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...