Lying in bed in his small suburban apartment, Alex P. Rho stared at his shut eye lids in deep thought of the life-form. He was supposed to be a pencil pusher in the FBI, never to be exposed to the deepest of their classified secrets. It was because of his poor vision that he was not able to be a field agent.
It was not because of a privilege, but because of his curiosity that he was able to see it. He was in his office that day organizing a request to the Bureau of Land Management. The day had been very normal except that his coffee had a peculiar taste to it.
That was no big deal. But the strange amberescent fog creeping under his doorway in the late afternoon was. At first he thought it was his vision acting up again.
When he looked again it was more dense and began to cover his entire office floor about 6 inches deep. A slight bit of panic rushed through him. He opened the door and the stuff was all the way down the hall. His curiosity drug him downstairs to the basement and to some large steel doors. To his surprise they were not locked. Entering, he saw through the fog: guards lying unconscious all over the room.
His rank never permitted him to be in this large cylindrical room before. Through the pouring fog he saw an operating table with a bright overhead lamp illuminating it. When he got to the table he saw a mass. It was like the fog only more dense. He reached out to touch it.
It didn’t occur to him that it was a life-form until it began to speak to him telepathically. It didn’t speak words, but feelings. Suddenly a burst of fog filled the air around Rho’s head.
The next thing he knew, he was waking up from a deep sleep on a bus bench in the city. It was nine p.m. so he too the bus home.
Now he lay analyzing the things it “spoke” to him. It gave him a sudden feeling of no hope, as if her were up against a Juggernaut.
He distinctly remembered that bit could not, for the life of him, distinguish its meaning. After some time he finally fell asleep.
When he awoke the next morning he had a very distinct feeling he had been involved in some sort of activity during the night. As his eyes focused to the morning light he was jumped with profound astonishment. His little apartment had a dark tint to it. The windows were broken, the wall paneling broken or missing. There was no furniture left, the carpet trampled flat and black with dirt. He ran to the kitchen to find it in the same condition. The refrigerator overturned, the counters broken and busted, cupboards open.
This could not be what he felt like he from last night. No, this would have taken much longer than the night. He fell to a sitting position an ran his hands through his hair. He thought hard about last night. The harder he thought, the more he recalled.
Now he could see it…he was suddenly awakened by his front door opening, he saw through his room door as the door slowly creeked open. This little thing rolled in on four little wheels. It was like a little robot. It rolled up next to his bed. What’d it do next? He couldn’t…quite…remember. The next memories came in flashes. A flash of a metal structure over his bed. A haunting flash of about 5 people in his room – none of them had pupils. A flash of a needle in…in his heart! Then a flash of a super bright light and then he couldn’t remember anything after that.
He looked at his chest and saw the reddish sore spot where the needle had been – confirming the nightmare a reality.
Suddenly he had an idea. He found a cracked digital clock on the counter. He hit the mode button, it read: 5:20:82
“What?” he opened the drawer next to the phone. The phone book read: “June – December 2080” His heart began to beat faster. He ran to a window. The view, all though polluted, was breath taking. The buildings were totally new to him. They were sinister looking, darker and pointier than buildings of his time.
He ran to his room and opened his closet for some clothes. He found some odd colored shirts and some jeans with what looked like earrings all over them. He put the clothes on and found some shoes that were a lot like his only the same bright colors as the shirts.
Rho opened the front door and saw his apartment building was surrounded by a police line. A black and white car drove up. It was very rounded and could almost be compared to 1930’s style of cars. It was almost totally silent. A man dressed in black stepped out and pointed at Rho.
“What’re ya doin’ behind the lines?” Rho was startled. This was obviously a police officer.
“I’m lost, I…” he almost started to tell the officer he was from the year 1997, but knew that would sound ridiculous. “I um -”
“Shut up! I don’t care – just get out of that area before you catch Woodfarce and spread it to the entire city!” Rho did as the man said. Woodfarce?
Rho looked up at a giant video-billboard that had a woman on it saying “Get your Spacecompacitor bulbs here at Ecocity. The corner of Bush and Fairway”
Rho crossed the street and entered an alley. Suddenly the air in front of him was distorted as if looking through heat vapors. Then, right before him, a human resolved out of the air.
“Alex Rho I presume,” said the man with shoulder length white hair.
“Yes,” Rho stepped back startled.
“I need to tell you what you’re doing here,”
“I’ll say,” he said a little unsure.
“Let’s get something to eat, shall we? – Oh – uh, you can call me Vectern,” he said with a smile. Rho followed him around the corner and a little way down the block to a building that was a giant glass bubble with tables and chairs inside. A door opened as they neared. They sat at a table.
Rho couldn’t help but notice there was no where to order and there were no waitresses. Vectern touched the center of the round little table and said “How ’bout a couple of Chenburgers?” About 20 seconds later two burgers materialized under a beam of light that seemed to be coming from the glass roof.
“So- uh – Vec, what am I doin’ in the year 2082? Or is this dream?” Rho asked almost sure of the latter.
Vectern laughed at his new nickname. “The story goes like this: You see, in the year 3052 a gang of “cyber outlaws” invented a long distance blackzoner. It’s a device that can copy anyone’s personal infodiscs anytime almost anywhere.”
“So where do I come into this?”
“You, Mr. Rho, in the year 2057 at the age of 77, invent the Magnotron. The Magnotron quickly and efficiently renders the blackzoner useless simply by pointing it in the direction of the blackzoner.
“Cool, but…um why am I here?”
“That group of cyber outlaws call the Vendicators want to kill you.”
“Why didn’t they just go to my time and shoot me?”
“It would have caused a ripple effect which would have damaged their own society. They know because…Mr.Rho, they killed you once…”
After Rho let that sink in, he asked “So who brought me here?”
“They brought you here to kill you. Apparently they figure your disappearance from your time won’t cause the ripple effect.”
“So I’m going to live here now?”
“No, they still want to kill you. That’s what I’m here for – to make sure you get back to your time and the Vendicators never reach you.”
“So you’re gonna take me home?”
“Not yet, you have to hang out with me until I can erase the Vendicators from time.”
“What year are you from?”
“I’m from the year 7024.”
“I can’t even comprehend that!” Rho said running his hand through his hair.
“OK, here’s the plan: we need to know every little minute detail we can get about the Vendicators. The first step is to follow them through time. Though they are from 3052, they’re probably not home. The best way to track them is use the same method of time travel they use. Their method requires the blood to be pumped full of Mytrokeltoxidyl 20. They do this by injection into the heart.”
“They did that to me,” Rho said rubbing his chest.
“Yes, I know. We’re going back to the moment they did that to you to get the syringe for ourselves.”
It clicked to Rho that the little robot must have been a Vendicator.
“Here, put these in,” Vectern slid two little contact cases to Rho. “They protect your retinas against the superbright ultraviolet flash caused by my method of time travel.
Suddenly a memory flashed in Rho’s mind. 5 people with no pupils! We he himself one of them?
“Are you ready?” asked Vectern. He pointed a little camera-like device at him then pushed a button.
Then – there they were! In Rho’s cuddly apartment in 1997. It was dark. They walked into his room. His knees felt weak and he got light headed as he saw himself in bed! The little robot had the syringe in its claws. The metal structure around his bed looked more like some sort of computer. Rho looked to his right and saw three other people with the contacts in their eyes.
One of them was another Vectern! Just as the old Vectern snatched the syringe out of the Vendicator robot’s hand, the new Vectern pointed the camera thing at him. Rho noticed himself starting to fade and then boom!
Rho, the new Vectern and the two others with him were in a large white room. “I’m sorry Mr. Rho, I realized my blunder would have cancelled everything we’d done. If I didn’t let that Vendicator robot inject Mytrokeltoxidyl into your blood, the time travel would have killed you. That’s why you’re half non-existent now! We caught you just in time! We’re now in the year 7024. This is my laboratory.”
“Well…uh, what are we gonna do about the Vendicators now?”
“Well, Mr. Rho, we’ll simply have to devise a new plan. You can help us with this one…” Vectern said with a slight smile.
Rho was about to ask when they started when his mouth was suddenly covered by a large hand. He saw his arm being injected with a green fluid. He passed out.
Rho awoke in a small black cell. When his vision cleared he noticed a tiny old man next to him. The man looked like he should have died decades ago. The man looked at Rho “Welcome to hell” he said.
“Where am I?”
“You are now a Vecternian Time Slave…”
“NO! Vectern lied to me!” Rho yelled and the little man began to laugh as if that was the most obvious thing he’d ever heard. Rho fell down to the floor. “Is this really 7024?”
“Yes, my name is Bor. I’m originally from the year 3045. I was born June 18th, 3030, been here since ’45” Rho lay down trying to digest all that had happened. He fell into a deep sleep.
He stood up and walked down the dark path that led him to a garden. Through the night he saw a girl with a translucent glow. He heard a voice say “Warning” Rho felt the girl was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.
“Alex P. Rho” her whispered voice seemed to come from all directions. “You have been chosen to save this universe,” she said as she began to fade.
“But what do I…?” he backed up and looked at the night sky. Forming was a cloudy face of Vectern filling the entire night sky.
“This universe is mine! Find a way out or die!” the Vectern said.
And then Rho woke up in his cell screaming. When he stopped, the little man Bor asked “Bad dreams? They cause them to happen with that green junk they put in our veins. Heh…” Bor began to wheeze and cough uncontrollably.
“Does the green stuff cause this?” Rho pulled out of his pocket a glowing blue stone. At that moment a guard stepped up in front of their cell. He turned around and opened the cell across from them.
“Time to work boys!” he pulled out two men who looked beaten down.
When they left , Rho looked at the stone closely. He noticed it was sharp and thought it might cut through the bars of the cell. When he touched it to a bar, it melted right through. “Whoa!” not 10 seconds he cut them a door. Bor pushed him aside and ran left down the hall. Just as he was about to round a corner, a guard stepped around the corner, a guard stepped out and with a laser beam he cut Bor’s head off.
Alex ran to his right and took a left into another corridor.