Ripple

Get back to work, I said. Get back to work…

At exactly 18:57:09, as I was sitting at my desk, waiting for a transmission, I suddenly felt a presence behind me. I swiveled in my chair and shrieked as I found one of the wraiths towering above me, grinning. Without warning, he lurched forward, yanked me out of my chair, and tossed me to the ground.

The wraith screamed, “I got him! I got him!”. Immediately, a whole crowd of them stormed in and grabbed my arms and my feet as I tried to punch and kick my way loose. Within seconds they had me fully restrained. Then, a completely solid and very real Dr. Alfieri stepped into view and grinned, “Well look what we’ve got here.” I wheezed in horror as he removed a pair of handcuffs from his jacket pocket. The men rolled me over and Dr. Alfieri slapped the cuffs on my wrists.

“Get the chopper ready,” he said. “And phone McMurdo. Tell them we have the prisoner. I don’t know how, but we have him.”

I squirmed and tried to wrestle them off, but there were too many. “You’re not going anywhere, asshole,” one of them said. I cursed in protest and spit sideways at his face. He wiped his cheek and muttered, “Big mistake, Robertson.” Then he raised his fist and swung. I cringed, but his fist sliced through my face and struck the floorboards. He howled in pain.

In that instant, the handcuffs sluggishly slipped through my wrists and clattered to the floor. Then my captor’s hands started slipping through my arms and legs. One of them lost their balance and fell over. “We’re losing him!” someone hollered. “Get ahold of him, Goddamnit!” screamed another. “He’s fading!” said another. But their voices and the scuffling of their feet got quieter and quieter, then became distant and dreamlike, until the room was completely silent, and their forms started to ripple into transparency. Then whatever doorway that had opened and let them in clicked shut, and they were gone. I rolled over onto my back and stared at the bottom of my chair until I caught my breath.

I got to my feet, my body sore from the blows and the grips they had on me, and, shaking, reached for the J&B. I picked it up, raised the bottle, but paused, and set it back without taking a drink. On my monitor was a flurry of activity from the Array, what looked like dozens and dozens of transmissions. I kicked the chair out of the way, turned off the web cam, and double clicked the .avi file it had recorded.

I forwarded the recording to 18:57:00 and hit play. There I was on the screen, sitting at my desk, staring at the monitor as the seconds ticked away. 18:57:02, :03, :04… nothing unusual. :05, :06, :07, :08. Then at exactly 18:57:09… the screen turned black. “Oh God,” I exhaled, pawing for my chair. I sat down, watching the darkness on the screen. Nothing. Then one minute later, at exactly 18:58:09, an image of myself  holding the bottle of J&B appeared. I watched myself put the bottle to my lips, then set it back down without taking a drink. Then I saw myself bend over… and the recording stopped.