Chapter Three (of Ten )
He also did it to build his strength, preferring to do work rather than sit in a gym somewhere, lifting weights endlessly. He still had a complete gym in the basement. It was gathering dust since the last time he had used it. It was a very modest home considering his wealth, but he had grown up there and had always loved it, as well as the rest of the small city.
“Tim,” Brad brought him back to the current situation. The house was entirely out of sight by then, but the glow of a terrible fire highlighted the clouds, still low in the sky. “I haven’t told you the whole story, why it was important that we go to the lab and complete the job TODAY!” he added to the suspense by emphasizing the last word.
It was a long way to the laboratory, but not long enough for the whole story to be told to Tim. It was enough to scare him until his hands were shaking on the wheel. He was sure his house had been ransacked and was probably burning at the moment, just like the bar. The story he was being told made it very clear that the end was nearing. Not the end of himself and Brad, not even that of the country, or his company, but the end of the world itself!
Tim drew a breath at the thought. He had never contemplated the world ending. He had his difficulties with it, which had caused him to begin the project, but he never expected that it would be salvation of mankind, just a new beginning for himself. He was fairly panting in terror and fear as Brad continued with his story from inside of the bar.
“Then the television came on with film someone had gotten by aiming his camera out into space before the green illumination began. It must’ve been mounted on a backyard telescope for it to see it, but clearly the figure was the largest object ever to pass by the Earth before. It was, after all, nearly the size of the planet Mercury. They said that it had caused several floods on the ocean shores, like tidal waves, but not caused by the moon’s proximity.”
Brad looked over at the fearful eyes of his boss and wondered if his own eyes looked the same, even under his ‘moonbrows’. No one had ever contemplated the end of the world before, at least not when it was clearly likely to occur. This was no dream that they could wake up from.
“It’s wings were much larger than the body itself, dwarfing it as if seeing a sailing ship from a high angle, or a building from high above its highest roof. The wings spread out in two directions, making the body itself tiny in comparison. There was no doubt it was a body, almost dragon-like. A long tail trailed behind, while a massive head pointed in its direction of travel, itself on the end of a long swaying neck.” Brad could still see the glow of its eyes . They were tiny from the distance of the camera, but shown bright, glowing green just as the trailing gasses would afterward. The gasses that had salted Earth’s atmosphere.
Tim was visibly shaking when they finally entered the gates of the mansion housing the laboratory. He pressed the button and they closed behind him, massive gates of steel that clanged loudly as the bar dropped back into place, sealing the grounds from anything short of a tank.
Surrounding the entire property were a series of trees and bushes that were sure to tear at your skin if you should try to penetrate them with anything less than metal armor. Roses and thorns that grew to protect the plants themselves now protected Tim’s property. But they weren’t the simple plants that grew into hedges around typical houses, these were specially altered by genetics. If they weren’t naturally grown to tree height, they did now. He had a barricade now that grew much higher than the height of a man, and continued to produce thorns capable of ripping skin right down to the bone.
He couldn’t take credit for the barricade. It had been produced long before he bought the property by a man possessed by control and fear. When he died Tim had bought it for a negligible price. He couldn’t believe his luck. It was perfectly located outside of town, and large enough to build the laboratory on it, and then the spaceship. That was twenty years ago, without the fear of the world’s collapse impending. Perhaps the former saw it coming, but he had found his relief in death long before it would happen.
As they arrived into the garage Tim pulled out a wheelchair that had kept his father ambulatory many years. He didn’t know why he had kept it, his father had never visited this property. Both of his parents had passed away without even knowing Tim’s plans for their future. They never expected to visit the vastness of space, to traverse planets and even possible across galaxies. But he had it all planned. He had grown up believing in the comic books that fueled his imagination.
Along with several families as well as his own, they would set out for a visit that no one else had ever taken. It was all in place now, but he hadn’t gotten around to telling his own parents. They were getting old and feeble long before there was any real progress in his laboratory results. He didn’t want to disappoint them with his own failure.
He wheeled Brad to the top of the building where the observatory was. He had wanted to bring him to the hospital where he belonged, but his insistence was firm and Tim couldn’t shake him, especially as he continued telling what they had seen on the television. Tim was confused by his own disbelief in what was happening and just couldn’t push anyone to do anything. He could hardly keep his mind on what he had to do as it was.
Tim looked in a book of charts and threw pages back and forth for several minutes. Finally he underlined some figures with a finger and ran to the controls of the telescope. He punched them into the keyboard and watched as the massive doors opened to the slightly darkened sky. It was already beginning to brighten with sunlight, considerably dimming his chances to see the Planet Venus.
The whole floor swung around beneath them as it turned several degrees from the vastness of space and towards the region of the sun. He was fortunate that Venus hadn’t been directly in front of the sun, or even behind it. He hit some more buttons and a viewer on the controls began focusing on something. It was round, and it was turning green as he watched the telescope begin to zero in on the planet.
“Brad, Brad, take a look at this…” he motioned to the seated man. Not getting a response he looked to see him below, barely setting upright. Tim moved quickly to catch him just as he was beginning to roll forward out of the chair. He jumped over to him, then rolled the chair behind a table and pushed it close so that it would keep him seated, hopefully.
In the corner of his eye he caught some movement. He was astonished to see exactly what the young man at the bar had told the rest of the patrons, including Brad. It began with a glow of iridescent green that became a cloud that quickly encompassed the entire planet. Then cracks appeared in the surface and green light shot out of them like sunspots, growing larger and joining together with the other flashes of light.
When the light show was over there was a green mass that seemed to move in some places where it was a lighter green. He could see it begin moving with a regular pattern first, then the largest dark areas pushed outward while the light green areas expanded between until he could see that another animal was developing right before his viewer.
Slowly the wings swung outward then rolled out until they were larger than the body they were connected to, itself being slightly smaller than the planet itself had been. He held the edge of the counter in amazement and to keep his balance as the wings opened entirely and were filled by the wisps of solar wind heading outward from the sun, it’s hatching heat continuing the process of the creature’s development.
The telescope wasn’t programmed to move along with objects, and when its wings were filled it quickly drifted out of sight, headed away from the sun and out towards the vast blackness of space beyond our planets.
Tim didn’t react through his shock, still leaning on the edge of the viewer while it disappeared completely. It occurred to him that it would travel past Earth. After all his study of the heavens, he knew that it would also pass close to this planet, maybe even closer than Mercury had. The disruption to our atmosphere would be even more severe. Venus had also been much larger than Mercury and the creature than had grown inside of it was nearly the same size as it had been. It didn’t need to get even that large to cause massive destruction as it sailed by.
Shaking himself out of his stupor, he ran down the metal stairs instead of using the elevator that he had brought Brad up to the telescope with. The lounge area had a television that he quickly flipped on. He patted the top of it impatiently as it warmed up. The seconds that elapsed seemed like forever to him.
As though he was still looking through the telescope, he watched the creature unfold once again and sail off, but this time the camera kept pace with it, watching it grow until the camera was showing a useless image of green light. With a fast calculation he knew that it would be several hours before it passed Earth, before it would decimate the atmosphere, or even the planet’s mass itself.
Suddenly the pattern occurred to him. Earth would be the next in the evolution in the string of births. He knees weakened with the thought of his riding on the back of a massive dragon-like animal that was soon to develop right under his feet. He looked down at the floor under him absently. It was all too unreal, but it was also seemingly inevitable.
With a pad of paper he did some quick figuring. When he finished he still estimated that he had several hours before this planet expanded its wings. And that was only if the passing of the Venus creature didn’t end it all prior to our planet waking up. Some glimmer of hope passed by his thoughts when he considered that perhaps the creature might swing wide of the moon and further from the Earth, rather than passing between the two planets. It was alive after all, not just an icy asteroid.
He was still shaking when he heard the weak voice of Brad coming from above him. “Tim, Tim?” he questioned from the platform above. “We have no time, we have no time.” He called quietly. Tim climbed the stairs in bounds until missing a step and scraping his shin. Even his pants leg was torn by the metal steps. He finished climbing and faced Brad.
But over his shoulder on the monitor below were the images of the first creature passing across the sky over the planet. Even more horrifying, someone had swung their camera towards the moon. It had already cracked and its surface was becoming luminescent green. Parts of it were falling into cracks and fissures where the green light began shooting into space all around the planet. Before long it would be sprouting wings and expanding outward in its own birth scene.