Saturday, October 30, 2010

3:46am (A Short Story)

The fridge vibrated, shaking its contents as it spluttered to life, like an old man clearing his chest in the middle of the night. The silence shattered, it was the only indication that time was passing. Everything else was still and silent. Even the house had ceased its normal creaks and groans as if the normal effort in holding the weight of bricks and mortar was for once tolerable.

I stood barefoot, naked except for a pair of boxer shorts, in the kitchen looking through the window out into the garden. It was a beautiful clear night, the stars visible against the inky blue-black sky and not a cloud in sight as far as you could see. I could see the light from the full moon in the garden, painting a silver shimmer on everything it touched.

Something had woken me and forced me to come downstairs to investigate. A glance at the clock showed it was now 3:43am. I’d been stood here for three minutes in, the fridge aside, silence.

Nothing moved inside or out. I could hear my breathing, slowly in and out; my chest barely moving. My heart beating was now audible; slow and steady. My body was behaving as if it were asleep but I was stood in the kitchen with my eyes open and I was fully aware that I was.

Another glance at the clock showed it was 3:46am. I decided that there was nothing going on and started to turn when I saw a flash across the window. A streak of white light so fast that I could have easily missed it, or imagined it.

My heart rate quickened and my breathing rate increased. I remained still, rooted to the spot. There had been something.

I took two steps forward closer to the window. My feet a little sticky from a cold sweat that was forming on my body. I looked down towards the ground, there on the grass was a small metal object. It was so shiny it looked like it was made of mirrors, around it was a small impact trench, mud exposed from where the object hit the ground and then slid to a stop.

Everything else was still silent. The clocked was frozen at 3:46am.

I turned away from the window and back around towards the patio doors. I would need to go outside and take a closer look at what ever it was had just landed in my lawn. My adrenaline was spiked now and my heart and breathing were rapid. I was feeling a mixture of nerves and excitement, like riding a rollercoaster - you know you will be ok but that doesn’t stop you feeling scared.

I unlocked the door and stepped out. The night air was cool and my skin immediately turned to goose flesh. I walked across the patio on the balls of my feet in small steps, ready to spring away if necessary. All my senses were now online ready to react to anything that changed. This was real fight or flight.

I stood a metre or so from the object. It was spherical and about the size of a grapefruit but looked to be made of mirrors. There were no joins to the mirrors and the finish was so polished that it was almost too bright to look at, like a small sun.

I crouched down to look closer, shielding my eyes from its glare, there were no markings at all. Even the earth where it had just landed had not stuck to the object.

I edged closer, completely focussed on the object, and reached out to touch it. As I did so there was a sound, a small vibration. I stopped but left my hand where it was, hovering above the object. My fear seemingly gone I placed my hand gently on top of the object. The vibrations were louder now but I realised that I was feeling them rather than hearing them. As I had got closer I had picked up on them physically. Bringing my feet closer I reached out with my other hand and grasped the object in both hands.

It was warm, incredibly smooth and vibrated like it was humming a tune. Now I held it I could feel the changes in the vibrations pitch and frequency. Standing, I lifted the object from the earth. The dirt fell away leaving the object spotless. It was almost weightless.

I held it in my hands staring at it and seeing my own reflection. I turned to the house and steadily walked back across the patio, through the doors which I kicked closed and into the kitchen.

The clocked flashed 3:46am. Still.

I placed the object onto the kitchen counter, it rolled silently a half-turn then stopped, like I had put it down the wrong way up. I stared at it, now completely in tune with the vibrations that emanated.

I stood there for I don’t know how long just staring, mesmerised by the vibrations. I snapped myself out of it and opened a drawer looking for something with which to open it. I grabbed the can opener but put it back down as quickly as there was no edge for this to grip. Scissors, not wide enough. Knife? Maybe the bread knife, a serrated edge should be able to cut through.

Holding the bread knife in my hand I was struck by inertia. Unable to move my hand forward. I forced myself to, placing the blade onto the object. No change.

As I started to saw the object shimmered; its surface turning to liquid then flashing back to solid in an instant. As it did this the teeth on the knife splintered and fell onto the counter. The knife rendered useless. The vibrations were different now too, more intense and growing to aggressive.

I put the knife down, and continued to stare at the object. The vibrations were oscillating and held me in a trance. I knew what was happening but could not change my position or action. I knew what I was doing but what I was doing was not my own will. I wondered if this is what being hypnotised was like.

I felt totally relaxed, held captive by the object, under its spell. I started to move closer, my head lowering down until my forehead was almost resting on it. When I was barely half a centimetre away it happened. Blindingly quick the object changed again, flashing liquid on the surface and releasing a needle as thin as cotton, as hard as titanium and so hot the air condensed around it sending small clouds of steam into the room.

The needle pierced my head. My head did not move, there was no impact, my head did not offer any resistance. As it entered I was aware of heat, a sensation spreading from my head and filling my body. As it spread it cooled towards my extremities.

The needle was inside my brain; I could feel it but felt no pain. The heat replaced with an icy sensation. I had not moved.

The vibrations from the object were now being channelled through the needle and into my head. This was gentle at the start then grew to an almost audible crescendo as it started an upload of information. It was using my brain as a hard drive.

Fantastical images of plants, creatures, landscapes and technology from other worlds. Vibrant colours and sounds, plants that could walk; plants that changed colours and spat coloured venom into the air like fireworks. Creatures as big as dinosaurs, some with long necks and many heads, others short and fat, some were able to fly, horse like creatures covered in feathers in almost luminous colours. There were fish that could fly, being fired from the water like missiles and soaring into the sky. Huge numbers of bird-like creatures with many wings flying in huge swarms blocking the sun and creating a cacophony with their chatter.

Landscapes rich in colour and texture, shimmering light from multiple suns, mountain ranges as far as the eye could see blocking the horizon, gas released from the earth under such pressure the plumes shot miles into the air. Images of people infused with technology, metal limbs and mind implants, able to control the environment with their minds.

Thousands of slightly inhuman faces flashed in front of me. Moving so fast they blurred into one. Faces that were not human but not so different as to be alien.

Mathematical texts and equations thundered into my brain, star charts and language all fighting for space inside my head. My eyes were flickered and rolled back into my head – I could no longer see.

The upload continued at an incredible pace, I was being forced out of my own head. My thoughts, feelings and memories all thrust aside and deleted by pure, aggressive and consuming information. My childhood was the last thing to go, my last memory being of playing on a slide in the garden with my best friend at the time. I was wearing shorts, even though it was winter, I must have been 5. As quickly as it bubbled to the surface it was gone.

The pace did not abate for what seemed like hours, days and more. I started to shake, tremor after tremor rising within me. Wave after wave of physical jerks and ticks coursed from my feet to my head. Some were so strong I was forced off the ground, like the ground beneath me was so hot I could no longer stand on it. Landing then immediately taking off again as another wave punished me.

I turned to the clock, forcing my eyes forward I tried to focus. This was the very last thing I did as me. Everything I had done everything I was and everything I could have been had been deleted and replaced.


I don’t know what happened next…