The screen lit up and the background was a photo of a large group of people, maybe a school. It looked old, from the 1950s, or even earlier. There were some oddly dressed people on it. Men in long robes, turbans, some Buddhist roped looking dude, a couple ancient looking guys in Catholic priest garb. What I assume is a class of kids take up a majority of the bleachers. There’s nothing obviously weird about them. They all look quite put together, well behaved even.
There are only two Apps icons. Oddly enough Google was one and the other was a black square with a white X on it. I decided to show Pete the Google App. I had the peculiar problem of what exactly should I show this other-dimensional creature? What would be of relevance to him? Especially in this moment?
One of my go-to writing motivation songs came to mind, Nina Simone’s version of Sinnerman. I quickly found it in a thumbnail, and clicked it. I tried to hand it back to Pete but his hands were shaking and he backed away. “No stop it. What have you done? What sort of Dark Lord are you?”
“Dammit Pete,” I said. “Calm down. It’s a song.” Nina’s chanting and the fast beat were maybe not the best thing to listen to, but before I could change it the door was almost kicked in half. A wide gap in the door let in a glimmer of star light. A glistening black snot pushed up against it.
It took deep breathes like a pig, leaving a thick snot trail afterwards rolling down our side. It was hard to hear anything clearly, with Nina and the wolf huffing and snorting. The grunts shifted into words. “Goo joop, Pete. Goo joop, Pete.”
“Son of a bitch, Pete,” I yelled. “Glad you to see you two can be so lovey dovey.” I look backed and Pete was white knuckled, eyes peeled with the tablet.
Nina was blasting him in the face and he looked ancient. I picked up my small hammer, and tried to meditate on it, hoping it could pull me back into the real world, but to no avail. I looked back to the door and the wolf’s massive claw was trying to pull it apart. I took two steps to whack it with the hammer, but I stopped, realizing the stupidity in that.
I tried to wrench the tablet from his hands, but his hands were super-glued to it. I had to put my knees on his chest to pry it from him.
“Get it together man,” I yelled, but he was catatonic. His hands stayed stuck like when they were holding the tablet.
I shut the song off and he snapped out of it. “Oh Sir, I am so sorry. How could I have known that you were so powerful? You are a god aren’t you? Sent here to test me and I have failed. I am so sorry. Please do not play that harpy again or I will die; I am so sorry; I have been betrayed.”
“Oh you’re gonna be sorry,” I yelled. “That thing is munching you man, not me! I’m getting out of this!” I brought up the homepage and tap the X thumbnail without another thought. A new window came up and it was running computer code.
As I looked at it the screen began to twist and flip colors, and the worst sort of stomach pain kicked in. It felt like somebody was doing jumping jacks on my intestines. The screen started flashing different images and clips, with green and blue empty blizzard in between.
The clips were completely out of context historical segments, most from television it seemed, like Martin Luther King giving a speech, that guy stopping a tank in Tiananmen square, a speech by Dwight D. Eisenhower, just random historical stuff. There were also random clips from events and places, I did not recognize.
For instance, one was of some planetary landing not the moon, it was a darker brown planet, and there were four of five large vehicle circled around. The camera zommed in on a guy getting out of one of them. He wore a bright green suit, and a bronze tinted astronaut helmet. But then the screen cut to a a baking show, then a beauty pageant.
Pete was right in my face. “What have you done?”
“Nothing! Dammit. Calm down.”
The screen flashed what looked like a typical alert message for a computer, but everything went out suddenly. The tablet, the lights. Everything went dark. The only light crept in through the crack of the door. I tried to get the tablet started again, but it didn’t work. Frustrated, I launched it against the wall. “No,” Pete screamed. “The Sacred Fire!”
I thought about cracking him one, but another cramp doubled me over. I was blinded by a light, which I realized was coming from the other side. Someone opened the curtains, I guessed. I tried to hold on to it, but everything went black again. The only sound I can hear is Pete’s wooden leg tapping against the floor of the cabin.
I am so afraid, so worked up, I decide I can’t just stand there anymore and wait. I run at where I thought the gap in the door should be and whacked it with the back of the hammer. I totally miscalculated, hitting the door full body. I slide to the ground, crying out in pain.
“Master,” Pete whispered, “are you okay?”
I laid against the bulging door. I ran my hand up it until I came to the gap. I stuck one finger in it stupidly. It felt like my dog’s fur, sort of sharp, but also soft at the same time. “Scraach,” the thing grunted.
Somehow I controlled my terror, the voice had vibrated the door. I was so close to it now. That’s the thing about fear though isn’t it? It can make you do things you never thought possible. I scratched and it hummed in pleasure. “Goo joop, Pete. Goo joop, Pete.”
“Actually not Pete,” I said. “Pete’s friend, Austin, Sir.”
“Dinnah,” the Wolf grumbled.
“Hopefully not, Listen I’m here with Pete though and I think if you listen to his story he will tell you there has been a sort of mix-up here. He’s tricked me.”
“Yes, Sir,” Pete said to the hole. He had snuck up in the dark, and it gave me a jump. “I did not know Austin was such a powerful Technician. I am sure Administration will want to see him. He claims to be from another world. Whatever that means.”
There was a grumble and we could see the fire for a second, before a raging, bloodshot eyeball filled the space. It looked from Pete to me, then howled and ran off.
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“I don’t know, Sir.”
“Cut it with the Sir crap.”
“Yes, Master,” he said.
I took my little hammer and tried to pry at the door, but the door beams were so thick that my hammer was worthless. Doubly it proved the strength of the creature. A new round of stomach cramps sent me to floor.
This time I forced my eyes to stay closed. The bright light hurt so bad and made me feel like throwing up, but I kept them closed and I heard a little sigh, my older son’s sigh. He was growing bored or struggling with some game.
I forced my eyes open and I was back on my couch. The fan was blowing me right in my face. “Good nap?” My son asked.