Swept Away - Part Four
A strange yet familiar voice called out to Alex from the darkness. Shadows of the distant past tried to wrap around his body in the void that had overcome him. Awareness crept through him as he struggled to grab hold of something, anything so that he knew he was still alive. But he quickly realized that that reality might not be so. Eyes open? Eyes closed? He didn't know, couldn't know. All senses were lost on him and all that remained was the awareness; a maddening awareness that left him trapped in a void of uncertainty.
Again the voice called out. Its words rolled through his brain leaving no impression. Nothing stuck. All he had was the empty black that held him suspended in his own ragged thoughts.
All of it felt rather good. Freedom to soar without a body, freedom to vegetate--if this was death, it wasn't as bad as he feared. Not that he had prepared for the inevitability of death. No, it came a bit sooner than he would have liked. But what could he do?
"Time to go."
The words stuck this time, a stab of reality piercing through the black. He tried to reply but found his voice uncooperative.
"Wake up, little brother. Time to go. You're on the threshold of my discovery. Now follow through."
Daniel's voice? Yes, Daniel's voice.
"Congratulations, you can recognize a voice. Now do what the pretty voice says and wake up."
Alex tried. He promptly failed.
"Now's not your time, little brother. Get your head out of your ass and finish what you've started."
Daniel made it sound so easy, as if anyone that died could just decide he wanted to live some more. Death had clearly made Daniel a bit more unbalanced.
What? That wasn't Daniel. Alex had never heard that voice before. It sounded far, faded after passing through a thick blanket of silk. Smooth, yet alert. Mostly annoyed and bored.
"That's it, Alex. Pull yourself out."
His skin felt cool, chilled. The sensation startled Alex, shifted his focus. Had he thought he died? Maybe he had. He didn't feel that way anymore. A faint wailing forced its way through his cotton-stuffed ears and the distance voices grew stronger.
"Now that's not possible--well, it is. But they aren't vagrants if they have no ID."
A moment before Alex opened his eyes, his brother whispered, "Good luck."
His first glimpse at life after the accident came in a deep shade of red. Everything appeared bathed in blood in that opening second. As his eyes adjusted, a man with a mustache that buried his lips in an uneven wave of hair looked down at him. The peeved expression didn't look the least bit inviting.
Trying to catch Alex off guard, the man asked, "What's your name?"
Before he could answer, he found the source of red light. A hulking mass of metal roughly box-shaped hovered a foot off the ground where his mother's flower garden should have been. A bright red light shone out from the side of the box, down into the basement. It took a moment to register. Then he looked straight up, horrified to find the house no longer existed. Stars blinked weakly in the dark sky overhead.
"Name, son," the man repeated.
"Bring them in," came a voice from nowhere. "And don't question them."
The man looked down at his wrist with a scowl. "You heard him," he said to four men climbing out of the back of the metal beast above.
As they hauled Alex to his feet, his eyes glimpsed Katlyn. The look of death on her face didn't give him much hope about asking for a date. Not that he ever would have been able to bring himself to actually ask.
Then the hands holding his upper arms turned him and marched him on wobbly legs toward the wall. His heart sunk as he glanced around. Everything from the basement was gone. Cleaned out? No. That lightning strike must have destroyed the house. He shook his head. If the house was destroyed, how did he survive? And these people are? He didn't recognize the uniforms or the vehicle.
At the wall, the men leading him had him step on a long flat metal plate lying on the ground. As soon as all three of them were on it, it lifted. Had the men not been holding him, Alex would have fallen off. The sudden upward motion threw his body into revolt, nearly knocking him backward.
The plate stopped at ground level. Then the men led him into the back of the vehicle. They pushed him to one of the benches on either side of the interior, and then lifted his arms over his head. A sharp whine made him wince. When he looked up, he stared. His wrists were held against a metal bar overhead by blue arcs of light. Experimenting, he tried to pull his hands away. Nothing. It was as if everything from his elbows to the tips of his fingers had been numbed.
Once Katlyn had been secured in the same manner on the bench across from him, the doors closed and they were alone.
She wasted no time. "What did you do?"
A subtle shift pushed through the cabin as the vehicle took off.
"I don't know what happened," Alex said.
"Interpol? Why am I being arrested by Interpol?"
"What? I have no... Interpol? Are you sure?"
Katlyn blew a strand of hair from her face. Her glare of doom remained as steady as ever. "Yes I'm sure! Don't you read? The insignia on their arms clearly says Interpol. What kind of weird shit are you into? I knew I should have kicked you in the balls and ran for my life. A bomb. It must have been a bomb. The house was obliterated. What are you? Some kind of spy?"
Alex stared at Katlyn. It took him a moment to figure out that he was angry. "Sure," he said flippantly. "I was building a bomb unlike anything ever seen before! See, being the humanitarian that I am, I had to design a bomb that would blow up buildings but not harm people. Cause, wouldn't want to kill people, gosh no, but who cares if they're all homeless and starving?"
She opened her mouth to say something, and then just snapped it shut.
The rest of the ride remained silent with the exception of loud stares shared between them. Alex marveled over how smooth the ride seemed, as if they were traveling over the world's straightest, flattest road. Judging from the way the vehicle hovered, that didn't surprise him. The fact that it hovered, though, left him perplexed.
After the vehicle stopped with a light thud, followed by a hiss, the back doors reopened and led down a narrow corridor. A man that looked too young to be any kind of police official released Alex's bound wrists from above. His hands dropped into his lap in one lead-filled fall. Those arcs of blue light still wrapped exotically around his wrists, he noticed, and his arms still felt numb.
Alex and Katlyn traveled through a series of corridors that all looked the same--steel gray, impersonal, lifeless. For a while, things just were. Alex did what he was told and made no trouble. Katlyn, too, followed this winning strategy.
Then they passed by a window and everything changed.
It took Alex a double take in order to fully grasp what his mind tried to deny he saw. At first glance, he thought he saw an expected sight such as a crowded city street. His mind screamed at him to accept it and move on, but his curiosity quelled that nonsense. So he looked again. Then he stumbled into the guard in front of him, ankle twisting, and fell to the ground. His knee cracked hard; unnoticed pain seized his left leg. As he fell, he heard Katlyn let out a gasp that had nothing to do with his loss of balance.
Through the circular window set in the wall, Alex saw Earth in all its glory... from space.
Such "trickery" had been played on these officers before. Without a moment's hesitation, Alex's arms were seized and he returned to his feet. This time he had no free reign to move about. One guard on either side of him remained firmly attached to either arm.
Albeit disturbing, unable to feel the hands wrapped around his upper arms, Alex tried to wrap his mind around the window and gave no notice at all to the manhandling. He knew that nothing like what he now stood in existed. Explanations? None of this is real. Simple as that. Not as simple as that. He'd been working on the possibility of time travel for the past ten years because of his brother. While Daniel said physical time travel didn't work, perhaps he inadvertently discovered a way around the problem.
Alex blurted, "What year is it?"
"Crazy act won't work. Keep moving."
Turning his head to the right, Alex's eyes met Katlyn's eyes. A beat passed by, then another. Did she understand why he asked? Not likely. Of all the times in the world to come to that particular house... Talk about bad luck.
A fork in the corridor separated Alex and Katlyn. Two officers took Katlyn to the right; two others took Alex to the left.
He found himself in an interrogation room--a single table, couple of chairs, those same dull walls. No one-way mirror in sight, though. He shuddered, hoping this wasn't one of those supposedly non-existent rooms were things that were perhaps not exactly legal took place.
A bulky man packed with muscles entered shortly after Alex arrived. He took a seat across the table from Alex and neatly folded his hands in front of him.
"Care to make my life easy and just tell me what's up?"
Alex stared at the cop. Never in his life had he ever spoken to anyone in the police profession, and he rather liked it that way. The whole idea of cops freaked him out. He'd sometimes wake up from nightmares about mistaken identities. He dreaded the coming conversation because of this irrational fear of lawmen. "I-I don't know why I'm here."
An exaggerated sigh blew through the man's lips. "You and every other person we pick up. Let's start with something simple, shall we? What's your name?"
"Alex. Alexander Sterling."
"Why were you on Earth?"
Alex blinked. "Because I live there?" What kind of question--
"Oh, is that so. Who's the girl?"
"I'm not entirely sure. We just met."
"What's her name?"
"Katlyn. Just Katlyn, that's all I know."
"And who do you work for?"
"Myself. I'm kind of an inventor, scientist. Something along those lines. Nothing official, though."
"Naturally. So, who were you creating the bomb for?"
"Bomb? What bomb?"
The man rolled his eyes. He said, "Play it."
From somewhere, Alex had no clue where, some kind of piped in audio system, his owns words came back to haunt him.
"I was building a bomb unlike anything ever seen before! See, being the humanitarian that I am, I had to design a bomb that would blow up buildings but not harm people. Cause, wouldn't want to kill people, gosh no, but who cares if they're all homeless and starving?"
"That bomb, Mr. Sterling."