Turn of the Earth by deathman
Summary: What happens when a process around six billion people take for granted stops overnight?
Rating: All Ages
Categories: Other Era
Characters: Other Character(s)
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama
Series: Deathman - Chronology
Chapter 1: Part One - Investigations Institute
Chapter 2: Part Two - Signs
Chapter 3: Part Three - We Might As Well Die
Chapter 1: Part One - Investigations Institute
Author's Notes: When I posted the Other Place I couldn't help but loving the demonic villains, and so they're back! I almost made this Torchwood, but wanted it to be completely separate from the world of Doctor Who so I called the team of investiagtors the Investigations Institute instead.
TURN OF THE EARTH
Part One - Investigations Institute
In the Investigations Institute, Rockleson and Powell observed their flat-screen computers with distaste.
‘Really, sir, this is impossible,’ simpered Powell, swinging in his computer chair to face the imposing bulk of Sir Joshua Rockleson, his boss.
‘Shut it,’ replied Rockleson, quite coolly, not even bothering to turn round. His normally lazy face was fixed on his computer screen, watching a simulation that showed the turn of the Earth. A few minutes before the event, the digits that scrolled and hummed cheerily onscreen were flat and constant. Now some had rocketed up, some had plunged down, and were in perpetual movement.
‘But sir, I don’t mean to put down the Institute, but this is beyond our control,’ Powell persisted, irritatedly swinging round his chair so that he was facing the computer once more.
‘Come on, Powell, think it through,’ Rockleson said, still intent on his simulation. ‘If we don’t deal with this, then who will? The Royal Institute? They’re probably having a posh dinner in Buckingham Palace right now — they know nothing. We’ve got to handle this ourselves.’
‘It’s not a question of handling it,’ exclaimed Powell, losing his temper, atnding up angrily from his chair, making the heads of dozens of workers turn, interested, towards him. ‘It’s a question of the rotation of the whole bloody Earth slowing down by an entire day in the past year!’
‘Sit down, Powell,’ Rockleson responded calmly. Powell angrily obeyed, sensing with some pleasure that his boss was attempting to avoid the current subject. ‘Return to your work.’
‘What is there to do? Monitor how much slower the rotation gets?’ flared Powell, feeling that he had already lost the argument.
‘Precisely,’ replied Rockleson, smiling slightly. Then his face fell. ‘It’s slowing incredibly fast,’ he added.
The computers chittered unhappily, little squeaks and clicks emanating from their hard discs, complaining about the outrageous amount of data that was flowing through their systems. They auto-upgraded their processors, downloaded amazing graphics, updated their systems — one even secretly ordered a sound card on eBay. But it was of no use. The data kept building and building and building, until, with strangled cyber-squawks, the machines went down.
As every single computer in the parallel rows of banks crashed, Rockleson finally made the effort to swing round in his chair to observe his confused workers.
‘It’s hopeless, sir,’ Powell said, shaking his head, defeated. ‘The computers can’t even begin to fathom this change in rotation speed. It’s over. The Institute’s destroyed. We can’t do anything more.’
‘This has always been your problem, Powell,’ replied Rockleson, his eyes gleaming. ‘You have no imagination. Our computers crash — we buy new ones.’ He opened his personal laptop, which had not crashed due to its not being connected to the Institute network. He clicked on the Internet icon, and the eBay window popped up, advertising the very latest computer model — the ThunderBolt 365.
The workers crowded round Rockleson’s shoulder, and watched in amazement as he clicked on the icon, then typed in: AMOUNT — 20.
Before anyone could stop him, he whacked ‘ENTER’.
‘We may now be bankrupt,’ Rockleson laughed crazily, ‘but we have the most processing power of any company or industry in the world, even Microsoft.’ He turned to Powell. ‘We will handle this ourselves,’ he said, firmly.
Mr Peter and Mrs Joan Nutsmite always went to bed at ten o’clock at night. For some reason which they didn’t quite know, they loved doing this and could not break the habit. It had to be ten o’clock exactly, or else they wouldn’t be able to sleep.
Tonight was no exception. They drunk the last drops of wine from their classic bottle — Buzet 1998 — and helped each other up from the garden table, onto which strange otherwordly sunlight spilled, playing over the damp wine glasses and over the darkening skin of the ageing couple.
The reason why the sunlight was strange and otherwordly was because it was shining at ten o’clock at night!
Mr Nutsmite gazed up at the sun, unwaveringly and unfailingly bright, its harsh untimely rays hitting his face, exaggerating the wrinkles and filling them with fire until it seemed that his face was of cracked and drying lava, and his glasses discs of blinding flame.
At last he lowered his gaze with a sigh and turned to his wife, who said sympathetically, ‘You shouldn’t look at the sun, Pete, it’ll dazzle you.’
Mr Nutsmite snorted. ‘Sixty-five years of looking at it and I’m not dazzled.’
Mrs Nutsmite sighed, and headed in for bed. Her husband simply sat there in the garden, returning his attention to the sun, wondering if it would ever go down.
Somewhere in Australia, a girl named Isobel Beechwood woke to the sound of her alarm clock. DING, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP...
Frustrated, she jolted awake, and slammed her hand on the large inviting button located on top of the alarm clock. Its annoying beeps ceased with an equally annoying click, and all was calm again.
Why, oh, why, Isobel thought, did I have to forget it was the first day of the holidays and leave my alarm at nine thirty...
As the words “nine thirty” passed her she remembered that she hadn’t left the alarm at her school wake-up time, she’d moved it forward three hours. She was simply being lazy.
At this thought, she swung out of bed with a sigh, slipped her feet into slippers, brushed back her long blonde hair, and drew back the curtains.
If it’s nine thirty, she thought, puzzled, then why is it still dark? And why, last night, was sunset at four thirty?
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Chapter 2: Part Two - Signs
Author's Notes: The Turn of the Earth story continues...
TURN OF THE EARTH
Part Two - Signs
Back in the refurnished Institute, Powell glared at Rockleson hatefully. It turned out that he had produced the money for the new ThunderBolt 365s by drawing large amounts of money from the workers’ bank accounts, including his own. How he had done it, Powell did not know. Possibly by gaining credit card details from the things they had ordered on the old computers, taking out cash, etcetera, etcetera. All Powell knew is that he had done it, and that he hated his boss for it.
He had to admit, though, the new computers were incredible. State-of-the-art, flat-screen, super-smooth, all-round beauties with amazing 50 gigahertz processors, which did not complain when fed titanic amounts of data.
Still scowling, Powell swivelled and moved the mouse over to the ‘DISPLAY’ menu. He entered it and selected ‘earthturnsimulation.exe’.
The simulation opened and Powell observed it. The turn of the Earth had slowed even further. One side of the Earth was enshrouded in slow-moving darkness, the other blazed with perpetual light.
Powell’s jaw dropped. This was impossible. How could this be happening? The Earth was fixed in a gravitational field emanating from the Sun. It rotated due to its own gravity and the Sun’s gravity acting on it. Nothing could stop it, nothing.
Powell watched the simulation limply, as the planet turned, agonisingly slowly, even more agonisingly slowly than normal.
Then there was a slight blip in the data. Intrigued, Powell clicked on the ‘LOCATE’ menu, and then typed in on the resulting window: ‘Source of data glitch.’
Instantly the computer responded with a window reading: ‘Data glitch emanating from Point 067583932.333344456203.
It took Powell ten minutes to find these obscure coordinates. When he did, he exclaimed a meaningless cry of shock. Fortunately, neither the workers nor Rockleson heard. Powell zoomed in on the offending location with a deepening frown of incomprehension and surprise.
The blip of strange data had come from an seemingly insignificant patch of the dark side of the moon, slap-bang in the centre of the Mare. Powell zoomed in and in and in until he could go no further. The screen showed a grey dusty crater, slightly illuminated by strange and distant stars, rocks jumbled and tumbled around on the dull surface.
Powell was puzzled. Why had this spot in particular produced a blip of weird data? It seemed insignificant enough. Could it have something to do with the strange sluggishness of the Earth’s rotation?
Madness. But everything was madness at this time. He should tell Rockleson...
Powell’s thoughts were disturbed by a beep from his computer. He observed the window that had opened. Apparently, the Earth had just slowed drastically, now one rotation would probably equal about a week. But that wasn’t what worried him. The time of this huge change had not been gradual — it had changed at one particular time. Powell looked at this combination of digits, scared and chilled:
11 : 36 : 05
Powell glanced at his digital wristwatch. Apparently the time was:
11 : 46 : 28
The change in the Earth’s rotation speed had come at exactly the same time as the blip on his computer screen, emanating from the moon coordinates 067583932.333344456203!
Powell could only find three words that were sufficient for this incredible and chilling discovery:
‘What the hell?’
Rockleson heard this and turned round, angry, calling, ‘What is it now, Powell?’
Powell was shaking. ‘There was... a blip... from the moon... somehow it affected... it affected... I can’t explain.’
‘Explain,’ Rockleson ordered, paying no attention to Powell’s last sentence.
Powell was silent.
‘Explain!’ barked Rockleson.
Rockleson listened to Powell’s explanation with little interest, and then sighed. ‘We will explore the moon, as this seems to have worried you...’
‘WHAT?’ yelled Powell. He stood up, furious. ‘EXPLORE THE MOON? HOW? I SUPPOSE YOU’RE GOING TO BUY UP A BLOODY SPACESHIP ON EBAY!’
‘SILENCE!’ thundered Rockleson, his lazy voice suddenly becoming an outraged bellow, his face turning a furious red. His hands shook with rage and he brandished a metal stick around.
Powell was overwhelmed by his boss’s sudden outburst. He sat down, shamefully. His face was a burning red. ‘Sorry, sir.’
Rockleson sat back down, breathing heavily. He put down his stick and swivelled, observing his computer screen. ‘We still have the Snowdonian ship,’ he said.
‘But sir,’ interrupted a worker, Julia Hughes, nervously. ‘We don’t know how it works. It’s top secret, not even the government knows about it.’
‘I know,’ laughed Rockleson, slightly insanely. ‘That’s why we’re using it. Prepare the ship, Powell.’
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Chapter 3: Part Three - We Might As Well Die
Author's Notes: Aaaah, after the crazy action in Hypernova I think I'll settle down to a light spot of Turn of the Earth. Although at this rate Turn of the Earth might well develop into a crazy action story... Hope you like it!
If you don't know what the hell's going on, read Hypernova!
TURN OF THE EARTH
Part Three - We Might As Well Die
Across the world, the government was in a state of emergency. Riots were breaking out in the perpetually darkened outback of Australia, and from the lofty skyscrapers of pitch black New York newsfeeds urged the population of the world not to panic.
Enthusiasts were digging deeper and deeper into the planet’s history. The data files and ancient records reported strange things. One dusty scroll from 1676 foretold:
In the year of our Lord 2006, an almighty fire shalt burn in ye Great Town of London. All the creatures of hell shalt be unleashed upon the world, and the Day of Judgement shalt arrive.
Locked away at the centre of a hardly accessible folder in the system of a French Minitel was a document which translated as:
2006-15-06 at 1335GP DATA RECORDS FOR UNITS 1065 AND 1066
POSITION — COORDINATES 13. 7448332264921785 L*I*G*M*A*N*T* + GROUP 3.332456 DISEMBARKED timefuture
Both of these items caused global concern as the world entered a near-stasis speed and half of it was plunged into endless night.
From a desk in Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth the Second made a speech. ‘People of Great Britain, and possibly beyond, I am here to announce — it is my solemn duty to inform you that Planet Earth has ceased in its rotation.’ The old woman looked round, slightly timid, as cameras flashed around her, illuminating her face, bathing her features and exaggerating them in an eerie blue.
‘We’re getting live feeds from the Investigations Institute, and the news is grave indeed. Our homeworld is under attack in some form. The Institute is looking into the matter, and, until then, the Government urges citizens not to panic.’
Right across the world, people sobbed and screamed in a chorus of panicking voices. ‘We’re dead!’, ‘We might as well die!’ and ‘Help us!’
Down in the Investigations Dungeon, Rockleson, Powell, Julia and several other workers hurried around the spacehip in a flurry of bodies and space-suits. The ship was a strange ovoid shape, like an egg, with strange protrudances at the front and sides, with twin rocket boosters and high-tech energy blasters fitted to the side protrudances. It was a deep maroon colour, as though bloodstained.
It was immediately recognisable as a Szaborg ship.
Rockleson stood next to it, a strange alien device cupped in his hands. An electronic burble signified the arrival of readings from the ship. Rockleson read them out in his lazy voice.
‘Unit 567 of the Szaborg fleet, an unreal race summoned into existence through the mind of a human girl, being used as a tool for the mighty Horsehead Nebula, in reality an alien intelligence searching for the rest of its body using the army it conjured up. When the intelligence was defeated using the alien Hypernova Missile, the imagined ships should have disappeared as well as the Szaborgs, however this was kept in stasis and fell to earth at the foot of Mount Snowdon.’
‘Right,’ said Powell slowly, now ready in his spacesuit along with Julia. ‘that doesn’t give us any clue as to how to fly it.’
‘Just set it on autopilot, Powell,’ drawled Rockleson. ‘Use the coordinates you found on the ThunderBolt simulation. That’s all you need to do. You should be thereinhalfanhourgoodluckgoodbye,’ and with that he shoved Powell and Julia into the ship, before beeping his alien machine, forcing the doors shut.
A minute later, Powell had mastered the simplistic controls. The ship ground to life, roared upright, and blasted through the roof, showering shards of steel upon the waving workers.
The craft zoomed into space, unaware that it was flying straight into a deathtrap.
The interior of the ship was sleek and clinical, with a white and red theme and too-simple controls. There were only five buttons and one screen. The buttons were ‘Fire’, ‘Autopilot’, ‘Land’, ‘Manouvre’ and ‘Other.’ The screen simply allowed you to choose a target to fire on, set coordinates for autopilot or landing on, choose a manouvring path, or open hatches.
While Powell tapped at the screen and set the coordinates, Julia gazed out of the sliding window. Space was incredibly beautiful for a vacuum. White pinpricks of stars shone in the distance. The Earth glowed in the eerie light of the sun hanging over the horizon...
And then Julia noticed. The Earth was not rotating. It was simply sitting there. The sun constantly illuminating the area of Britain to East Russia. Darkness upon Australia, half of Asia and the Americas.
‘Done,’ said Powell happily, springing up from the pilot’s seat, grinning through the glass of the space helmet. Julia broke her trance and smiled back. ‘How long will it take?’ she asked him.
‘About ten minutes,’ he informed.
‘Ten minutes?’ she gasped, incredulously. ‘That’s impossible. The moon is three hundred and eighty-four thousand kilometres away from Earth, you can’t get there in ten minutes.’
‘Alien technology.’ Powell’s eyes were agleam. ‘Szaborg technology.’
‘Who are the Szaborgs?’
‘You don’t know about the Battle of East Kambia?’
‘Never mind.’ Powell shook his head. He then observed the screen. ‘Nine minutes now.’
Julia rubbed her gauntleted hands together in excitement.
Suddenly both Powell and Julia were flung violently backwards. Julia sailed through the air, arms flailing, until she hit a wall harshly. She slid down it to the floor, where she lay, panting. Powell had collapsed into the pilot’s chair as it was swung round and round and round. A high-pitched beeping emanated from the screen. Large black writing flashed:
TURBULENCE TURBULENCE TURBULENCE
‘What’s going on?’ yelled Julia.
Powell finally ceased swinging and managed to observe the screen. ‘I dunno, some sort of energy. I can trace it...’ He stabbed buttons and a schematic of the solar system appeared, with the energy highlighted in black. There was a black stream flowing from the moon to Earth, and back, a constant traffic of incredible power.
Powell’s eyes widened as he zoomed in on the energy with the ease of an expert. ‘It’s making the Earth stop! And it’s coming from the exact coordinates that I noticed before. The ones that we’re flying towards right now!’ he cried.
Julia staggered up through the shuddering of the floor and somehow made it to the pilot’s chair. ‘What the hell?’
Powell groaned amidst the instability. ‘I’m just resetting the coordinates...’ he mumbled, fumbling at the five buttons and the ship lurched and crashed around in the blinking void of space.
‘For god’s sake hurry up!’ yelled Julia, as her legs were cut away beneath her and she flopped to the floor like a fish out of water. Powell desperately tapped at the screen and finally sighed with relief as the tiny spaceship on the solar system schematic soared out of the black river of energy and then continued on its way to the moon.
Instantly the spacecraft ceased its violent trembling and flew onwards smoothly.
Julia got up tentatively. ‘Right. What are we...’
She was cut off as she saw what was on the screen. Powell gazed grimly at the diagram of the spaceship, with little black figures all over the craft getting to their feet and starting to pick their way towards the cabin.
‘We’re not alone...’ whispered Powell, terrified.
‘What are they?’ Julia asked, scared now.
‘They’ve been here all along.’
‘What are they?!’
‘Waiting in the darkness...’
‘Powell, what are they?!!!’
‘Hundreds of them.’
‘For God’s sake, Powell, tell me, what are they?’
The man lifted his helmet clad head to gaze at Julia, his bright blue eyes burning with fear.
Down in the long tunnel that connected the living quarters to the cabin, dozens of dead, limp bodies in black business suits lay. Quite dead, no pulse, no life signs of any kind. But these were no ordinary men. Their faces were bloodstained clumps of tentacles, their hands were writhing seas of worms.... A slight breeze lifted a face-tentacle of one of the creatures, to reveal a gaping mouth and small, malicious, gleaming red eyes.
But they were not dead.
At the turbulence caused by the ship entering the stream of energy emanating from the mysterious spot on the moon, the coma was broken. Swirling red heads snapped up. Cold, evil eyes hinged open. Legs twitched.
And then, one by one, the Szaborgs got up.
Their terrible eyes shone bright in the middle of their twisted, knotted protrudances. Their dark shiny shoes clacked on the steel floor. Their mouths opened to utter a terrifying chant. ‘We rise again, as we always must. Our foes will perish in fire and dust. Feed. Feed. Feed. Feeeedddd...’
The relentless onward march of the Szaborgs had started once again.
TO BE CONTINUED...
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