Blacker than Energy

 

A story of caution by Javier R. Romero

 

It wasn’t long ago that physicists ramped up efficiency numbers for solar panels. It seemed to be a material engineer’s dream. Exotic materials were being created based on nano-technology that had just been prototyped. Bleeding edge technology for a bleeding edge world. Like software, video games, and cellphones, now the energy sector was releasing “Developer level” technology to the public. What’s cooler than being in on beta testing? Well… alpha testing obviously. The newer the better! Who cares if you get cancer? There’s a new experimental drug for that out now anyway.

 

But I digress… solar power!

 

Triple-junction cells were just the beginning! While studying what the energy transfer looked like in those cells they found something strange happening. In areas of the cell that were darker than others things seemed to be bi-locating. That is to say in layman terms one particle was in two places at the same time. Even more fascinating the waveforms were harmonizing in these areas but as soon as they left the darker regions the waveform collapsed. What did it mean? It didn’t take too long for the fringes of society to start worrying that scientists shouldn’t study the phenomena. If we listened to them we’d still be sitting in caves because fire is dangerous.

 

Needless to say, everyone got to work on making a perfectly even distribution of those darker areas until they managed to produce a perfect 350mm x 350mm panel. The scientific world rejoiced just because they were able to create the panel, it would be 7 months until they were able to test it but that was the hard part. In order to pull energy from the panel we had to rethink the way we interface with solar panels. Unfortunately the only person who had come close to explaining the process was a disgraced electrical engineer. He was the guy who blew up a power-plant because the “gnomes” said it was bored. Don’t ask me how a power-plant can be bored. Normally no one would’ve paid attention to him but he locked himself in on one of the meetings and forced everyone to listen to him… at gun point.

 

After a 2 day hostage scenario the scientists came to see that Englebart knew exactly what he was talking about… this time.

 

After coaxing 5 million dollars out of the federal government for “Renewable Energy Technology Development” Englebart got to work. He locked himself away in the warehouse and any attempt to get inside by the scientists was met with frantic yelling about disturbing the “Quantilis”. Even when the power went out he calmly walked outside, started up the generator trucks and went back to work. The phrase, “A man possessed” was too perfect. At the end of it all he wheeled out a 10 foot tall behemoth of wires, glass tubes and a board with at least 14 different knobs on the front.

“Don’t touch the knobs they’re for the song. You have to sing in tune or else it will get dark. Not colour, dark in, in, in, feel. Everything will change… feel different. Change isn’t good, not this kind. Don’t touch the knobs. Gotta sing in tune. A…A sharp should be good. Sing once, first song, final song. No change.”

 

He only agreed to and was able to get one interview despite the constant push for him to become the face of this new technology. The other scientists said he would be a sympathetic personality for people to connect to. Englebart knew they were making fun of him.

 

“So, finally Mr. Englebart…”

“Please, Timothy. Call me Timothy, I like Timothy.”

“Well then, Timothy. Why is it that you’re so intent on having your… tuner set to A sharp?

“Energy is important. Runs through the wires like a, like a hum. 60or 50hz. Boring sound but ok for cavemen. A sharp is alive and happy.”

“I see. Well Timothy, is there…”

“Music makes people happy. When you hear a good song you smile. When you hear a bad one you feel bad. Electricity is waves. Waves have sound. Make good sound, make good energy. Make bad sound… Bad sound bad. A Sharp happy.”

“Tell me this Timothy, what would happen if your tuner fell out of tune?”

 

It was at that point that Englebart started crying uncontrollably. Newspapers would go on to call him a freak and a weirdo. The other scientists were quickly branded as “The minds behind the future.” No one ever understood what he meant. All they needed to know was that he made the tuners and once the first one was set the others were automatic because of his “Quantilis”, whatever that was. No one knows because they’re locked inside the tuners.

 

Needless to say, with the oil reserves nearly dry, the world was holding its breath when the first test occurred. In actuality the theoretical numbers were so good they were already in talks for retrofitting existing solar farms and manufacturing single home units. It was impossible to stop the machine of commerce now.

 

On the big day Englebart was nervous. He kept saying the weather was bad, but that’s because he was struck by lightning in the past, hence his mannerisms. Clouds always made him uneasy. He made sure everyone was standing far enough back as not to disrupt his tuning. After 4 minutes of him humming to himself on national television he yelled in triumph, startling some of the people around him. He said before they started that “When I say you can make toast it’s a success.”

 

Everyone held their breath as the numbers on the power meter rose, 30 volts, 60, 120, 240. The camera pans over to the other side of the tuner and the screen said 30 amps. When the numbers stopped rising a reporter walked up to Englebart curious about what the readouts on the myriad screens meant.

 

“So Englebart, what do these readings mean? Is it a success?”

“Well these numbers are for each line and when the lines are used there are 14 in total. Cut one of them in half and you have the others singing fine through the wires to, to, to, to your toaster. We just have to let the tu, tu, tu, tuner… You can make toast.”

 

It was at that point the reporter slapped Englebart on the shoulder in congratulations. The reporter walked in front of him and motioned the camera to zoom in on the screens.

“Please be careful. It has a few more seconds to set.”

The reporter waved at Englebart and walked back down the stairs talking into the camera as everyone else was rejoicing. Finally, we have an alternative to oil that was cheap and easy to access. The wire on the reporter’s backup mic was now coiled around Englebart’s feet. With each step the wire was pulled taught, eventually making Englebart lose his balance. His hand landed on one of the knobs and a look of horror fell over his face. However the cameras were now focused on the more photogenic faces of the scientists Englebart had held hostage. His tuner made the sound to let him know the frequency had been set and Englebart fell to his knees.

 

It wasn’t until 4 years later that Englebart had his last interview.

“… Don’t you love how everyone is smiling now because of the green, cheap and affordable energy you helped provide them?!”

“Smiles hide mean thoughts. I don’t like the smiles. Everyone mean outside now not just inside… I said A sharp… this isn’t A sharp.”

 

It was slight, only visible for a flash of an instant but it was noticeable. The interviewer glared at Englebart with a murderous intent.

The Opposition

It was his first time going to a carnival or festival, or whatever this thing was. All he knew was that there were rides and booths that would cheat you out of your money for trying to win rigged games. Jameson Rodriguez always wanted to go to a thing like this. His sister came home from one when they were younger and she told him about a ride where you stand inside of it while it spins faster and faster, pinning you to the wall. Jameson wondered how that would feel, he wanted to try and lift his arm as the ride spun at max speed.

“What’s the name of the ride?”
“The Whirley-Gig.”
“That sounds lame… You sure it spins fast?”
“Yeah it’s the only one that’s designed to spin as fast as it does.”
“How fast?”
“Jamie, I, I don’t know! I just know it spins faster than any other one, like 2 times as fast I think I heard.”
“You never know anything.”
“You ask too many questions Jamie.”

She stuck her tongue out at him, ran ahead and playfully elbowed her best friend and boyfriend in the ribs. Jameson’s girlfriend kissed him on the cheek and giggled.

“That’s why you’re going out with a scientist.”

“The group continued walking down the country road and enjoyed the ups and downs seeing the festival appear then disappear from behind the hills. By the time they arrived the sun had past it’s zenith and a cool comfortable breeze was blowing across the grounds. The line to the “Whirley-Gig” wasn’t as long as he expected. They only had to wait 8 minutes, although the group had to be split up. It didn’t matter, Jameson, his two best friends and his girlfriend all got to go on at the same time.
The buzzer sounded and the Whirley-Gig came to a stop, the sound of the electric motor winding down sent chills of excitement up Jameson’s spine. His sister got off and immediately fell over from dizziness. She laughed as she stumbled down the rest of the ramp, holding onto the railing for dear-life while swearing she was fine. Jameson  and his group all stood at opposite points so they could see the looks on each others faces while trying to man-mode the ride. The people piled in and filled up every position of the Whirley-Gig. As the door closed the light-bulb blew out.

“Hah! You guys are lucky I can’t see your faces now!”
“You mean you’re lucky we can’t see yours Mr. Whiskey!”

A nickname he picked up in high school for the obvious connection to the whiskey brand. Ironically enough Jameson hated the taste of whiskey.
The an audible “clink” was heard from the motor almost as though something bounced off of it. They felt themselves rise up and starting to spin faster and faster. Jameson was waiting to feel the g-forces crush him into the wall but nothing of the sort happened to him.

“Hey guys, this is kinda lame! I barely even feel us spinning.”

After a few more thoughts to himself he started hearing some people complaining.

“It didn’t go this fast before.”
“Don’t say that, now I’m actually worried about how fast we’re spinning.”

Jameson scrunched his face in confusion.

“Are you guys serious? I barely feel an…”

He was cut off by the sounds of the other people making groaning noises. Then someone started to scream out in pain.

“STOP! STOP THE RIDE, PLEASE!!”
“Jameson! There’s something wrong! My body feels like it’s being…”
Just then the wall Jameson was connected to made a metallic groan. Jameson heard one ping then another and then a lot more. When he realized what was happening it was too late to say anything. He felt the straps loosen around his body and he couldn’t hear anything but everything looked as if he were in slow motion he saw light start to pour into the Whirley-Gig. Then, just as he felt himself completely separate from the Whirley-Gig he saw the shear terror in everyones eyes. His friends looked towards him with faces forcing to restrain the pain they were feeling, one had already passed out. He locked eyes with one of the other people on the ride and noticed there was no life in them and blood was leaking from the mans’ nose and ears. Jameson’s hearing came back just enough to hear the wind rushing past his ears as he flew through the air.
He saw the ground rushing towards him and he reflexively put his hands and legs out in front of him, as if they’d break his fall and not just be the first things to be crushed.

Jameson’s sister had regained her balance in time to see Jameson’s section flung from the ride and she caught a glimpse of his bright green shirt and screamed in terror as many other people were. Two more sections were flung off the Whirley-Gig before the engineers were able to regain some control of the electronics and they slowed the ride down as fast as they could without causing further harm to the 17 people left inside or to what was left of the rides stability arms. As it came down it dug a trench into the ground throwing more metal all over the place. It caught traction and nearly ripped out the support beams that were planted 10 feet underground. It stopped just before crushing the engineers that were attacking the electronics.

A few cries of pain were heard coming from the shredded Whirley-Gig and it took a few seconds for people and emergency personnel to run into the horror-ride.

“Please don’t move anyone, you might cause further harm to them!”

There was a media circus outside of the hospital. Reporters from the surrounding counties had shown up in front of the hospital hoping to get a chance to talk to survivors and one person in particular. Jameson’s sister was watching the news, they were playing a clip for the umpteenth time that evening. It was of Jameson being flung from the Whirley-Gig and sailing through the air. When it landed with Jameson face down everyone in the hospital room cringed then looked towards Jameson who was watching the footage, shocked as much as everyone else was. A little crater formed and the Whirley-Gig section split nearly in half with Jameson unconscious underneath it, his legs bored into the ground and his hands were propping up his unconscious body.

The towns hospital was small so when they saw nothing wrong with him after x-rays and other tests they told him to wait in the waiting room with the rest of his friends and family. He wasn’t to stand  or leave the wheel chair he had been confined to. Even though he had been bombarded with questions he remained silent. His main thoughts focused on his best friends and his girlfriend. All three had severe internal hemorrhaging like everyone else on the ride and were as unconscious as the others as well. Most of the 18 survivors had fallen into a coma. Jameson started rolling back towards where his friends were being operated on without saying a word.
“Wait stupid, you’re not allowed to wheel yourself anywhere remember?”

Anna walked over to her brother and started pushing him.

“Why did…”
“I don’t know.”

She pushed him to the door of the room he and his friends stuff were in. One of his friends had already left surgery and was now lying in this room in a coma. Jameson looked at his sister confused as to why she brought him here instead of the surgery wing.

“We… we can’t be there, you know that. We’ll just be in their way.”

Jameson stood up and grabbed his friends hand.

“This is fucked…”
|
|
|
|
On the other side of the world, in the Swiss Alps, a group of people are reviewing the news footage and trying to figure out what to make of it.
“I’ve taken to just calling him “The Opposition”.”
“That’s cute sweety, but why?”
“I hate when you call me that Siren.”

The girl swipes at the see through screen in front of her and it slides out of her way, giving her a clear line of sight at Siren. She gives her a death glare from her red and yellow heterochromic eyes, to which Siren merely laughs gleefully.

“I call him that because his body seems to nullify any oppositional force that acts upon it, whether he’s unconscious or not.”
“So he was unconscious when he landed?”
“I’m not sure, the videos don’t show his face. It’s just a calculated guess.”
“A calculated guess from you is damn near 100%.”
“A guess is still a guess.”
“You’re right, sorry. Tyler, what do you think?”
“I think he could help us, if he wanted to at least.”
“Therein lies our problem then.”

A woman with hair that seems as if it’s changing colour taps on the coffee table in front of her.

“The three of us could go as a family, meeting some relative.”
“You, Tyler and sweety?”

An eraser bounces off the womans head as she says sweety and she laughs obnoxiously.

“Well, if you guys want to then I have no problems with it. You’ll have to make it quick though. There’s no knowing what’ll happen between now and when you three arrive. The town might try and kill him.”
“Quick and painless Siren, like your death if you call me sweety one more time. We’ll get him.”
“Ok ok, I’ll stop. For now.”

The woman says with a smile as she vanishes into thin air.

“Dad, I wanna fight her, can I fight her?”
“No. What you will do my 19 year old, is get your gear and your mothers ready for the trip, with your mothers help.”
“Fine.”

The girl swipes down at the screen in front of her and it disappears into a cylinder sitting on the floor. She grabs it while standing up and walks through a bulk head, The woman with colour changing hair following right after, ruffling the hair on Tyler’s head as she passes him.

“You’re such a slow eater.”
“I’m just savouring the meal I prepared Rachel.”

Rachel walks after her daughter through the bulk-head as Tyler finishes his food.

Act Five Finale

           It had been three days since the president of the airbike company released his statement, 7 since the 25 R’s were stolen, and I had finally found one of them. One of the Young Beasts had just left it there after he got bored with it. His friends tried to destroy it but they didn’t understand how the thing was put together. They were made to withstand 800 mph+ crashes, hitting one with a steel beam wasn’t going to do anything but scratch the paint and buff the alloy underneath. I was wearing a lab coat I found a few days before along with the station issued gravity boots. The boots came up to my knees and were law in case the gravity field ever gave out… I thought they made me look cool and when riding a 25 R you had to look cool.

           I made sure the Young beasts had left the area before I tried to approach it. They already killed two people who tried to steal the bikes from them and I didn’t want to be number three. After giving the area a good over-watch I approached the bike and plugged in my key hack. Hopefully I wouldn’t kill the operating board with my low tech hack but it was worth a try. Just then I heard the other 25 R engines screaming nearby and terror shot through me like high voltage. I jumped on the bike and smacked at the key as if that would have sped up the hack. I must’ve been in their line of sight judging from the way the engines sounded. My engine screamed to life and a smirk shot across my face. I gunned it and felt the immediate rush of accelerating from 0 to 60 in 1.8 seconds. I was still terrified about what they would do to me if they caught me, but the smile never left. So for the next 5 hours I would run from them, pushing the bike as far and as fast as it would go off-track in this now cramped city.

           After the first hour it was child’s-play out running them. Their reaction times were milliseconds too slow to keep up with me and that’s when I figured out something. Not all Young Beasts had super strength and some of them were actually very smart with super human agility… I was a young beast. At that moment, almost immediately, I started thinking of ways to hide it from people if I survived running from the gang. It was a realization that nearly petrified every fiber of my being.

           At the top of the sixth hour I heard the familiar dock alarm. Another freighter was coming in. That’s when I had a psycho plan, maybe I could get these guys sucked out of the air-lock. I risked getting sucked out myself in the split second there was no vacuum shield, but these guys were dangerous… and they probably wouldn’t die… I wasn’t sure if I would survive though.

“Ok you four, I’m lining up the air-locks. You have your suits on?”

“We are ready for torpedo disembark captain.”

“I don’t need one.”

“Shut up Rayne.”

“Quiet you two. Go ahead captain.”

“Air pressure approaching max tolerable levels… check. Firing in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, MARK!”

           The air-lock doors shot open and they were sucked out into the vacuum. Rayne spun around and saluted the crew on the bridge then spun back and focused on not smacking into the side of Epsilon 001.

“Alright sis, how many minutes until we enter port?”

“At our current speed we sh….”

“Sis… RAYNE!”

           Ryder looked behind him and sighed in relief as he saw his sister fussing with the communicator on her neck. Since sound doesn’t travel in space Old Beasts who could survive out there got communicators that picked up on their vocal chord vibrations, handy when you can’t really exhale while speaking.

“Current speed 2 minutes… give er take.”

“Watch out twins, debris!”

 

          Three of them flew apart like a squadron of fighter jets in formation. Xephyr, the woman with the tattoo on her neck unsheathed her sword and slapped her hand on the side of the blade as she pointed it directly in front of her. She bore through the meteoroid and came out of the other side with her sword glowing yellow. The hole she bored was molten and glowed eerily in the vacuum. Rayne noticed something shooting out of the dock in front of them.

“Guys what’s that exiting the dock? Holy! It’s the Young Beasts! Quick bro! While they’re still clumped together!”

“On it!”

           The twins pulled their short staffs from their waists, two large beams shot out from the ends and started to surround the Young Beasts who were floating helplessly in the vacuum.

“I only count 7, we were told 9 were here.”

“Did you want this to be easy sis?”

“Shut up.”

           The beams of light split apart into thousands of strands and completely surrounded the free floating Young Beasts, shocking them with enough electricity to knock out a heard of rhinoceros.

“Gimme the load sis, you should concentrate on not breaking anything as we land, regen wasn’t one of your retains.”

           Rayne handed her brother the short staff and they snapped together as he locked them onto his waist, the odd net of Young Beasts and airbikes trailing behind him. As they entered the dock they had to stop their acceleration before the stations gravity did. Hayden pulled out his sword now and as he and Xephyr pointed their swords behind them and an unseen parachute slowed them to a sliding stop. Ryder spun around, landing sideways on his feet as if he were riding a skateboard, with the net of Young Beasts and airbikes now slung over his shoulder. A concussive blast shot forward from his side and slowed him to a halt. Rayne clapped her hands in front of her and a small sonic boom shot forward, slowing her acceleration and she dropped to her feet right in front of a boy who was straddling one of the Airjet 25 R’s. But he wasn’t dressed like the other gang members. Unlike their faux leather jackets and neon construction workers pants, this boy was wearing a pair of tattered jeans, a compression shirt and an over-sized lab coat with his regulation gravity boots. Rayne held her hand to his throat like it was a knife and a blue light surrounded it from a curious bracelet on her wrist.

“Don’t move and don’t lie. Are you apart of their gang?”

“No, I heard the docking alarm and thought I could get them sucked into the vacuum so they’d stop hurting people.”

“Are you a Young Beast? Only a Young Beast would be able to ride one of those with no armor from what I’ve heard about them.”

“I think I am.”

“Hmm, so you don’t know the extent of your abilities?”

The boy shook his head no.

“Smarter than the other kids in your class?”

“Yes.”

“Hmm… super fast reaction time and I’m guessing you heal pretty quick too?”

“I think so.”

“Where are your parents?”

“I don’t have those.”

           At this point Rayne lowered her hand, the blue light dissipating as Ryder, Xephyr and Hayden walked up behind her. Each holding a helmet under their arms, Ryder now dragging the unconscious Young Beasts behind him.

“Well now you’ve got a family kid. We can’t leave you he….”

           It was at that moment the other two gang members crashed the last bike into the CO2 scrubbers. The explosion shook the entire station. Hayden unfurled a see-through sheet and placed it on the ground, kneeling as he did so. It stuck to the floor like a magnet and a list popped up on the left side, the tiled surface of the dock showed through the rest of the sheet. The list had the different sections of the station named. He tapped the choice that read sub basement systems. The clear part of the sheet x-rayed through the floor of the dock and seemed to be looking for a vantage point on the explosion. It zeroed in and he saw one of the Young Beasts laying unconscious with an inferno in front of her, then a second explosion shook the station. This time the evacuation alarms started to sound. Ryder looked at me and said the weirdest thing I’d ever heard.

“You should actually go evacuate with the rest of the station, if the station doesn’t explode and we survive, we’ll adopt you. You need Beasts as parents if you don’t want to end up like these kids. Also, if you can hang on to that bike then I guess we can just say it blew up in the explosion.”

           I figured I had a few hours till the evacuation was complete. There would be a back up scrubber working in over-clock mode but we’d have to leave so they could run a full check of the station. I used those hours to change the appearance and sound of the Airjet 25 R and was able to hold onto it while we were transported to the frigid moon Antarctica II. The brief time I spent there I got a job doing colony messenger work. After we got back to the Station I was finally able to connect to the network and find out the names of the four people who said they’d be my family. Since then I’ve helped them corral the unruly Young beasts with my Airjet 25 R and they raised me like a Young Beast should be raised, like a human and not a monster.

Act Four

           A shuttle on it’s way to Epsilon 001 is carrying 4 people, two men, and two women. It’s a military grade shuttle but there are no weapons mounted, a fact the pilot is very nervous about given his destination. Three of his passengers are wearing the latest in space suit technology, each with 180 hours of air in case something went wrong and they were ejected into the vacuum. The suits look more like armor with a sizable tank on the back. The tank contained the air supply as well as the force-field generator. Each is red with a visible gray exoskeleton, designed to protect you from high speed impacts that can happen when you’re out and about in the vacuum. The mini force field generator is there to protect them from space debris. The vacuum is dangerous and some of the smallest pieces of debris can have an impact strength equal to 100 pounds of TNT. However one woman is wearing normal clothes with a short staff strapped to her waist. Her hair is braided on the opposite side of her head from one of the men who also has a short staff strapped to his waist. The other two have swords at theirs with matching tattoos on their necks.

“Honey how much longer until we get to Epsilon? I want to deal with these Young Beasts and get back home as quick as possible. I’m not as comfortable in the vacuum as I used to be. I’m sure the twins feel the same.”

“I could care less but that’s cuz I can survive in the vacuum, right Ryder?”

“Oh yeah bring that up again Rayne! Meanwhile, I’m in this suit and you’re not. I miss sitting on the surface of Mars and watching the stars without a visor skewing the light.”

“Look you two, don’t start fighting again.”

          The tattooed man walked over to a video panel on the wall and hailed the captain. His boots squeaking as he moved, meaning the suit was brand new out of the printer.

“Ahoy captain, how much longer till we get to Epsilon?”

“Well Hayden I’d say about 16 hours, 5 if we fire up the Vasimir’s after burner.”

“Well those Young Beasts are terrorizing the hell out of Epsilon 001 so I’d suggest you fire those up.”

“Yeah, I could, but what’s to stop them from trashing my little ship when I dock?”

“If that’s what you’re worried about then just line us up to their docking terminal and open the airlock. We’ll torpedo on over, we are Old Beasts after all.”

           Rayne, the woman without a space suit, shouted for joy.

“Hell yeah! I love doing that!”

          She pulled out a small device and tapped something into it, a second later “Rocket” by Def Leopard came on the sound system.

“You ready Ryder!?”

“Yeah sure, you psycho.”

          A red light started flashing and a yellow band appeared, wrapping itself into a circle while hovering in the middle of the room with the words “METEOR SHOWER IMMINENT” scrolling across.

“Strap in guys we got a….”

          Hayden was cut off as the pilot started evasive manoeuvres, throwing him from where he was standing into the opposite wall with a sickening crunch as his head made contact.

Act Two

         “The highly anticipated shipment of the Airbike Racing Series’s newest model is finally arriving at the largest Air Racing port in the galaxy today. The racing enthusiasts of Epsilon 001 are chomping at the bit to get a look at the new model in person. For more on the story we’re going to Jus Roissin, live on Epsilon 001.”

           “Thank you Hera, and she’s right, the residents of Epsilon 001 are out here in all their racing gear. Every person here representing their favourite team from each of the four quadrants. Some are even wearing their full high speed armour. The current generation of bikes can reach speeds of over 480 kph easily, 300 mph for everyone else, but the Airjet 25R is reported to be able to double that speed effortlessly and the armour looks the part. Compound curves and pointed edges offer the riders unparalleled aerodynamic protection, pressure skins underneath protect them against the G-Forces they experience while changing direction at those incredible speeds. But let’s see what these fans have to say about finally being able to see the latest in Air Racing technology. I’ve managed to corral James and Heather for a little insight into the excitement. So guys how excited are you for the…”

           Just then, the thousands of people that showed up to the dock were hit by a sonic-boom, the latest tell-tale sign of a Young Beast attack. It seems a few of those kids are able to cause massive air pressure changes and they always seemed to be the bad ones, hence the sonic-boom. When I could hear again, the cries of everyone at the docks were almost deafening. I was more focused on the fact that my ears hadn’t popped from the sound wave. Everyone around me had blood coming out of their ears, but mine were fine.

          It was then that I heard the amazing hum of the Air Jet 25R for the first time. All 9 of the Young Beasts shot over head and raced down the dock, 2 of them riding on the side of a building before they disappeared from view. All that I could hear the rest of the day was the sound of the bikes’ engines in my head replaying over and over. It was a high pitched hum that seemed to harmonize with itself without being earsplitting. It sounded like speed… and I wanted one, badly. The Young Beasts used the bikes for smash and grabs mostly. They hit banks and fast food stalls and always managed to get away. It would be a week before they crashed one into the CO2 scrubber modules.

The Second Book

There is one book I’ve completed not to long ago. I am now working on the second. A bit of an update to those who’d like something to read just to kill time.

Aurora Cave is the title of my first and it’s available for download for free on my google drive account.
Aurora Cave .pdf
Aurora Cave .epub

Two versions because I wanted to tangle with making epubs. It’s not a master piece of writing prowess but it’s a start and a pretty good one considering some of the things that get published nowadays.

My second Book will be released probably in the same manner. Being titled “Ubiquitous Digression of the Amorphous Kind” my hope is that the story is complex yet entertaining. I’m maybe 1/2 way done with the initial draft and then weeks if not months and months of editing.

The main character is a chef and he’s trying to figure out if his imaginary friends and an entire world from his childhood are fabrications of his mind or if they are actually real.

and now to your regularly sheduled blog roaming.

The Walking Tour

I’ve been here for a day but I can’t find anything that I want to do.

“New York is a big place Jason. You’ll have no problem finding something to keep yourself occupied with for 2 days while the rest of the family gets to the hotel.”

My aunt must be delirious. Once you get past all the flashy lights and the sidewalk vendors trying to sell you useless “I apple NY” shirts, there’s not much here besides spending money to do something. She has the money, I don’t. My hotel room has a pretty cool view of the city though. Gran-pappy died, my aunts grandfather that is, and left her a massive inheritance. Of course her first inclination was to go to New York and shack up at the Madarin Hotel. It seems I’m the only person in this family who doesn’t get plane sick or is deathly afraid of flying, I love flying actually. So I guess it’s because of family traits that I purchased my flight ticket the same day my aunt said she was going to buy the train tickets for her and the others. I just got a call from her saying that something happened to the tracks. The train had to stop in some random town in middle America until a bus could bring them the rest of the way. So now it’s just me in my awesome hotel room looking down at everyone else scurrying about, living their lives, I kind of feel bad really. It’s not that I don’t appreciate being here but she should be investing that money, at this rate she’ll be living in the outhouse back home. I also feel bad because I don’t feel like I’ve done anything to deserve this massive good amount of fortune.

I’ve been sitting in this room for the better part of 4 hours now and I’ve done nothing but listen to music from some classical station online and order food from room service. The city is really beautiful now that I think if it. They played one of my favourite songs just now though. Symphony number 7 the second movement, an Allegretto by Beethoven. My aunt called about an hour ago and said she’d beat me if I didn’t find the family something to do when they arrived. I asked her what I should look for, and her response was as expected.

“We’re tourists, find us a tour to go on silly!”

She wasn’t wrong. Back home I saw her break out all the cameras and lens’s she had collected over the years of her photography job. She was going to get real artsy with her pics and spam her instagram and tumblr with them. Her fans “demanded it” she told me. By fans I’m assuming she meant everyone in the family who were following her on those sites.

Now that I think about it, that classical station, WQXR I think is their name, said something about walking tours in Grand Central Station. My aunt’s words about us being tourists reverberated in my head like an echo in an abandoned mineshaft. Why not buy some tickets for when they get here, and since I’m bored I’ll get myself acquainted with it to help the others along. It’s not like there’s much else for me to do now anyways, I just hope I don’t get lost or lose this “Metro card” thing.

I had made it to Grand Central Station without incident so that was a plus. I walked in and this place was massive. I’m glad I had the idea to check it out first because with the patience my cousin Hellen has, we’d never be able to figure out where to go for what in this place without some time invested in wandering around. There were some long lines down on the main floor so I assumed that was where I had to go. The ceiling was so high is kind of made me nervous looking up at it, to avoid an anxiety attack I kept my view down and just at the massive crowd of people I’d soon be apart of… this would go well. I hoped to get to one of those ticket booths in one piece.

“Hi what can I help you with?”

The teller looked old as dirt but he had on a smile as wide as our Milky-Way.

“Yeah um, I wanna get um, well, I mean… is this where I can get the tickets for that umm, Grand Central tour thing?”

“Aww kid you didn’t have to come here to do that! You could’ve done it at home, or in your case more likely your hotel room.”

He looked at me sympathetically, almost as though he knew I was uneasy being around so many people without my family nearby. I was about to walk away feeling stupid for not checking online but I guess I really did want to walk around the Big Apple and take it in. Before I turned around though, the old man put his hand up, asking me to give him a moment. He bent down and I heard him rustling through some things and he popped up, that smile of his almost cheshire in appearance now.

“Well since you cam down here and you seem like a good kid, would you like to try out this guided tour? It’s something like you kids would call a beta test for a game. Every so often we hand these out to folks who want to see somethings that most tours don’t usually show tourists. No worries, since it’s in beta we won’t charge you just uh, make sure you bring it back to me when your done eh? HAHAHA!”

He was strange, not at all the kind of person I’d been told who works at these customer service kiosks. The audio gear was small, just a simple MP3 player and a pair of earbuds with the rubber tips in a plastic bag, probably for health concerns.

“Sure I’ll try it out, is there some kind of questionnaire that I have to fill out or something?”

“Eh don’t worry about that kid, when you come back I’ll have all that for you to fill out. As a matter of fact, I’ll hook you up. I’ll waive the fee for the tour I’m guessing you and your family want to go on, but we’ll take care of that when you get back too.”

The old man slipped the mp3 player and earbuds through the money slot at the bottom of the window. He yelled “next” and pressed a button turning on a light above his terminal. I smiled and walked away to an area that wasn’t so congested with people and set up my audio tour.

“Hello! And welcome to the Beta Test of the possible new Grand Central Terminal guided tour. Please press pause and go to the sign with the number 7 in a purple circle, I will now give you 5 seconds to pause the recording. 5, 4, 3, …”

I hit pause and looked around. The vagueness of the directions made this feel like some real life point and click adventure. I wasn’t sure how useful it would be for some other people though, my cousin Hellen specifically.

I had made it to the sign and saw the number seven. There were other numbers and letters next to it, all in coloured circles too with the word subway next to them. There were little shops in this part of the terminal, one of them had pastries. I’d have to remember where this was when I finished this tour thing. I made sure I was out of the way and facing the sign with the number 7 on it, then pressed play.

“2, 1…. This is the subway access tunnel. The number 7 stands for a train line that runs from right here in the city all the way to one of the other Boroughs, Queens specifically. Please continue down this way, a man will come out of a door and that will be the next stop on the tour. I will now give you five seconds to pause th recording, 5, 4…”

I hit pause again, slightly confused by the specific instruction. There wasn’t much in the way of information on this tour so far. But it was interesting. It seemed like a game sort of, or a guided treasure hunt, I could get into it. I walked down the hallway just as the recording said, a man walked out of a door. I waved to him as he passed and he said hi back. I had to admit, this level of detail and interaction was pretty cool. The door ahead was slowly closing, but I didn’t have to run to catch it, I got to the doorway, walked in and it clicked shut behind me as I pressed play.

“Man this place looks like it’s still under construction.”

“Please excuse the current state of side room 1 as the different areas of this tour are still under construction.”

I had to admit, whoever did the recording, the guy had a good idea of what to expect in terms of what people would say. It actually was a little creepy.

“Here behind the scenes is where we’ll show you the infrastructure of the terminal. The terminal is under constant upgrade and repair in order to meet the needs of the more than 750,000 people a day and 1,000,000 pe…”

“Damn 1 million people a day that’s..”

“A massive number in terms of logistics.”

“Ok that was creepy.”

The voice stopped talking for a few seconds and I stood there waiting for the next few seconds waiting for the next set of instructions.

“Oh right! Sorry I forgot I was recording… Um please continue along this pathway and make sure to take in the artwork by some of the best graffiti as well as fine artists we could commission. There will be a metal stairway that will lead you to the engine room. Another guide staff member will open the door you will walk through. I will now give you 5 seconds to pause…”

I paused and walked along the pathway. The paintings were really nice I guess. I was never one for graffiti or fine art but these looked pretty cool. I walked along and couldn’t help the feeling like I wasn’t supposed to be here. The old guy said the tour was in beta but I would’ve thought they would have done more work to the path way before letting people back here. I was almost at the stairway when I heard something fall up ahead. I guess it’s true with tours as it is with games, Beta is Beta, or in other words, things will definitely be incomplete or broken. I got to the stairway and one of the lights were flickering, I felt my anxiety climbing into my throat and at that moment I could have sworn there was someone breathing down my neck.

“They really need to fix these lights…”

I said nervously as I turned around and back again, checking my 6. I could’ve turned around but the old man said he would help me out with setting up the tour for my family so I figured it was best to continue on. Plus I was curious about how the engine room was going to look.

I got to the bottom of the stairs and saw the guide person standing at the door wearing a polo shirt with the word “staff” on it. She had on a beaming smile.

“How’s the interactive tour so far? Pretty neat huh?”

“Yeah it’s pretty cool I guess but you guys have a lot of work don’t you?”

She laughed.

“Yeah like that light at the top of the stairs, there’s something amiss with the wiring, one of the electricians said there’s a short and something about electromagnetic radiation that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.”

“So that’s what that was, felt like I was being watched.”

She laughed again, her matter of fact nature helped me calm down.

“Yeah, he said that can also make people think they’re seeing ghosts or feel some super natural presence is around them. Enjoy the rest!”

“Thanks and I will.”

She walked off, kind of hurriedly, up the stairs and I entered the engine room. That’s when it happened , I finally had an attack, when I saw how big the room was with all the pipes and massive boiler looking like things along with the other large machinery, along with the ceiling I couldn’t see because of how dark it was, it felt like the entire room was closing in on me. Ever since I was young I hated being around large things. Large art installations, those power substations, they all scared me. Even looking up at the sky could reduce me to a shivering child, day or night. Then I saw a large arc of electricity shoot off from something like 20 feet above me. It shot off from some massive connection terminal and looked like it was pulled into a glass tube further ahead. I couldn’t really see what was happening, but I was sure that this was a substation. I only knew because oddly enough I’m an electricians apprentice at one such a facility. My aunt said the only way to overcome your fears was to face them, and that’s what working at the substation back home was supposed to be for me. But this room went against all logic all this should be outside and far away from such a high volume of people! Just before I blacked out I got that feeling again, like someone was right behind me, close enough to bite my neck.

“Hey! HEY KID!”

When I finally came to, the entire room was lit up and I heard someone calling to me… from the MP3 player…

“Who’s there!”

“It’s me the voice that’s been guiding you this far, I’m also, (clears throat) the old man.”

“What is this place, your mad scientist kill room or something? How is this underneath New York City! Why is there a substation down here!”

“Oh so you know what this is! Excellent that will save us some time!”

“No not excellent! I can’t be here it’s too big!”

“That’s a strange form of claustropho…”

“I’m not claustrophobic! It’s like megalophobia and casadastrophobia put together. Now let me out of here!”

“I can’t do that Dave.”

“This isn’t the TIME FOR SPACE ODYSSEY REFERENCES!”

“Yeah, sorry kid, I couldn’t resist. But it’s still the truth, I can’t unlock that door until the next shift change. Upper Management won’t permit it, but you’ll be safe they won’t black bag you for seeing this room. Actually the don’t even know you’re here, we kinda slipped you in under the radar.”

“But I haven’t seen the room! I only saw that one arc shoot into the glass tube!”

“Right, you can’t look up… What’re you doing right now?”

“I’m about to piss myself scared while crawled up into a ball on the floor in front of the door!”

“Aren’t you interested in why I said we slipped you in?”

“Not at all…”

“Well either you can talk with me and try to mitigate this casadamegaphobia of yours or I can just stop talking to you and leave you all alone in the secret under ground power-plant.”

I didn’t answer him immediately, I was too busy trying to find my happy place. But what he said broke me out of my fear a little. My mind started wandering to questions of the glass tube and the fact that this substation was underground and yet it hummed beautifully, even with the odd arc shooting off every now and then… Actually they were shooting off at specific intervals… but why would that be apart of a substation design.

“Why indeed? I see you’ve got that brain of your workin! That’s a good thing! Guys we really lucked out by luring an electrician down there.”

“How’d you know what I was thinking!”

“You were thinking out loud kid… by the way how old are you?”
“I’m 20”

“Well mister 20 you are the first Ignorant to be inside The Power-plant. Congratulations!”

At this point I heard cheering in the background, not fake cheering from some soundboard, but genuine cheering as if the entire staff were applauding my current situation, which had a strange calming affect on me. My body relaxed and I listened to their happy voices and applause. You would’ve thought I just cured cancer or something, there as actual crying coming from some people. I sat up and my left earbud fell out. I accidentally looked at the facility and for the first time in my life, I wasn’t scared of a massive structure in front of me that wasn’t a building. I looked down the makeshift corridor that had massive switchgears on either side as well . They had to have been at least 15 feet high, with various other, what can only be described as highly modified flyback transformers on top, with arcs of electricity jumping back and fort between them as if they were… playing. I hadn’t noticed before but I must’ve descended more than a few stories down that staircase earlier. My hair standing on end must’ve made me blank out some of the descent.

I looked further down this “hallway” and saw where the soft humming was coming from. There was an impossibly huge rotating flywheel… drum thing, and the glass tube I saw earlier was aimed directly at it. The arcs of electricity started jumping back and forth faster and faster, keeping in rhythm with the rest of the sounds this facility was producing. Then the arcs raced down the transformer tops and launched down the large glass tube which must’ve bee at least 50 feet away from me, and slammed into the flywheel drum. The question finally left my mouth, my brain coming to terms with what I had to ask.

“How long ago was it started?”

“This facility has been running under it’s own power singing away like this for the better part of 60 odd years.”

“Who’s work is it based on?”

“Micheal Faraday purported the idea for the transmission arcs, but when Tesla died and his work confiscated, this facility was commissioned 4 years later based on his and Faraday’s designs… As well as others. Philo Farnsworth helped in the final redesign. He and a few others were told it was just an exercise in design but he like the others had a feeling that they were designing something to be added to an already existing system.”

“So… so is this the generator room instead of a substation?”

“No it is indeed the substation. The generator actually is in high contrast to this room, where this room is akin to the size of a large cathedral, the actual generator could fit in a large delivery van.”

“Who designed that?”

“Tesla… sort of…”

At this point I finally managed to stand, my legs were slightly wobbly but I managed to make them carry me towards the flywheel drum. It looked like a similar design to what NASA is using out on the space station for power collection/storage. It was spinning almost silently, you couldn’t her any mechanical evidence of bearings or physical linkages. It looked like it was floating in the middle of the facility. Plasma would arc onto it from the assorted glass tubes around it and then arc off onto metal balls in position position by the top of it, the arcing didn’t sound harsh and violent like lightning, it wooshed and crackled lightly, it sounded more like small static discharges snapping in rhythm.

“Where’s it going, the electricity. How much is this? Mega… Gigawatts?”

“A few levels higher than that actually, more in the Yottawatt range, 3 a year to be precise.”

Inside, my mind was dropped in a bath of chaos. 3Yottawatts a YEAR! That’s far more than the entire world uses! I didn’t want to believe it but considering I was currently in this impossible facility underground, I decided things would go by faster if I just accepted everything at face value. Then my mind quickly jumped back to what he said just before and I didn’t know how to think again. How could the generator be smaller than this massive place?! It went against all logic and knowledge I have about electrical systems.

“Where is the generator… room?”

“Well where are you standing right now kid? Security cameras aren’t allowed in there, but I’ve got the place mapped out in my head.”

“Well… I walked forward from the door and I’m now standing in front of the big spinning thing.”

“Right, the flywheel… from there, standing straight in front of it, turn 90 degrees right and you should be able to walk down “E Path”. From there there’s going to be a circular bulk-head-like door and you should be able to lift the latch on the left of it and and walk in, after that walk down the little flight of stairs and you should be able to see the generator…. How’s the tour?”

“Not funny.”

“Sorry…”

I had to give it to the guy, he knew about such a big secret and was still acting like it was nothing. At this point though I still didn’t know what to think, my mind was a complete blank. You could’ve asked me my name at that moment and I probably would have said I don’t know. I walked down E Path with nothing but the rhythmic humming of the substation separating me from total silence. It looked just like the other Path I walked down after the door. This bulk head didn’t seem like it was meant to keep anything out or in, but it seemed to serve some kind of purpose, what exactly I couldn’t tell. It was a large circle and I couldn’t see where the hinges were. The entire face was smooth and there were no hand-holds on it save for the latch that just seemed to be resting on it. I lifted it up and I heard a quiet beep, the door slid straight up without so much as a smooth metal on metal sound.

“Static magnetic field, change the magnetic circuit and you change the nature of the field, in this case causing the door to open.”

I nodded my head but said nothing as I stepped through and made my way down the stairs. When I got to the bottom I saw what just then became the strangest thing I’ve ever seen. The temperature of the room seemed to drop and there was a fog hovering close to the ground. The walls were devoid of anything but strange metallic plates that stretched out in all directions. Each leading to, or rather, coming from a large glass sphere in the center of the room. It was hovering there perfectly still and motionless with something sitting on the inside of it on the bottom. There were two cylinders counter rotating, each inside of a bundle of strangely wound coils that were wrapped in a cage of what I assumed was iron that seemed ornate and intricately designed. I wasn’t and still am not sure how any mechanical process could have made the cage. It was wrapped around and through the assembly in a way that looked like it was grown instead of forged. What I assumed were the copper coils never extended outside of the outer most part of the cage, even though there were “roots” or “branches” that snaked around and through nearly every thing else save for the rotating cylinders.

“What is it?”

“We don’t know.”

“Where did it come from?”
“We don’t know”

“How long does it run for.”

“As far as we know… perpetually.”

“What is it powering?”

“We aren’t allowed to know.”

“Why are you showing me this.”

“We physically cannot tell anyone, Whoever found the cage first figured out how to make people swear an unbreakable promise. A perfect swearing of secrecy. No one can tell anyone who hasn’t seen it anything about it…. no one who’s made the promise that is.”

I heard the smile in the mans voice and before I could ask him something the battery on the communicator died. I stood there and laughed for what must’ve been a few minutes. Here I was staring perpetual motion in the face and the electronic device I was using to talk about it ran out of power. He said I had a few hours until the door could be opened. I looked at my phone which luckily still had power and saw that it was almost 6 o’clock. I took pictures of the generator as well as video and wrote down notes about what part I thought connected electrically or magnetically to another. Every piece was important but I felt that the cage was the most important. Then I sat there, looking at and listening to this thing hum it’s rhythmic tone for the next few hours.

When the girl came and got me she lead me back to the main atrium of the terminal. I looked up at the ceiling and felt no form of anxiousness or fear, just wonderment. I walked back to my hotel room and the guy who played the old man was waiting at my door.

“What am I supposed to do?”

“What do you think you should do?”

“Tell someone.”

“Aren’t you afraid something might happen to you?”

“To be honest something already has…”

He patted me on the shoulder, walked down the hall, pushed open the door to the exit stairs and that was the last I saw of him. When my family arrived 2 days later they did nothing but enjoy the spa here and have big dinners. We all piled into one room and watched movies with the shade open at night so the lights of the city could pour in. I didn’t tell them while we were still in the city. I figured one of two things would happen. Either the Grand Central Staff had actually kept my visit a secret from “Upper Management” or they missed something. When the day came 3 weeks later that our vacation in New York was over and I hadn’t been visited by the men in black, I knew I was scott-free. I now had in my possession the most dangerous information that had ever existed, what did I plan to do with it now?

Previous Older Entries