General Fraser recoiled. The piercing blue light of the vortex was blinding at first, then it slowly came into focus as the distant helicopters flew overhead with loud whirls. He had awoken three hundred feet above the city streets in a high-rise apartment building.
“Oh Jesus Christ and Joseph.” Fraser felt a sharp pain in the back of his neck. He shut his eyes and wrapped his palm around his nape. “Fucking crick,” he murmured with a sigh, furrowing his brow.
The tall windows were growing steadily brighter with each second. Slumped back on his pillow, Fraser listened to the night-time traffic (or so he would pass it off as just traffic for a short while), but he’d been used to this type of mayhem in the city. So had the people of The Spire, and it had eventually become apparent that it was something they had to adapt to.
He glanced at the nighttable alongside him: a smartphone, a lamp, an alarm clock. Then he checked the time: 11:49 P.M.
What the fuck is that thing? Fraser thought as he tried to sit upright.
He pried his eyes open and looked around his bedroom. The light forced its way in through the glass and made it look like one of those fluorescentless surgery rooms. He pulled himself out of bed, trudged through the carpet and shut the curtains. “Motherfucker . . .”
On the way he scanned his room. He could see everything: the plasma screen TV, the sofa, the chandelier.
Returning to bed, he heard his smartphone ring, and then the screen brightened.
At this time??!!
He sat up for quite some time, yawning, looking over at the phone.
"Buzz, buzz, buzz," he repeated. “Yeah, yeah.” He scratched his beard with a sigh and picked up the phone. “What the hell do you want at this hour?”
“Apologies, General.” He recognised the voice immediately as Lieutenant Heart’s. “But we appear to have an existential crisis on our hands.”
“Oh God,” Fraser said sarcastically, “I’ll get on that as soon as possible.”
“I assure you, sir. This is not from our world.” Thinking about crises and endless work was enough to make Fraser put down the phone right then and there. But he didn’t. Not this time. Not like he often did on his days off.
“Go on.” Fraser yawned.
“So, it appears as though there is some anomaly in the ozone layer. I’ve tried contacting the government and the FBI but there’s been no response. The lab workers have no idea what is happening or what that noise is. All we know is that there is some sort of anomaly in the stratosphere that people are labelling a 'black hole'. It is especially evident that –”
“Buddy, one more big word out of your ass and I’m done for the night. Just tell me what the fuck happened and what you want me to do about it. Christ. And a noise? What noise?”
There followed a silence on the phone, and then Fraser could hear another person speaking in the background. He sounded muffled at the start, but then he could make out words like ‘now’ and ‘dissect'.
The memory of the alien’s dissection was fresh in Fraser’s mind, but he chose not to bring it up at any point – just as he preferred to keep to himself his opinion of Lieutenant Heart about his annoying posh accent and pompous stance.
(Yeah! I stand like I’ve achieved something!)
“Sir,” Heart said.
“What?” Fraser was losing his patience.
“This may sound odd, but, have you looked out your window?”
Fraser went silent for a few moments, then shook his head. He dragged himself towards the blinds that he had closed a few minutes earlier. He gripped the fabric tightly, still holding Heart on the phone with his right hand. A part of him thought it was all a trap to assassinate him. He knew that he knew a lot. He didn’t care.
He jerked the curtains backwards and covered his eyes.
“Christ!” he said. “I can’t see a single fuckin thing!”
Then he could hear it. The hum in the sky came back, and after a few seconds had passed Fraser could see the source. The source that he didn’t expect. The source of a sound he couldn’t even describe.
“What –” Fraser said.
He dropped the phone in what felt like slow motion, and stared incredulously into the vortex. Had he been hypnotised? He couldn’t tell. He felt an overwhelming sensation to stay still. That much he knew.
Buildings looked like black smudges against its Godly blue gleam. And The Spire seemed much darker in comparison.
A voice came from the carpet.
General Frase -
Fraser’s mouth gaped open. He said, “This is . . . it.”
He snapped out of it. Fraser shut the blinds and hurried to his wardrobe, threw on a pair of bluejeans, a leather jacket, and black boots.
Along the way he snatched his phone off the floor and said, “Heart, you there?”
A few seconds of pause. “Yes, sir. What happened?”
“Listen, I want you to get every single fuckin lab worker to the underground facility, keep that alien’s body in that containment unit. Call the FBI again and don’t stop till they pick up. Tell them Fraser’s callin for an emergency. Then call every military in the fifty states. Make sure they’re well equipped.”
Heart cut him off and said, “You mean . . .”
“Yes,” Fraser said. “We’re going into lockdown.”