The “Apocalypse Gate” Series

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The “Apocalypse Gate” Series

PostApocalyptic Cosmic Horror Sci-fi / Grimdark Fantasy
Series Overview

"Apocalypse Gate" - a dark and bizarre post-apocalyptic thriller about everyday Americans surviving an EMP collapse and the Cosmic Horror Invasion of monsters from alternate worlds and dimensions...BOOK ONE PREVIEW DOWN BELOW

Sometimes, things go horribly wrong.

In the arena of worldwide politics and major scientific research, projects can be so big and all-encompassing that the little things can be missed.

And when certain details are not anticipated—like the burst of a massive Electromagnetic pulse being an unforeseen side effect of the activation of an inter-dimensional portal—there may be unintended consequences.

Especially when that EMP blast leaves the scientists disabled, and their new open gateway creates an out-of-control chain reaction of other portals to random dimensions and far-off places throughout the universe popping up all over Earth—each accompanied by their own EMP bursts as well…

A whole world can change because of the little things.

Worlds can collide…

Entire pieces of a world can be lost into the dark, unknown spaces in between…

These are the stories of everyday Americans trying to survive on an Earth devastated by the total collapse of electronics and man-made power, and ravaged by the otherworldly dangers that emerged from the Apocalypse Gate

The Characters:

  • Arthur Kline is a family man and heavy equipment operator living in Colorado Springs, CO, desperate to find his missing wife and young sons. When the EMP hits his city, Arthur struggles to keep his wits about him as it soon becomes evident that there are much more dangerous things to worry about than the total collapse of society! Sometimes, the hungry and unrelenting darkness keeps coming, and it’s faster during the night…

  • Officer Harvey Swanson is an alcoholic, disgraced LVMPD beat cop who’s lost everything he cared about while living in Las Vegas, NV. A short stint as a vigilante killer didn’t work out so well for Harvey, and now the Metro Stalker is trapped in the basement of a police precinct when the whole world turns upside down. The streets of Vegas are hardly recognizable anymore, and Harvey and his reluctant brothers in blue are only focused on one thing—survival.

  • Chad Murray is the young, naive cameraman present at the Portal Zero experiment in Geneva, Switzerland, during the quiet, initial test of the UEA’s newest technology that was to usher mankind into an era of interspace travel—the Dimension Drive. When everything goes wrong, he and a UEA soldier that survived soon find themselves traveling on foot through Manhattan, New York, trying to stay one step ahead of interdimensional monsters and a city that’s tearing itself apart!

  • Kayleen Lugo is an art major at Portland State University who only cares about Veganism, the fight for social justice and political change, and a football player named Preston. When the power goes out, and Portland seems to be overrun with a dread atmosphere of slime and mist, Kayleen’s unexpected drive to survive takes her onto an adventure that will leave her much closer to the bizarre, eldritch powers invading her town than she ever wanted to be…

  • Megan McKinney is a martial artist and physical therapist who long ago conquered her weight problem and took control of her life. On vacation (again) in Zion National Park, Utah, Megan and her boyfriend are present when a strange, golden monolith appears in place of the park’s famous “Centennial Cottonwood Tree”, and nearly all electronics throughout the region are destroyed! As things turn weird and hairy in the park, Megan turns her focus to one thing that seems more and more out of reach—escape.

  • Tommy and Jody Shelton, the children. Twelve-year-old Tommy and his little sister Jody do their best to survive and stay together in Flagstaff, AZ, when tragedy befalls their family as their small mountain town is overrun with wildfires and bizarre alien monsters! Soon, all the kids have are each other, but will their sibling bond be enough?


Like EMP Survival, Grimdark, Cosmic Horror, Guns, and Monsters?? Read "Portal Zero" - Apocalypse Gate Book One! Free on KU!

“Portal Zero”
Apocalypse Gate – Book ONE
(First two chapters PREVIEW below)

Where were you when the lights went out and the monsters came?

In the near future, a government experiment out of control opens gateways to other worlds and dimensions all over planet Earth, plunging everyday people into a nightmare of grim survival against the horrific and bizarre…

Portal Zero. The beginning of the end.

  • In Colorado Springs, CO, young family-man Arthur can’t find his wife and young sons when all electronics and vehicles in the city are disabled. But the EMP is the least of his worries. When the city quickly turns to looting and anarchy, he sees much darker dangers in the shadows with glowing blue eyes…

  • In Geneva, Switzerland, Chad is a naive cameraman working for a news network filming the opening of Portal Zero, mankind’s first experiment with ‘Dimension Drive’–an attempt at inter-space travel. Barely out of his internship, Chad is forced to survive the terrifying creatures that emerge from the gateway when everything goes wrong. When the slaughter in the deep-underground lab begins, how will he survive, trapped and isolated from the surface?

  • Meanwhile, in Zion National Park, UT, Megan is a fit and self-made woman on vacation with her boyfriend when a mysterious thunderclap kills all of the electronics in the park. When a strange, golden obelisk appears in the middle of the park, a mysterious and unseen force begins transforming the tourists around her.

  • Harvey is an alcoholic, disgraced police officer in Las Vegas, NV, recently imprisoned after failing at his spree of vigilante justice on the unpunished. But when the city’s power fails and the precinct over his cell is breeched by an army of nightmares, it seems that Hell itself is invading the city of sin, and the Strip is burning.

  • Kayleen is a young college student and art major at PSU in Portland, OR. She doesn’t really care about much more than Veganism and the boy she secretly has a crush on. But when a weird, alien environment follows an EMP-induced city-wide blackout one night while she’s at an off-campus party, what will Kayleen find out about her values when everyone’s focus turns to survival?

  • Tommy and Jody are two young children in Flagstaff, AZ, living with their mom and dad and enjoying a stable childhood, when a town-wide power outage becomes a call for concern when it’s not fixed by the next morning. When the family hears the police fighting against invading monsters in the business district nearby, and they are all forced to evacuate their home because of a spreading wildfire, the children have no idea that their lives are about to change forever…

In a year much sooner than you think, while scientists and politicians argue about global warming and lack of resources, the United Nations has reorganized itself into the UEA, the first serious attempt at a world government. “Dimension Drive” is being developed for wormhole-based space travel in Europe by the UEA to expand human civilization into the stars. But the UEA development team responsible for Dim Drive has no idea that they’re about to lose control of the portal they’re trying to harness because of a massive, unforeseen EMP, ushering in the end of the world as we know it.

In America, one of the last superpowers holding out against joining the United Earth Alliance, several individuals across the country are going about their lives, unaware that UEA scientists are quietly conducting the first real test of their new Dimension Drive technology that will change everything…

Do you love guns, tactical realism, and monsters? Are you a fan of cosmic horror and dark fantasy / sci-fi? Love the Mist and Cabin in the Woods? Lovecraft? Doom? Stranger Things? EMP and Prepper Survival? This story is full of terror, suspense, and bad language. If you can dig it, strap in for a ride to Hell!

Read Portal Zero, Book One of the Apocalypse Gate Series now!

Like EMP Survival, Grimdark, Cosmic Horror, Guns, and Monsters?? Read "Portal Zero" - Apocalypse Gate Book One! Free on KU!

— Available on Kindle and in Paperback

— Comes with a Special Offer for a Free Book
(click to learn more about the Free Book)

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Like EMP Survival, Grimdark, Cosmic Horror, Guns, and Monsters?? Read "Portal Zero" - Apocalypse Gate Book Two! Free on KU!

“Worlds Merge”
Apocalypse Gate – Book TWO

Are you prepared for a SHTF scenario? Ready for an EMP and the total collapse of society?

What if an obscene variety of bizzare and horrific monsters and environments were pouring into an apocalyptic America from portals to multiple worlds and dimensions, all torn through space-time all over the country? What if you didn’t even recognize the city around you anymore?

What would you do when Worlds Merge?

  • Arthur begins to deal with the increased horror of the collapse of Colorado Springs as nightmarish creatures roam the streets, killing survivors, while he desperately tries to locate his family! And the wicked and hungry monsters move faster at night…

  • Chad and some UEA soldiers (and Max the puppy!) have escaped the slaughter in the Geneva lab via Portal Zero itself, and the survivors make their way through the weird wormhole to the other side, emerging into New York City, under the UEA headquarters on Manhattan Island. But in a city disabled by the EMP, surrounded by all sorts of strange stuff happening while the locals watch in horror, Chad’s journey is just beginning…

  • Things are getting really weird for Megan and her boyfriend in Zion National Park. Peoples’ eyes are turning gold, and their obsession with the obelisk–and Megan herself–is becoming … disturbing. When Megan decides to walk out of the park on foot, an encounter with a dark, shaggy beast leaves them running for their lives. Will they be able to find help in nearby Springdale?

  • Harvey isn’t in Las Vegas, NV anymore. Or, rather, it seems that Las Vegas isn’t on EARTH anymore. The misfit group of Harvey and a handful of officers and detectives will need to become an effective fire team very quickly if they hope to survive the demonic horrors coming at them from all sides. And ammo is low…

  • Kayleen and her roommate have taken to a journey north through the strange, alien streets to find a grocery store for supplies and to make further plans for survival when they get there. But the city seems to be being taken over by a weird, otherworldly environment, and they’re forced to evade patrolling squads of alien soldiers. Portland is barely recognizable anymore, and even traveling a few city blocks is fraught with danger. But when they make it to their destination, Kayleen undergoes a dramatic change that will transform everything about her

  • Tommy and Jody lose their parents, and are alone in a burning world overrun with invincible monsters. 12 year old Tommy suddenly plunges into the responsibility of taking care of himself … and his sister Jody. But when they seek sanctuary with the surviving adults setting up a shelter in the nearby high school, Tommy learns that not even the grownups are safe from the monsters terrorizing and razing Flagstaff, AZ…

It’s only been a day or two for six Americans and their families since Portal Zero unleashed an unknown amount of dimensional tears and their accompanying EMP blasts all over Earth, and life as they knew it is now totally upside-down! As each of our heroes and their loved ones deal with their own versions of the chaos, desperate to survive the horrors emerging from other planes of existence, they must dig down deep to find their individual strengths to stay alive! It’s hard enough to suffer the collapse of society in the wake of the massive electromagnetic pulse that killed America’s power grids with each new opening gateway, but will the weird and terrifying beings from these gruesome other places may be too much to face?

Do you love guns, tactical realism, and monsters? Are you a fan of cosmic horror and dark fantasy / sci-fi? Love the Mist and Cabin in the Woods? Lovecraft? Doom? Stranger Things? EMP and Prepper Survival? This story is full of terror, suspense, and bad language. If you can dig it, strap in for a ride to Hell!

Read Worlds Merge, Book Two of the Apocalypse Gate Series now!

Like EMP Survival, Grimdark, Cosmic Horror, Guns, and Monsters?? Read "Portal Zero" - Apocalypse Gate Book Two! Free on KU!
— Available on Kindle and in Paperback

— Comes with a Special Offer for a Free Book
(click to learn more about the Free Book)

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Like EMP Survival, Grimdark, Cosmic Horror, Guns, and Monsters?? Read "Portal Zero" - Apocalypse Gate Book Three! Free on KU!

“Ruin Prevails”
Apocalypse Gate –
Book THREE

Zombies, Werewolves, Aliens, Demons and Hell–Cosmic Horror and Nightmares from your Darkest Dreams crawl at you through the Gates

These aren’t your typical movie monsters. And these aren’t your typical heroes.

Nothing will ever be the same. Ruin Prevails.

  • After an offer he can’t refuse from his prepper neighbor, Arthur is bound and determined to take his bicycle back to the streets to find his lost wife and missing young sons. But it’s already been two nights of horror and madness, and he doesn’t even know if his family is still alive. What will he find, if he even finds them at all?

  • All rules of society seem to be out the window for Chad and his UEA soldier companion, and they find themselves struggling to survive not only against the weirdness and monsters of the portal and the EMP apocalypse, but also against the darker sides of humanity. Will they be able to make it out of Manhattan and far enough away from the city to stand a chance at escaping the chaos of societal collapse?

  • Terror and flight! The beasts and golden eyes are coming after Megan at every turn, it seems. Werewolves …. freaking werewolves. Why are all of the monsters and possessed tourists so obsessed with Megan? Will she be able to escape the looming dread of the golden obelisk? Can she escape Zion National Park alive?

  • Harvey is sent in all alone to neutralize the demons inside the gun shop, where his team hopes to resupply. The horror and torture is alive, and it’s as if the entire city’s been transported to Hell. But they have a plan. If they can reach the Metro PD headquarters, seven miles along the Interstate to the north, maybe they can join up with a larger resistance force. If headquarters is even still there…

  • Kayleen the monster has had her whole world turned upside down. Now, with a bizarre body that makes her the most dangerous thing on the block, Kayleen focuses on vengeance and death. And in the bloody haze of her new life, she holds onto the one thing left that’s still important to her–rescuing her beloved Preston…

  • Tommy and Jody are alone and on the run again after the monsters overrun the shelter at the high school, and figure they’re safe again when they find a kind, old woman named Rose in a nearby neighborhood. But when the darkness of humanity becomes a deadly threat to their safe haven, the children must survive a showdown between evil men and the ravenous monsters, and they’re stuck right in the middle of it…

In just a few crazy days, the total collapse of society in the United States of America has left all of our characters scraping and struggling to endure, losing everything important to them. On top of that, the myriad of monsters and inter-dimensional beings from other planets and planes of existence has made survivors’ organization and community almost nonexistent, and the dwindling population of the country is turning on itself when not running for their lives! When the characters’ meager goals are blocked at every turn, is there any hope at all to surviving the horror of Apocalypse Gate??

Do you love guns, tactical realism, and monsters? Are you a fan of cosmic horror and dark fantasy / sci-fi? Love the Mist and Cabin in the Woods? Lovecraft? Doom? Stranger Things? EMP and Prepper Survival? This story is full of terror, suspense, and bad language. If you can dig it, strap in for a ride to Hell!

Read Ruin Prevails, Book Three of the Apocalypse Gate Series NOW!

Like EMP Survival, Grimdark, Cosmic Horror, Guns, and Monsters?? Read "Portal Zero" - Apocalypse Gate Book Three! Free on KU!
— Available on Kindle and in Paperback

— Comes with a Special Offer for a Free Book
(click to learn more about the Free Book)

.


Like EMP Survival, Grimdark, Cosmic Horror, Guns, and Monsters?? Love to save money? Read the "Apocalypse Gate" Full Trilogy!

“Apocalypse Gate” FULL TRILOGY
Box Set

Zombies, Werewolves, Aliens, Demons and Hell–Cosmic Horror and Nightmares from your Darkest Dreams crawl at you through the Gates

These aren’t your typical movie monsters. And these aren’t your typical heroes.

Love a Good Deal?

If you’ve been reading Apocalypse Gate, purchase the Box Set to SAVE 20% on the cost of all three books! Get all Three in One with this special Full Trilogy Box Set!

Do you love guns, tactical realism, and monsters? Are you a fan of cosmic horror and dark fantasy / sci-fi? Love the Mist and Cabin in the Woods? Lovecraft? Doom? Stranger Things? EMP and Prepper Survival? This story is full of terror, suspense, and bad language. If you can dig it, strap in for a ride to Hell!

Read the Apocalypse Gate Full Series Trilogy BOX SET … NOW!

Like EMP Survival, Grimdark, Cosmic Horror, Guns, and Monsters?? Love to save money? Read the "Apocalypse Gate" Full Trilogy!

— Available on Kindle and in Paperback

— Comes with a Special Offer for a Free Book
(click to learn more about the Free Book)


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Preview of “Portal Zero” – Apocalypse Gate Book One


1 – Chad Murray
UEA Science Research Lab, Geneva, Switzerland

 

Portal Zero sat pristine and dormant before the team of UEA scientists, soldiers, and an international news crew, all of whom had no idea that everything they perceived as reality was about to be mangled and stained by the infinite horrors of the cosmic unknown…

“So we’re not actually doing it live,” Chad said, tightening the pivot points of the tripod.

Looking in the bright digital display, he tilted and pitched the camera, little by little, until the composition was just right. Melinda adjusted her shirt, her bra, the lapel microphone tucked into her bright red blazer. She moved a strand of medium-length dark hair out of her face, back to the side where the makeup team intended it to stay.

“No, Chad. This is for later.” She pressed her ruby red lips together, and glared at him. The anchorwoman gave him that look—the look he’s seen plenty in these last two months that spoke volumes of resentment and annoyance.

Too young, her eyes said. Just a dumb kid. A skinny little hipster playing with the big dogs. Even though Melinda had known him for several years when he was in high school and throughout college, even though she was a family friend, he couldn’t shake the feeling that she hated him for getting a hand-up in the network. It wasn’t his fault that she agreed to take him on when his uncle asked.

She could have said no. Chad would have understood, and started as an intern like everyone else.

There were no other twenty-two year old technicians working for senior anchors, after all.

Later, looking back on this moment as he sat on the irradiated ground of the California wasteland, he would laugh at how none of it mattered; how his worrisome little house of cards would soon be ripped to pieces like the rest of the world…

But for now, here he was, deep underground in a secret research facility for the United Earth Alliance, surrounded by soldiers and scientists, shooting something super-important for one of the largest media networks on the planet.

No pressure.

“This is Melinda Ballard reporting live at the UEA’s Science Research Lab under the UEA Office in Geneva, Switzerland.” She smacked her lips. “Geneva, Switzerland. Switzerland.” Melinda was looking at the camera, even though Chad wasn’t recording, repeating bits and pieces of her introduction as if warming up her tongue. Chad knew that she’d been one of the senior anchors for the United News Association for what … six years now? But even still, this particular gig must be a big deal for her, too.

He wondered if she ever got nervous…

With a perfectly manicured hand, Melinda reached over to the table out of view of the camera, and grabbed a bottle of water with a straw. She carefully pursed her lips and took a drink.

“Then why do you keep saying live?” he asked. Chad scratched at his scruffy face, and felt his man bun to make sure his hair was still in place.

She smirked at him, her crow’s feet barely showing under the makeup.

“Because, kiddo, it’s for the viewers.” She put the bottle back on the table and composed herself, adjusting her ear piece. “This is Melinda Ballard reporting live at the UEA’s…”

The camera was pretty-much good to go. Chad had positioned Melinda a third into the frame, and behind her, you could clearly see parts of the desks and computer terminals, the scientists or technicians (whatever they’re called these days, Chad thought) working at their individual tasks, and in the center of the shot was the gate, up at the front of the room.

Gate. Portal. Whatever.

The room wasn’t very large. He and Melinda were set up at the back on the left, and the floor sloped down to the far wall, toward the gate, with three rows of technician terminals and equipment along the way that reminded Chad of a college classroom. There were three long rows of desks, with a central walkway down the middle. The difference between this deep, underground science lab and a small university classroom was that up at the front of the class, where a professor might normally stand with a whiteboard or something, there was only the gate

Portal Zero.

When Chad was a kid, he watched a movie called Stargate. That movie had a huge portal mechanism with a great, big runway, and a large, rotating ring-thing full of Egyptian glyphs or something. Whenever the characters, the soldiers and such, walked into the portal, it was a huge deal—walking up that runway, rolling up their massive pallets of equipment and all…

There was certainly no shortage of techno-stuff in this room, but this place—this big test that was coming—it was all rather lackluster compared to Hollywood’s version. The portal itself was a large ring, just like in the movies, about seven feet in diameter, made of steel or some sort of metal alloy, but there were no fancy glyphs or runes or other decorations to make it look magical and cool.

The ring was just a big metal ring, and columns and cases of electrical equipment and sensors were attached to it on the outside of both sides, bolted onto the heavy steel frame. There wasn’t any sort of magical field inside, humming and buzzing and waiting. No black hole, or even a fancy, twisting aperture. On the other side of the ring was just the back wall of the room, about two feet behind it—a solid concrete wall painted UEA baby blue.

A huge array of wiring was connected to the hardware on the outside of the ring, all neatly gathered into two thick tentacles of Cat 5 Ethernet cables, power cables, and other wires Chad didn’t recognize at a glance, all zip-tied together every twelve inches or so, and leading to the various technician desks and terminals. Both of the thick, collected cordage bundles were attached firmly to the concrete floor with black duct tape.

There was no Hollywood bullshit—no regular pointless beeping machines, no holograms, no big laser maps of space with radar stuff or whatever…

It was the gate … and a bunch of computers.

Not to say that it wasn’t impressive…

This was definitely the first real, live inter-dimensional portal Chad had ever seen—the only portal he’d ever seen that wasn’t on TV or in a video game.

If it worked…

“Alright, ready to do the intro segment?” Melinda asked.

“Sure.”

The senior anchor loosened up her shoulders. Chad looked around at the scientists, all calmly working on their computers, occasionally getting up to talk to a neighbor nearby, or the project director, standing at the back of the room behind them. Four UEA soldiers stood quietly near the entrance of the room behind the news team, two on either side of the sliding glass door, each holding what Chad assumed was some sort of machine gun. They were dressed in blue-grey jumpsuits, wore some sort of … torso armor … full of pouches and gear, and had the UEA-colored pale blue helmets on their heads.

Melinda took a breath and smiled. “Are my tits okay?”

Chad’s eyes glanced down, then up again. He nodded, and signaled her to go.

The anchorwoman stood smiling for a while after the red light turned on, then came alive.

“This is Melinda Ballard reporting live at the UEA’s Science Research Lab under the UEA Office in Geneva, Switzerland. Today we’ll be reporting from the UEA buildings of both Switzerland and from the UEA Headquarters in Manhattan, New York, because scientists and organizations all around the world are coming together for the first ever test of the newest technology to advance humanity as a whole. That’s right—I’m talking about the UEA’s new Dimension Drive technology, ‘Dim Drive’ for short.

“Behind me is a team of talented UEA technicians, all under the direction of UEA Science Director Dr. Stefan Freudenstein, one of Germany’s top scientists, who has been working on this technology for the last two years. And what is Dim Drive you ask?  When faced with the irrefutable evidence of man-made climate change and resource scarcity of the twentieth century, as proven by UEA and United Nations scientists of the time, ten years ago the newly formed United Earth Alliance announced its United Pilgrimage Initiative, declaring its focus on finding habitable worlds for humankind and the development of fast and reliable deep space travel to get us there…”

Chad watched the camera display intently, and looked up when one of the scientists walked by. The man looked directly into the camera, and his white lab coat glared in the lights for just an instant.

A little messy for the take, but no big deal.

Everything was going fine.

Irrefutable evidence? Chad thought. Those were strong words. Was that right? He shrugged. Well, Melinda would know, he supposed. He’d grown up hearing about global warming and humans raping the world all his life…

“Now,” she went on to say, performing flawlessly for the camera, “the science team is getting everything squared away, and the actual test will take place at any moment! Past the desks behind me is the gate itself, appropriately termed ‘Portal Zero’, which will—hopefully—create a direct means of instantaneous transportation to the other identical gate waiting for us in New York!”

Melinda paused, smiling and nodding her head at the camera for a while. Chad looked down at his laptop screen, and saw that one of the anchors back at the studio in Los Angeles was asking her a question. He had the volume turned low so that it wouldn’t become a distraction, since there was a bit of a transmission delay.

“Yes, indeed,” Melinda suddenly said with a smile. She pivoted to the side a little, allowing the shot, as Chad set it up, to focus more on the portal behind her. There were three small, metal crates sitting on the concrete floor close to Portal Zero, one of them perforated with dozens of holes designed to allow airflow. “The test will consist of not only connecting the two portals, but the scientists will also be passing those three crates through Portal Zero to reappear in New York so that the science team there can check for any flaws in transmission. One of the crates is full of fresh, organic food, another is holding the refrigerated heart of a pig to study the portal’s effect on viable organ transplants, and the other…” She paused, stepping back fully into the shot and giving the camera a totally goober smile. “… is a puppy!

The anchor woman stood smiling and nodding for several seconds, then flashed a big smile and spoke again.

“It certainly is! He’s a young Jack Russel Terrier, and he’s so cute! We’ll all be rooting for little Max, for sure!”

With that, she stood for a while smiling, then turned away to the scientists.

Chad heard the faint voice of the anchor back at home on the laptop. “We now go to our own correspondent, Katherine Hall, live in New York, to see the other side of the Dim Drive Portal Zero. What’s happening over there, Katherine?”

“How long, guys?” Melinda asked the group of technicians.

Chad heard the correspondence with Katherine playing faintly on his laptop while he thought about the pack of smokes in his jacket pocket. They were saying something about not doing a smaller trial because of ‘critical mass’ or something…

The director’s voice spoke up from the back of the room, thick with his German accent. “It looks like we’ll be ready in about twenty minutes, Ms. Ballard, give or take.”

To let the news team create their own lighting, Freudenstein had turned off the fluorescent ceiling lights at the back of the room. He now stood in the dark, near the soldiers, watching his team work with his arms crossed. The senior scientist’s face was severe, and he was thin and lean. The small spectacles perched on his nose reflected the light of a dozen computer screens.

“Should I stop it?” Chad asked Melinda, who was taking another sip from her water bottle, being careful not to move her hair or mess up her makeup.

“Yeah,” she said. “We’ll start it up again in fifteen minutes or so. That was good.”

Chad was dying for a cigarette, but he knew that he couldn’t smoke down here, and wouldn’t be taking the lift back to the surface any time soon. Instead, he pulled out his vape, pressing the LED-lit button, and took a long drag on the propylene glycol smoke that tasted like caramel cappuccino. The device sizzled, and he blew a thick cloud of vapor toward the ceiling, earning him some looks from the soldiers.

“Do not do that,” the director said suddenly, the disdain in his voice as thick as his accent.

Chad nodded, embarrassed, and stuffed the vape back into his pocket.

“Yep,” Chad said. “Good.”

“Any minute now, Ms. Ballard,” the science director said.

The room had certainly become more animated in the last five minutes, the technicians all declaring when they were done with their individual duties and migrating to help each other. The energy of all of the people working on this project was starting to buzz, and the soldiers started standing a little straighter as well.

Chad heard a little bit of techno-speak here and there, but found that could keep up with very little of it, even as an AV guy. It seemed that most of what the scientists were talking about involved physics, which was never Chad’s strong suit.

Plus, he just wasn’t paying much attention to what the others were doing.

Melinda spent most of the downtime sitting on a folding chair and playing on her phone.

Chad sat at his laptop, idly watching one of the anchors in L.A., Brent West, discuss a criticism of the president rejecting the UEA’s repeated encouragement to let go of its antiquated borders and join the politico-economic union of the Alliance. Chad wasn’t entirely sure what he felt about that, but everyone on TV at least sure supported a world government…

Sometimes, he felt a little ashamed that he was still part of a xenophobic culture that resisted the ways of the future. He could feel it in the eyes of all of these UEA people—the soldiers, scientists, and other individuals he’s encountered on this trip—their disapproval was palpable.

But something about that didn’t feel right either…

He didn’t really know what he thought about it. But he’d support his network and stand up for his job—that was for sure.

“Thank you, doctor,” the anchorwoman said. She looked at Chad, and her dark, thin eyebrows arched. “Ready?”

“Uh yeah, should be good—hang on…” Chad stood up from the flimsy plastic and aluminum chair and pushed it back out of the way. He double-checked the camera, checked the levels and output on the laptop, and made sure the shot hadn’t moved.

Everything was ready.

“Just tell me when.”

Melinda straightened her red blazer, checked her microphone, and took another sip of water. She watched the science team.

“Ready, doctor,” one of the men exclaimed.

Melinda pointed at Chad.

He hit record, and signaled back at her.

The anchor woman, smiling in the lights for several seconds, blinked, breathed, waited, then opened her mouth to speak.

“Initiate phase one,” Freudenstein said suddenly in the background.

“Thank you, Katherine. This is Melinda Ballard back in Geneva, Switzerland, reporting to you live from the science lab facility under the UEA Office. We are seconds away from the first ever test of UEA’s new Dimension Drive—Dim Drive—standing in front of what the UEA is calling ‘Portal Zero’, along with the science team working hard to bring this new benevolent technology to better the whole of humanity…”

All of the scientists behind Melinda were intensely focused on their work. Some of them typed furiously. Others were monitoring various graphic and text feedback that Chad didn’t understand.

“Phase one complete,” one of the technicians said.

“Hold it for a minute,” the director said, his accent thick, but his voice intense and cutting through the room like a laser.

Melinda was still talking. “Dim Drive is short for Dimension Drive, which is a major project of the UEA’s United Pilgrimage Initiative, and is the latest technology involving space travel. After the test, we’ll be showing you a graphic explanation about how this new technology works, but I can tell you that it’s not warp drive, or some other form of faster than the speed of light travel from the movies. The simple explanation is that it involves bending space through the use of what’s called the ‘Einstein-Rosen bridge’—basically, creating a shortcut, like a worm hole, between two points in space, or space-time as physicists—”

“How are we doing, Plessner?” the director asked from the back of the room. He uncrossed his arms, and moved up into the empty central walkway between the desks. “Is it holding?”

“Stable, sir,” the man responded, looking up from his computer screen. “Should I initiate Phase two?”

“Do it,” Freudenstein responded. “Keep an eye on the levels.”

Melinda went on. “—calculate that our planet Earth will not be able to sustain the world population much longer. Some UEA scientists have calculated that in just seventeen years, all of Earth’s natural resources will be consumed, and we will be suffering from lack of food, as well as the weather extremes caused by manmade global warming…”

Something happened in the room suddenly…

The screen of Chad’s laptop blinked for just an instant, then went back to normal, showing a little window of Melinda talking about global warming and everything else. But Chad felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up, and was suddenly aware of an extremely low frequency hum in his ears. A low drone vibrated in his bones. He looked at his right arm, and its hair slowly standing up, charged with static electricity. Looking over at the news team’s table, he saw the water in Melinda’s water bottle vibrating, creating tiny concentric rings—ripple after ripple.

They must be generating an insane amount of power for this portal, he thought, looking back to the camera’s display.

“Whoa,” Melinda said suddenly, interrupting herself. “Something’s happening! It looks like the portal’s going to be opening very soon! As you can see, the scientists are working very hard, and are very focused! Now, there’s a deep hum in the air, and I can feel a lot of static. Is this normal?” she asked, looking off to the side. “Is this supposed to be happening?”

Freudenstein ignored her, raising the volume of his voice to counteract the rumbling hum.

“Phase two holding?” he asked sharply, looking down the room at the portal.

Chad looked at the portal too. It was still an empty metal ring. He saw the blue concrete wall on the other side.

“Phase two holding!” one man shouted. “All levels nominal!”

“Let’s make history, gentlemen,” the director exclaimed. “Open it!”

Chad saw the scientist’s gaunt features tighten with excitement, then, he looked at the portal to watch…

“Sounds like…” Melinda said, raising her voice as if reporting inside a storm, holding her earpiece with one hand, “Here we go. It seems they’re opening—”

There was a sudden explosion!

Like a massive thunderclap sundering the air in the room, the sound made Chad’s head reel with the concussive force of whatever just happened around Portal Zero…

Chad felt himself instinctively drop close to the floor, raising his hands to protect his head, and for an instant, all he could see was Melinda and all of the scientists reacting in the same way as a gust of wind blew through the room.

And then, there was only darkness…

2 – Arthur Kline
Colorado Springs, CO

 

“Yeah, I’m just getting home now,” Arthur said into his cellphone as he pulled up to the house.

“Okay, honey,” his wife said on the phone. “We should be back in time to watch a few episodes before the kids go to bed.”

“Sounds good,” he said, turning the key off in the ignition and pressing on the parking brake.

An obnoxious voice said something in his wife’s background.

“Mom says hi,” Sheryl said.

“Hiiii,” Arthur said unenthusiastically, stepping down from his truck. “Okay, I’ll see you later.”

“Okay, love you,” she said.

“Love you too,” he said with a smile, then, hit the lock button on his phone as she hung up, slipping the device back into his cargo pocket. Arthur deftly slung his keys around in his fingers until his truck key was hanging, done for the day, and his house key was ready for action.

Arthur Kline approached his house with weary steps, his steel-toed boots feeling extra-heavy. He stomped off the mud left over on his soles from the job site onto the concrete as he walked. In one hand, he carried his lunch bag and water bottle, both now empty.

He wanted nothing more than to get out of his clothes and get a beer…

Slipping the key into the deadbolt lock, Arthur tried to unlock the door, but failed. He jiggled the key once, twice, and eventually finagled it open.

“Damn lock,” he muttered, stepping inside. It was getting worse every day, it seemed. One of these days, very soon, he’d have to stop at Wal-Mart or something on the way home and get a new set of locks and keys for the house.

Putting his work stuff on the dining room table, he headed up the stairs and into his bedroom.

Sheryl had left her side of the bed unmade. He smiled to himself and shook his head, approaching his side of the bed and working to unhook the paddle holster from his belt. Once the hooks let go, he put his Glock 19, in its holster, onto the dresser, then changed into some sweats. With a quick look into the bathroom mirror, Arthur smoothed out his thick, dark blonde beard and ran a brush through his mane of hair, matted from wearing a hardhat all day.

Samson the cat lay on the bed, curled up in Sheryl’s messy blankets, and raised his head, looking up at Arthur with a feline smile and his eyes mostly closed. Arthur reached out and scratched the orange cat’s head, then folded his pants, leaving his keys, extra magazine, and other gear attached.

Slipping into some sandals, he headed straight to the kitchen, to the fridge, and grabbed a bottle of IPA.

Pulling out a bottle opener, Arthur opened the beer with a hiss, and took a hearty draught, flooding his mouth with cold, hoppy goodness…

“Aaaah…” he said, turning to look at the kitchen.

There was a plate of food on the counter, covered with the Microwave’s splatter guard.

Walking up, beer in one hand, he pulled the impromptu cover off of the plate…

Steak. And a side of the kids’ mac and cheese with some extra cheese melted on top. Not steaming with heat anymore, but far from cold.

Sheryl had cooked him a steak before leaving to have dinner with her parents with the boys.

He smiled.

“Awesome,” Arthur said to himself. “Thanks, Sheryl…”

He put the beer on the counter, and pulled out his cellphone, immediately navigating to his long-running text with his wife.

He started to type with his finger on the touch-screen.

“Found the steak. 🙂 Thanks bab—”

A sudden thunderclap split the air, shaking the walls and slamming Arthur with a surge of adrenaline. The lights in the house went out. Arthur was cast into darkness and dropped his phone to the floor…

“What the fuck?!” he cried.

Did a transformer blow up nearby or something? He thought.

Must be really damned close.

So loud…

The dim light of the darkening evening glowed through the closed blinds of the kitchen. Arthur staggered over to the window and pulled open a crack of blinds with a trembling hand. The neighborhood was totally dark.

Yep. Power outage. Damn.

Arthur reached down, and picked up his phone. He pressed the unlock button so he could finish his text.

It was dead.

Did it reset itself? he thought, holding down the lock key to make the phone turn on again. He held the button down for several seconds.

Nothing.

He tried again, holding the button down for a while. If the phone was jolted into turning off, this should at least turn it back on…

Nothing.

The phone was dead.

Weird, he thought, pulling open the battery case. He pulled out the battery, put it back in, closed everything up again, then tried to turn it on…

His phone didn’t respond.

Instinctively thinking to smell the phone, he lifted it up to his nose, and could detect the faint odor of singed electronics.

“Killed my phone?” he asked an empty room.

The silence of a house completely without electricity answered him. The fridge was off. The furnace was off. All of the normal droning sounds of domestic life—gone. The cool quiet of the house was spooky, and Arthur stood still for a moment, before shrugging, then, made his way back toward the steak…

Click-click.

Nothing.

This flashlight was also dead.

“What the hell happened to all of the electronics?” Arthur said to himself in the dark. So far, he’d tried three different flashlights, stashed around the house. The penlight he kept on his belt was dead, and he had just changed the batteries on that thing. The flashlight stashed in the lower bathroom wasn’t working, and the handheld gun light he kept next to the bed was dead as well.

Stumbling through the darkness of his bedroom on his wife’s side of the bed, Arthur found a couple of candles on her night stand. Then, he stumbled back around the bed and retrieved a cigarette lighter from his pants on the floor.

It had been over an hour since the power went out, and he was wondering what was happening at his in-laws’ place. What was his family doing? Were they experiencing the same outage over there?

If Sheryl tried to call his dead phone, she’d go straight to voicemail. She’d probably know that his phone was off, for whatever reason.

The urge to make sure that they were okay hit him like a ton of bricks…

Arthur shook his head.

They’re probably fine, he thought. They’re having dinner with Seth and Maggie. Maggie’s probably being pushy with Sheryl’s parenting. Sheryl’s probably smiling and biting her lip. Little Justin is probably resisting eating whatever food doesn’t have cheese or butter on it. Maggie is probably threatening her grandson that he won’t get desert unless he finishes his food. Seth is probably sitting at the head of the table, drinking his wine and staying out of it…

At any rate, they’d still be back in … maybe an hour?

Hopefully, he thought.

Once Arthur held the faint, golden light of a lit candle, he started gathering other candles from around the house. If his flashlights were all dead for some reason, he could at least go with good, old-fashioned fire. He thought back to his parents, who always had oil lamps stashed here and there for power outages.

He hadn’t touched an oil lamp in years.

Once Arthur had gathered several unlit candles together on the dining room table, he checked his wristwatch. How long had it been? Sheryl and the kids should have gotten back from dinner by now, shouldn’t they?

Dead. His Casio’s digital display was blank.

What the hell was going on? He thought.

Arthur looked outside the living room window at the dark neighborhood. He saw the glow of candlelight in the windows of a couple of houses across the street. Idly stroking his beard with a free hand while he stared out of the window, Arthur figured that he had been home for somewhere between … two and three hours?

Heading upstairs, he dressed himself in his day clothes again, strapped on his concealed Glock, and pulled his keys off of his belt. Grabbing a fleece jacket, he blew out the single candle he was using for light, stepped outside into the crisp night air, and locked the front door behind him.

Everything was so quiet…

The wind blew through the trees. It was the beginning of April, and Colorado was just starting to warm up again, but the crazy weather here still flirted with storms and the idea of winter. Arthur never really thought about all of the road noise he normally heard, the constant drone of the city in the background of daily life. His little neighborhood circle was pretty isolated, but it was still close to a few streets that always made noise. Montebello was close, and Academy Blvd wasn’t too far away.

But the night was quiet like … like being up in the mountains…

The only sound was the movement of the wind in the trees.

Arthur walked down the concrete pathway, his footsteps louder than he expected, and unlocked his truck. Climbing up into the seat, he put the key into the ignition, and tried to start the vehicle.

The truck’s starter turned over and over, but nothing happened.

“What?” he said.

He tried it again. Cranking the key, the starter turned, whining loudly, over and over, over and over, but the engine didn’t catch on.

Arthur stopped, pulled the key from the ignition, and lay back, his head on the seat.

“So,” he said to himself, “the battery is okay, but … the … what?!” Arthur sighed. It didn’t make sense. If the battery was okay, why wasn’t the truck starting? “What the fuck?

He sat up, put the key back into the ignition, and cranked over and over again. Stopped.

What kind of power outage kills phones, flashlights, and cars? he thought.

Arthur left the truck, locking it behind him, and went back inside, struggling with the front door’s deadbolt a little on the way in.

“Stupid lock…”

So he couldn’t call Sheryl, and he couldn’t drive there. He couldn’t call a cab—he couldn’t do anything! He could—what—walk there maybe? He could take his old mountain bike. It was hanging up in the garage…

Not good.

If Sheryl and the kids were experiencing the same kind of outage…

He had to make sure they were okay.

But how?

Relax, he thought. No need to get worked up about it. Sheryl’s parents lived all the way over on Dublin. That part of the city was probably fine. If a transformer blew over here, it was probably just his circle, maybe some of the streets around it.

But the night was so quiet, he thought. Shouldn’t he be able to hear the sound of cars on the street outside of the outage?

Should he take the bike?

Wait longer?

It was probably … eight o’clock? Nine?

It was probably better to wait, he thought. Sheryl was likely on her way back already.

Arthur lit his single candle from before, and made his way down to the TV room.

He looked at the couch, but didn’t want to get settled in just yet…

If there was nothing left to do but wait, he could at least make sure that when he found Sheryl and the boys again, they’d at least be prepared to deal with the power outage if it lasted longer than a few hours…

Over the next hour or so, Arthur carefully made his way through the dark house, gathering the saved old milk jugs full of water from the basement, extra blankets and fleece throws, old flashlights and batteries stashed in his outdoor gear and backpacks—anything he could think of that they might need—and stacked it all on the table next to the cluster of unlit candles he’d already put together.

A little more satisfied, and feeling a little better about trying to do something, Arthur walked back downstairs to the TV room.

The little candle on the coffee table burned with a tiny flame, drooping and leaking hot wax from a crevice in the side.

Pulling his Glock out of its holster and putting it on the end table, Arthur sat down, sinking into the leather couch, and settled in to wait…

He was cold.

Arthur opened his eyes, shivering madly.

Daylight pushed its way through the closed blinds and curtains, and he could see the steam of his breath in the air.

Arthur was still in the TV Room.

Wearing his normal clothes, boots up on the coffee table, arms clenched together, his body shivered to warm itself under just the fleece jacket…

“Wha—?” he started, his mouth trembling and his teeth suddenly clattering together.

With great effort, he moved his body, pulling his stiff legs off of the coffee table and finding his feet under him. Vigorously rubbing his hands together, Arthur struggled to stand, then rubbed his arms.

The power was still off.

It was morning.

He’d slept in.

Where were Sheryl and the boys?!

Arthur’s joints popped and creaked as he got moving, trying to warm himself up, and he took some shaky steps toward the stairs back to the front room. He stopped, turned, grabbed his pistol, and put it back into its holster, taking great care because he realized that his hands were shaking from the cold.

Unlocking the front door and stepping out into the bright, chilly morning, Arthur tried to start the truck again.

It was still the same.

The starter turned, the battery was still strong, but the engine just wouldn’t start.

Looking around the neighborhood, the streets were quiet, and several fireplaces showed thin plumes of smoke.

Yeah, he thought. Everyone is inside trying to stay warm. No electricity. No heat.

The sun was low in the sky, but dawn was definitely behind him. Normally, Arthur woke up to his alarm at five, and was up and heading to work before sunrise.

“Even the alarm clock,” he said to himself. It was battery-powered. “Huh.”

He looked at Gill’s house, his neighbor next door.

All quiet on the outside.

What was that kooky dude doing? Was he even home? Gill always kept that SUV of his inside the garage, so there was no way to tell.

No lights, of course. No smoke.

Arthur went back inside, and stepped into his garage from the kitchen.

That’s it, he thought. He had to make sure. Had to help his family get home.

Arthur pulled down the old black mountain bike. Somehow, he’d managed to hang onto the same old bike he had since his teenage years. That bicycle had been through his twenties, back when he used to go biking all over Colorado’s mountain trails, and when he was a late teenager, he used to ride it to high school. He called it The Black Dragon. It was an old Schwinn. Now, he was thirty-two, and had a family with two small boys. He worked ten to twelve hours a day, running equipment for Heavy Tracks Construction, and his old bike just … hung in the garage…

With the help of another candle, Arthur swept all of the dust and spider webs out of the gears and off of the seat and handlebars, found a pump, and filled up the tires, which were low and floppy.

Taking the bike outside through the front door (no power meant no working garage door), Arthur locked the deadbolt behind him, checked the retention of his holster, and hopped up onto the bicycle’s seat, pushing down on the pedal with his lead foot for the first time in a long time.

His stomach grumbled, but he ignored it. Gliding out past the driveway and onto the open street, Arthur started making his way toward the exit from his neighborhood circle, adjusting the bike’s gears as he went until he found a comfortable balance of power. He shook his head a little as he faced into the wind of his own movement, feeling his hair and beard flow with the breeze.

If his family was still at Sheryl’s parents’, he had to make sure that they were okay at least.

The ride would be maybe four or five miles, no problem.

Up ahead of him, before his street joined up with Montebello Drive, he saw several people run from one side of the road to the other.

Odd, he thought. But by the time he reached the corner, they were gone.

These were the first two chapters of “Portal Zero”

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