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Archive for September, 2012

Anomalosity III

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Okay, so I wrote Anomalosity III in response to the theme for this months Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Speculative Fiction Writer’s Group meeting, which was National Preparedness.  I was a little rushed as I was also writing a story for the public reading we’re doing on Oct. 28.  When I read the story to the group I could see/hear it had many faults.  I hope I’ve cleaned up much of that.  So here is Anomalosity III — I hope you enjoy it.

Anomalosity III

September 2012

 

Harwich, England 

“Hello, Mr. Nostrum. I’m the Executive Director of U.C.U.E. And you must be the ‘investigative reporter’ from the States.” The director rose from behind his desk and reached across to shake the reporter’s hand. The director was tall and lean, with a shock of unruly white hair and an irregular but good-natured face. The reporter was less than average height, with a shock of brown hair, and a round and friendly face that fit his somewhat stocky body. “I understand you are looking into the ‘die offs’. We here at U.C.U.E. have been looking as well.”

“The ‘die offs’ are alarming, and please call me Tim.”

“It is alarming. Bats, bees, varieties of fish, some crop staples… When they are gone, what happens?”

“That’s my questions, Mr. Stratos: what happens? Does everything on earth line up and march off into oblivion and something else take our place? What do you think?”

“Anything U.C.U.E. has to offer now by way of explanation is pure speculation.”

The reporter became earnest.

“Please tell me your speculation. I need guidance for my next step. Your network has ears and eyes.”

Stratos took a deep quiet breath and gauged the man standing before him.

“You’ve come a ways to be here, Mr. Nostrum.”

“I have.”

“You are independent. It must cost you a pretty penny to gadabout the world seeking what is behind crop circles, cattle mutilations, and archaeological mysteries.”

Nostrum chuckled.

“I am far from affluent”

Stratos chuckled.

“I admire you, Mr. Nostrum. Most of my time is taken up with fund raising and administrative tasks. Sadly I have no time for fieldwork. But I’ve read your work. You are not a sensationalist. I can see how your books and articles appeal to those with an appetite for the unusual delivered in a clear and factual manner.”

Stratos sat down behind his desk, picked up an old-fashioned fountain pen and slip of fine notepaper from beneath the desk blotter, and jotted down several brief lines.

“Go here, Mr. Nostrum. Seek out this man. He operates a boat yard. Show him this note. He’ll know from the watermark who penned it. Please be discreet.”

Nostrum took the note, glanced at it briefly and tucked it into an inside pocket.

“Thank you, Mr. Stratos.”

The two shook hands and parted. Once outside Nostrum took out the note and studied it closely:

Neils Amondson

Admondson Maritine Facilities

Bjork, Sweden

He quickly did a mental assessment of his finances.

“Yeah that’s it,” he said to himself. “Here to Hoock of Holland, bum a few rides, make a train connection, get across Denmark, ferry to Sweden… Crap, like I can really afford this.”

Bjork, Sweden

It was a beautiful setting, a picturesque inlet with a narrow outlet to the sea. A series of docks and slips lined the waterfront. Pleasure boats were tied up at one side, and small work boats at the other. The sounds of people and machines at work, the cries of seagulls, and the fragrance the tides filled the air. Two men stood before a large work shed.

“You bare a note from my good friend. Welcome!”

“Thank you, Mr. Amondson.” Nostrum paused and smiled at Amondson. “You hear of things that happen along the coast.”

“Yes. Nothing escapes the water people.”

“I’ve been investigating the ‘die offs’ in various places around the world. Bees here in Europe and the States. Bats I the States. Some large mammals in Africa. Some ethnic groups in Africa.”

“I’ve heard about those things too,” Amondson said. “But I don’t think that is why our mutual friend sent you to me.”

“No?” Nostrum said.

“Come with me,” Amondson said and beckoned the American reporter to follow.

They walked through a spacious work shed, out the back side, and across the rear of the boat yard to a thick tree line of conifers.

“Careful here,” Amondson said as he parted boughs and stepped onto a path of uneven rocky ground. “You can easily turn and ankle.”

Once through the tree line they walked along a narrow path. Before long they approached the tightly knitted limbs of a cluster of trees. It looked impenetrable. Amondson lifted the woven branches passed beneath.

“Jeez,” Nostrum said beneath his breath. “Where are we going?”

But as he pressed through the ferny barrier he entered a dry rocky room – a cave.

“We are not conspiracy theorists, Mr. Nostrum. But we are also not fools. I will be careful about what I am about to show you.” He picked up a small electronic device about the size of a paperback book. “Here are two videos. The first is from a cell phone that was recovered from the pocket of a life vest that washed up onto shore not far from here. The second is also from a cell phone, one of our ‘operatives’, you might say, who came upon two bodies washed up on shore about 60 kilometers from here.”

He activated the device. The screen displayed a shaky video of what appeared to be a very large sea creature close alongside a fishing boat, tangled in its net.

“My God,” said Nostrum. “That looks like some pre-historic beast. Are you saying that is real?”

“We think so. Not so much from examination of the video, but from reports from other fishing vessels of terrifying sea creatures.”

He started the second video. It began by focussing on a body in deep-sea scuba gear, gently rolling in the waves by the shore. The face behind the helmet was bloated, the one eye that was open was milky white. Gradually the view moved to frame another figure, very large and dull gray black. A giant man-like figure, but desiccated looking. It was hard to tell what it was wearing, if anything at all. Its head was triangular in shape, just depressions where eyes and mouth might be. Its feet were huge, as were its claw-like hands.

“What’s that?” Nostrum said.

“That’s our question too, Mr. Nostrum. The man in the dive gear is David Sezzling, a member of a salvage company that discovered the ‘Anomaly’ on the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Have you heard about it?”

“Yes,” said Nostrum.

“The UFO people think it is an alien spaceship,” Amondson said. “Some believe it a natural geologic feature. Who knows? All we know is that no one seems to be able to get near it.”

“And that dark gray figure – a man in a monster suit?”

“Who knows? But I lean towards the UFO people’s explanation. I think that ‘creature’ is a genuine alien.”

“What about the person who took these videos?”

“The one of the sea monster? That person we believe is dead and for the reason that you see in the video. The other… Like I said, Mr. Nostrum, he is one of our associates. He was arrested and his cell phone confiscated, but not before he emailed the video to us.”

“And your associate?”

“He was released. It was made plain to him that he is watched. He is of no use to us for the moment.”

“Albert Stratos insinuated that some events are related.”

“Yes,” Amondson said. “Have you heard about the outbreak at the university? The sealed building there, the infirmary?”

“Yes, I heard about the quarantine. And everyone was evacuated from the campus.”

“And the town!” Amondson said. “That’s hard to cover up. The authorities put forward that they’re being careful about a virulent case of meningitis.”

“But you think?” Nostrum asked.

“They sealed that building hermetically, with people inside. Still Alive.”

“How do you know this?”

“A call from a professor to one of our associates.”

“And what did this Professor say?”

“Something about the tooth of a different kind of marine animal.”

“The one in the video?” Nostrum asked.

“Discovered in a wood fragment from a fishing vessel that was wrecked.” Amondson paused. “Mr. Nostrum, you see the connections. Would you agree to become an ‘associate’?”

“How?”

“Keep doing what you are doing. You have a public visibility: the investigative reporter of the unusual. If you disappeared your followers will want to know where and why.”

“And you’re not the conspiracist?

“I’m the realist. We cannot communicate directly again for a while, but when we do approach you, you will know us by these signs…”

 

Dyke, Virginia

“Grrrrr! Stop that!” Eddie Shifflett yelled at his lab top computer.

“Eddie! Stop that yellin’!” his mother yelled.

Eddie huffed and grimaced.

“Stupid stupid,” he said.

He tried again to enter his on-line fantasy game. Again the screen froze. Eddie rapped keys rapidly, then beat his hands on the paperboard desk.

“Arghhhh… What the???”

The Blue Screen of Death became a palette of swirling pastille colors.

“Woooah! What’s this?”

Eddie tried punching a few keys and moving the mouse, but to no effect. Then letters began to emerge:

“Am. Am. Am.”

“Am?” Eddie said. “Like A.M in the morning?”

“Am. Am. Am.”

“Am what?” Eddie said. “A friggin butthole?”

“Am here. Am here. Am here.”

“Woooah! Who’s here?”

“Eddie! Who are you talking to?” his mother yelled.

“Never mind her, Am Here. What else have you got to say?”

The colors on the screen changed, melding together, becoming pure, then melding again. In yellow letters came, “Here. Here. Am here. You here.”

“Yeah, and don’t we all wish we were somewhere else.”

“Am here.” The words appeared this time green on a blue screen.

“Okay,” Eddie said. “Malware. I’m talking to malware.”

The lights went out.

But on the dark screen words continued to appear.

“Eddie! What did you do!” his mother screamed.

“I didn’t do nothing, Ma!”

“Am here.”

The words kept repeating. Eddy rapped on the keyboard and even hit the power button, but nothing interrupted the flow of words. He picked up a small radio and stuck the ear buds in his ears. Static. He rolled the tuning control backwards and forwards and found a couple blips in the static. He slowly tuned the control and found a signal, as he watched the words “Am here” repeat to where half the screen was filed with them. The blip in the static blurted into a broadcast. A singsong monotonous voice announced: “A blackout has struck North America. Some networks, amateur radio operators, ships at sea have sporadic communications. Government and armed forces…”

The broadcast ended.

“Hey, Ma! There’s a blackout everywhere!”

“Shut up and come help me find a flashlight!”

Eddy took a last look at the lap top screen.

“Am here.”

“Listen, Am Here. Go shove it!”

Eddy hit the power button again, but the computer didn’t turn off.

“Some damn blackout,” he said and pushed away from the laptop. He didn’t see the last words appearing at the very bottom of the screen:

“Want talk. Help.”

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