Author's notes: Just a nice, normal fic, much like a Strange Days ep. Could be set in any season.
The idea for this story was totally taken from an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, so apologies if it seems familiar. It just struck me one day how well the idea fit into the BHH universe, and I had to give it a shot.
Disclaimer: Strange Days at Blake Holsey was created by Jim Rapsas and is the property of the now-defunct Fireworks Entertainment, Discovery Kids, NBC, and probably a lot of other people who could sue me. Please don't.
Lucas tightened the last screw on the device and grinned triumphantly. It was finished. Finally, after weeks of planning and calculations, hours or research and lost sleep, it was finally done.
Ever since their first few unanticipated encounters with the wormhole, he had been trying to think of a way to make it open on command. The wormhole was obviously a very powerful tool, but it was unpredictable and uncontrollable. Hopefully, his invention would change that. All it needed now was a name.
"Wormhole," he mumbled. "No, vortex. Vortex…manipulator? Manager? No, it's not a document organizer. Control? Vortex control…not bad. Vortex opener…open…open…that's it." Lucas added the name to his notes, then sat back and stared at his invention with a mixture of pride and apprehension. Would this really work?
There was only one way to find out.
"Emergency Science Club meeting this afternoon," he explained breathlessly to his friends at the lunch table.
"Emergency? What's wrong?" Corinne asked, looked at him with concern.
Lucas shook his head. "Nothing's wrong. I just have something to show you guys. Something important."
"Is this that thing you've been working on until 2am every night for the past week?" Marshall asked grumpily. Lucas wasn't the only one who had lost sleep lately.
Lucas nodded. "I can't talk about it here. I need to test it out, and I want you guys to be there."
The bell rang then, and the students picked up their books and headed for the door. "We'll be there," Josie promised.
"So what is this "thing" he wants to show us, Marshall?" Corrine asked. She, Josie, Marshall, Vaughn, and Professor Zachary were gathered in the science lab, waiting for the fifth member of the club to arrive.
Marshall shrugged. "Some kind of device to help us control the wormhole. He wouldn't give me the specifics."
"You'd think if he was so excited about it, he would at least be on time to the meeting he called," Josie grumbled, glancing at the clock.
At that same moment, Lucas was carefully making his way down the stairs with his invention. He had it covered with a cloth so that no one could see it, but he knew he still looked strange carrying the bundle down the hall. There was really no other way to get it to the science lab, though. Kids shot confused glances at him as he walked down the hall, but he was used to that.
He was almost to the science room door when something large and very, very solid collided with him. He made a desperate fumble and managed to keep the device and himself from falling to the tile floor.
Lucas looked up into the leering face of the large mass and groaned. Stu Kubiak always managed to show up at the worst times.
Stu looked down at Lucas and grinned. "What do we have here? Late for another Geek Club meeting, Science Boy?"
Lucas sighed in annoyance. "Actually, yes, I am. If you can just let me pass-"
"Not so fast," Stu said. "What's under the blanket?" He reached out and lifted a corner of the cloth.
"Just a science project," Lucas answered, jerked the device away from Stu. He resisted the urge to add "too complicated for you to understand" to his answer.
Fortunately, Stu's attention span was short. He leaned down and looked Lucas directly in the eyes. "Watch where you're going next time." He chuckled as he shoved past Lucas and continued down the hall.
"I wish he would just disappear," Lucas mumbled as he finally entered the science lab and shut the door behind him.
"It's about time," Josie said, motioning to the clock.
"I know, I know," Lucas said. "But trust me, this will be worth it."
"So what exactly is this device you've been working on, Lucas?" Professor Zachary asked.
Lucas sat the bundle on a lab table and pulled off the cloth. The others stared, first with curiosity, then in disbelief.
"That's what you've been working on for the past month?" Marshall asked.
"That's what you called us in here to see?" Josie said incredulously.
"That's what I left baseball practice early for?" Vaughn asked.
The device that sat in front of them was roughly the size of a football. It looked like a circuit board mounted to a piece of wood, with wires and buttons and lights attached randomly across it.
"Guys! I know it may not look like much. But Open Sesame is going to change everything."
"Open Sesame?" The name was met with a chorus of snickers.
"Why don't you explain, um, Open Sesame to us, Lucas?" Professor Zachary requested, trying to be diplomatic.
Lucas looked seriously at the group. "Up until now, we've encountered the wormhole randomly. It has appeared three times in Professor Z's office and once outside. We don't know when it's going to open or where it will take us."
"I've focused on the wormhole in Z's office. By studying the conditions in the office, especially at the time the wormhole opened, and reading up on what causes wormholes in the first place, I've designed this device. If it works correctly, it should trigger enough of a disturbance that the wormhole will open."
For several moments, five sets of eyes looked at him blankly. Then the questions began.
"Where did you find the stuff to build this?"
"Lucas, are you feeling all right?"
"How do you know it will open the wormhole?"
"Can you specify where the wormhole will transport us to?"
"What if it doesn't work?"
Lucas took a deep breath. "I found some of the stuff around the school, and I got some of it online. I feel fine, and I DON'T know that it will open the wormhole for sure. That's why I called you all here, so we can test it. No, I don't know where the other end of the wormhole will be. I can't control that. And if it doesn't work, either nothing will happen, or…" Lucas looked around guiltily.
"What?" Marshall prompted him.
"There's a small chance that it will blow the whole room sky-high. But according to my calculations, the risk of that is very slight; like less than 2."
The other members of the Science Club exchanged glances. "Well, we haven't had a good explosion in a while," Vaughn said, shrugging his shoulders.
Lucas frowned. "This is going to work. I wanted you all here to see it."
"OK, Lucas," Professor Zachary said reassuringly. "Let's give it a shot."
The five Science Club members and their professor filed into his slightly cramped office. Lucas set the device on the floor and fiddled with the buttons and knobs.
"I'm setting it to certain specifications. It should produce a burst of energy that will disrupt the surrounding atmosphere enough to open up the wormhole for a few seconds."
The others looked at each other uneasily. "Lucas, maybe you should research this a little more," Josie said.
"I've researched it for weeks now. I've gone over my calculations again and again. They're right."
"But do we even want to-" Josie stopped at seeing the hurt expression on Lucas's face. She sighed. "Never mind."
Lucas finished entering in the specifications and turned to the group. "OK, it's ready." He noticed everyone was pushed back against the wall, as far away from the device as possible. "Open Sesame, version 1.0, test one. Cross your fingers."
He pushed the largest button on the machine.
For a few seconds, nothing happened. Then the device began to sputter. Sparks flew off of it. The Science Club members covered their eyes and heads. The device popped and sparked angrily a few more times, then finally fell silent.
Lucas stared dejectedly at the smoking heap of metal before him. The other club members gathered behind him, trying to be supportive.
"I don't understand it," Lucas mumbled. Corrine placed a hand on his shoulder supportively.
"You probably just miscalculated somewhere," she said.
"It was an ambitious effort," Professor Zachary agreed. "I'm sure you'll get it right eventually."
From behind him, Lucas heard what sounded like a muffled snicker. Then another one.
"Look on the bright side, Lucas," Vaughn said cheerfully. "You produced a great fireworks display!"
The muffled snickers turned into full-blown laughter from every member of the group. "Yeah," Josie gasped. "The Fourth of July isn't for four more months!"
Lucas glared at them. "Glad I could amuse you all." He turned sharply and began gathering up the scorched equipment.
"Come on, guys, let's go before supper is over," Josie said. All except Marshall followed her. Z shot Lucas a sympathetic glance over his shoulder before he went out the door.
"I'll help you carry it back upstairs," Marshall offered. He had managed to squelch his laughter for the moment.
"Forget it," Lucas mumbled. He set the device down on a table in the back of the room. "I'll just get it later." He walked quickly past a confused Marshall and out the door.
"Lucas, wait!" But Lucas ignored him.
"Sometimes," he muttered to himself, "I wish they would ALL just disappear."
Lucas still felt grumpy when he woke up the next morning. The memory of his friends' laughter was still fresh in his mind. He knew that sometimes his ideas and experiments did go off course, but he wished they would understand how much work he had put into this project. He thought about skipping breakfast entirely, but Marshall reminded him it was french toast day.
"Morning," he mumbled as he slid into a chair next to Josie. He stayed silent as his friends talked about the upcoming day. Thankfully, no one brought up the meeting the day before.
During his first period science class, Lucas was surprised to see Stu Kubiak was absent. "Maybe this day won't be so bad after all," he whispered to Marshall. "Stu's not here."
"Who?" Marshall asked.
Marshall just looked at him blankly.
"Kubiak. You know, played football without a helmet too many times? Throws dodgeballs 80 miles an hour?"
Marshall nodded, looking confused. "Sure, Lucas," he said, not sounding sure at all.
Second period gym class passed without incident, mainly because of Stu's absence. Lucas noted that a few other kids were gone. "Maybe there was a field trip or something today." Although it shouldn't have been a big deal, Lucas felt vaguely uneasy as he went through the motions of Coach Kennedy's calisthenics program.
By third period, Lucas counted at least eight people who were gone. The class only had twenty people to begin with. The strangest thing was how none of the other students or teachers commented on it.
"Where is everybody?" Lucas asked Corrine.
"What do you mean?"
"One, two, three...there's like eight people absent today. Was there some field trip or special project going on today that I didn't know about?"
Corrine looked around the room. "I don't see anyone missing."
Lucas raised an eyebrow. "You don't? How can you not? Half the seats in here are empty."
Corrine shrugged. "They've always been that way."
Lucas looked around. "Stu. Stu Kubiak. I haven't seen him since yesterday." He motioned to the desk behind him. "Or Katie. She always shares her notes with me if I miss anything."
Corinne shook her head. "Lucas...I don't know anyone name Stu. Or Katie."
Lucas swallowed hard. He had brushed it off when Marshall said the same thing earlier, but it was too much to ignore now. Besides, Corrine didn't joke around as much as his other friends. And she looked sincere now.
Lucas raised his hand as their English teacher stepped in front of the room. "Mrs. O'Neil?"
"Do you know why so many people are absent today?"
The teacher looked around. "I don't see anyone absent. Are we missing someone?"
Lucas looked down, discouraged. He could hear giggles from his classmates around him.
There was nothing he could do but sit there, trying to concentrate on the lecture about Charles Dickens. Lucas knew he would not remember a word of it tomorrow. He was too preoccupied trying to figure out what was going on.
Why am I the only one who remembers these people?
Finally, the bell rang. As everyone stood up to go, Lucas scanned the room. He gasped.
Four more people were gone. He knew they had been there at the beginning of class. He had carefully counted twelve people. Only eight were leaving the room now.