crash," said Thorn, "where the plane didn't really crash?"

Emma nodded.

"This is the cool part of the explanation," said Thorn, taking a small remote control from his desk and pressing a button. The office went dark, and a sphere, sketched in light appeared in the middle of the office. "Free standing holograms aren't very practical as an information medium, but they sure are cool looking."

"Whoa," said Emma and the hologram shifted from a wire-frame diagram into a solid orange sphere, "what's it supposed to be?"

"That is our sun, otherwise known as Sol," said Thorn. "An unremarkable star that shares traits with thousands, if not millions of stars just like it in this galaxy alone. But there's something about all stars that most scientists haven't even imagined of, let alone discovered."

Thorn pressed another button and a semi-transparent blue belt encircled the sun, covering the center third of the orb.

"This is the quantum belt," said Thorn, "and the second most amazing thing about quantum belts is that they each function under a unique frequency, and if you send a simple, tightly focused radio signal in a frequency matching another star at this belt, a rift, or gateway opens, allowing travel to that other star within seconds."

Emma looked at Thorn, there he was telling her that there was an absurdly simple way to violate the laws of physics and travel faster than light.

"You must be kidding me," said Emma.

"Remember," said Thorn, "that there is a dead alien down the hall."

"Then what's the most amazing thing about these belts?"

"This," said Thorn, pressing another button, and thousands of thin hairlike strands emerged from the blue belt and started waving wildly, like the strands of a spiderweb in the wind. "We call them quantum strands, possibly millions of them. They radiate off the belt, and run through the solar system's heliosphere. Including Earth's orbit."

Another button clicked and the hologram zoomed into a narrow quadrant showing the strands coursing through a blue-green hologram of Earth.

"At any given moment thousands of quantum strands course through Earth," continued Thorn, "running unnoticed through the very fabric of everything and everyone."

"Are they dangerous?" asked Emma.

Thorn shook his head. "Only when they touch each other. Mix that with the soup of radio signals that coat Earth's atmosphere and you get rifts."


"Portals," answered Thorn, "not just through space, but through time and other dimensions. Now the bulk of them only last a few milliseconds, and form either in the upper atmosphere, or miles beneath the surface, and even then, most are also only a few millimeters in diameter, so the odds of the average person encountering rift phenomena are pretty slim."

"What does this have to do with me?"

"You, or I should say, we," explained Thorn, "went through a rift during that plane flight. On the other side were aliens from another dimension, they were studying the rift, and their research accidentally opened it wider than it should have, and our plane went in."

"Why don't I remember that?"

"They wiped our memories," said Thorn, "at least they tried to wipe mine, they repaired the plane, fixed our injuries, and sent the plane back to that corn-field."

"But you weren't on that plane when we woke up," said Emma.

Thorn shrugged. "Bit of a screw up," he answered. "I got separated from the plane and returned to a different place. I'm not important, this is your story here."

"So what's happening?"

"Long story short," said Thorn, "that thing that attacked your car came to Earth through a rift, a big one. Another one had come through earlier, we spotted it and tracked it, and found it sniffing through their garbage."

"My garbage," said Emma, "why me?"

"I'm getting to it," said Thorn. "It's the same reason you came here. This studio, this facility beneath the studio, were built on a quantum strand that is locked to Earth. In fact, it runs randomly through the planet, coming to the surface here, in Rio De Janeiro, Cleveland, Kiev, Cardiff, Osaka, and Halifax. All hot-spots for rift activity. When someone has gone through a rift, even if they don't remember the experience, they develop a sensitivity to rift activity. You could sense the quantum strand surfacing here, and was drawn to it. It was one of the reasons our memory wipe didn't really hold with you."

"You wiped my memory?"

"Not me personally," said Thorn. "A telepath who works here named Hawkins tried to replace your memory of the attack with a car crash. I told him it wouldn't work, it rarely does with rift-riders, and now you're here, and I'm owed a curry dinner."

"This is all too weird," said Emma, "but you still haven't answered 'why me.'"

"Whoever these things are," continued Thorn, "they seem to be sensing the remaining rift energy around you, and that is drawing them to you. You are in essence, alien bait, and will be until we somehow figure this out."

"For some reason I knew everything was going to get weird when I came to Hollywood."

Thorn laughed. "You have no idea. Which is why I'm being so honest here. The Phantom Brigade wants to protect you until we figure out what's happening."

"Did you say 'Phantom Brigade?'"

"What were you expecting," replied Thorn, "that we'd be called Men in Black."

"Sounds kind of hokey."

"Blame it on Churchill," said Thorn. "When World War 2 broke out Churchill asked a man named William Stevenson to do two things. First was to create a network of spies to 'set Europe ablaze,' and, more secretively, to create a 'brigade of phantoms to haunt Hitler's nightmares.' The name sort of stuck. Officially we don't exist, neither does our work, and right now, we are the only people who can protect you."

"What do I have to do?"

To Be Continued...

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