Chapter 1 – April 1st 2019
It was just after 2am local time, when the apparition appeared.
At first, no one noticed. Many would later comment of course, on its exact placement. It ran almost precisely north-south, between a farmers field and the forested edge of a nearby national park. Whatever intelligence had placed it there however, remained aloof.
Before dawn broke some four hours later, a few anomalies had been noted. Several radars around the great metropolis to the east reported an unusual and persistent blip. By any other measure it was huge, but on a weather or air traffic control screen it looked small. A few controllers observed it with confusion, perhaps mixed with a tinge of curiosity. Clouds weren't solid, nor were they stationary. It didn't look like an aircraft, which wouldn't just hover there anyway. This looked like a new mountain had suddenly popped out of the ground. Most assumed it was an error. One wondered idly if someone had launched some sort of enormous weather balloon and they simply hadn't been informed.
So as of dawn, no alarm had been raised. As the black gave way to a partly cloudy purple and red, the local farmer woke early, as was his habit. The homestead was some way from the anomaly. He owned 600 acres after all, with more than that number of sheep. He'd thought something was odd when he awoke. A strong breeze was blowing from the west that hadn't been there the night before. He thought he heard the animals bleating as well, but it was hard to tell in the distance. Still, he felt only a slight suggestion of unease as he walked across the yard, until he had emerged from behind the house.
He must have stood there for a full thirty seconds, open mouthed, attempting to comprehend the sight in front of him. He called for his wife to come outside. She asked him why. He told her to just come out. After a minute she did so, alerted by his tone of voice. Both of them stared up at the apparition.
Within two minutes, the first call was made to the police. The farmer couldn't quite bring himself to describe what he was seeing.
"Uh…there's something on my property."
"What is it sir?"
"Um…please just come. It's a bit hard to explain. Just send someone."
It was a fair drive from the nearest station. It took almost an hour for the first car to arrive. In that time however, other calls started coming in. At the dispatch center, there no was panic at first. Just a deepening sense of confusion. Some noted the date with irritation. What this all some massive prank? An triple-oh flash mob for April fools? The dispatchers valued their professionalism however.
"Can you describe what you're seeing?"
"Um…its really quite hard. It just looks…black."
"What shape is it?"
"It's a circle, it looks like a perfect circle."
"A black circle?"
"Can you describe the size?"
"Um its…huge. I really don't know. I think I'm a few K's away and I can still see it. I can't see the base. There's fields in the way…trees…it must be huge."
The constable had just arrived on duty when he got the call. It was a confusing one. A farmer had reported something unusual on his property. He couldn't give a proper description. Maybe some sort of wild animal?
Dutifully, he had pulled out of the station, plugged the address into the GPS and headed south. He didn't turn the sirens on. It was too early and the call did not sound too urgent. He accelerated up past 100 on the Bacchus March-Balliang Road. He was still 10km away when the road curved and he saw the apparition in the distance. He kept driving for a few more moments, not quite registering what he was seeing. He didn't associate it with the call at first. This was no animal…
He found himself pulling over. He half got out of the car, still holding the door. From this angle it wasn't a circle, more like a slim arch of perfect blackness. He stared for a few more moments, then hopped back in and grabbed the radio.
"There's something there" he reported, trying to marshal the right words.
"Can you describe it?" the dispatcher asked.
"Uhhh…it looks like something very big and black, like a sort of arch…I don't know. I'm heading there now."
"We're receiving many calls now. Other units are inbound. Do you need the air wing?"
"Ah, yes I think…get them in the air".
He turned on the sirens at this point.
The apparition grew and grew on his right. Five minutes later he'd turned down a local road and he was facing it head-on. A small part of him wondered if he was heading in the smartest direction. Some deep instinct was telling him that this was something profoundly strange, something well above his paygrade, that he should immediately turn around and drive away as fast as the marked BMW could take him, his job be damned.
But no, he was a member of Victoria Police. It was only his second year. This was his job and he was going to do it. He'd got the call. Maybe he was just too dumb and unimaginative to consider otherwise? He kept driving.
Ahead of him was what seemed like an endless gaping maw, looming above the world. The sun had risen someway behind him now. The sky above was mostly a clear blue. It contrasted fiercely with the pitch black in front of him. It was truly huge. How high? He couldn't clearly see the base yet. Trees and the slightly rolling landscape blocked the view. He thought of the skyscrapers in the city. It looked much taller than any of them.
At the next intersection, the GPS told him, was the farm he had been called to. Only then did it fully click. No wonder the call hadn't included a description. He pulled into the driveway.
The farmer was there, standing next to his ute, holding an ancient hunting rifle. The rear was already half-filled with bags. His wife emerged, carrying more. The farmer approached as the constable pulled up beside the house. He struggled to find the right words as he opened the car door. His cap nearly blew off in the wind.
"Any idea what the hell that is?" the farmer asked gesturing at the vast black circle at the rear of his property.
The constable just shook his head. His radio was chirping again. The police chopper was ten minutes away.
"Have you walked any closer?" he asked the farmer.
"No, my wife's packing the car. Figure she should get somewhere else."
"You're staying here?"
"Yeah, I think so."
"Lets go have a look then" the constable said with more confidence then he felt. The farmer nodded. The two of them walked past the house, through the scattered sheds and a final line of trees. The constable idly felt the pistol on his hip. The radio was on his other one, chattering constantly. He heard more sirens in the distance. He picked it up as the viewed cleared.
"Morgan here. I'm approaching the uh…object".
"Can you identify it? What are you seeing?"
"Uhhh, still the same appearance. It's a vast black circle, looks to be…completely two-dimensional. Its not a sphere, just a circle…not sure what the other side looks like. Uh…to be honest…this looks like something out of the Twilight Zone really…uh…Like a science fiction film. I don't think this is uh…anything ordinary".
"How big is it?"
"Its huge…I think I'm still about a kilometer from it. It might be a K across."
They walked through knee-high grass. Sheep were bleating in the distance. The wind was blowing stronger.
"What's the ETA on the air wing?"
"Should be five minutes."
"There's a bit of wind here uh…seems to be coming from the object. Are they aware of that?"
"Yeah there's a some pretty strong gusts blowing from it…not sure why…Maybe its some sort of uh….doorway?"
"Yeah I'm just speculating here but like…a portal to…somewhere? Does that sound crazy?"
The constable knew this was a conversation that would have seemed insane even an hour earlier. He was not exactly a man of distinction, but already he was dimly aware that the world had just changed. He was also thinking of the various sci-fi movies he'd seen at some point. He wondered what else to say.
"There's something in it" the farmer said, pausing. They were maybe half a K from the basis of the apparition. It was hard to gauge the distance.
"What?" he asked, scanning the ground near the base of the object. He still couldn't quite see where the landscape ended and it began.
"Up, look!" the farmer said, pointing. The constable's gaze followed.
At the upper reaches of the object he thought he saw something. It was hard to make out, contrasting with the bright blue around it. He saw what looked like little points of light. He struggled for an explanation. Then it dawned on him.
They were stars. A starry night sky. It was day here, but night wherever this doorway led.
The constable kept walking. He wasn't sure what else to do with this revelation. Looking back down, he noticed the inky blackness of the circle was no longer complete. The field around him was brown, brightly lit in the morning light, though the scattered sheep were still casting long shadows. A few hundred meters away was the base of the arch. Beyond it the ground changed. It looked…wilder. Bushes and wild grass grew, taller than the farmer's field. There were other objects in the distance.
Trees…he realized. He couldn't see too far onto the other side, but now there was a broad swathe of ground where the sun hit it. The doorway faced east, and the rising sun was only at a modest angle to it. What he saw looked like wild country. Only bushes, trees, rocks and grass, gradually undulating away from them.
He reported all this into his radio as they kept walking, the farmer half a pace behind him. Finally, they stood only meters from the apparent edge. The arch loomed over them, massive and unmoving. The mysterious landscape beyond gave away little. He looked up, cupping his hand around his eyes. He could see the stars.
Now they were close, he noticed something else as well. There was another source of light on the other side, off to his left. He looked for it and froze at once. He clutched tightly to the radio. The conclusion was unmistakable now.
"Ah…wherever this thing leads, I don't think its anywhere on Earth."
"Why? What do you see?" the controller asked.
"The sky on the other side…there's a moon in it."
"Its not our moon."
That wasn't all. It was hard to tell from this angle but craning his head to look south the constable noticed something else. There was a pinkish tinge on the horizon.
Whatever world this was, dawn would soon be breaking.