Yep, another 1000 word flash challenge. Went about a hundred over this time, but don’t feel like trying to cut the words/rewrite. So here it is, the Chuck Wendig Ten Words Will Give You Five Challenge
I chose, Ethereal, Storm, Satellite, Cube, Envelope. I don’t love the name, but what can ya do with limited time.
And, why yes, I do like The Outer Limits.
The Tesseract Gamble
By Daniel R. Davis
President Riggs stood gazing through a heavy-duty protective glass out onto the huge room that seemed big enough to hold the entire White House, waiting with both hope and trepidation. It had been several months since the manila envelope slapped down onto his desk with the finality of a death knell. With those words on the front, “TOP SECRET, SECTION 12, DOOMSDAY,” everything had fallen into chaos. It was coming, and there was nothing to stop it, an extinction level event like no other.
His people had been tracking the thing for several years on satellite, calculating and praying that it would pass, but when it broke apart, all hope for a near miss were dashed. Though the pieces were smaller, nearly all of the shards of XL23976, dubbed Leviathan, would rain down upon the planet like a hellstorm of fire and destruction, wiping out life. Even should some small vestige survive, devastating storms would sweep through, making the surface a hostile and deadly place, Tsunamis would hit nearly every coast, finishing the job.
Researchers from all over scrambled, trying to come up with a solution. It was Doctor Fine, head scientist on a project called Tesseract, that brought in a possible solution, a solution that now had Riggs standing here, staring at a construct that defied logical lines. The Tesseract Shifter, a giant cube within a cube that hopefully held the salvation of humankind.
Even deeper in the complex, somewhere under his feet, an antimatter reactor more powerful than anything ever created waited to charge the construct with the power necessary to make it work. It was still something he did not fully understand, but if it was successful, the killer asteroids would not be able to hit them. And if it didn’t, they had nothing to lose. The asteroids were nearly upon them and the first tiny bits had already caused worldwide damage and created even more panic. There was no time for a test run. It had to be now.
Scientists in special suits scrambled below dealing with last minute preparations while he waited with anticipation.
“Mister President?” A deep voice jolted him from his thoughts. He focused on the reflection on the glass, which resolved itself into the massive presence of Bob Robertson, Secretary of Defense. “The Joint Chiefs are assembled.”
“Good,” Riggs said, turning. “Bring them in. We’ll watch from the monitor here. I want to see the Tesseract work.”
“They’re understandably hesitant. If anything goes wrong…”
The Tesseract Shifter was originally a military experiment, never meant to be used on this scale. Robertson was worried. He’d actually spoken against trying it, but there were no other options. “If anything goes wrong, bad or not, General, it won’t matter where they are. But that’s fine. Set them up in a briefing room.”
“I’ll remain here.” He grabbed a chair, slid it over to the window and sat. It was true though. They might survive a little longer this far under ground, the bunker could possibly even keep them alive for far longer than any of the poor bastards up top, but in the end it wouldn’t make a difference. Robertson nodded and left, his chiseled jaw set, his face grim.
Riggs stood once more, too nervous to sit, and tabbed a comm on the wall. “How are things down there, Doctor Fine?”
“Almost ready.” One of the scurrying men below stopped and waved. “Final adjustments and countdown will begin. I pray this works as I think it will.”
“As do we all, Doctor.”
A buzz sounded through the halls and the room below. “That’s it,” Fine said. “Proximity has the first chunks within point of no return and countdown is go.”
“Do it. And may God have mercy.”
He shut off the comm just as facility speakers chimed a countdown. Riggs hit another switch and a screen slid down from the ceiling, lighting with a feed from aboveground. He squinted, trying to see the first of the killer rocks streaking in and it wasn’t long before several small fire trails heralded the first of larger, devastating pieces. It looked like Hell had unleashed a flaming rain of death upon them. The Tesseract began to hum with power, making even the protective glass vibrate. Huge beams rearranged, slid, moved in strange ways, bringing the internal cube impossibly out to become the outside cube, and again, and again, so that Riggs felt nauseous watching. He turned away, back to the monitor instead as their inevitable demise raced toward them on plasma wings.
A sudden sickness washed over him as though he’d been lurched over a hill on a rollercoaster. A shimmering wave pulsed from the Tesseract and Riggs watched as the first doomsday chunk, a half mile across, slid through the earth without so much as a dent. He screamed, dropping to the floor in panic as all around him, fiery stone slid through him without a scrape. His horror turned to giddy laughter, and then insane guffaws. It had worked! They had shifted. The entire planet had shifted!
“Dimensional shift complete,” the cold, uncaring automated voice chimed. Riggs watched as asteroid after asteroid slid easily through the space where the Earth was but wasn’t.
Shouts of triumph outside in the hall changed suddenly and the hairs on the back of his neck and arms rose. They sounded like shrieks. He stood again, looking out at the Tesseract, which continued to churn, and his intake of breath caught in his throat.
Below were glowing forms, beautiful, like butterflies or angels. They were winking into existence one after another and hesitantly approaching the scientists below. One scientist, Riggs thought it was Doctor Fine, reached out gingerly to one of the ethereal beings. In a flash it fell upon him, enveloping him, its light blazing even as it turned from luminescent yellow to a blood red while Doctor Fine shriveled within, dropping a moment later a lifeless husk. Other scientists were caught up as well, the strange creatures glowing and becoming red. Men ran, their mouths open in silent screams, the hideous cries from the hall echoing their agonized faces.
He hit the comm, though he did not want to hear any more. “For God’s sake, turn it off! Someone turn it off!”
But if anyone tried, he did not know, for a light flashed in the reflection of the window and a chill entered his bones. He could not look, could not see it. They’d done it! They’d survived doomsday! Dammit, they’d done it! It was unfair!
He closed his eyes as a chilling, voice slid into his head, like the tinkling of ice, the hissing of snakes, the chill wind of the grave.
“Soooo hungryyy. So coooolllllld!”
Light enveloped him. A moment of fiery agony. And the human race was no more.