Saturday, December 16, 2006

Here they are, like I promised...

Chapters 1 NaNoWriMo novel: Connected

Kasumi walked to the computer console and tapped some keys. The digital Dreamcatcher lit up the bay area in the room beyond the control room’s glass. The web-like structure of the digital hoop hung in the center of the room and slowly made its revolution, it moved imperceptively on its axis. Kasumi smiled.
The bay doors opened up to reveal seven chairs attached to a track. The chairs had pivot points and could easily be positioned down into a horizontal setting. Kasumi exited the control room and entered the bay area. Guzman walked in carrying the long heavy stack of fiber optic cables that would be attached to the seven chairs.
“How much time Guzman,” Kasumi asked. She slowly paced between the chairs, letting her freshly painted nails grate on the head rests of the leather seats.
“Sixteen-minutes Kasumi,” said Guzman. He smiled at her and finished plugging in the last of the glowing fiber optic cables to the seats.
Kasumi took a deep breath and exhaled. She nodded to Guzman and he walked toward the entry doors.
“Showtime,” Guzman said. He turned the power switch on, shut off the lights and opened the entry doors to the bay area.
The room was bathed in the white light of the rotating Dreamcatcher on its painfully slow rotation in the center of the bay. The light changed from bright white to an iridescent blue and seven spotlights focused their light on the chairs. Lin Kasumi looked at the sight of the digital Dreamcatcher and the seven chairs and smiled. She sighed once more.
It’ll work out in the end, she had thought to herself, it always works out in the end. Guzman shook hands with the first of the visitors to reach the bay entryway. She was a slender woman, older, and dressed in her finest. In her left hand she carried a martini with an olive. Kasumi smiled and the realization had hit here that Lacrosse was working his magic on the investors. Guzman waved at Kasumi, who in turn waved back to him. He exited the room as more people filtered into the bay area. They all looked at the chairs first then pointed up at the rotating Dreamcatcher. The room filled with whispers. Kasumi smiled broadly. Their plan was coming to fruition.
The investors and the Board had both been invited to witness the first full-fledged test of the digital Dreamcatcher. Henry Lacrosse’s baby project for Sombra Labs had been conceived in the back of the bay area after a failed meeting with the Board. Lacrosse was the Dreamcatcher Project manager and Lin Kasumi was his assistant project manager for each of the fourteen projects the lab was currently implementing. The Dreamcatcher Project, or DCP, as it became known throughout the lab, was Henry Lacrosse’s baby. He only hired seven staff members, which included Lin Kasumi and Antonio Guzman, the technician. There were also the seven volunteers that would occupy the chairs Lin stood beside. After the last of the investors strolled in and surrounded the chairs, the members of the Board arrived, graven faced and filled with food and drink. Henry Lacrosse entered last, a female investor on each arm and a smile on his face. From across the room he shot Lin a knowing nod and she placed the needle thin microphone by the side of her face and fastened it around her right ear. She looked back at the control room and Guzman gave her thumbs up.
“Ladies and gentlemen, members of the board, welcome to Sombra Labs. My name is Lin Kasumi, Assistant Project Manager of the Dreamcatcher Project,” Kasumi said.
Overhead speakers blared out U2’s Miracle Drug. From the open spaces of the Dreamcatcher’s web images of the world flashed on and off. Visions of war, poverty, scientists working on various projects, the first landing on the Moon, the very first space flight, the X-Prize flight, and then the Sombra Labs logo flashed above. There was some clapping as the images faded in and out of the spaces.
“I’ve no doubt that Mr. Lacrosse has shown you all a good time at dinner and taken you through our amazing facility. If you could all please step towards the chairs and form a circle. Tonight you’ll see first hand the miracle of science we’ve created here at Sombra,” Kasumi said.
“As most of you know, our planet is dying, and we are running out of resources to help us sustain life on it for more than thirty years. The Dreamcatcher Project is a means of bridging the gap from our world into worlds that exist parallel to us. You’ve all been there in dreams, the city you can’t quite place, the country you swear you’ve been to and know like the back of your hand. This is the purpose of this project, nothing short of finding a means of traveling to other worlds to save humankind from our inevitable destruction,” Kasumi said.
The spotlights on the chairs dimmed and seven men and women entered from the control room’s doors and weaved through the crowd towards their seats. Each volunteer was wearing a tight fitting gray suit with various plugs and nodes on their garb. They sat down on the plush leather seats and keyed a small pad that positioned their seats perfectly horizontal.
“As you can see our volunteers will now be keyed into each others consciousness through the Touch Suits we’ve created here at Sombra. Without further ado, I give you the Digital Dreamcatcher,” Kasumi said. She stepped out of the circle of chairs and walked over to Lacrosse.
“That was perfect Lin,” whispered Henry. He smiled at Kasumi and handed her a glass of champagne.
The lights turned off and the only illumination came from the rotating Dreamcatcher overhead. It stopped its rotation and moved upward several feet. Then it changed colors once more from blue to green. Everyone in the room was bathed in the glowing green light. The volunteers appeared to fall asleep, due to the sleeping cocktail Henry Lacrosse had devised. Then the long low humming began from the ground and worked its way up towards the hoop of the Dreamcatcher.
The champagne glasses vibrated and sung. People were amazed at this feat and then looked up to see the images before them. The seven volunteers were running in a green world. Lush grass that rose to thigh length and trees that created their own canopy covered the world. There was clean fresh water, clean skies and animals running free. There was some talk in hushed tones from some of the investors and the members of the Board. Henry Lacrosse smiled. Lin whispered in his ear.
“This is it, get ready for it,” she said. She breathed deeply and exhaled slowly.
The images that they had been waiting for never appeared. Instead what appeared was a flash of white light that shot out from between the spaces of the net and landed on the bay floor between the circle of seats. Henry Lacrosse stopped smiling. He walked over to the glowing light that landed and picked it up. He recoiled at first and dropped the light. He looked back at Kasumi.
“It’s cold,” he said. He tried to pick it up again.
Lacrosse held up the frozen piece of light and his eyes opened wide at the sight before him Encapsulated in the light was the image he had fought so long to hide from the Board. He motioned for Kasumi to come to him as everyone else was mesmerized by the images of the seven volunteers running through an empty world.
“What is it Henry?” Kasumi asked.
“Look inside the piece of ice,” said Lacrosse.
Kasumi shook her head after seeing the image she had been afraid of.
“What does that mean? It didn’t work before,” Kasumi said.
“It’s working now though, which means they really are in a world of their own making,” Lacrosse said. “We’ve figured out how to send someone out of this world on their own,” said Lacrosse.
There was a deep grating sound, like tires skidding on the road and a deep vibration began beneath the bay area. Lacrosse looked at the control booth and at Guzman. He shrugged his shoulders and checked the monitors.
“Nothing wrong from this end Kasumi,” Guzman said into her ear through the microphone in the control booth.
“So what the hell was that then?” said Kasumi.
“Don’t know. But everything is clear in there,” Guzman said.
“No, its not,” Kasumi said. She looked up at the Dreamcatcher, which had stopped showing images.
A fog could be seen between each strand of the net Henry Lacrosse dropped his glass of champagne as he saw the outline of the creature trying to break through the net of the Dreamcatcher. It was enormous and had glowing amber eyes. A deep rumble was felt as the thing punched through the netting of the Dreamcatcher. The seven volunteers’ vitals spiked and they all went into cardiac arrest. Guzman ran out of the room and tried to unplug the fiber optic cables from their chairs. As he reached the first chair and pulled the cable he was flung from the floor to the far wall in the bay area. Kasumi ran towards him and saw that he had been burned beyond recognition.
A vortex formed inside the Dreamcatcher as the creature pounded on the net. With one last punch, the Dreamcatcher disappeared in a fizzle of light and the creature moved into reality. A heavy obsidian foot slammed down on the chairs, crushing the volunteers and some of the investors that were unlucky enough to be standing there when the creature broke through. Henry Lacrosse yelled to the visitors to head for the bay doors and out the building. Kasumi ran into the control room.
The power had been cut inside the control booth and Kasumi searched for a panel beneath the control center. She flipped the switch inside the panel and the lights in the booth went red. The bay area was in complete darkness. Lacrosse ran towards the red-lit booth and slammed the door shut behind him. Another earth shaking movement jolted them sideways. The lights inside the bay area flickered on an off and played off the shiny body of the creature that had stepped into their world.
“What the hell is that thing? And how come that never happened before Kasumi?” said Lacrosse.
“I don’t know Henry, I really don’t and the only man that could possibly tell us is fried like charcoal outside this room,” said Kasumi. She worked the control panel back on and then hit several keys sharply on the main switchboard.
“What are you doing?” said Lacrosse.
“I’m trapping that thing in here, so at least it can’t get out,” Kasumi said.
“We’re still in here though, are you crazy?” Lacrosse said. He moved towards the back of the room and waited for Kasumi to finish.
The rumbling stopped. The lights flickered again and Kasumi was staring directly into the iris of the creature outside the control booth. She did not move. The glass fogged as the creature’s breathe was exhaled against the booth’s window. It roared and the glass blew inward, spraying Kasumi in the face. Blood trickled from the shards that had cut her as they flew past her and toward the back of the room.
The creature looked at the vortex and saw that it was closing. It lumbered back toward it and managed to get most of its body free. Its left arm was cut off from the wrist and fell to the bay area’s floor cleanly severed. Thick black colored mucous-like fluid flowed from the severed appendage. The lights flickered back on and stayed on. They shone brightly off of the slick obsidian shell of the appendage.
Kasumi looked down at the detached limb and vomited to her right. Lacrosse moved carefully toward Kasumi and looked down into the bay area’s floor and saw the gleaming arm of the creature that had made its way into his world.
“Magnificent,” said Lacrosse. He ran outside the booth and touched the sleek black surface of it.
Kasumi looked down from the booth and watched as Lacrosse passed out on the clawed hand.


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