"We'll come through for you!"
“Never shoulda scarfed that chili dog,” Joshua Miles groaned, as some sort of tremor awakened him.
He never slept well. There was always something on his mind. His mother often told him that his brain worked overtime. Then there was the dream—the dream that something was inside his head that shouldn’t be there.
Josh had strange dreams, off and on, since he was ﬁve. They scared him, then. But that was long ago, to a kid in junior high. It was back when fantasy was reality. He’d progressed, gotten past his fear of nightmares. This night, however, was about to hurl him back to the days when the boogieman under his bed was all too real.
Josh had to get some sleep. Big English test, today. Then came the rattling. The collection jars he used for bug specimens clattered against each other as they danced across his bookcase. Shadows began swirling in the moonlight. It was the plastic mobile of the solar system above his bed whirling in an unfathomable spin! Yet there wasn’t the slightest breeze. A cool night in Kansas, the air-conditioning wasn’t even on.
The tremblings grew. Then light, like ﬁrelight, ﬂashed in through his window. Josh hesitantly approached the window and saw a throat clutching sight. Materializing on the porch roof just below was a phantom, a silver metallic liquid mass taking shape out of a portal of ﬁre!
Josh stumbled backwards as the glutinous blob oozed up and right through his window glass to reform inside his room. A silver tendril from the thing shot out along the ﬂoor and latched gently onto the toes of Josh’s bare foot.
“Be unafraid, Joshua Miles,” an ethereal feminine voice said soothingly inside his head. “I am scanning your mind. Seeking a form more acceptable to you.” Then the thing began to evolve, rising into human shape. “I shall change into something you’ll ﬁnd more—familiar.”
Indeed, she did, for with a chilling gurgling sound the gelatinous creature somehow became Emily Kinicki, barefoot, wearing the same purple one-piece bathing suit she was wearing that hot summer night when Josh saw her at a pool party, and fell in love. The silver tendril of ooze became the bare leg of Emily Kinicki her toes resting ﬂirtatiously on top of his. This brought them almost nose-to-nose. Of course Josh and the real Emily had never spoken, even though she was in his chem class, math class, one study hall and home room. The real Emily didn’t even know Josh was alive. Still, she was his dream girl, thick healthy hair, skin like cream. The only part incongruous was a wide chrome arm band wrapped around her bare upper left biceps. The band had tiny blinking lights and buttons the functions of which Josh was too stunned to contemplate.
“There!” she added in Emily’s voice, her breath close enough to caress Josh’s cheek. Then she stepped away, turning like a fashion model so Josh could get a good look at her beautiful, thus unthreatening, manifestation.
“Emily?” Josh said, knowing full well it wasn’t her.
“My name is Tempo,” the girl replied. “I have taken the form of your dream girl, as you call her, to make it easier for you to relate to me.”
“Nice try, freako!” Josh winced.
“It’s Tempo. You may call me Emily, if you wish.”
“Don’t think so. It’s not like I’m gonna forget that a second ago you were a blob oozing through my window!”
The entity that looked like Emily Kinicki responded with the same warm, easy laugh through perfect teeth Josh had seen the real Emily Kinicki emit from afar.
“You look just like her!” Josh said, recalling how, many times a day, he’d thought of her.
“Well, duh!” the artiﬁcial Emily said, “I’m a morph? You know, a shape shifter? Hel-lo-ooo!”
“You even sound like Emily! And you’re wearing the same purple bathing suit—”
“—she was wearing that hot summer night when you saw her at the pool party—and fell in love,” the girl said. “It’s how you’ll always remember me—er, her.”
Josh was totally embarrassed. “Geez, how do you know all that?”
“I’m a morph and a telepath, silly! But I have to be, you know, like, touching you? To see your thoughts?”
She ended most of her sentences the way the girls at school did, musically rising at the end and asking a question where one was—unnecessary?
“Here,” she said, as she reached out to touch his cheek with what looked like Emily’s slender ﬁngertips. They felt real. At ﬁrst he recoiled. She gently persisted. He ﬁnally allowed her. Her lips didn’t move as her real voice echoed hauntingly within his mind.
“I can become any being you can think of, Joshua Miles, organic or inorganic, as long as it is female in gender.”
“An inorganic girl?” he couldn’t help but think.
“Perhaps you would prefer rock star Rhonda Rhodes,” she said inside his head. “Some of her is inorganic.”
Tempo stepped back and evolved from schoolgirl Emily Kinicki into sexy, scantily clad Rhonda Rhodes, electric guitar at the ready, the strange device on her arm still in place. “Howdy, honey,” she drawled. “Found this here image ﬁled in your memory under favorite female forms.” Then she did a wild electric guitar riff that made Josh wince.
“Yipes! Shush! Geez! Go back to Emily!”
“Sure thing, sugar,” Rhonda said as she morphed back into Emily Kinicki. “I’m all over it!” she giggled in Emily’s voice and manner.
“Yo, like, this isn’t really happening, right?” the boy asked hopefully. “I’m still marinatin’ in dream town. Yo?”
“This is no illusion,” the girl replied, a sudden hint of consequence in her words, which were otherwise matter-of-fact. “Nor is it what your dimension calls—a dream.”
“I am from Quaternion. A world of four dimensions.”
“Whoa. There are only three dimensions: length, width and depth. Three dimensions.”
“In my dimension there is a fourth. Space altered by time. It is a special world. A thousand amazing worlds lie hidden between the three dimensions you know. Many have already fallen to The Evil Cluster.”
“Evil Cluster? What’s that some kinda weird candy bar?”
“Wicked beings who steal our resources to further their conquests. They command a huge army of zombies.”
Josh grinned crookedly. “Zombies. There had to be zombies.”
“I was sent to warn you. Tonight—he comes.”
“He? He who?”
“Chaos,” Tempo said with what sounded like a worried sigh, “he is in league with The Evil Cluster. I must get help.” The girl then touched some buttons on the chrome band on her arm. It began to hum in ever rising octaves, tiny lights on the device ﬂashing with ever increasing speed.
“This Chaos. Is he—a zombie?” Josh hesitantly asked.
“Not completely,” was her unsatisfying reply.
“What does he want from me?”
The morph that looked like Emily Kinicki punched the central button on her burn band and in a blaze of unearthly ﬁre, she was gone. The portal into which she vanished sucked in upon itself and it, too, evaporated.
Weak-kneed, Josh sat back on his bed. What had just happened? He pinched himself hard. Ouch!
Josh burst into his parents’ bedroom, causing them both to sit bolt upright in bed, blinking into the light from the hall. “Mom! Dad! A big blob from another dimension came right in through my window! Didn’t even break the glass! Oozed in and turned into Emily Kinicki! It was—unreal!”
His father responded exactly as Josh should have expected. “Go back to bed, Josh. It was just another one of your nightmares.”
“You’ve got to stop eating those chili dogs, young man,” his mother added, as she always did.
The boy who cried wolf—well, cried creature from another dimension, turned, left the room and closed the door. Josh’s parents looked at each other, shook their heads, rolled over and went back to sleep.
Just another nightmare, Josh considered, as he hesitantly returned to his room. He turned on every light, then cautiously approached his window and gingerly touched the glass. It was hot—much hotter than the cool Midwestern night should have allowed. His logical mind played over thoughts only a boy Josh’s age could entertain: if Emily does come back, I gotta look cool! At least cooler than standing here barefoot in these stupid striped pajamas!
Josh hurriedly got changed. His hands were shaking. He calmed himself by thinking that there was still a good chance this was all a dream. He slipped into his best jeans. At least they were a little faded. He put on his favorite sweatshirt, the black one with the yellow skateboarder on the front, and thick socks. He decided that, if this wasn’t a dream, his hiking boots would be better than his smelly old Nikes, his ﬂip-ﬂops or his dreaded Sunday shoes.
Josh sat down on his bed and waited. His mind was spinning, his eyes darting back and forth searching for any movement, ears cocked for any sound. Did the lights just ﬂicker? Was it that sensitive circuit breaker his dad’s been meaning to replace? Maybe he’d better turn off some of the lights. Before he could, they ﬂickered again. Again, the tremblings began! Josh sprang to his feet when something creaked in the wall behind his bed. That’s where he’d tacked up the poster of his favorite rock group, The Dragons, their face-painted visages grinning down on him as some sort of protection against evil. One of the tacks vibrated out of the wall. A corner of the poster curled over on itself and caught ﬁre. Electric ﬂashes emanated from a point in the wall. A gray patch appeared. All the lights blew out! Only moonlight bathed what Josh saw next.
Extruding through the gray patch came a pair of hands bigger than baseball gloves followed by muscular arms with skin bearing the gray pallor of a dead man! The tremblings increased as the arms were followed by a hideous head sporting a snake’s nest of metal coils in place of hair!
Back ﬂattened against one wall, Josh beheld the horror! With glowing red eyes the thing looked deep into the boy’s being. The hideous specter ﬂashed extra long canine teeth as he smirked with inﬁnite conﬁdence.
“Nice weather you’re having,” the creature said, “but it looks like brain!”
CLICK HERE FOR CHAPTER TWO: CLAWS