Here you go: ten dumb business ideas.
Here you go: ten dumb business ideas.
“What are you doing?” the girl asked with the conviction of a disappointed parent. Alan pulled his hand back from the bubbling air, his arm causing a wave to erupt from the temporal pool in front of him. They had been walking around the fields of the in between for what felt like weeks. Alan finally realized that the pools were points in time. He couldn’t resist trying to help his friends.Read More »
One shallow breath sucked into the back of her throat.Read More »
The girl played in the meadow, a beautiful open field with a large tree in its midst. She split the tall grass, frolicking into a perfectly manicured lawn sitting in the shadow of the tree. She tossed her dress to the left and right as she skipped to the tree, a wonderful apple tree. The girl stopped abruptly as she saw the figure of a man facedown next to the tree. She picked up a loose branch from the foot of the tree and poked the body out of curiosity.
“Hello?” she called out. “Are you okay?”
The man groggily pushed himself up, and turned his body to look at the little girl.
“I’m,” the man looked up at the girl. “I’m fine.”
“Are you, Mr. Mitchell?” the girl asked, her tone more concerned than before.
Alan gave her a curious look, raising his arm to block the light from his eyes, and saw his watch – the watch Elizabeth gave him – ticking away as if it had never broken.
“Where am I?” Alan asked, as he felt his body still in agony from the beating he had taken from the operators. The girl smiled and held her hand out to Alan.
“Welcome to the in between.”
“We have to get out of here,” Elizabeth said. “They’re coming for us. He’s almost here.”
“You’ll go through with the teleporter and make sure she keeps the portal open long enough for us all to make it through,” Marshall explained, his eyes on the woman standing idle next to Castor. “Let’s go now.”
Athena looked at the teleporter.
“She’s going to betray us,” Athena said nonchalantly. The woman’s eyes bulged, bewilderment stricken on her face. Athena looked in the woman’s eyes with a searching, piercing expression. “She’s going to drop us in… a quarry.”
The woman cleared her throat.
“That’s a lie. I wouldn’t…”
“We can read minds, you idiot,” Elizabeth chimed in. “Lying isn’t going to get you anywhere. But if you cooperate, you’ll be fine.”
“Do you know what they’ll do to me if I help you?”
“Do you know what I’ll do?” Elizabeth replied back sharply. The woman flinched as she felt bugs crawling on her skin. She looked down and saw hundreds of spiders climbing up her arms, winding their way to her face. She screamed.
“Oh god, get it off. Get them off!” The woman shrieked.
“Elizabeth, cut it out,” Marshall ordered.
Elizabeth stopped, and the woman was fine again, save for the hyperventilating. Marshall put a hand on the woman’s shoulder, trying to console her.
“We don’t have time for this,” Elizabeth said coldly to Marshall. “He’ll be here any moment.”
“Who?” Castor asked.
“The Director,” Athena said.
The doors to the hub creaked where Castor had welded them shut. Alan looked back at Marshall, who seemed to be growing more concerned by the minute. Marshall turned to the teleportation operator.
“Open a portal. Somewhere remote.”
The woman hesitantly nodded, flicked her wrist, and opened a blue portal next to the group. Elizabeth looked at Marshall, her eyes frantic.
“I’ll be right behind you. I promise.”
Elizabeth went through the portal with the operator. Castor nodded to Athena for their turn.
“You did good, kid,” Castor said. Alan nodded, but his eyes were on Athena. Ever since that first day they met in the lobby, Alan’s eyes had been on her. Now there were silent words passing between them. A message Alan couldn’t forget. He’d never forget that moment bathed in red light in the closet. It seemed to be the only moment worth remembering now. But they didn’t say a word. They just stared at each other, as Athena walked backward into the portal, and vanished. Castor walked in after her.
“We’re running out of time, the portal’s starting to weaken,” Marshall said, as he looked at the hub door beginning to split under the pressure of the Department’s forces.
“Go. I’ll hold them back,” Alan ordered.
“You can’t,” Marshall said. “There’s an entire army through those doors.”
“You have a family that needs you, Marshall. You need to go. Now.”
“You don’t have a choice.”
The doors split enough for a guard to stick his handgun through and fire a shot. Alan held his arm out and stopped the bullet in mid-air.
Alan turned his other arm and pushed Marshall with his mind, watching him dissolve into the portal as it disappeared.
Marshall fell backward into a misty forest. The others were standing around the operator, who was passed out on the ground. Marshall looked at his friends with panic.
“No, no. No, I have to go back. Open another portal,” Marshall begged.
Elizabeth looked down at the operator lying on the floor.
“It took too much out of her, Marshall. We can’t.”
Marshall stood up, and punched the nearest tree he could see as hard as he could. The tree splintered like a twig, sending shards and chunks of wood into the air and into other trees, knocking them down as well.
A lot of bullets. Alan could feel his brain boiling as he tried to stop them all. He pushed back on the guards with all he had in his tank. They flew through the air like dolls. Then the operators came. At first, he could defend himself. The punches and other telekinetics were easier to block than a hail of bullets. But eventually his mind couldn’t handle the workload. There were too many, and their blows pierced through his defenses.
Punched to the floor, Alan coughed blood. He strained to see through his swollen eye. The operators had parted. The Director had arrived. The gray-haired man, in his navy suit, with his perfect smile, and his piercing eyes stood before the kid with the smart mouth, the failing brain, and the instigator of an insurrection.
“Mr. Mitchell, now, I’m going to get your friends eventually. Every last one of your little band of freaks. Anyone who planned this little cabal is going to get what they deserve.”
Alan could feel his knees bleeding as they scraped on the metal grate floor, his eyes peering up into the fluorescent light of the teleportation room. Luckily, the Director didn’t know their faces, so he wasn’t sure who he was dealing with; save for Alan.
“Such excruciating pain awaits the terrorists who think they can oppose us,” the Director snarled, and he nodded to the operator looming over Alan. The operator pushed his hand into Alan’s shoulder, releasing a jolt of pain inside Alan’s brain. Alan groaned in agony, and lifted his head up as best he could.
“It was me. It was all me. I roped them into it. Everyone else wanted to just keep working. It’s all my fault; all of it,” Alan said through clenched teeth, tears of pain streaking down his face. The operator standing over him pressed further into Alan’s brain, tormenting Alan with images of his friends dying. It was all fuzzy chaos, but Alan could feel the raw emotion of loss and tragedy, even though the faces were blurry.
The Director kept a straight face, his emotions under control. He looked at the operator, and then back down at Alan. Little more than twenty years, the Director guessed, but he was trouble regardless.
“Good. I don’t want to waste anymore time. We’re going to clean this up in one strike. Do you know what I’m going to do, Mr. Mitchell?”
The Director bent down, staring at Alan’s wincing visage. Alan looked at the Director’s cold, icy-blue eyes, and knew it would be truly horrific.
“No,” Alan groaned through his teeth, “But I have a feeling it’s not going to be pleasant.”
The Director let a rumbling laugh slip through his diaphragm. His eyes peered into Alan’s wavering gaze. The operator pressed his hand further into Alan’s shoulder, and Alan yelped like a kicked dog.
“I’m going to make it so you were never born, Mr. Mitchell. Not a soul will know you ever existed on this mud ball. Your parents won’t even have an inkling of your soul,” the Director’s quick-worded tirade was laced with venomous hate. He paced as he spoke, as if his hatred gave him energy to carry on.
“How is that-,” Alan winced as he started to lose feeling in his lower legs, “How is that possible?”
The Director looked down at Alan with pity. The boy had clearly gone through hell to save his friends, but he had grown from an inconvenience to a threat; and the Director could not abide threats. The Director placed a gloved hand on the top of Alan’s head.
“When time is on your side, anything is within your grasp, Mr. Mitchell. Anything,” the Director was waxing poetic, the situation truly within his control.
“I’m going to go back and keep you from being born, and we’ll be able to put this whole thing behind us. Maybe I won’t have to kill your friends, or maybe I will just for the hell of it. Who knows?” the Director enjoyed his threats. They gave him power. Even now, as he began thinking about the past, he could feel the world swelling around him. It was a great symphony of light and warmth. He put a hand on Alan’s head.
“Goodbye, Mr. Mitchell; I’m afraid, for the last time,” the Director walked backwards as a bubble – it’s contents a mirror of the world around them – grew out of thin air. Alan looked at the Director and realized – in seeing his devilish smirk – that he wouldn’t stop at just killing Alan. No, this would continue until his bloodlust was sated. Alan felt a thumping in his chest, his heart beating with a ferocity he’d never known before. He pushed the operators off of him, and watched as the Director entered the bubble, then a massive shockwave struck Alan.
The diner was empty this early in the morning. Marshall sat with his group in booths lining the outer wall of the diner, chewing on eggs and bacon.
The TV overhead was blaring the news when a breaking bulletin appeared, cutting the regular news short. It was a special announcement from Director Robert Orson of the Department for Mutated Persons, the same Director who had tortured them for years.
He stepped to his podium and began speaking.
“This morning, the Department was viciously attacked by genetic terrorists seeking to harm our way of life. Their leader, Alan Mitchell, killed and wounded hundreds of honest Americans who were working to keep our people safe. We cannot abide acts of terrorism. We cannot continue to allow genetic deviations to cause destruction and terror on our watch. We have eliminated Alan Mitchell, but we are not safe from future attacks. But this event has given our government reason for a meaningful response. I have received a mandate from our government to expedite the search for genetically abnormal people living within our borders. We will keep this country safe. We will not flinch in the face of terror. Thank you.”
“What a load of bullshit,” Castor grumbled, his fork stirring his scrambled eggs back clockwise into his plate.
“Do you think Alan is really dead?” Athena asked.
Marshall looked up at Athena, her eyes pleading for the lie she wanted to hear; the lie Marshall couldn’t dare to tell her. He looked at his sister Elizabeth, who was keeping guard over the passed out operator.
Marshall remembered the exact moment Alan changed his mind. Right before Alan jumped out of Marshall’s bathroom window to escape.
“Some people think they can escape hell by living in it right now,” Alan replied. “Your family will never be safe, no matter how much you punish yourself to protect them. Eventually we’ll all be rounded up like cattle, and your sacrifice won’t mean a damn thing to the people suffering then. I know I was cynical. I was wrong. You can make a difference. You have to at least try. Otherwise, none of this means anything. We can’t wait for them to change their minds or for things to fix themselves because they won’t. We have to fight.”
Marshall looked at Athena, the tears visibly welling up in her eyes.
“We have to free more of our friends. We have to find my family. I have four more brothers and sisters, and they’ll help us against the Department. We have to unite the six. Alan wanted us to fight.”
“Then that’s what we’ll do,” Athena replied, steeling herself against sadness. She turned it into righteous anger. The others nodded. “For Alan.”
Alan stood quietly in the lab room, his eyes set ahead at the woman unconscious on the table. She looked ironically peaceful given the surroundings. The heart monitor beeped steadily in the corner, while an IV pumped fluids and sedative through the woman’s veins. They were running out of time; the guards wouldn’t be distracted forever.
Alan gently pulled the IV from the woman’s arm, and waited for her to wake up. He could hear men running down the halls and shouting loudly to one another. Then there were men at the door, slamming viciously at the metal work. Alan had destroyed the lock mechanism, so it would take at least two more minutes before they could get the door down. Or not.
The door exploded open, debris flying inside the white room, rattling off walls and shredding the medical equipment like it was tissue paper. Alan protected the woman, curving the explosion of metal all around them and onto the back wall.
“Hands on your head!” the voices shouted in near unison. Alan turned his head to the side to see flashlights and assault rifles fixed to them, shining back at him. He could probably stop most of their bullets. Most, not all; and he wasn’t feeling especially bleedy at the moment. He put his hands over his head, and the men ran forward.
“On the ground!” the voices screeched. Two men pushed Alan to his knees, while others swarmed the woman lying on the table.
“Get the IV back in!” one yelled to another, but it was too late.
The black-haired woman’s eyes opened and she screamed bloody murder. Alan looked up at the ceiling and watched as it began pressing down towards them. The back wall folded in on itself, revealing a black abyss. The floor beneath the soldiers began to shift like a moving escalator, causing the men to fall over. Alan could feel vertigo setting in, his mind overtaken with dizzying nausea. The floor slowly tilted upward, causing soldiers to roll towards the side walls. Alan reached out to keep himself centered on the floor. He watched as one soldiers slipped into the side wall, screaming as he fell, stuck inside of it like a two dimensional piece of paper. Another soldier grabbed the IV stand as it slid, trying to use it to push himself away from the wall that was swallowing his comrades. The IV stand swung wildly, snapping the soldier’s arm at the elbow like a chicken wing. Alan shut his eyes in sheer terror at the sight.
“Don’t be afraid,” the woman’s voice cut through the chaos of the situation. Alan felt a cold hand wrap around his, so he opened his eyes. The woman was knelt down beside him, a look of whimsical curiosity set on her brow. Alan looked around. The soldiers were all writhing around on the floor, panicked breaths and grunts swelling in their chests.
“They’ll be fine,” the woman assured, and she helped Alan to his feet.
The room no longer felt like it was spinning; at least, for him the room had returned to normal. The men continued in their frenzied panic, unaware they were living in a prison of their own imaginations.
“You seem confused.”
“I thought you were…” Alan breathed fully for the first time since entering the room.
“You were expecting her,” the woman replied, filling in Alan’s gaps. “I’m sorry I’m not.”
The woman looked up, her face suddenly aware of an urgency.
“Come with me,” the woman spoke calmly, pulling Alan with her out the doorway and into the white tiled hallway. Alan saw a great deal more soldiers rolling around in the halls as they went.
“They think they’re on fire,” the woman said plainly, her voice soft and lacking any emotional fluster. “Alright, let’s go.”
“We aren’t going anywhere. Not until we find her,” Alan pleaded with the mysterious woman, his hands shaking from the adrenaline rush. The woman opened the metal double doors in front of her, and motioned for Alan to leave. Alan moved his hand back, and the doors snapped shut. The woman looked back, partly shocked and partly annoyed.
“I said no. Athena is in here, and I’m not going to leave her because you’re scared of the boogeyman.”
“Scared? You’re damn right I’m scared. Did you see what they did to me in there?” the woman questioned, her tone shrill and upset. “I’m not going back.”
“You won’t have to, but we have to find my friend – and now – before they scramble her brains,” Alan said firmly. “You have my word, I won’t let them hook you back up to that machine.”
The woman composed herself, then nodded in agreement. “She’s probably in the neural data mine. It’s over there.”
The woman pointed to the hallway heading to the detention area. Alan rolled his eyes. Of course.
“How do you know that’s where it is? You’ve been unconscious.”
“I can read minds. Just as easy to pull information as it is to put in.”
Alan shrugged. If Athena could read minds, and this woman could make people see things, he supposed that there was an overlap somewhere in there to do both.
“Good point, -,” Alan held his hand out, waiting for her to finish with her name.
“Elizabeth,” the woman held out her hand. Alan belted out a huge laugh. He really couldn’t help it. Elizabeth seemed put off by the demonstration.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. It’s just… well, it’s too long a story for now,” Alan said. He pointed to the hall awkwardly, “To the brain scrambler.”
Athena looked up at the circular dish standing over her head.
“Please, try to relax, ma’am. Struggling will only make it worse,” the doctor said calmly at Athena’s bedside.
Athena tensed up, more to spite the amicable mad scientist. The doctor cleared his throats and placed electrodes around Athena’s temples. The doctor pulled some switches, and Athena could hear a feint ringing sound in her ears.
The doctor typed a few deliberate keystrokes into his computer, and the machine over Athena’s head began to light up and beep. Athena closed her eyes, as the machine spun, emitting a sound like a loud vacuum cleaner. Then shattering, metal crashing, and the doctor screaming. Athena could feel her restraints lifting. She opened her eyes.
“Hey,” Alan said, his voice soft.
“I’m drowning! I’m drowning!” the doctor shrieked. “Save me! Help!”
“How?” Athena looked around. Elizabeth walked into her line of sight. “Who?”
“Elizabeth,” she replied to Athena.
“Elizabeth?” Athena looked at Alan, who smirked.
“Not that Elizabeth,” Alan joked.
“Oh,” Athena grumbled, as her shackles came off. Alan pulled her up, embracing her tightly.
“I hate to rain on the parade, but it’s time to get out of here,” Elizabeth said in a dry tone. “Let’s go.”
Marshall barreled his way through the crowd of guards standing in the circular hallway near the hub, pushing them off as he ran. Castor ran behind him, punching with fire-laced fists and melting fire arms in his burning grip. Alan slammed his way through the exit door, startling a teleportation operator on the inside. The asian woman’s eyes were terrified when she realized what was happening. But it was too late.
Marshall grabbed her, holding his hand around her mouth, while Castor welded the maintenance door shut. The guards would have to circle around the to get back to them.
“Listen, don’t scream, ok. We’re not going to hurt you,” Marshall said in a calming tone. The woman nodded. Marshall let her go, and she tried to punch him. Marshall grabbed her arm like she was a child. “I told you we wouldn’t hurt you. I forgot to mention: don’t hurt us.”
The woman struggled for a minute, writhing around, trying to get a holding that would give her leverage. Marshall looked up at Castor, who was trying to fight laughter. Marshall rolled his eyes and lifted the woman over his head. She took the hint and gave up.
“What do you want?”
“We want out of here, lady,” Castor replied sharply.
“But not before our friends get here,” Marshall said, and he put the woman down gently next to him.
The doorway to the hub creaked open, and Marshall nearly passed out at the sight of Elizabeth.
“Elizabeth!” Marshall shouted with joy.
Athena and Alan glanced at each other with confused looks. Marshall gave Elizabeth a huge bear hug, while Castor held the teleporter at bay.
“What’s going on here?” Athena asked.
Marshall looked at Alan and Athena. “This is Elizabeth. She’s my sister.”