This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
PSRI Headquarters, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America
03:21, October 30, 2014.
Gregory Marsh, Director of the PSRI
He decided to stay in the office for quite the afterhours on that night - even just thinking of leaving and having a sleep on the current situation already managed to upset his brain; instead of getting back to his wife and children, Marsh has determined in himself to remain in the agency’s building, and closely read through the report Agent Fayer and his infiltration and reconnaissance team has sent from the “other side” - the place and topic that was, in this current moment, for the first time in many, almost countless years, actually has seemed to trouble him.
And this was all because of that damn TSA-officer - Agent Markson and his stupid, regrettably-professional techniques of counter-terrorism.
The PSRI had it all planned out - they already forged an idea on how to get rid of the CIA-brat who infiltrated their facilities, but first things always came first: the recovery of the “Anomaly” was the priority, and that little precious was in the possession of Agent Markson at the time, back around the middle of the month of this October.
With a few hours of digging around government-personnel-files and mining through public-camera databases, some of the PSRI’s technicians have claimed to have found some fruitful results - the position of the Anomaly since its latest relocation: it was picked up from a not-so-known charity-bookstore by some young girl, officially ID’ed later as “Anna Montgomery”.
The original decision was to pick up - in reality, abduct - the kid right off the street, get the target-item from her, then leave her dead in an isolated section of any forest nearby, or maybe at the bottom of a lake - the executives did not care, and, if the authorities were going to get involved anyway, it was way more simpler to silence a voice that might bad-mouth the PSRI.
Nevertheless, the abduction-team was called off from the initial operation seconds before they would have been given the green-light - fortunately, an IT-geek has managed to uncover the info that the kid did not have the Anomaly - physically shaped as a particular book to the naked eye - in her possession anymore; she, apparently, as some bribed sources and assets told the agency, gave it away to her father - just days ago before her abduction-operation was almost conducted; it was sent by air-mail, and was too far away from the PSRI’s reach to be intercepted.
By the start of October, it was already in Agent Markson’s hands, sent by his precious little daughter - a definite pain-in-the-neck for Marsh, and the entire R&D section of their Boston office.
In just a short matter of days, the agency has set up another “snatch’n’grab” for the Anomaly, albeit this plan involved a lot more necessary civilian-casualties, and the risk of escalating into an international-incident - nevertheless, pulling a few strings has made the chance of the latter happening to be a highly negligible number.
Everything was to go by the numbers: six agents of different nationalities sent into Heathrow, weapons stashed in undetectable, thickly-coated lead container would block off the security’s X-Rays, ready to board the plane and execute their plan; the two FAMS-agents identified before the flight commenced, and one of them was poisoned with a lethal dose of untraceable-chemicals, and the other one was continually tracked by a PSRI-operative until he boarded the plane.
Once the six agents were aboard the flight, it was supposed to be an easy little piece of cake - nonetheless, due to a potential case of overconfidence in the chain-of-command, both the on-field team, and the control-center has managed to make an almost unimportant, but still rather problematic mistake: after “breaking the tail” at the end of the terminal, an operative has not had the chance to forward a snapshot of Agent Markson, and did not give a physical description to the personnel who have boarded the plane; therefore, the on-field team was essentially left in the dark about their primary target, and would not have been able to identify the TSA-agent, even when one of them met him face-to-face.
This was the point where the critical issues and complications began to surface, as the team has soon found out that Markson was not a “first day on the job” type of a guy, and were practically massacred by the professional agent - the day was supposed to be saved by the Homeland Security’s branch once again, but, ultimately, this was not what came to be the ending of the story.
That ignorant Markson - probably and most likely not even realising that he has done it - has activated the Anomaly while everyone was aboard that plane; the most significant problem with this move was that the aforementioned object was never supposed to have been used outside of a heavily-controlled-environment, due to the reasons and effects it has had up there at thirty- or forty-thousand feet.
Naturally, when a temporary hole is torn across the very fabric of reality and the universe itself, some laws on nature and science are, funnily enough, kicked over - as seen on the plane, the laws of nature do not tolerate the occasion when someone tampers with them; an unparalleled and enormous electrical storm has followed, which has acted as a form of electromagnetic pulse-wave, and has, to state simply, killed every single bit of electrical power on the plane, along with the backup-generators - from that point on, everyone were as good as dead on that flight, as the object they were travelling in has essentially became a multiple-ton paperweight.
Although, not known first by anyone, not even the PSRI, Markson has somehow managed to survive the crash; and he has done this by “crossing over” to the other side of the “gateway” the Anomaly has created - the former word was coined by some of the PSRI’s white-coats, and was defined as “the process of moving one’s physical and mental being to an alternate reality that lay on the other end of the aforementioned gateway”.
The incident was simply swept away as a random terrorist-attack to the general public and the international-news, and (other than the casual and always-present conspiracy-theorists) not many have decided to pay any additional attention to the event - and, by pulling some high-end strings and making a few transactions to a number of off-shore bank-accounts, the PSRI have managed to get their hands on the black-box, and successfully erased any traces of their direct presence or involvement in the incident.
Another attempt of the Anomaly’s recovery has failed, but not extremely valuable lives have been lost in the agency’s eyes: everything was supposed to be back in the category of “just another boring day at the office” at the PSRI; with the civilians deceased and Markson officially assumed dead - who, in the meantime, was expected to starve and die on his own on the “other side” - no one was able to talk.
But here was Marsh, taking his third pill that night to suppress his unceasing headache, staring at the written report Agent Fayer and his team have sent back to this world to inform the Director about their ongoing espionage-operations, and general situation - for the past years, no complications ever occurred, and even the minor ones could always have been (and were) solved by an isolated-kill and neutralisation of a given subject.
However, this month, the news from Fayer were troubling, to say at the very least: despite preliminary planning and common sense, both the somewhere-above mentioned CIA-puppet “Agent Losold” and Markson have managed to overcome their chances and odds (the former being poisoned, and the latter being left to fend for himself with an unknown body, in an unknown environment), and have survived, having the risky-potential to expose the PSRI’s existence and underground-motivations to any group they may have managed to get in contact with - particularly a form of civilised “acting-government” of the “other side”, a group only known as the “Guardians”.
Nevertheless, before Losold could have gave away crucial information to these “Guardians”, or Markson, one of Fayer’s operatives have managed to take him out with a well-practiced manner of professional discretion - or, at least, he was doing as described previously, but then the TSA-grunt came into the picture, and caused this assassin’s - Kenneth Zwegger’s - undeserved death.
Fayer’s sources have reported from the “headquarters” or “central directory command” of these “Guardians” - known as the “Island of Ga’Hoole” - that he will re-task at least two or three of his infiltrators to keep a constant eye on Markson, and report back on any actions or activities he might take.
The full report, which also contained a short description on the assumed location of some kind of ancient library Marsh did not gave a single care about, had an additional extension at its very end: a question asking for the Director’s command on what should be done about Markson.
The single sentence was read: “Should, in any circumstances, the subject, ex-TSA Agent Christopher Markson, be terminated on any given sight to avoid future complications that may be caused by his involvement and presence, or should the subject be left alive, observed, then captured for the arrangements of offering him a place in the lines of the PSRI’s agents?”; subsequently next to this was an empty line, presumably for either of the two words “yes”, or “no”.
Above all the previous was a hastily-hand-drawn dotted-line, probably to signal the document’s reader that this section of the report was to be cut off and returned on the next occasion when orders will be issued for the teams on the “other side”, and sent by the already-mentioned method of “crossing them over”.
Not even reconsidering the possibilities and potential outcomes for a moment, Marsh clicked a random pen he found laying around on his desk, and wrote not a single word, but a total of four - read “observe and leave untouched”.
When he was done with this small but mentally-distressing job, he reached into his trousers’ right-side pocket, retrieved his cell-phone, and swiftly dialled and called a specific number.
When the secure line for the call was established, Gregory spoke into the receiver without clearing his throat, which has made him sound like someone with a severe case of pharyngitis.
- Oswell, is your hack into the TSA-database done yet? - a muffled, younger voice could have been heard from the other end of the receiver, however, even in the closest vicinity to him, no one could have understood the words that were spoken by the man called “Oswell”, except for Marsh himself; after a few short seconds of listening to the response, Gregory allowed a grin to take the possession of his mouth, and spoke into the receiver - Nicely done, agent; set up a rendezvous with this “Samuel Broyles” for me for... midday, tomorrow, in the TSA HQ in Arlington. Forward me any further details and results to my Inbox - he ordered, then ended the call with a fast and way-too aggressive tap on his phone’s touch-screen.
Director Marsh of the PSRI has leant back in his cheap office-chair, and prepared to light another one of his “stress-relieving” cigarettes - further damaging his already heavily-scarred lungs.
A plan was already set in motion; all that remained for him now was to successfully persuade Agent Broyles to join up with the PSRI - with a lie here and a bluff there, he could be almost effortlessly convinced that Agent Markson has died aboard Flight BR82.
Additionally, since Oswell took his liberties and proceeded to dig around in Broyles’ educational-records, it turned out that the man was somewhat interested and well-educated in Physics, and took up quite a large interest in Quantum-Physics about twenty odd years ago.
With these skill-sets, the PSRI may have just found themselves a fitting candidate - a lucky find that has, even though Marsh hated to think of this positively, could not have occurred without Markson.
For now, all the Director had to do was to wait for all the chess-pieces to pick their positions and arrange themselves on the board - the battlefield; once these preparations were done...
A form of shadow-war may have the potential to come.
Steve Lang: I thought this story was imaginative, and well thought out. I also think it was an original piece, and not a rehash of previous scifi stories I've read in the past.Thank you for the effort put into this tale, and I look forward to reading more of your work!
Ben Gauger: Kudos go to wordworrywill, author of Kings and Things, an otherwise imaginative tale set against the trappings of the royal set, but then again I don't imagine there'd be many authors who invoked the names of Oprah Winfrey, Vladimir Putin, Jeff Bezos, Beyonce and Steven Spielberg, As for the plot...
Nymeria: Really can't get enough of this story. It flows well, it captivates the reader from page 1, and throws you into such a well-written, well conceptualized world that you'll believe it's real. Everything in the book is meshed together really well. From character backgrounds to plot twists, you can t...
Mark-Mikkel: Got directed here by the author herself. Started reading it, schoolday turned into a day of reading. I really like the apocaliptic world she has created. There are some oddities in the writing tho, but I guess they are because she did have to do it for NaNo (which she wrecked, good job!). In the ...
_JosephJacobson_: I don't understand why this has such low ratings. I really enjoyed it!I think that the whole idea behind the plot had something very special and that was something that I really enjoyed. It was new, unique. I think that some of the writing was a little strange in places but overall it made sense ...
cassandrab: Delightful SciFi (for a change)! I am not a SciFi fan: mostly the genre is far too dystopic for me. This book (written by a high-school friend) is, on the other hand, generally upbeat. Yes, Earth's future is threatened. But Earth has a chance to plan a response. And (spoiler alert) ultimately win...
John Reed: Seadrias masterfully captures the impressiveness and complex scope that a science fiction novel should provide while carefully crafting an entire universe that will leave a reader in awe from start to finish. The only flaw I could find is that I wish I could have read more. This book is certainly...
Ravenhawk: Kim I was sure I wrote this before. But since both my computer and my internet connection has been futzing around so much, I'm surprised that I'm able to write this even now. basically you know I adore this story, I've told you as much before. I cannot fault it in any way at all, except that I wa...
pikagirl311: Katie Masters has definite skill when it comes to plot work and characters. The story is well-paced and pulls you along with the tide, keeping you hooked until the very end. The only reason I did not give it five stars across the board is due to a few minor quibbles with misspellings and such lik...
gunter1987: I just want to say here that this is my first review, but I really wanted to review this story. I apologize if I don't write English to well, I am French.Reading through the many science fiction stories posted here and other places in the world, I started to see a few linking themes: heavy-hande...
FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"
Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."