Time and Place – Chapter 4

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A wave of heat blasted Penelope Tanris in the face. It was a particularly hot and uncomfortable day. She quickly dabbed her forehead with a handkerchief to prevent any sweat from running into her eyes.  The scripts of fragile paper that were laid out over her table were starting to cause her vision to blur.

She had since come to the conclusion that the text was not Iridian language, but a more basic form of the common tongue. It had several roots that seemed to derive from her own language, and she found translating it was becoming easier and easier.

It was an odd finding, to see several documents written in an ancient form of the common tongue on a planet that was most likely one of the Iridian homeworlds, but perhaps this was the Iridian language, since no written form of Iridian had ever been discovered before.

This could lead to some very interesting inquiries. Why would Iridians speak ancient common tongue? Did Iridian derive from common tongue? Or Vice Versa? Were they perhaps connected to humanity in some way in our recent past? Or was all language somehow interconnected, and it only seemed to Penelope as if they had some of the same roots?

Either way, the document seemed to offer nothing of use. It told a story, of sorts, but it used many words Dr. Tanris could not translate.  It seemed to involve fanciful creatures that Tanris had never heard of engaging in some kind of competition. It was folklore, most likely. She sighed, putting the document aside. It might be interesting, but ultimately pointless for her right now. Parables served as an interesting delve into a society’s ideals, but was not the kind of discovery she was being paid to make.

She wiped her forehead once again as new beads of sweat started to roll down her face. It was the lights, really. She had several bright halogen lights pointed straight down at the table, and they were producing much more heat than she would have liked. The breezes through her open tent flap were unfortunately just as hot and as uncomfortable, although even a hot breeze felt nice against her skin at this point.

Dr. Tanris could not wait until it was fall again. She knew the region tended to have four seasons, and two of them were bearable. In the winter months, she knew she would be able to accomplish nothing and the research would practically stop. It was for that reason that she was so adamant to get as many of the documents as she could translated.

She quickly made a note in her journal, labeled the document, and put it aside for some other person to make a more complete translation. She then set her pen down, leaning back into the cheap folding chair. It creaked and swayed slightly, but Penelope made no attempt to brace or adjust herself. The chair always swayed and always creaked. That chair had been to more excavation sites and archeological finds than most of the staff that worked under her, and she trusted it to carry her.

She pulled her arms out wide and then tossed them side to side, stretching them the best she could without knocking the table or anything that sat on it. The tent around her was of sufficient height for her to stand and move around. This was not because the tent was high, but because she was rather short. The tent was roughly ten feet by ten feet, providing sufficient space for the small desk, a mattress in the corner, and a dresser drawer that contained most of her stuff.

This had been her bedroom and home for about three years now, and she had only abandoned it once prior to restock supplies. Normally, she’d send others to perform the restocking, but in that particular case, there was no one that she felt she could trust to get the tools and supplies she had specifically needed. During the month trip, she had forced the excavation staff to stop working until her return. Fortunately, it was during a winter month, and little work could be performed anyway.

Dr. Tanris’s stomach grumbled and the noise reminded her that she had not eaten in some time. She glanced at the clock and clicked her tongue in annoyance. As a matter of fact, she had not eaten at all that day. She wasn’t hungry, of course. She never was. But she learned a long time ago to remember to eat at least once a day or she might just collapse without warning. It had only happened to her on rare occasions when a particularly astonishing find kept her busy for longer than she had planned. It was never something she wanted to happen though. There were a lot of lost opportunities to work during the two to three days it took for her to recover.

She stood up and walked out the tent. Once she ducked through the opening she realized that it was even hotter outside than she had originally thought. The sun blazed down from the sky above, and the heat didn’t provide as much comfort as one might have hoped.

The disarrayed camp around her encompassed various vehicles, tents, and equipment in no particular order. It wasn’t well maintained, but she didn’t really care enough to force her workers into a more organized system. She walked over to the canteen area, or at least the area the food was stored and often prepared.

She noticed the stock master sitting down, whittling away at a piece of wood. He was a broad-shouldered hulk of a man. His waist actually looked too small and petite to hold the body above it. He wore an apron, as always, and a white shirt, making him look more like a cafeteria cook than anything else.

It was his responsibility to make sure that there was a ready supply of everything the camp of roughly fifty people needed to survive. Sometime over the last three years that role grew into him becoming the camp cook. Every mealtime, he distributed the food to anyone who came by the canteen. He had started this habit ever since a few years ago when he had discovered one of the workers hoarding food.

When he saw her coming, he stood up. His knife slipped into his apron and the chunk of wood dropped to the floor.  He gave her a respectful bow before looking up inquisitively at her.

“I will be needing something to eat,” Penelope told him curtly.

He nodded and opened the crate he had been sitting on. There might have been a time where he would have asked her what she wanted, but after the hundredth time of her telling him she didn’t care, he had finally stopped asking and simply gave her whatever was available.

He pulled out a bag and handed it to her. She took it from him while he turned around to shut the chest closed. She went to another chest that sat across from him and sat down. When he turned back he gave a start, noticing that she was still there. Most of the time, she would immediately head back to the tent to have her meal in solitude. Penelope felt like she could use a little sun today, and besides, she had no room in the tent right now. The last thing she wanted was some food staining one of her documents.

The bag consisted of a beef stew, a canteen of water, and a spoon. She ripped it open, pulling out the bowl and removing the lid. She poured water in the bowl from the canteen and stirred it to suspend the dried kernels. The meal included a heating element, but she decided to simply eat it cold.  It was too hot to eat something equally hot. She ate her meal in silence, enjoying the periodic gusts of wind that seemed to carry the scent of summer. She had stopped sweating now, and the hot breeze seemed to be relaxing in a way. She realized her bowl of stew was almost empty, although she wasn’t aware that she had eaten that fast.

“Pardon me, ma’am,” A voice spoke from behind her.

Penelope cocked her head to the side, observing an unfamiliar man who now stood uncomfortably beside her. He was a short for a man, although still significantly taller than her. She never really trusted short men.  He had an oily mustache and with a devil’s peak beard. He had high cheek bones that made his face look both chubby and gaunt at the same time, although the contradiction was a bit unsettling. His hair was black, stringy, and as oily as his mustache. She cringed at the thought of anyone who would have to touch that hair.

“Yes?” She asked, turning her body towards him but remaining seated.

“You are Dr. Tanris, is this correct?” The man asked, his voice displaying a hint of a Sudmarin accent.

“That would be correct,” Penelope responded, attempting to hide her annoyance.

She didn’t fault his accent. She knew that she herself spoke with the chipped off Hucton accent, sometimes making it difficult to understand her. Instead, she was annoyed because of the type of man she suspected he was. This wasn’t the first visit Penelope Tanris had received. The stock master moved off, finding busy work a good distance away from the pair of them. He was a smart man.

“I am here on behalf of Anderus Satre,” the man said, a small smile on his face that he most likely intended to be disarming, “I am here to-”

“I know who you are,” Penelope interrupted,” I know why you’re here. I won’t hear of it. You aren’t the first of your kind to come crawling into my camp. And I will tell you what I told the rest of your bureaucratic hypocrisy. My funding is my own, and backed by the Lord Regent, so do not think you can brow-beat me into cutting my resources.”

She stood up, and with an abrupt turn, began walking to her tent.  The man took a few quick steps to get behind her. Despite her short legs, she was a fast walker, and the man had to step quickly to keep up. She was impressed he had reacted so quickly. She had left many a skip sitting slack-jawed in her wake.

“It’s simply that you haven’t found anything in the three years you have dug here. You have not shown any real proof that this was an Iridian homeworld. The amount of money that you have dumped into this archeological wasteland is not inductive of the results,” the man responded, jumping awkwardly over a cord strewn across the camp in a way that could have tripped him otherwise.

“And what research do you offer Skip?” Penelope answered, “I have had dozens of people come landing in my site, interrupting my work, to try to score some money for their own work. Charities, researchers, and Skips like yourself. The last one wanted the money to build an orphanage. At least, I think it was an orphanage; she used the words ‘homeless starving children’ a lot. But I refused her. You know why? Because the work I do here is important, so very important. So what makes you think your cause is so much greater?”

“I will have you know I am not a Sk- I mean doctor. I mean I am a doctor, but I am a doctor of law…” his voice started to sound exasperated.

“A lawyer? Really?” Penelope quirked her eyebrow, “So you only work for a Skip. Anderes Satre was it?”

“Anderus. Actually, I work for several professors at the United University, where there has been a discovery. It is a discovery of incredible proportions. All of the Universities are scrambling to find researchers, time, and money to-”

“And you thought you could just stop here and cut a large piece of my cake?” Penelope growled, stopping short in front of the entrance to her tent, “I apologize, Anderes, but you will need to go home without cake.”

As Penelope turned to enter her tent, Anderus opened his mouth to say something else before suddenly being interrupted by a shout. Penelope turned around to see a man running towards her. He was a grizzled man with thick arms and even thicker legs, but he maneuvered across the camp and its many crates, boxes, cords, and other tripping hazards with the comfort and ease of an experienced man.

“Ma’am,” Distro stated with a nod as he stopped in front of her.

He wasn’t out of breath. Penelope wasn’t sure the man could ever be out of breath. He was possibly one of the most resilient men she had ever known, and for that, she had kept him as part of her team for many years. More than once she had survived digs far more inhospitable than this one only because he held her up when she felt like falling. Despite that, he caught her at a particularly bad time.

“Well, get it out!” Penelope growled, unable to control her voice from the mood the leaching lawyer had put her in.

“There’s been a discovery. You need to come quickly and see for yourself,” Distro bowed, turning as he did.

Distro wasn’t one to call her unless it was needed. And he knew better than to waste her time explaining things. Penelope began following at his pace, which was brisk even by her standards. She was vaguely aware that the lawyer was following behind her, tripping and stumbling on his way to keep up.

Within a minute they had walked to the edge of camp, where Distro’s jeep was sitting. He leapt into the driver’s side and she followed into the passenger side. As the car started, a hand grabbed her arm. She looked at her right to see the lawyer looking at her with pleading eyes.

“I…” She began.

“We don’t want your money, we want you!” He said clearly louder and quicker than he had intended.

Penelope stared at him for a second before nodding. He jumped into the back seat as smoothly as a lawyer could before the car started forward. He wasn’t quite seated yet and stumbled a bit, falling back into the seat with a loud thump. This gave Penelope a bit more pleasure than she might have thought, and she ideally wondered if Distro had intentionally accelerated this hard for her benefit.

The jeep began to bounce and jeer as they quickly made their way to the dig site. Penelope could tell by the direction they were heading that it was Dig Site C.

“This discovery, it’s classified, but whatever it is they want you there. Every archeologist, scientist, and experienced individual is being called who has any loyalty to the Taerren Alliance. With commitment, you will be offered funding for ten years and tenor at the University.”

“Is that so, Anderes?” Penelope asked nonchalantly, trying to sound disinterested.

“That’s not my name, that’s who I work for, I mean Anderus-” the lawyer looked irritated.

In truth, she had been starting to worry whether this planet has been a waste of her time. But the energy signals? They had to be Iridian. Her financing did not end for another 3 years, and when she had come here, this was the big deal, the place where they wanted her to go. One by one, other archeologists gave up on the findings, until it was only her left. But if she abandoned the place, they would begin settling it with people, and any unfound ruins would be violated and destroyed.  This was the one shot they had to find any information about what happened to the Iridians.

Still, a fresh start would be nice. This new world, it has to have an Iridian signal to generate this kind of excitement. Maybe there was something there that wasn’t here. Maybe this was just starting all over again, and she’d be starting the goose chase again. She is so close this time.

She remained in silence, thinking about what the lawyer had said as he impatiently tried to keep his suit from falling apart in the wind. Dig Site C was not particularly far from camp, and before long they pulled into the unloading area.

“Will you do it?” the lawyer asked, still tidying his outfit.

Penelope glanced back at him before jumping out of the jeep, following Distro. She could hear the lawyer tumbling after her. They walked down a fairly steep crevice that went into the dig site. The lawyer struggled behind her as he attempted to make his way down the hill in shoes that were never fit for walking in anything unpaved.

At the bottom of the crevice was a partially dug up building. A few hints of rusted foundation still sat around it as several diggers attempted to uncover more of the building, but at the base of the dig was something that could only be described as a door. It was a closed door leading into a fully completed and undamaged room. The sides were concrete, and it looked like a solid concrete cube with 6 sides around that closed door.

“A time capsule?” Penelope breathed out.

“Possibly,” Distro answered, “The cube seems to be in some kind of time bubble. It’s emitting some kind of temporal energy similar to what the Iridians used.

“Temporal energy? This looks nothing like anything Iridian we have ever seen,” Penelope frowned as she stared at the odd building up and down.

“It is difficult to say. The bubble seems to have protected this building, and slowed down the effects of time. It is actually the source of the Iridian signals we have been tracing for years. Even now, most of our equipment is going haywire around it. But I would say whatever it is, it predates the Iridians.”

Penelope’s eyebrows rose as she looked around. Many of the workers had stopped working and were now all anxiously watching her.  The lawyer had stopped dead in his tracks, staring at the half buried room as if he had never seen one before.

“I want that door open!” She shouted.

The lawyer jumped, but everyone else sprang into action, just waiting for the order. Within a few seconds several people had forced crowbars into the edges and were forcing the door open. It cranked open with an incredibly loud whine. Air rushed in as the pressure rapidly altered between the two environments.

Perhaps she should have been more patient. Analyzed, checked, and ran results before opening the door, but she had already been patient for years. Now she had to know why that signal was here.

The door was finally wedged open enough for a person to fit through. Penelope pulled a protective breathing device over her face, grabbed a flashlight, and plunged into the darkness. Distro cursed before following while quickly covering his own face. The inside of the room was unremarkable. Her flashlight showed concrete walls and crates after crates of unidentified stuff. At a first glance, there was certainly no power source that could be creating the temporal energy.  Then, her flashlight beamed across the table in the center of the room.

On the table sat what could only be identified as a coffin made entirely of metal. She walked up to the table. Distro cautiously followed behind her. The metallic coffin possessed a glass window that allowed her to shine her light into the box. What she saw shocked her.

It was a person. He looked Taerren, with dirty blond hair, a moderately strong chin, and full cheeks. His skin looked clean and washed. He looked to be asleep, and he was in perfect physical condition. How is that possible? She glanced over to Distro, who glanced back at her and gave a shrug.  When she turned around to the entrance, the lawyer had his head peaked through the crack and was staring in shock and wonderment at the place her light had touched.

“The answer is no, Anderes. I think I have work to do here.”

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Time and Place – Chapter 3

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Warning: This chapter doesn’t match up perfectly with the prologue. I had rewritten the prologue to skip all this straight to chapter 4 based on some people’s complaints, but I decided to give you the whole shebang to push the other world aspect of this story, which is less apparant if you start from chapter 4… so let me know if you guys like these three chapters, or would prefer the time jump yourselves. 

Chapter 3

Darian woke up with the light beating down on his face from a nearby open window. Despite his midnight awakening, he felt more refreshed than he had been in a long time. Something big was coming. He could feel it. It was almost a premonition of sorts. His life was going to change forever, and that was going to start today.

The dream he had had the previous night was long gone. He never remembered the dreams. He knew they were always bad dreams, but the general feeling was all he could remember. At this point, he only had the vaguest memory he had gotten up in the middle of the night at all. It usually took him an hour or two before he was actually awake anyway.

Darian dived out of bed, jumping over the piles of laundry before leaving his room. He quickly ate a bowl of cereal and then threw on a pair of pants. He quickly tossed his shirt aside before donning a new one. He took one last glance over his apartment.

It wasn’t a particularly large apartment, being an affordable one bedroom. He kept it fairly clean. After knowing he would be gone for a week he had made sure every dish in the sink was clean the night before. He had taken out the trash, vacuumed parts of the floor free of laundry, and cleaned the toilet.

Despite this, the place always seemed to look cluttered. The table always contained more things than a table should necessarily have. The countertops were full of display after display of things that had seemed cool at the time. Most of the stuff had a use for one thing or another. None of it was what he would consider garbage. Simply put, he had more stuff than he had room for in his apartment. He had become used to having access to all of these things during the time he had lived with his girlfriend in a substantially bigger apartment. He had never gotten over the change.

Once he had a job, perhaps he would be able to afford a larger apartment. It was always possible. The lights were off, the water was off, and the toilet was not running. He ran through the mental list in his head, checking off each item as it came. After a quick nod to himself, Darian shut the door, locked it and turned away.

It was a good thing he never kept any animals; it would make things easier for him. He did not hate animals; he just never felt the desire to take care of them. Maybe he would get a cat when he got the money. He could use the companionship. He’d get one as long as it was declawed and neutered. And probably a short haired cat. Or hairless. Did cats come hairless? He remembered seeing hairless cats on TV but never in real life. The ones on the TV were pretty ugly, weren’t they?

He shook his head and continued to leave his apartment. He entered the car and turned the key. The car didn’t start. The engine clearly turned over, making a gasping revving sound. He could hear subtle clicks in the background as well. He rolled his eyes and sighed. He knew nothing about car mechanics. Well, that was where the first bit of his money would go.

Outside was sunny, and it seemed like a nice day for a walk. How far was it to the laboratory? He thought it was about two miles. That was no problem. Once his feet started moving down the nearby sidewalk he relished that it was actually a pretty nice day. The sun was out and shining. The weather wasn’t humid and the sun felt pretty good on his back and shoulders. He knew his way, as long as he kept near the streets, but he had never been out and about.

He lived in an area of town that was not dangerous. However, it was not too safe either. It never seemed worth the risk exposing himself to danger by walking. Ever since the accident, he typically avoided walking. Should he get struck by another car, he’d prefer the protection of 2 tons of vehicle designed to keep him safe.

He passed several intersections, walking across each one, looking both ways over and over again before continuing onward. He never ran across an intersection anymore. He noticed as he passed a couple more intersections that the quality of town was degrading. He knew the laboratory was in a worst area of town than he lived. He seemed to live right on the border between what was considered the good area of town and the bad area. It is what helped him afford his rent.

There were a few people out and about, although none of them seemed to be paying any attention to his passage. On his right he saw a beggar. The woman wore torn clothing that hanged so loosely that it resembled robes. She looked washed, although her clothing did not. Her hair had the greasy reminder of someone who had little to no access to shampoo. She wore sunglasses and held a cane, strongly suggesting to Darian that she was blind. He didn’t know for certain, of course, that could always just be a gimmick. Nevertheless, she held a cup in her hand, neither rattling it nor acknowledging his passage. She simply held it steady and stared ahead.

He dug out a handful of change from his pocket. His pockets always contained tons of change. He dropped it into her cup. Her expression didn’t alter a hair. Startled by the lack of a thank you or even a nod, Darian stopped cold.


The beggar jumped as if she had been goosed.

“Could you please donate?” She asked starring off. She must have been blind.

“I already gave you some change ma’am…” Darian sighed, a little bewildered and quickly regretting having said anything.

Her head suddenly snapped, turning directly towards him. Although he couldn’t see her eyes behind the sunglasses, he knew they were directly focused on his. He attempted to back off a step.

Her hand leaped out and grabbed his arm. The grip was tight, and had he been a younger or smaller person it might have hurt him.

“Excuse me, let go please,” He said, trying to back up again.

Her step followed his, her eyes never moving and her hand tightening a little more on his arm.

“You…you I don’t see. You aren’t meant to be seen.”

He had decided to confront a crazy woman. This day did seem to be a miserable day after all.

“You are not supposed to be here… you are supposed to be there. Why aren’t you there?”

“Um… I am trying to get … there, let me go and I will go over there right now,” He was starting to become desperate, eager for her to let go. He had no fear of beggars, but he feared that trying to get her to leave him alone would look like he was badgering her. All he needed was to get handcuffed and thrown in the back of a police car for assaulting a poor blind woman.

“No… no… you lie. You aren’t trying to get there…. But I see… I see now. You don’t see but I see. You are heading there right now and you don’t even know. So go… go seal your fate. Go meet your destiny,” She let go of his arm and took a step back, suddenly looking placid again.

He turned and took several quick steps before moving down the street at a fast pace.

Leave this world, and meet your fate!” He could suddenly hear her screaming behind him.

A couple of people nearby glanced around, looking to see where the screaming was coming from. Darian did not look back as he continued to move as fast as he could, a blush on his cheeks from the embarrassment of it all.

Darian continued his fast paced walk until the building that contained the laboratory was in sight. Wanting to get out of the street as quickly as possible, he stormed through the front door and stopped just short of running over Pam. She tsk’d a sound of dissatisfaction after almost being knocked to the ground.

However, Darian immediately forgot about the beggar when he laid his eyes on Pam. Her hair was let down. It flowed down the back of her neck. It was wavy and sleek, easily transforming her face from the stretch out look she had before into downright beautiful. She wore a black shirt which he could only assume was from some heavy metal band complete with a pair of worn jeans complete with knee holes. They looked like designer jeans, the holes placed intentionally as opposed to through wear and tear. Instead of the thick glasses she wore contacts. He assumed they were contacts.  The odd half smile that was plastered falsely on her face was replaced with a genuine bored frown. The whole combination turned her from an assistant secretary into an attractive young woman of about his age.

“Wow, you look, different,” he said before he could stop himself.

She glanced up at him, before rolling her eyes.

“It’s Saturday. My temp job ended Friday. I wouldn’t even be here if Dr. Dhillon didn’t beg to have me here one more day.”

“Well, you look really beau… eehhh…um… good,” Darian quickly said, trying to prevent a blush from appearing on his cheeks.

“Heh, my mom would disagree,” She snorted, a small mischievous smile appearing on her face, “but thank you.”

Darian nodded, another blush starting to come.

“So, where to?” He asked, trying to sound casual.

“Well, Dr. Dhillon is late, so I suppose we will just have to wait until he sees fit to show up,” Pam shook her head in irritation.

“So have you been a temp long?” Darian inquired to fill the silence.

“Long enough… it would have been nice had someone told you that a college degree is useless without experience.”

Darian let out a chuckle, “I know exactly what you mean. I suppose secretary temp is a smarter move than laboratory rat.”

She joined him with a laugh, “Well in retrospect, I think you have me beat.”

She had a very beautiful smile. Now that he saw her in a less formal environment, he wondered how she had ever grated on his nerves before.

“So, what are you doing in a week?”

She snorted a laugh before glancing him over. Her hand touched her hip as she bent back, examining him in a seductive way. In a flash, he became incredibly aware of her body and form. He wasn’t exactly sure what she did to turn her body from a woman standing there to an attractive woman seductively appraising a man, but she was doing it.

A sly smile came onto her lips, but just as she opened them to speak the door opened and Dr. Dhillon walked in.

“Yes… good to see you both. Pam, have you done the paperwork?” Dr. Dhillon’s eyes were on his papers, having only briefly looked up upon entering.

The subtle changes to how Pam held herself had already changed back to normal from their previously more memorable arrangement. However, Darian had already noticed her body and was having a harder time not seeing what Pam’s jeans and shirt were hiding.

“No sir, we were waiting on you. I wasn’t sure if you had any more papers for me,” a blush settled on Pam’s cheeks as she looked awkward and little out of place, as if she had been caught with her hands in a cookie jar.

“No, I do not, please get them finished so we can begin,” Dr. Dhillon said as he walked out of the room.

“Come with me, I will have to…. process you,” She smiled sheepishly as she walked by him, her waist wiggling slightly more than was necessary as he followed her.

A giant smirk came on his face. She hadn’t said yes yet, but he wasn’t that stupid, nor was she that subtle. They entered the same office she had interviewed him in the day before.

“This won’t be as torturous as the day before,” she said, a genuine smile on her face, “but I need to put your information in, so I will need your driver’s license and crap like that and then you get the check.”

He handed over his driver’s license and she put in the information. While she typed in information, she occasionally gave him a glance, followed by a smirk and then a blush. Suddenly, she frowned.

“That’s odd…” She mumbled to herself.

“What?” Darian asked, wishing to see her smile again.

“The internet is out. It doesn’t really matter; I just can’t sync the information online.” Pam shook her head again.

Finally she printed something out. After a few quick stamps and a staple, she handed him the papers to sign.

While he was signing at each of the stamps she pulled out another piece of paper, printed on it, before she turned it over and wrote some things on the back. When he had finished signing the papers he handed them to her. She handed him the single paper. As he grabbed it she held on.

“This is your check. You will be able to cash it in one week, “She said, a smile returning on her face, “Since I know you’re rich, you’re paying. I like Italian.”

She let go of the paper. He looked at it. On the back of the paper was written “Pam 551-7573” He grinned.

“You get going; I will see you in a week. I am out of here!” She stood up and put out her hand.

Not knowing what to do, he shook it. She suddenly blushed, realizing the silliness of shaking his hand after agreeing to go on a date.

“Call me, one week,” She said, putting up a finger before backing up a step, a blush still on her face.

He nodded, giving her a grin, “I will.”

After Pam had left the office Darian reread what she wrote again before tucking it into his pocket. Knowing his luck, he would probably forget to write the number down somewhere before cashing it. However, that check in his pocket was probably one of the luckiest things he would ever experience. So far, it seemed like his predictions for a better future were coming true.

He left the office, traveling down the sickly yellow hall he had traveled down once before. When he approached the double doors he found them open and walked into the lab. Dr. Dhillon was there, typing in commands at a nearby terminal.  After a few more seconds of typing, Dr. Dhillon looked up.

“Ah, good. I suppose we are ready. You must take off all of your clothes to start. You may wear one of our gowns over there,” Dr. Dhillon nodded to a bench at the side of the room.

Darian took off his shirt as he walked over to the bench. He saw a blue disposable gown with one size fits all sitting on the bench. He put the gown on, tying it in the back, and then pulled off his pants and underwear, leaving them on the bench. He was a little relieved that Pam had left for this part. Being naked and unconscious does not make a great impression on a potentially new girlfriend. Darian also possessed the nagging suspicion that if she was still here, or worse, worked here over the course of the week, she would sneak a peek at some point and time. She seemed like the curious type.

Darian blushed as he thought of the implications of being naked and subsequently unconscious for the next week, before shaking his head from the odd thoughts.

“Please lie on the table, thank you,” Dr. Dhillon said as Darian performed the inquired task.

Dr. Dhillon seemed much quieter today than he had been the previous day. He had a kind of quiet intensity when he was working that Darian found a little unsettling.  He began applying a strange substance over Darian’s arms and legs before asking Darian to put it on every part of his body he can reach. Dhillon explained it was an antibacterial substance to help preserve the skin.

Once the substance was all over his skin, Dr. Dhillon pulled out a needle. After tapping it and measuring the amount, Dr. Dhillon glanced down at Darian.

“This is it. I will see you in a week,” Dr. Dhillon nodded, “Good luck.”

Darian barely noticed the needle prick as everything began to go dark. The last thought in his head were thoughts of a better tomorrow.




Dr. Dhillon finished putting the young Darian to sleep before putting in the IV line. He felt it was always easier to have the subject unconscious when the work was conducted. It was more comfortable for both parties involved. He attached the IV bag and waited as the substance began to enter Darian’s system.

Dr. Dhillon waited for some time, making sure that the patient was asleep and the narcotic was effective. He was glad he had the dose right. What he had purchased here wasn’t technically through legal means and he feared the potency might be compromised. Dr. Dhillon sighed. The next time he will be relieved is when Darian awakes a week later.

It wasn’t easy finding a patient to use for this experiment. You would need someone both with a ridiculous amount of free time in order to be able to afford a week off of work, and be both drug-free and healthy with no ailments. Possessing both those features seemed to be harder than Dr. Dhillon had originally thought.

Thankfully, Darian had come along. Dr. Dhillon had had to slide the whole concussion thing under the rug for the continuity of the experiment, but it shouldn’t have any effect on the young man anyway. If this experiment worked, more grant money would become available. Dr. Dhillon had been shocked when all of his work and funding had been cut due to the lack of “viable product” from cryogenic stasis. Of course “cryogenic” was a completely false word, since temperature had no play on the stasis Dr. Dhillon created. However, people seemed to more easily understand what putting someone into stasis means if you simply add the false line cryogenic.

Dr. Dhillon had lied however. Proper stasis required a little bit more than external control. Darian still faced an internal stasis, his body wouldn’t last. He would continue to age, as if he was in a coma, until he inevitably died. He might age slower than a normal human being, but his body would face the wear and tear of daily abuses of the environment. In order to prevent that from happening, Darian had to be sealed.

Dr. Dhillon unlocked the wheels on the gurney, pushing his patient to the elevator. One of the reasons Dhillon had chosen this building was because of a bomb shelter that had been built underground. He had cleaned it up himself. He liked doing things himself. It actually made a splendid airtight clean room.

When the elevator hit the bottom floor, he cleaned himself up, scrubbing with antibacterial lotion. He pushed his patient up to the door and opened the bomb shelter door. The door was about 12 inches thick. The room wasn’t a clean room in the sense of being bacteria free, but it was cleaner than anything else he had to work with.

A coffin-like metal box sat in the middle of the room. This was the last step. With some difficulty, he managed to transfer Darian into the box, before closing it on him. Using a welder, he sealed the edges of the box.

He then attached tubing to a nearby pressure gauge. He turned the vacuum on and watched as a vacuum began to form in the box. Once the vacuum finished, he disconnected and closed the valve. He turned to a nearby computer, entering in the commands he had practiced hundreds of times in his head. A nearby generator kicked on and began humming loudly. The stasis field should be up and running now.

“Sleep tight, young Darian, sleep tight,” the doctor spoke to the silent box.

Sighing, he watched for a minute before nodding. In one week, his life would be different. He would have the grant money, and his research would revolutionize the world. On the way out he sealed the bomb shelter. There was no reason for it. No one even knew it was down here, but it seemed like the right thing to do.


Nas’Dera watched as Dr. Dhillon walked out of the laboratory. He had regained consciousness sometime before.  The shaking had seemed to settle out. For that he was thankful.  Several more of the stars above had disappeared, seeming to push the darkness heavier on his shoulders.

Dr. Dhillon wasn’t an evil man. Unethical perhaps, certainly a law breaker, but he wasn’t evil. The doctor was walking towards his car, his keys in his hand. Nas ‘Dera watched as a man came out from the dark, pulling a gun on Dr. Dhillon. His hands went straight up as he saw the man, his keys falling to the ground in the process. Nas ‘Dera couldn’t hear anything, but the man’s gestures strongly suggested he wanted money.

Nas ‘Dera paused the scene. He adjusted the angles so that he looked almost as if he was looking through the mugger’s eyes.  He could see into Dr. Dhillon’s terrified eyes. He had never killed a man before, never. He was old. So very old. He had lived an eternity. He had loved women, and men. He had had and lost children. He had hurt people, abused people, hated people. He had never killed anyone though. Never directly. He reached into the image, grabbing the gun and pulling the trigger. It had to be this way.

The terrified and confused mugger watched as Dr. Dhillon dropped to the ground in a pool of his own blood. The man ran before collecting the money he had intended to steal. It probably felt like something akin to a ghost passing through the body, what Nas ‘Dera had done.

He wept silently for several minutes. He did not relish what he had done. Even though it was a single life, amongst trillions, it still hurt him to be the cause of that death. He wiped the tears from his eyes, he was not done yet. He moved the fragile artifact cautiously, refocusing his view on Darian, asleep in a box. He began to carefully select several keys, constructing a field over the entire room.

The doctor’s research was an amateur. It would have worked, to an extent, and may very well have made the man rich, but its’ capacity to put someone into any real stasis was limited. Now, Darian was ready to wait. There was a future to look forward to now. The darkness came, and the champion needed to be there to meet it, whatever the cost.

Nas ‘Dera looked up, the darkness continuing to roil in the sky above as another star winked out.

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Time and Place – Chapter 2

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Chapter 2

Darian’s eyes snapped open. He felt numb all over, as if he had been recently struck by something large, yet hadn’t started to feel the pain from the blow yet. He attempted to move, first wiggling his toes, then bending his ankle back and forth.  He seemed to be lying face down on the ground. A quick exhale from his nose pushed away the few strands of grass that tickled it. After a few more seconds of moving his ankles, he started to gain feeling again. Slowly, he pushed himself off the ground to his knees, giving a start as to where he was.

He sat at the edge of a valley, or at least it resembled one. The place looked washed out, the greens not quite vibrant enough, a gray overcast over everything. He looked up, shivering at the sight of a gray sky. The sky wasn’t overcast, cloudy, or approaching darkness. The sky was simply the color of gray rather than blue. The sun was strangely larger than it should have been. It was tinted red, standing high at noon.

He glanced around, seeing a strange group of ruins scattered across the valley.  They seemed made from obsidian, a dark shiny black that stood out of the ground, resonating a sort of presence. As Darian rose to his feet, he uncomfortably scratched the back of his neck. The feeling of eyes watching him was making him a bit uncomfortable. He glanced across the ruins but could see no people, yet the feeling as if he was being watched would not subside.

Darian began to walk. Although the numbness did not fade, he still could feel the presence of his legs. He managed to find balance as he continued onward, unconsciously avoiding a stone notched out of the ground where a road might have once been. He seemed drawn, although he could not have said where. Some place within the ruins it seemed, which became more ominous and threatening as he continued to walk deeper within.

As the ruins began to surround him, Darian began to feel of sense of familiarity. He had been here before.

“In a dream, perhaps?” his mind wondered, “Is this a dream?”

He shook his head, as if to shake away the confusing thoughts. When he glanced back up, he stood in front of a large oak doorway. Was that doorway there before? He couldn’t remember. However, now there stood a small building in front of him, made of the same dark obsidian that carpeted the rest of this valley. Darian was surprised by how clean the obsidian looked, now that he was up close. By the way this area resembled a ruin he would have expected them to be covered in dust, dirt, and age. Despite this, the obsidian looked bright, smooth, and well polished.

Darian returned his attention to the door. The thick oak door contrasted strangely against the rest of the ruins. It looked heavy. Darian went to open it, bracing himself against the rust, weight, and time that almost assuredly kept the door sealed. To his surprise, it came open quickly and easily. Darian took a single step back, finding himself quickly balanced. The sudden jolt should have caused him to stumble back and fall. The fact that he had maintained his balance so fluidly was a bit unnerving.

He peered within the door. It was a stairway. The stairway itself was very dark, stretching up at least two stories. The building outside did not look to be that tall, but this was only a distant thought. At the top, a faint light rose, suggesting someone or something was up there. Darian only hesitated a second before taking a step. The darkness seemed to caress him like a coat, and the unseen eyes seemed to lesson a bit to his comfort. He continued up, growing more confident with each step.

The light grew brighter. A strange sort of numbness began to overtake him. It felt like his arms and legs were becoming jelly. Each step became harder and harder to take, as if he was being pushed backwards. Then the voice began to speak.

“The darkness. The darkness comes,” the deep voice resonated across the corridors.

The light grew brighter. He began to pant. His hands went down to support his body, but he continued to crawl up the stairway, the light seeming so distant.

“Only light keeps away the darkness,” The voice continued.

The voice did not seem to be talking directly to Darian, at least he felt like it was not. It was hard. Thinking was hard.

“The balance of the universe is broken. The light prevailed, so the darkness rises to compensate. Restore the balance.”

Exhaustion seemed to overtake him. This was the hardest thing he had ever done… but if he didn’t reach that light, he knew there would be nothing but darkness left in his wake. He had to… he had to what? Restore the balance? What balance? The thoughts fell out of his head like water through fingers.

“A champion is needed. Change is needed.”

The light grew brighter. His eyes burned with unshed tears but he could not look away. The light burned into his vision and he could not see anything around him. Even the stairway in front of him looked like a dark blur. His hands moved from step to step as he continued to crawl forward, feeling his way more than anything.

“A champion has been selected. A champion of light, a champion of darkness, a champion of balance.

The light grew brighter. He had to reach it, was he moving towards it? He didn’t know, but the world depended on that light being reached, if he could just touch it. He kept moving; it felt like an eternity. Ever second could have lasted days. Time was meaningless, only the light mattered. He reached out his hand, stretching towards the light, and then his finger brushed something.

“Be ready…”

The world fell away and he began to tumble. He couldn’t tell where up and down was, his body flaying in every direction as he tried to gain a grasp on the situation.  The tumbling didn’t stop, his head hurt, and he could see nothing but the darkness. He had touched the light, hadn’t he?

He hit the bottom. There was no concrete feeling of hitting anything. He simply was spinning uncontrollably one minute, and now he was not. There was no pain, but the suddenness caused his mind to lurch, the world seeming to continue to spin for several moments afterward. He tried moving again, and found that the earlier weakness was gone. What weakness? He shook his head; it was so hard to think.

He looked around to find himself in the same ruins once again, but everything was different. The grass was gone and the barren ground was dry and cracked. The sky above overcast an eerie red color, the sun seeming bigger than before. The ruins looked very decayed and crumbled. What once were grand monuments of obsidian appeared as broken gray rocks, falling over from an unknown constant pressure.

The eyes were gone. There was nothing living left. He had failed them all. Failed who? He shook his head once again.

“It’s not too late,” a voice whispered from behind him.

Darian spun around, but saw nothing. It was a different voice than the one before. What voice before? He could still hear something though. It sounded like whispering, just at the edge of his hearing. He began to walk towards the voices. The whispering sounded louder, but still unintelligible. His pace continued to increase until he was jogging. Where were they? He could almost understand them.

“Hello?” He shouted.

The voices stopped. He looked around. He was in front of some kind of doorway. It looked to be completely unattached to anything else. Through the doorway, Darian only saw blackness. He walked around it twice and on the other side was a stone wall blocking entrance to the door. The door wasn’t large, just big enough for Darian to walk through.

He took a big breath before continuing forward. He had to keep moving forward. As his body touched the darkened doorway a bright light seemed to flash in his eyes. He blinked several times as purple blotches clouded his vision. As his sight returned, he realized he was standing amongst darkness. Nothing around him was visible past his own arms and legs. He wasn’t even sure what he was standing on.

Darian turned two complete circles in complete darkness before he saw another person standing nearby. Had the person suddenly appeared, or had he always been there? The person seemed to emit a glow of their own, allowing them to be seen, yet their face and features seemed indistinct surrounded by the darkness. Darian tentatively began to take steps towards the other person.

As the figure got closer, Darian gasped. He recognized the other man’s face. It was his own face. The man had a dark cast to his eyes. Darian didn’t think that his own eyes held such a malevolent cast; it was gleeful yet sadistic. The man had a calm, confident, reassuring smile. It didn’t match the darkness in those eyes.

“Darkness becomes you,” The other Darian said, his dark eyes never seeming to blink.

“Who…who are you?” Darian asked.

“Isn’t it obvious?” the man laughed as he lounged forward.

Darian screamed as the dagger he never saw coming plunged towards his heart.

Darian woke with a gasp. His heart seemed to hurt. He was pretty sure he woke before the dagger struck home, but it was so close. What was so close? The dream was already fading from his mind. He tried to think about it, to drag the memories into conscious thought, but they were already slipping away. All he could remember now was that it was an uncomfortable dream.

He rubbed his chest; it felt tight. Glancing over at the alarm clock he saw that it was 3:00 in the morning. He groaned. This was going to be a rough night. He had started having nightmares ever since his accident. Many of his nights ended up being quite restless. He was never entirely sure why he had them, but he never could remember what they were. Evil eyes? He shook his head, the thought was fleeting.

The room was dark and cluttered. He feared stumbling on something before making it to the light, but he decided he had no choice. Fortunately, after stepping over two piles of clothes he managed to reach the light switch without stepping on anything particularly hard or uncomfortable. He had three or four blankets of various colors thrown on the bed, but only one pillow. He always felt he only needed one pillow.

He realized he would need to the laundry again upon kicking a third pile of laundry out of his way to open the door to his bathroom. The bathroom itself was meticulously clean. No piles of anything in here. The bathroom was a place to get clean. It would certainly be counterproductive to dirty up a room that is designed to get clean in.

Darian splashed some water on his face, took a deep sigh, and examined himself in the mirror. He had seen better days, although fortunately, he hadn’t been as reckless as many of his peers had been. He never drank to excess, always wore sunscreen, and had been pretty careful crossing the street ever since his mishap. If he managed to get better sleep in the upcoming future, the dark spots under his eyes might go away and he might look halfway presentable.

He glanced back up at the mirror and started. For a second, it looked as if his eyes looked darker than they should be. He shuddered at the thought. He had to get some more sleep. He must have been more tired than he had thought.

He jumped back into his bed. Just as his head hit the pillow he realized he had left the light on again. Grumbling he shoved his head in the pillow, willing the light to be off so that he wouldn’t need to go turn it out. Releasing a quick grunt, he stood and put the light out before jumping back into bed a second time.

A week of dreamless sleep? He could definitely use it. These dreams were always a part of him, unsettling as they were. He went back to sleep. The only thing he dreamed about for the rest of the night was how his life would start changing for the better.

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Time and Place – Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

The clock ticked and time passed by. Time always passes, moving forward or backward, depending on your perspective. Time is perceived differently by different people. Some people count time in days. Others count it in years. Some count them in the cycles it takes their planet to revolve around their sun. Others measure it by the time it takes the planet to rotate in a complete circle. They count it based on random divisions created by people who were in power at just the right time. They calculate it by scientists, by astronomers, by astrologists, and by farmers. Everyone wastes so much time being concerned about time. However time is perceived, it continues on and the clock keeps ticking.

Darian’s hand impulsively tapped his fingers on his thigh to the beat of time, if time were said to have a beat. His day had been particularly unpleasant, starting with the obnoxious commute to this unfortunate location.  A woman sat across from him on the other side of an old wooden desk. It looked heavy and beat up. The kind of desk that is nice and sturdy to own, but impossible to get rid of when you’re done with it. It was too heavy to move reliably and too inconvenient for anyone to actually want to own.

The woman was not unattractive, but the never-ceasing half-smile plastered to her face began to grate on his nerves. He couldn’t understand how she could keep such an obnoxiously chipper voice as she asked irrelevant question after irrelevant question. Her long red hair might have framed a potentially pretty face, had it not been tied up into an uncomfortably tight bun that almost seemed to pull at the features of her face in an unpleasant way.

She pulled her thick-framed glasses off of her small nose to wipe them on her blouse, which had an assortment of purple and blue flowers against an oddly pale green background. Darian briefly wondered how she was able to find frames that thick; he was pretty sure the style went out in the 70s. Had she never heard of metal frames?

“Good Mr. Standen, what is the first thing you think about when you wake up?” Darian’s attention went back to the woman asking the question before letting out a drawn sigh.

It seemed an adequate answer as any for the constant barrage of questions she delivered.  She raised her eyebrow another centimeter, that small half smile seemingly glued to her face. It never seemed to change and was somehow reminiscent of clowns. He didn’t particularly hate clowns, but it was a little unnerving nonetheless. He quickly shifted his position in his seat. His interviewer continued to look at him. She began tapping her fingers on the table unconsciously, but her facial expressions never changed.  Watching her hands tap, he became conscious of his own and quickly dropped them to his side.

“Brushing my teeth, I suppose.”

“Good. Now, what is the last thing you think about before you sleep?”

Good. That is how she has responded to every answer, followed immediately by another question. Her eyes never spent more than a second glancing over the paper before her eyes snapped right back to his face, that half smile never wavering.  It didn’t bother him at first. She was quick, to the point. Darian hoped that it would be quick. Desperately, he needed the money, and it seemed like this study would be a sure way to get some fast. However, the questions kept coming, never seeming to come to an end. He was starting to get anxious and began wondering about how long he had been there.

“Well,” He stretched out his ‘L’s, hoping to buy himself a little time before the next “good”, followed by yet another question.

Darian’s eyes performed a quick search of his surroundings, averting away from her tight face and giant framed glasses for a few seconds. It was a small room, not much bigger than a little overpriced studio apartment. The most noticeable thing the room possessed was boxes, stacks, and stacks of boxes. The boxes were neatly closed and taped shut; there was labeling carefully printed on each box, but Darian was unable to decipher what any of it meant.  Each box was stacked neatly on large self-assembled metal storage shelves. They seemed more suited for a garage, but their presence still seemed to fit in this tiny room.

The interviewer’s name was Pam, at least that was what the nametag said. However, she had made no attempt to introduce herself to him when he showed up. She continued to tap her fingers at the steady pace as she patiently waited. With her rosy cheeks and light brown hair, Darian might have found himself liking her. However, her methodical questioning and frozen smile steadily tore at his nerves, and while hate might have been a strong word, he at least had a dislike of her by this point.

“Sheep,” He answered, a smile breaking onto his face.

It seemed like an acceptable answer, hoping it might help break the growing tension. Her smile didn’t change. Her eyes quickly darted to the paper, and back to his face. She was not even writing anything down.

“Good. Are you allergic to fish?”

Mr. Standen’s mind began to wonder as he started to answer her allergy question.  He didn’t have any allergies that he knew of.  However, rather than asking what he was allergic to, Pam began to read down a list of every known allergen he could think of. This allowed his mind to wander off, to contemplate the choices he made that lead him to this point.

There wasn’t always a need for money. At one point, when the student loans were growing and he was learning, there was nothing that could stop him. An unfortunate car accident, however, put him in the hospital for close to a year. His newly earned job “dismissed” him and found a new employee, and his fiancée, unable to deal with the stress of his “disability” decided to leave him. It had been two years since that accident, but it had ruined his life.

The man responsible wasn’t to blame. His insurance had covered some of the hospital bills, but the hospital bills grew faster than the insurance would cover, and Darian never had the heart to sue the man. He had a family and two kids. Although, Darian regretted his decision not to press charges sometimes. The lawyers certainly felt he had a case. He might still have his fiancée had the financial situation been covered better.  More importantly, we would never have answered a flier to become a lab rat in an experiment.

He caught himself before he let out another sigh. It was no use antagonizing the only person that might bring him the first paycheck he has had since college. He hoped that this was fruitful. The last time he attempted to sign up for one of these experiments, he was ineligible because of his past injuries; past injuries being the concussion he earned. It was some kind of blood study, and apparently, concussions immediately disqualified him. He wished he had lied when they had asked that question; he might have eaten something other than ramen noodles in the last few months.

“Mr. Standen, how very good it is to see you,” Darian jumped a little. The voice came from behind him. Pam had risen from her desk; she was certainly looking behind him. He quietly cursed himself for letting his mind wander. It was never good to let your mind wander too long. Bad things happen when you do. Her eyes were slightly bigger, and she had a slight look of awe on her face. This was the first change of expression he had seen from her.

A quick look behind him revealed a rather tall Indian man. He had a thick black mustache and short greasy hair. At first glance, he looked to be in his late 40s, early 50s. Darian always tried to measure people’s age with their accomplishments. He liked to see how much could be accomplished in how short a time. He was already 24, and by his reasoning, he should have written one book, won three trophies in various sports, and be on his way towards an excelling career. Of course, his plans had been set off track years ago, but it didn’t mean the ambition to excel didn’t creep into the back of his brain whenever he let it slide.

“Uh, call me Darian,” The Indian man nodded, slightly flourishing his open lab coat.

“I am Dr. Dhillon. Come with me, we have much to discuss.”

The doctor immediately turned and began walking out of the room.  His accent was deep, and it took Darian a few seconds to grasp what was said.

Before moving, he took a quick look back at Pam. She was already sitting at her desk, her eyes intent on a piece of paper, erasing something energetically with the end of her pencil.  Turning back, Darian left the room at a quick pace. Dr. Dhillon was already far ahead of him, and he had to perform a brisk half jog to catch up before the doctor turned the corner. It seemed that the man had not realized he had left earshot, and was continuing to speak as he walked.

“-was the most difficult part of the entire process. However, what we hope to accomplish is far grander than any simple experiment from any mediocre doctor. We hope to alter the very fabric of the world we know. We hope to change everything. Not an easy thing, you agree?” Darian nodded from habit, not quite caught up.

“Oh, of course, it was not easy,” Dr. Dhillon continued, “Many animals were lost in the attempt to isolate just the right conditions required to bring upon them stasis. However, I am confident that this is the right time to trial, and once you see my findings, I am sure you will agree with me!” His voice began to grow excited as he spoke.

Darian had never been to any real labs. He was an engineer, but fresh out of college. The job he almost had landed would have had him working with transmitters and wavelength frequencies and the like. He had been in a couple of labs in college and high school, but he never felt that they would resemble anything like a real lab. The long hallway they walked down was tiled with green and brown mosaic tiles. The ceiling and walls were a sickly yellow color. The entire building looked old and unclean. Darian was afraid to touch anything; he felt that if he did, he would probably pick up a thick layer of grease.  He was pretty sure the walls and floor were clean, but they just looked dirty in a way that no amount of cleaning would ever repair.

They reached some large double doors and Dr. Dhillon quickly slid the card through an adjacent card reader. The doors opened automatically after a brief click. He immediately went back to walking at full speed.

“Funding has always been a difficult part of our research, but after the success of this test, they will have no choice but to accept my research. We will have enough money to complete a final product, and bring the world into a new generation; this is instrumental in the buildup of-”

The new area looked slightly cleaner than the last. They walked through another smaller door, into what Darian imagined a real lab looked like. The walls were finally white, although the floor retained the ugly green brown.  In the middle of the room was a medium-sized man length metal table with what appeared to be leather straps on it. A small table full of medical supplies sat at the side of the larger table. This resembled what he imagined a surgery table would look like perhaps 80 years ago. It made him a little nervous. Suddenly a word caught in his ear from what Dr. Dhillon was saying. He froze in his tracks.

“What, Cryogenic Freezing?”

Dr. Dhillion blinked, almost startled to find someone present and listening to what he had been saying.

“Yes, you read the paper? While you were waiting they gave you papers to read?”

“Of course,” Darian lied.

He hadn’t bothered to read it. The only paper he had read was the flier stuck up to a bulletin board of one of the many offices he had attempted to apply to.  It read…

Medical Study on temperature and sleep, participants welcome to apply, BIG MONEY!!!!

Up until this point, Darian still was not sure what exactly a participant’s job was. Whatever it was, he hoped the big money was not an exaggeration.  The doctor directed him to sit down on the dull silver metal table. He complied.

“Of course, most fiction will tell you that anything can be frozen and then thawed out good as new. Even other learned men will try to believe that the key to freezing a person in stasis is preventing cell death, forcing a long-lived hibernation, like a common Tardigrade…” Dr. Dhillion began to perform an examination.

“But that is stupid. The human body and mind are too complex for anything as primitive as a cell suspension. The true answer lies in the realm of physics. Good, good…” He tapped each of Darian’s knees with the tip of his stethoscope, causing them to kick forward. With a swift gesture, he placed the hearing pieces into his ears and walked around the metal bench. He placed the metal piece of the stethoscope against Darian’s back, listening to a bit, before moving to a new area.

“Breathe in deeply…good… You see, it is theorized that time and space are one and the same. Interconnected. Space is a manipulation of time, no more or less that time manipulates space. To lock a man in time, to freeze his very being, you must also freeze the space to which he takes up.  And one last breath… good…” The doctor placed his stethoscope around his neck, then walked over to the small table and began rummaging through it. He finally found a small tongue depressor.

“There we are… say ah… Although that task is easier said than done. I am not simply talking about turning down the thermostat. I mean, placing a man in a state where neither space nor time can affect him. It is not a simple science. But it is time for my years of research to come to being. You, my friend, will be known as the first man to ever be suspended in time,”  With that, he threw the tongue depressor into a nearby trashcan.

Darian looked up at the doctor. Dr. Dhillion’s lips broke into a large grin, his thick dark eyelashes twitching excitedly as he eagerly awaited the excited reaction from his patient. Darian managed a weak smile and a nod of reassurance; he was not quite sure what else to say,” What do you intend on doing doctor?”

The doctor blinked, his grin dropping slightly with obvious disappointment, “In essence, to you, it will feel like a shot. After that, you will simply fall to a dreamless sleep, and your body will suspend itself, ceasing to age or grow. A week later, you will be awakened by myself, and after a brief exam, you are free to go.”

“Dreamless? Is it safe?” Darian asked.

The idea of a dreamless sleep certainly appealed to him. He had been suffering from bad dreams lately. If the pay was good, this would be an excellent endeavor… He had so much bad luck in his life, Karma dictated that maybe he needed some good luck as well. Still, he didn’t like the idea of having some concoction placed inside of him. Against his inhibitions, he told the doctor his concern.

“No, no,” Dr. Dhillon quickly reassured him, “The shot doesn’t put you into stasis. It’s just a harmless narcotic to keep you asleep. As I mentioned, the experiment is a matter of physics. I will attempt to place a stasis field over you. Of course, we have all of the items we need here to watch and make sure you remain healthy throughout the week. You will not even realize it and the week will be over, very painless.”

“I don’t know… wouldn’t it be safer in a hospital?”

Dr. Dhillion’s eyes shifted back and forth quickly, peering behind Darian for a brief second before answering, “Yes well, the facility here is well equipped. Hospitals have a great deal of rules and restrictions that simply don’t fit a laboratory protocol. This is really the best place to perform the test.”

Sleep. Getting paid for sleep isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But he could die, couldn’t he? The doctor seemed confident this would not happen. Did he ever trust doctors? He remembered once being sent to the ER for appendicitis, even though he didn’t have it. Though he was not in pain, the surgeon offered to cut out his appendix, simply to justify the stay. No, doctors are not necessarily trustworthy. Darian’s eyes dropped down, staring at his cheap white sneakers. They were falling apart. He supposed that’s what happened when you bought sneakers for $10 at a ValueMart.

Dr. Dhillion began to grow a bit uneasy at his subject’s reluctance. A sigh of relief almost passed his lips as the door opened behind him, allowing a third person to enter the room.

Darian looked up in time to see the door close as a well-dressed man approached the table he now sat on. The man had a deep complexion with dark spots under his eyes. He was much older… in his 60s, maybe. His suit was finely made, although any suit purchased outside of a department store was fine in Darian’s eyes. The man’s dark eyes were almost black and seemed to instantly sum up the subject in one look. Darian was used to that look; he had gotten it many times from his father. He would bet what little money he had in his bank account that this man was a businessman.

“Darian, this is my friend, Mr. Arlington, he is my, well, my investor, of sorts.”

“Good afternoon, Darian,” The suited man stated in a deep polite voice.

Funny, it had been morning when Darian had gotten there. It felt like weeks since he had entered that building. He wouldn’t have been surprised if it was the next morning after. Perhaps he was almost done.

“I am here with paperwork for you,” the man continued.

As Mr. Arlington began to rummage through his briefcase, Darian took another chance to sigh. Then again, this day does seem to keep going on.

“In ordinance with project 5236-B, we will provide full payment upon completion of one week under stasis at Dr. Jagan Dhillion’s discretion. This form is a form of nondisclosure of information…” He began handing Darian one form after another. Each form he signed made him a little more uneasy. He had to sign a form that shed them of responsibility if he died, a form that kept him from talking about what was going on in the lab, and even a next of kin form.

Suddenly, he stopped as he reached the last page, a large number glaring at his face, “What is this, then?”

A large smile broke across the businessman’s face as he recognized what Darian was pointing at, “For one week of stasis experimentation, the total sum to be paid is $10,624.00. This fund is to be paid in full regardless of the success or failure of the experiment.”

Darian nodded numbly. This was big money indeed.  Although he briefly wondered who’d exactly be getting the money if “failure” resulted in death. He has so few friends in his life. He supposed that would be his next of kin: his father. Darian quickly shoved all of his doubts into a small box at the corner of his brain; then, for good measure, jumped on the box repeatedly, before throwing it in a trash compactor. This was the break he had been waiting for, he needed this.

“When do we start?”

Relief poured out of Dr. Dhillion in one long breath, “We will give you one day, to put your affairs in order to be away for a week. No one must be aware of where you are for this week. It is imperative that this be kept secret for patents and financial reasoning, which my friend here is better at explaining.  You must not eat eight hours before coming in and…”

Darian’s mind started wandering again. Ten thousand dollars. This would wipe out a good portion of his debt. It would give him a fresh start. In one week, the world would be a very different place.  He’d have food, and time to find a better job. He could buy a nice suit, put together a better resume. Maybe he could actually get a girlfriend and afford to take her out once or twice. Finally, things would start going his way.

When his fiancée had left him, he had really lost all hope of succeeding in life. His parents had told him there was always more to life, and his father almost seemed glad that his son might start “trying other flavors”, as he put it, before finally settling down, an act that seemed close to death by his father’s opinion. His father had always had the opinion that he settled down a bit too quickly when he proposed. However, Darian never really could reenter the dating scene after.

It seemed more difficult to him. Talking to women was easy, but they always seemed interested in others, and never displayed more interest in him than he was willing to show back, which was never much to begin with.

Some of it might have been related to the financial problems he suffered, and his unwillingness to drag someone else down with him. Today was a day that he wished he had more friends, so he actually would have someone to celebrate with. Nevertheless, his mind worked as he began to make plans again. His withered ambition returned in full force as he imagined all of the potentials that this money would bring.

The light of sunset was dwindling by the time Darian had left the lab. He had a file full of papers in his left hand and the keys to his car on the right. The car was old, but unfortunately not old enough to be a classic. It was just old. Rust scarred the sides of his vehicle, made more drastic by the hues of orange and red reflected by the descending sun. He examined the vehicle up and down before getting in. This vehicle was a testament to his old life, rusted and broken as it was. In one short week, everything would change.

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Time and Place – Prologue

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I know, I know what you’re thinking. A Freaking ‘nother one? Actually, this is a novel I’m in the process of writing. It is NOT a light novel-like story like my other ones… this is just pure science fiction; however, now that I think about it… it actually is kind of “another world” novel. It’s about a guy who wakes up 100,000 years in the future.  I’ve already written 50-some chapters of this, so putting it up is no problem. I thought maybe getting a few supporters might motivate me to eventually finish it. I already have a book series worked out in my mind, but I haven’t produced a chapter in a year or so, so I’m willing to give anything a try.


The portal shimmered. The blue light from within grew and dimmed in a steady rhythm as if mimicking the old man’s heartbeat. He quickly wiped the sweat as it accumulated in droplets on his brow with a handkerchief. It was hot, much hotter than he had expected. The luminescent blues bouncing off the rocky white terrace gave the impression that it should have been a cool day.

As he pulled his handkerchief away, he noticed a smear of brown from the dirt on his face. He sighed. It was one of his favorites; it was all he had from his mother. Of course, that wasn’t entirely accurate. The original handkerchief had long been destroyed. This was only an approximation of what he remembered of his mother. Perhaps it was one of the only memories he had remaining of her.

As an infant, his mother had named him Nas’ Dera in the crib. He swore he could remember hearing her cry as he was taken away without a chance to glance upon his face. Of course, that was impossible. Even if Nas’ Dera could remember some repressed memory from infancy, it had long since between overwritten with the untold time that followed.

Nas’ Dera was a title more than a name, but it was the only name from which he had ever been known. The name had meant ‘last hope’ in the forgotten tongue of his people, but no one who lived remembered that name except for him. He looked up at the sky and grimaced. There was probably no one alive besides himself at this point.

His face was sunken and resigned, covered by the hood of his once clean robes. A red sash crossed over his chest but it had worn to a dull pinkish color, ripped and torn at various points, seeming to barely hang from his body. He pushed back his hood, taking a deep breath, his blue eyes seeming to absorb the light of the portal. He closed them, and in a flash, he felt a memory of green; of life. There was a time when he remembered life, when he remembered what it was like to be alive. So long, that seemed to be, since he had seen something so simple, so alive, as the color green.

He took another glance around. In front of him sat a small altar made from obsidian rock set within the white terrace. Small shapes and symbols seemed to be written all over the altar, seemingly random in placement.  Large spiral columns stood on each of the four corners of the terrace, each one cracked, blistered, and damaged from the ravages of time. On the top of each pillar, a stream of white light shot into the sky, creating a small dome that surrounded the terrace he stood in. The invisible walls shimmered and flexed, giving a strangely drunken appearance to the world outside.  The world beyond the dome was dark and indistinguishable. Shapes seemed to move and dance just out of sight within the shadows, but he ignored them.  He could not think of what was beyond in that darkness, not now.

A sudden burst of light came from the sky and he instinctively looked up.  He knew what he would see. The light was already gone by the time his eyes were able to focus. The dark sky above seemed strangely empty, devoid of the light one would expect during a clear night. Another star had vanished in the night sky. Some would call it the heat death of the universe. However, that wasn’t quite right. If the universe was truly dying from old age, then it would have gradually dimmed to nothingness once luminosity decreased to the point that it was no longer visible from Nas’ Dera’s point of view. This was more like the universe was being eaten.

“What star was that?” he wondered aloud.

It could have been any, really. It was a star that had been destroyed thousands of years ago, if not a million years gone. Why did it take them so long to realize they were disappearing, one at a time?  It was too late, now, to do anything about it. The sky did not contain enough stars, appearing empty and hollow. Regrettably, even the ones he could see were long gone.  He was happy that it was dark out, that he could not see the star that this planet orbited, the final death cries of a blackened universe.

A light tremor began to shake the ground around him. He braced himself against the shaking. It continued on for a minute or two before subsiding. He did not have very much time. The portal flickered uneasily, drawing his attention back. He was too old for this, too weak. He knew the task at hand would kill him, but there was no one else to do it.

He pressed one of the symbols on the altar, resembling a table with a cross sitting atop it.  It emanated a small blue shimmering light and images flickered across the portal. The images were of people’s faces, but no image remained for more than a blink as they jumped from one face to the next. He watched carefully as each face was shown, his eyes darting left to right, looking for the sign.

He began to feel a small ache in the back of his eyes.  He realized that he hadn’t blinked in some time, but he could not afford to miss the instance he sought. Sweat began streaming down his face, but he dared not wipe his forehead in the fear of missing that one image. He kept focus, for as long as he had to, he could not afford to miss the opportunity – it would only happen once.

Nas’ Dera had no clue how long he stood there, watching the streaming images of faces… so many faces. His legs ached, his back was sore, and he longed to sit down. He knew, however, that if he rested, that the job would never be finished. This was his last chance. The portal crackled, the steady pulsing fell off rhythm for a second. He grimaced at the momentary loss of concentration.  Then he saw it.

Did I?” he thought for a split second before pressing a second symbol, which caused the image to stop.

He wasn’t sure if it had been what he was looking for.  It was so quick and he was still a bit distracted. Once he moved the image backward, he wasn’t sure if he could get the device moving forward again. Was it what he sought? Or was it just a hopeful glimpse? The end of the world, the universe, and all of his plans could be wasted by a maybe.

Nas’ Dera sighed deeply. He was never a gambling man; he liked to have control of his own destiny and the likes of cards or dice seemed set to take destiny on by random. However, it seemed as if there was no choice. He gripped the outside of the symbol in his hand, turning. The lighted symbol seemed to rotate with his hand. He felt a kind of resistance, a weakness in the stability of the device. He held his breath, slowly and deliberately turning the symbol.  The symbol stopped with the cross pointing left and he let out a slow breath. Once again touching the symbol ever so slightly, the images began going back one at a time.

The images flicked back much slower. There was a woman with red hair, a man with a unibrow, a young boy with a dog. He could make out each of these people, people dead ages ago. People who lived short lives on a small planet a billion years ago. Who would have ever thought that the whole universe may depend on a man from that little planet?

Nas’ Dera did. He could feel the man’s potential across the ages. His fate on his small little planet would have been incredible. He would have been a man of great importance. He was a man who would have been known for thousands of years on his planet. A man whose potential would have been completely wasted making an imprint on a single planet, when he had the entire universe that needed him. It was a trade. The man could save the planet, or in the right time and right place; he could save the universe.

Nas’ Dera released his finger and the image stopped on the man. He had brownish blonde hair and hazel brown eyes that seemed uneasy. They seemed to know what was happening to them, seemed to feel the old man watching him.  A smile caressed his face for the first time since he had entered the crumbling machine. He had finally found him, the man whose fate would change the universe. It was time to redirect him to the time and place where he could rise to his true potential.

The man in his image would never thank Nas’ Dera for what he was about to do to him. He hoped the man could find happiness in his new life, after a fashion, but this new life would be a much harder path for the man. The shaking began again, this time not seeming to end. His time was running out. The smile faded from Nas’ Dera. He had work to do.

Nas’ Dera paused the image. The tremor steadily grew in a long drawn out roar, making it harder and harder for Nas’ Dera to keep his balance. He flicked another symbol on the altar and the image seemed to solidify. It wasn’t as if the image was faded before, but now it somehow seemed more tangible. Nas’ Dera quickly stumbled up to the image. In a swift motion, his hand dived into it. Grabbing the back of Darian’s shirt, he pulled roughly. The image did not move, but then again, it did not have to for the effect to be apparent. Running back to the altar, he flicked the symbol again, and the image continued.

He scanned the man’s life. Using the machine’s unique functions, he scanned the 4th dimension, trailing along this man’s timeline. Just slight edits, Nas’ Dera would need to have a fine touch here. Slowly, and with a deftness that only a man as long lived as Nas’ Dera could possibly possess, he began to make alterations to the man’s life.

He moved objects, and he moved people. He manipulated the man’s timeline, trying to guide him in the direction he needed to go. Nas’ Dera hated doing this. It felt too much like he was pretending to be fate. Nas’ Dera didn’t believe in such a thing as fate. Ironic for a man who was fated to be the ‘last hope’. To be fair, the man resisted relentlessly. No matter how hard the man fell on bad luck, he always seemed to bounce right back.

It felt like a tug of war, a desperate struggle. The man wanted to stay where he was, on a little blue planet, where he would undoubtedly bring about a new age of prosperity. However, for this to work, that planet had to be abandoned. Everything that man ever knew needed to be abandoned as well.

Nas’ Dera winced as he paused the image again. No, this man would never thank him for changing the course of his life, not that the man would ever know it had been changed in this manner. Perhaps he would take comfort in knowing that his planet would survive without him. At least, a remnant of his planet would survive.

This old destiny would no longer be fulfilled. However, time had a funny way of forcing people such as him into greatness. He had a greater destiny awaiting him. Nas’ Dera fell to his knees, exhaustion finally stopping him from his work. He pressed a button and looked into the man’s future. He moved forward years after the man should have been there. There he was, still alive in the time capsule Nas’ Dera had prepared for him.

It would be time for him to wake soon. Nas’ Dera could do nothing else but watch. Meanwhile, another star disappeared from the night’s sky, but no one noticed its passing.

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