More TTC to start off the New Year right!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas holiday and that you’re all looking toward a bright, new 2018! To kick it off right, I wanted to share another chapter of The Time-Traveler’s Cat!

CHAPTER THREE

Piper rubbed his face, looking at the clock. If it hadn’t been important, the time would have dragged by, but now that it was, it seemed like time was standing still.

He shook his head, blowing a breath between his lips as he looked down at the paper he’d been scribbling on all day. Formulas and graphs filled up the page, with lines crossing out some parts, and pencil-eraser marks nearly wearing holes through the paper.

“Well?” Daniel called, turning in his chair.

Piper shook his head, handing the mess of mathematics to his friend. “I just don’t know what I’m missing,” he said, his throat hoarse with exhaustion.

Daniel took the paper and looked over it, his glasses sliding down his nose as he did so. “Some of this looks like math,” he said slowly. “And some of it looks like you’re crazy.”

Piper scowled as Daniel tossed the paper toward him. “Not helpful,” he snapped, turning the paper over to reveal a blank backside.

“Look, it’s nothing to worry about, okay?” Daniel said, leaning across the cubicle. “Just finish running the wires tonight and we’ll bring the team in tomorrow to review the formulas.” He offered a helpful smile. “You always think best when you’re surrounded by those morons.”

Piper’s lips quirked slightly. “This is true.” He leaned back in his chair. “I still need to tell Charlotte the news.”

Daniel waved his hand as he turned away. “Good luck with that.”

Piper moved to his feet and dug his comm out of his desk drawer. He left their lab and stepped into the hallway, lifting the device to try to get a good signal. Beyond the window at the end of the hallway, Piper could see clouds gathering, lightning illuminating the sky. Tonight would have been a great night to stay in.

He leaned against the wall, scrolling to Charlie’s number. He pressed the call button, holding the phone out in front of him. It rang a few times before she answered, her smile filling the screen.

“Hey there, cutie,” she said teasingly. “Thinking about later?”

Piper felt the tension ease a bit as he returned her grin. “Well, yes and no,” he said slowly. He watched the smile slide from her face.

“What’s up?” she asked.

“Bobby’s making me stay late since I was late this morning,” he said, slumping back against the wall.

Charlie’s face fell and Piper felt his heart twist. “Oh,” she said.

“I’m so sorry, babe,” he said quickly. “I promise I’ll make it up to you.”

Charlie glanced over her shoulder and Piper got a glimpse of the dining room table set with candles and plates, prepared to host a meal. “I guess I’ll put the food in the warmer,” she said, her voice heavy with disappointment.

“I’ll be there as soon as I can,” Piper promised. “I’ll be on the seven o’clock train and home before seven-thirty.”

Charlie nodded as she looked at him. “Okay,” she said. “Just be safe.”

Piper nodded. “I will.” He tried to smile at her. “Can I get a hint at what your surprise is?”

The mischievousness returned to her eyes then. “Nope,” she said, the comm jiggling a bit as she walked into the kitchen. “You’re just going to have to wait.”

Piper sighed in annoyance, even though a grin was on his face. “Fine,” he said. He made a kissy-face at the camera. “I gotta get back to it. I love you.”

Charlie smiled. “Love you too,” she said.

Piper disconnected the call, tucking the comm into his pocket. He turned to go back into the lab, feeling a strange mixture of excitement and irritation. He wanted to go home and eat dinner with his girlfriend. His eyes landed on the machine inside the containment room. He did not want to be here messing with that thing.

He managed to sit still at his desk until the clock struck five. He also managed to keep his mouth shut as Daniel ragged on him on his way out the door. Once he was alone, he looked at his computer, pulling up the design schematics for the machine. He sent the wiring codes to his comm, standing and walking to the refrigerator in the corner.

It was small, but the perfect size for them to throw their lunches and extra sodas in. He popped the top on one, taking a sip and setting the can on his desk as he put his hand on his hip. He glared hard at the machine through the glass.

“This better not take all night,” he said to it.

The machine, of course, didn’t answer, but it looked like it was taunting him as it sat there, shining in the bright laboratory lights.

Finally, Piper knew he had to do the inevitable. He walked toward the door to the containment room, shrugging off his coat and opening the door. He pulled on a different white coat, one that was supposed to be ‘clean’, and headed toward a toolbox nearby. He pulled out the comm, flicking it to make the diagram jump into a hologram.

He set the schematics next to the machine on a work bench and pulled out a tool. His heart was pounding as he stepped inside the door to the machine. It was cool and crisp inside the door as Piper knelt under the dashboard of flickering lights. He found wires that still needed to be connected and run, and he set to work.

For the most part it was pretty mindless, but his fingers were raw from splicing and twisting the copper pieces. He glanced at the clock beyond the room after a while, thankful to see that it was almost time for him to go. He reached for the last green wire, feeling a smirk coming to his face.

It seemed like he’d be home earlier than he thought.

He lifted a pair of pliers and stripped the rubber away, leaving the copper innards bear. He did the same to a black wire, his mind in other places. He was thinking about what Charlie had made for dinner, and what they would get up to afterwards. His brain was on auto-pilot as he pulled the strands together, giving a good twist.

 

CHAPTER FOUR

A siren suddenly began to blare in Piper’s ears, making him drop the pliers and cover his head. He jumped to his feet, fear filling him as he thought back to his uncertainties about the math. He was almost to the door when it suddenly slammed, the dashboard flickering brightly as all the lights turned on.

“Oh, hell no!” Piper yelled, pulling desperately at the door. He knew it had a lock that was trigged from the outside, but none of it should have been functional yet.

“Hello!” he yelled, his voice cracking. “Help!”

The machine suddenly began to vibrate, the sound of motors whirling to speed filling his ears. Piper was yelling curses over the siren as he ran to the dashboard, trying to make heads or tails of the code that was racing across the screen. He pushed buttons, trying to get it to slow down, but it just sped up.

“Come on!” he yelled angrily, slamming his fist on the console. He blinked stupidly when the scrolling stopped, four bright green numbers stuck on the screen.

2028

“What the…?”

The machine suddenly rattled, throwing him backwards, away from the console. A deafening sound filled the machine, like the sound of a gun-shot. Then, just like that, everything was still.

Piper was breathing hard as he stared at the console, wondering what had just happened. He scrambled to his feet when he heard the lock on the door slide open, a hissing sound filling the room. He dashed out, desperate to get away from the damn thing, but unprepared for what awaited him just beyond the door.

As he staggered out into darkness, a cold feeling of dread came over him.

The sky was black. Shadows danced between the trees that surrounded Piper as he dashed through the brush. He could feel brambles and twigs grabbing at him, as if they were gnarly fingers, trying to trap him. Panic was filling him as he struggled through the dense forest. He could smell smoke and he finally caught himself around a tree, turning to look at where he’d come from.

The machine was leaning precariously, sitting in a small crater in the earth. The trees around it had been smashed and broken, and Piper stared at the door. Inside, the lights flashed, the siren still sounding loudly, echoing throughout the forest.

He drew a ragged breath, trying to decide where the hell he was. Had the machine worked? Had his worries about the numbers been accurate?

Piper wiped sweat from his brow. He definitely wasn’t in Crystalline City anymore, and this definitely was not the year 3088. The sky was too clear, and the night air tasted too clean.

A sudden screech made him jump, and he held tighter to the tree he hid against, swinging around. Unfamiliar sounds began to echo through the woods, making Piper tremble. He glanced back at the machine, knowing that he had two options: stay and die, or run and maybe survive. He chose to run.

Dashing like a madman, Piper ran through the tangled mass of trees until his lungs burned and his legs felt like lead weights. It felt like he was running in circles, all of the trees looking the same. Finally, unsure of how long he’d been crashing his way through, Piper staggered toward a fallen tree, collapsing on it.

He was definitely going to be late for dinner.

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The Sword in the Ceiling – Part 2

Today I want to share with you all part 2 of The Sword in the Ceiling. Catch part one here if you haven’t read it yet! Enjoy!


[2]

To A.S., Director of Intelligence at the Galactic Defense Administration:

 You’re my last hope. I hate to sound like that tropey, “you’re my only hope” bullshit, but this time I’m serious. I’m sending you this message, and hopefully I will have finished it before they get here. There’s a lot you need to know, but I can’t possibly write it all here. Just please trust what I say. The truth will be revealed to you in time, I promise. There are others like me that need your help.

To really understand the power of the knighthood, it’s important to know a few things. Firstly, when I was twelve three men in black suits showed up at my house, demanding to see my father. My mother tried to tell me that his absence was temporary, he’d be back after his business trip, but by the time I was fourteen I knew that wasn’t true. I knew I would never see my father again and I knew that I was the only one who could uncover what happened to him.

Secondly, the knighthood see themselves as ‘space crusaders’. I can’t give the name of the organization here, but these men are ruthless. They have traveled the expanse of space and conquered countless galaxies in the name of their backwards mission. You know the rebel aliens from X-Files that always set everyone on fire? Yeah, think that, but a lot worse.

I know those two things don’t make sense right now, but that’s not really what is important. You’ll understand in time, I just hope that by the time this reaches you, you’ll have figured out a way to stop them. They’re like ants or roaches; no matter how you try to eradicate them, they just keep coming.

My father once told me that I held a powerful secret, and I never understood what he meant until I set out to find him. I never did find him, but I found secrets and clues that he had left for me. What he was hiding, well, that’s why I’m writing to you. I have left you clues to find the amulet. You know that thing on the cat in that other movie about aliens? How it contained a galaxy?

The power that this amulet contains could turn the whole universe into one of those. The theory that our universe is a bubble, floating around with other bubbles containing other universes is pretty accurate. Only, these other universes aren’t like ours. That’s where the knighthood came from. They escaped the confines of their bubble, and their darkness is spreading. We’re not the first planet or civilization to feel their touch, but we are the first universe. The only good thing is that they haven’t found a way to breach from our bubble to another. Yet. That’s why this amulet must be protected.

And don’t try to destroy it. It’s impossible. I’ve tried. Aubrey and I have tried. Of course, that was back when Aubrey was competent, but that’s not really the point.

Speaking of Aubrey, we’ve been holed up in his trailer for three days. I know that we won’t make it out of here alive, even with our special abilities. Remember that secret I mentioned? The one my father told me I held?

Yeah, it was that I’m not fully human. I couldn’t believe it either at first, but it makes so much sense, especially after I realized that the knighthood were the men who had taken my father. But you want to know the real kicker? My father was one of them. So the power I have, and the power that Aubrey has, too, is the power of the knighthood. Of course, it’s watered down and tempered by our human mother’s blood, but it still scares them. That’s how we ended up with the amulet. Only people or creatures with the knighthood’s DNA signature can even touch it. But I’ve taken special precautions to prepare it for you. It’s in a special case so that you can transport it. And like I said, there are more like us who can help you.

I’m including coordinates attached to this message for where you will find the first clue. I hope you’re smart enough to figure it out, but it won’t be my problem much longer. Aubrey and I can feel the rumbling of their approaching ships. I gotta go. Stay safe.

–Lizette

Writing Prompt

[WP] On September 5th, 1977 the voyager 1 space probe was launched to the outer edge of our solar system and eventually left it all together. Today something has sent it back.

It was incredible. For so many years, this hunk of metal had been flying through the cold heart of space. It had seen innumerable stars, burning planets. It had felt the cold death that awaited just beyond the edge of where our sunlight reached. But, here it was again, sitting in my lab.

It was slightly damaged, microscopic pieces of space-dust having crashed against it as it took its trip. No one expected it to be a round-trip. I was one of the few who knew about the probe’s return. If word got out, it would cause undo panic, and that was something the world couldn’t afford right now. I don’t think our president could even wrap his wig-covered mind around where this probe had come from.

I slowly pulled my gloves further up my wrists, adjusting the breather of the hazmat suit I was wearing. If the probe had been sent back, it meant one of two things: it hit something that pinballed it right back at us (unlikely), or it was captured and refueled and sent rocketing home. The latter was an unnerving thought. There was no way to know what possible microbes or messages that it brought with it. Thus why it had been contained in a plexiglass box and shipped directly to me.

The exam room was hermetically sealed. Without my special suit, I couldn’t be in the room with it. “Much like your journey through space,” I commented sardonically to the probe. “You’re used to no atmosphere.”

As my eyes roved over it, I noted a bulging under the siding. I glanced at the computer screen, looking at the diagrams that had been given to me. This probe wasn’t built with this, and it didn’t resemble any of the damage from gliding through space for so many years. My heart was suddenly in my throat. Could this be a clue to where the probe had been?

Slowly, I used a screwdriver to pry open the fold in the probe’s side. It gave with a groan, clanking heavily on the table. I frowned as I stared at what I saw. It was a thick disk, much like the golden record that had accompanied Voyager 2. My heart seized again in my chest, and the screwdriver slipped from my hand, clattering loudly to the table. I was trembling, my eyes wide and unblinking.

“What is it, Dr. Franklin?” a voice demanded over the intercom.

I couldn’t tear my eyes away as I reached shaking hands toward the disk. “T-there’s a message,” I breathed, knowing the microphone in my suit was relaying my words to the onlookers outside of the room.

“What does it say?” the voice was hushed, frightened and confused.

I ran my gloved fingers across the disk, feeling my fright giving way to confusion and surprise. I lifted the disk, angling it against the overhead light. “It says…’Stop shooting your trash at us’.”