A Futuristic Thriller by Leigh Anne Lindsey
In a post-apocalyptic world pitched black after nukes were jettisoned into Earth’s atmosphere - genetics & scientific researchers Jen and Jared discover dangerous truths behind the origins of aging and disease which propels them around the world and across m-verses as they attempt to escape earthly and unearthly beings. Scientists, biologists, war strategists, and even Wiccan’s with their witchcraft convene to prevent global genocide.
Chapter One – Death Stalks Them
The wind howled and slammed into the window with an ocean’s barreling force and spattered the panes with nickel-sized droplets of rain. Jared Bannon jumped from his office chair and away from the vibrating glass. He stood and stared into the dark of the early morning hour, watching the rain race down the floor-to-ceiling windows reinforced with transparent nano-steel. The grey stone and wood two-story home was perched high on the Tiburon cliffs above the San Francisco Bay. Only one window shone into the dark from the five-thousand square foot house. An evil presence outside pressed against the glass.
Jared shivered as icy cold fingers of fear traced down his neck and back. He flicked his fingers and brilliant overhead lights flared to life hiding the dark beyond the windows. He scanned wildly over the scattered books he’d pulled out for his scientific research from the tall, built-in bookshelves rising all the way up to the high paneled ceiling above. His eyes were racing back and forth as he looked into all the shadowy crevices.
He turned to his right and peered into the shadowy writing alcove, then left towards the main part of the lab beyond his open office door where dim lights glowed from many machines.
Rain continued to pummel the glass.
He turned back to his research screen to review his discovery. It’s real. After all this time – after all our work! Just as I suspected from the beginning: Humans were never meant to grow old and die.
“I’ve got to get Jen here but she’s not answering her chip!”
Jennifer, his research partner and best friend, had turned off the phone chip in her head so that she could get some rest. She was exhausted from the all-nighters they’d been pulling the past few days. “I’m getting too old for this,” she’d told Jared. “I’ve always been a strong person, but I can’t continue to work fourteen or fifteen hour days!”
As Jared pressed the record light on the dimly lit holo-screen, the leather covering on the upper right portion of his antique table slid right. An i-cam rose to scan his face for an instantaneous holo-repro and then he began his message to Jen with unrestrained nervousness.
“Jen – you’ve got to see this – like now. I’ve discovered that missing element. We’ve been right all along.” He stopped, out of breath. “It’s unbelievable that someone hasn’t put it all together before now. Including us!”
He gasped again and stated slowly, “There’s something you need to know before you get here. I didn’t tell you, because I knew you would have tried to stop me. I’ve been running our tests not just on the mice, but on myself. I couldn’t wait. I know you’ll be mad. I know how much you’re against it. But, get this: I have been getting younger and stronger! Even that small tumor in my brain is gone!” Jared whirled, sure he’d heard more than just the storm beyond the windows.
“You’ve got to get here now – don’t wait for daylight. I can’t say anything more over the phone and I don’t want to send the results by i-flare. You have to see this in person.”
He paused from his ranting, turned off the lights and looked out into the early morning hour as dawn began to penetrate the dark storm; the rain was letting up. Was that a shadow? Jared leaned forward to try to see further into the dark. The presence moved further into the dark, even though sure though Jared wouldn’t be able to see anything.
Fog that had slowly slipped in during the storm surrounded the house like a white bowl turned upside down. When the skies were clearer, there were views to the west where the Golden Gate Bridge opened its mouth to the Pacific and to the south where San Francisco sat with all its bejeweled lights.
“Sorry, got distracted. I’m just a bit shaky. Too much is happening way too fast. Maybe I’m paranoid, but please, stay on alert for anything out of the ordinary on your way here. Don’t let your guard down. I can’t explain it but it feels like there’s evil in the air tonight.”
He stopped to think what else he should say.
“The gate nodes are aware that you’re coming. When you get here, they will let down their guard.” Jared ran his hands through his hair.
“Please Jen, hurry!”
Jared took a deep breath and relaxed as his chest expanded against his anxiety. Pressing replay, he reviewed the message hanging in the air in front of him. Satisfied he touched the red-tag light and said firmly, “Urgent!” The message was sent.
Wherever she is, Jared knew the priority alert nanobots would find her. Nothing could hack the ‘bots. They had the most advanced shielding to date. He knew because he’d designed their personalized shielding program.
The gates surrounding their ten acres on the Tiburon cliffs were almost impenetrable. A thirty foot high fence encircled the mountainous two acre parcel. Neither Jared nor his mother trusted the left over bad elements that still existed beyond the gates. They had to protect themselves from the chaos that had reigned during The Dark, remnants of which still existed in 2050.
A big Siamese sauntered in just then, black tail held high, swaying back and forth with each soft step.
Jared leaned far back in the surround-sound chair that he’d had custom built, and breathed a sigh of relief.
“Am I on edge, or what?” Jared said to Miso as he picked him up. “Maybe it was just you all along making those noises and your shadow that caught my eye.” He smiled and ruffled Miso’s hair.
The cat looked up with big, dark blue-jean eyes into Jared’s blinking, wild ones and just blinked back. He raised a brown paw and put it softly to Jared’s cheek and blinked again.
This act alone calmed Jared. Some conscious breathing, like he did in his meditation practices, helped even more. His heart rate began to slow and his breathing became more regular.
Then out of nowhere Wham! Jared’s heart and breathing stopped. Miso sunk his long claws deep into Jared’s arms, jumped off and spun under the table.
“Ow, Miso! Damn it I hate it when you do that!”
The lab door was easing open.
The adrenaline began to make him shake. The door stopped opening with a creak.
Jared’s heart jolted back to life and banged against his chest like a captured victim pounding hard on a door, screaming to be let out. He inched backwards.
One more step….
Sweat trickled down his broad forehead and into his eyes. His heart beat like an ancient African drum being pounded faster and harder in an ancient sacrificial ritual.
Sweat was now tracking a path down his face and neck.
I could die right here.
He desperately wanted to take just one swipe at the water inching into his shirt but dared not.
After a bit when nothing happened, Jared continued on towards the lab, praying to the powers that be that his fear would not betray him. He stopped with a lurch when he heard a chilling voice say
Go ahead. Take a look. Whatcha waitin’ for?
What the hell?
Just take a look around the door.
Yeah, like right! No friggin’ way!
Jared’s mind was racing as he reached for the lab’s doorknob. A beaker fell and glass shattered just beyond the opening door, amplifying the noise of the raging storm outside. Corrosive chemicals splashed where he was about to step.
“Damn!” Jared shouted. He ran back into his office and slammed the door shut. He cast his eyes about for something to defend himself with and picked up a pair of scissors.
Oh, yeah – like that is gonna’ stop the paranormal!
Don’t be afraid, the eerie voice said. It’s just nerves because you haven’t slept all night.
Get out of my head!
The voice sounded like one of the ancient Freddie Krueger movies: ‘Freddy Krueger vs. Jason’. A phrase from the trailer haunted him – One, two, Freddy's coming for you... three, four, Jason's at your door...
Jared’s head hurt and his body ached. The slicer, the dicer, and This Time, They're Not Any Nicer! He could hear the psychotic cackling.
After several taught minutes, the voices and the rain began to recede and quiet resumed. As the minutes passed, he began to doubt anything out of the ordinary ever happened, as people often do after something inexplicable happens.
“Just your imagination,” he said in a soft, almost hysterical laugh.
A broken beaker lay in shards on the floor when he finally worked up the courage to go into the lab, holding the scissors protectively out in front.
Blinking blue eyes. Huh?
It was Miso looking at him from a far corner of the room.
“You crazy cat,” Jason said with affection as he picked up the Siamese and stroked the silky black and beige colored coat. Miso began talking cat speak, as Siamese often do, and snuggled against him, purring with the resonance of a highly tuned car engine idling.
Even with the warmth of his cat, the enormity of this life-changing discovery caused Jared’s skin to chill. Goose-bumps rose along with his increasing fear.
A sudden gust whipped up the lemon trees outside and his thoughts whirled like a field blown with scattered debris. The heavy rain began again with what seemed like even more vehemence.
Jared raked his hand back through his straight hair. This storm is not natural – can’t be natural. He looked back towards his research and again saw the cell regeneration in his heart, his lungs and other organs in his body. Best of all, the tumor no longer existed.
He put his right index finger on the holo-screen and moved it to a ninety-degree angle to his right. The screen enlarged. With a flick of both index fingers the image enlarged. He walked around and around floating image, considering it from all angles.
I have successfully changed the subatomic particles, the telomeres, in my DNA. They are definitely in an ‘on’ position.
“Maybe it was an alien race, Miso, that turned them off and that somehow led to our condition now.” Jared wasn’t even looking at the cat. He was just staring off into space. “But, why would they do that?” He kept walking and walking around the image in the air. “My conclusion must be wrong.”
“What do you think, Miso? Did they came from another star system? Maybe an alternate universe?”
That would explain a few things.
Jared didn’t realize how close he was to the truth. Soon they’d all learn the hard way – very real forces were playing havoc with their lives, all their lives, and had been for thousands of years.
Chapter Two – A Deadly Race
Lise, his mother, had walked over to Jared’s side of the house after she’d had a talk with the gate nodes about Jen arriving soon. She walked in carrying a hot mug carefully in one hand and a plate of muffins in the other.
“Good morning, son.”
“Mornin’,” he said as he reached for the warm, stone mug and a blueberry muffin. “I needed this.”
“I figured you’d been up all night. Again,” she said as she winked at him.
Jared took a sip of the rich, dark coffee and took a bite of the muffin, crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. Just as he liked them
“What woke you?” he asked with his mouth half full.
“The gates called to talk with me about Jen’s arrival.”
Lise turned and sat down on the deep seat of the long moss-colored couch that Jared kept for guests and for long nights when he needed to take a break. She could tell he had some news by the way he paced so she sipped softly and waited for him to speak.
“Mom, I’ve finally discovered what Jen and I have been seeking all this time.”
“Yeah, but something’s not right. I get this feeling that something bad is going to happen, and soon.”
“Why? What is it?” Sudden worry etched her voice.
“First, I better tell you the scientific results that came back from some tests…tests I did on me.”
“What?” Now she was visibly upset.
Jared was about to explain when a lightening burst blazed outside the window, followed a second later by roaring thunder that shook the house and at that very moment, Jen walked in plopping wet backpack down. She shook her wet hair and swiped an arm across her smooth wet face.
“Wow! I got drenched just coming from the car!”
Jared went over to her and took her long, strong hands in both of his, squeezing them tight. Then gave her a brief hug. The ozone on her hair and clothes filled his nostrils. He smelled it with a deep sigh. Realizing how close he was, he took a step back. It worried him that his feelings for Jen might show and expose him before even he figured out what it was he felt for her.
“I’m so glad you made it!”
Jen smiled and walked over to Lise to give her a hug. “You’re awake too.”
Lise nodded and looked back at Jared. “He was just beginning to tell me about his experiments.”
Giving him a stern look, Jen said, “We discussed how dangerous that was.”
“I know, I know. But look. First things first. There’s something not right. Something very not right. Something weird has been going on here, in the lab tonight.”
“What?” Jen asked.
“Can’t talk here.”
Another loud crash.
“Let’s go! We need to get inside the portal room and shut that vault door!” He was visibly upset now. He could feel the darkness again.
They were both just standing there looking like he’d really lost it.
“We’ve got to go now!” He pushed them both out of his office and towards the hallway to the main house.
“What’s going on?” his mom asked.
“I don’t know! But let’s go!”
With his hand on his mom’s lower back, he urged her forward faster. As they raced to the Portal Room, their footsteps echoed on the stone floors.
“Honey, listen. Stop. There isn’t anyone else here!”
“I think there is,” was all he could say for the first few seconds. “Whatever it was outside or inside the lab a while ago is now following us, trying to stop me.
Jared looked at Jen. “I think it’s got something to do with what I just found out.”
She looked back at him as she ran, really worried now.
It’s got my shirt!
“Move!” Jared screamed.
Jen and Lise turned to look at him from the portal as they pulled themselves up from a dead run before they smacked into the back wall.
Jared was being dragged back.
What? There’s nothing there! His mom thought in fright.
“Jared!” Jen and Lise cried in unison.