Black Heart – Chapter IX Part I
by Steppen Sawicki
Morning came and no anomalies were reported. The plan went off around the world without a hitch. The rest – drop-zoning into the overrun cities – would take place that evening. Bryan felt both sick and ecstatic; he had done this – he had found the first gate and sent the first group of suicides over. It was all his fault and achievement.
It was late afternoon and everyone else was asleep when a knock sounded at his open door. He looked up to see Sonia standing in the doorway. Her aeon was dim, exhausted.
“Am I interrupting anything?” she asked, weariness even in her voice.
“No,” Bryan said, “Door’s usually open.”
“I know you’re busy.” She fell onto the couch.
“I’ll take a break. You were capturing tonight.”
“Are you doing okay?”
“You don’t look it.”
She cast her eyes down to look at her lap. “I’m tired, but I feel I should be doing something.”
“You’re new at this. Extremely new. You should stop if you’re worn out. There will be far fewer demons to roam tonight, so they can do without you. It’s just clean-up now.”
“Actually, that’s why I’m here. Well, that and feeling I should do something. I checked in with the lab after work tonight – ”
“Sorry, I mean the analytics, the guys that are looking over the data we’ve been gathering at the gates. I’ve been hanging around there a bit during the day.”
Bryan nodded. Doctors Rollins and Maclin had been hanging out there a lot too, comparing measurements. Bryan had seen them there and they had seemed almost melancholy, investigating a branch of science that was nearly done with.
“There’s all the usual readings,” Sonia went on. “Radiation, heat…”
“I can guess that you know more about it than I do.”
“Basically all the usual stuff. But last night something out of the usual range was recorded. A lot of guys in the lab think it’s caused by people entering the gate, that the two are connected. And it’s so slight that it couldn’t have interfered with the explosives equipment but…”
Bryan held up a hand. “Back up. What was recorded?”
She took a breath, as if this was of great import. “There was a short burst of electromagnetic energy slightly higher than usual.”
“But you said not high enough to interfere with the explosives.”
“Not as we read it. It’s so very slight, just out of the expected range.”
“But it worries you enough to tell me. If it were more out of range, would it effect the explosives?”
“If it were a larger pulse, it could render the electronics on the bombs useless, keep them from detonating. But it’s not that severe.”
Bryan was chewing on his pen. It was a new habit of his, done hard enough to leave marks. “Do we get the full range of readings on what happens in the gates?”
Sonia swallowed, fear finally exposing itself on her face. “If we read something that happened on the other side of the gate, how could we get a complete reading from here?”