Shades was at a total loss.
After traveling a couple miles on foot, he had reached a point where even the FM band was completely distorted, no matter how far down the dial he tuned. Had narrowed it down to where he was so close to the source that it no longer mattered how far he went in the same direction. On top of that, it was past two in the morning, he was cold and wet, and plagued by unforeseen perils.
The only thing he was sure of was that he couldn’t be too far from the source anymore. He stood in the middle of the road in frustration before deciding that if he was close enough to whatever was causing the interference, he might he might be close enough to hear something else. Vehicles, machinery, voices, something that might lead him the rest of the way.
He took off his headphones and listened.
At first all he got was silence. His ears were still ringing from those bizarre noises on the radio. As his ears adjusted, though, they started picking up an odd, distant humming sound.
Staying close to the edge of the road, in case another vehicle came, he continued down the way. He quickly discovered that he couldn’t tell if he was getting any warmer. In spite of his limited visibility, he began to wonder if he might be able to see more from atop a tree.
He spotted a tall, sturdy-looking tree and started climbing. Taking extra care on the wet, slippery branches. Tree-climbing was pretty much a given for anyone who grew up in the mountains, and it didn’t take Shades long to clear the tops of the surrounding pines.
“What the hell…”
From on high, Shades could see what awaited him farther down the road. Out here, in the middle of nowhere, was a massive, geodesic dome-shaped building, the strangest-looking house he had ever seen. And as if that wasn’t unusual enough for him, there were psychedelic multicolored lights flashing and flickering in all the windows. There was an eerie shimmering in the air around the property, and from up here, without the trees dampening it, he could clearly hear that mysterious humming sound was definitely emanating from inside that place.
This had to be the source.
He quickly, but carefully, descended the tree and sprinted in the direction of the peculiar estate. By no means were all the facts in, but he was certain this was some kind of experiment. Images raced through his head, of laboratories, strange equipment, and mad scientists from every sci-fi flick he had ever seen.
Even as he slowed down to a brisk walk, deciding to save his strength for whatever new surprises awaited him, Shades failed to detect the old threat creeping up on him. So lost in thought he never noticed the black van at all. Headlights broken, dark windshield cracked, fender bent all to hell, but still barely running.
Hidden in shadow, the driver cracked a wolfish grin, slowly accelerating. Sneaking up on his unsuspecting quarry. Glimpses of Shades’ flashlight, and finally climbing that tree, had led the way right to him. Ears blinded by his headphones, Shades had been unaware of his dark hunter.
But neither Shades, nor the shadowy driver, was prepared for what happened next.
As a child, Shades’ imagination often ran away with him, and he had spent his early years wandering the border between the “real” world everyone was familiar with, and those eerie times and places where Reality begins to unravel. “Non-Euclidean” space: space which has more dimensions than length, breadth and depth… in which anything might be possible. Often told it was all in his head, but somehow he knew better. He had such wild, crazy dreams back then compared to now. Though he would often wonder about it when he was older, in those days he felt the Twilight Zone (as he thought of it) reaching out for him from time to time. In the years in between, he had read all those books about the Unknown… And now he took his first step into Non-Euclidean Space.
Into the Twilight Zone.