Nocturnals

"This meeting of the top-secret club GROSS (GET RID OF SLIMY GIRLS) will now come to order, Supreme Dictator-For-Life Calvin presiding. All salute!" Calvin announced.

Calvin and Hobbes saluted each other.

"First order of business: First Tiger Hobbes will read the minutes of last week's meeting."

Hobbes pulled out a notepad.

"Thank you," he said, clearing his throat. " 10:00 AM: Meeting called to order. 10:01 AM: Reading of previous minutes. 10:02 AM: Dictator-For-Life expresses disdain for recorded minutes. 10:23 AM: Dictator-For-Life completes expression of disdain. 10:24 AM: Reading of previous minutes continued and completed. 10:25 AM: Chief Strategist Calvin begins plans to ambush the enemy, Susie Derkins, with mushy apples. 10:30 AM: Plan put into action. 10:34 AM: Dictator-For-Life is grounded for a week by opposing forces. 10:35 AM: Medals of Bravery awarded to all parties. Meeting adjourned."

"Thank you. Now then, a field report from Head Scout Calvin," Calvin said, looking out over the neighborhood.

"What news from the front, Scout?"

"The enemy appears to be lying low today. Perhaps she is plotting?"

"I think it's more likely she heard you're not grounded anymore and is avoiding us for awhile."

"Hmmm… Yes, that does sound probable. Nevertheless, a close lookout will be kept for movement from her section."

"Check."

"Next item of business: we need to discuss a slightly more serious matter. Better record this, Secretary Hobbes."

"Yes, sir," Hobbes said, taking the notepad back out and flipping to a clean sheet of paper and getting a pencil out.

"Gentlemen, we are facing a potential threat that, while not being a slimy girl, is still a force that must be dealt with, and we must steel our resolve and prepare ourselves for it."

Hobbes wrote frantically. "Dictator-For-Life Calvin gears up for a potentially dangerous assignment. All club member's on edge of seats as they await their mission."

Calvin continued. "We have received word from our informant, Mini-Time Machine, that there is some sort of something is living in the void."

"Dictator-For-Life describes enemy sketchily. Various club members gasp in shock."

"For those of you who don't know, the void is what exists between the walls of the universe. It is a virtual nothing, and its inhabitants are virtually unknown. According to his interdimensional readings, this strange something seems harmless for now, but it is moving in our direction."

"Various officers yell in outrage. Club members jump up and down atop their tables, spoiling for a fight."

"We must take the utmost caution. We cannot know for sure what this entity will attempt, so it must be monitored every second."

"Various shouts of agreement. More jumping on tables. Bottles smash. Pandemonium ensues."

"So that's our assignment, men. Any questions?"

Hobbes raised his hand.

"The Chair recognizes First-Tiger Hobbes," Calvin said, motioning for Hobbes to proceed.

"How precisely will the monitoring process be implemented?"

"MTM is already watching it as we speak. I shall be on hand at all times if he needs to inform me of a change in activity."

"But won't that interfere in your non-club activities?"

"Such as?"

"You have school tomorrow."

"Ah… Well, I'll just have to make do. This is the risk of a possible endangerment to the universe, Hobbes! We must carefully pick our most important priorities!"

"I see. Point made."

"Good. Any more questions?"

They sat in silence, waiting to see if anyone would say anything.

"Very well then. Let's move out, men! Meeting is adjourned!"

They removed their newspaper hats and climbed out of the treehouse.


Meanwhile, in Yellowstone National Park, a tour guide was leading a group of people around the attractions.

"And if you'll have a look around here, you'll see the vast and wondrous plains of our park. This is perhaps some of our best examples of natural beauty!" he said grandly.

Everyone looked out over the field.

They could make out the odd burger wrapper or milkshake cup being tossed around in the wind.

Then one of them noticed the water buffaloes were coming in their direction.

"Why are those animals coming over here? Shouldn't they stay out there?" a woman asked.

"Unfortunately, a lot people ignore the signs we put up and go ahead and feed the animals anyway. It's getting ridiculous. They're like big house pets now."

"So what do we do if they get too close to us?"

"Oh man… Whatever you do, don't feed them marshmallows. Trust me."

The guide led them away from that spot and headed them over to Old Faithful.

"Now, if you'll watch from here, you'll see our most famous attribute, Old Faithful, our geyser. Eruptions from this old pit can shoot 3,700 to 8,400 gallons of boiling water to a height ranging from 106 to 185 feet lasting from one and a half to five minutes long. Intervals between the eruptions can range from forty-five to over an hour and a half, slowly increasing to an average of ninety minutes apart today. More than 137,000 eruptions have been recorded. If we wait just another minute, it should go off any second now."

A woman raised her hand.

"Is it true that there's someone living under the geyser?" she asked.

The guide sighed. "Look, I'm getting tired of answering that question. No. No, there is no one living under the geyser. It wouldn't be possible. The heat alone would boil them alive. Now please, let's just watch it erupt. Any second now."

Then there was a low rumble from under the ground.

"Here we go…"

Suddenly, there was a huge release of water and steam, all of it rocketing into the air.

The crowd cheered and clapped, taking pictures and recording it on cameras.

Satisfied, the guide enjoyed the view.

Then they saw something shoot out of the ground along with the water. Whatever it was, it was cube-shaped and heading straight up into the air.

"What's that thing?" a man asked, pointing at it.

The guide took out his binoculars and looked up at the object.

"I'm not sure. It looks metallic, and it seems to be covered in something… They look like wires…"

"It's heading this way!" a woman shrieked.

They all suddenly ran for cover, panicking blindly, trying to shield themselves.

Fortunately, when the object landed on the ground, it was several feet away from them.

"Okay, everyone stay back!" the guide shouted. "I'll investigate."

He ran forward and putting a pair of gloves on, he gently prodded the object. It was indeed a cube with wires on it, but it was also short-circuiting from its rather rough treatment. It had flashing lights and several buttons on it, but other than that, it didn't seem to do anything.

"Odd," he remarked, carefully picking it up. "I wonder what it could be."

Just then, a boulder nearby popped over and onto its side, as if it were on hinges.

Everyone backed away from it in shock.

And then, who should step out but Jack T Robot, looking around for a moment as if he'd lost something, muttering to himself, until he noticed the group of people nearby.

"Oh, hey!" he called over. "Did anyone see a thing fly in this direction? It was sort of boxy and had a bunch of wires on it…?"

Then he noticed the guide staring at him in shock, holding the device in his hands.

"Ah! There it is. Thank you," he said, coming over and taking it back. "Sorry about that, fella. Nobody hurt, right? It just sort of fell into the duct way and into the pit. Sorry."

Everyone continued to stare in shock at him.

"Anyway, enjoy the geyser. She's a beauty. Of course, then she goes off at three in the morning and wakes us up. It's a tad annoying. We're looking into having it fixed."

They still stared at him, no one saying anything.

Finally, someone had the place of mind to hold up their video phone and start recording him.

Jack rolled his eyes. "Really? A robot turns up and your first reaction is to film him and put him on the internet? Nice."

And with that, he held up a finger, which glowed blue, and suddenly the phone erupted in a shower of sparks. The stunned tourist dropped it in horror.

"Anyway, thanks for getting this thing for me. See you around," Jack said to the guide before heading back to the rock. He walked behind it and it slammed shut on top of him after he vanished.

Everyone continued to stare.

"I still had minutes left," the tourist grumbled.

The guide groaned. "One day at a time… One day at a time…," he muttered.


The elevator dinged musically and opened up, allowing Jack to carry the device back into the lab.

"Okay, I found it," he called out.

Dr Brainstorm looked up from his computer.

"Ah, so there's the little troublemaker," he grumbled, getting up and heading over to him. "Where was it?"

"Some of the tourists were pawing over it."

"What? The ordinary people saw it?"

"Afraid so."

"Well, did you kill them?"

"Er…yeah, sure."

"Oh, good. Yes, that's good. Can't let just anyone see my Recombobulator…"

"Right. Can't just let anyone see your fancy box that you rename once a week…"

"Oh hush, you."

Dr Brainstorm tossed the box aside and went back to his computer.

"Now then, let's see, shall we? I was doing something…"

"Good. It helps to have hobbies."

"No, no, I was doing something work-related… Ah, yes! I was monitoring that alert from the void!"

"What were you doing monitoring the void?"

"I got an alert from my Void-Movement Detector."

"Your what?"

"My Void-Movement Detector!"

"When did you make a Void-Movement Detector?"

"Two months ago! Goodness, Jack, where have you been?"

"Precisely where I don't want to be: right here."

"Oh, nice, very droll."

"Thank you. Now when did you make this Void-Movement Detector?"

"Well, it didn't start out that way."

"What was it originally?"

"Originally it was an ice machine."

"…it was an ice machine?"

"Yes, the one we have is on the fritz and I was trying to make a new one."

"Oh."

"And then of course, one thing led to another, and before I knew it was watching strange creatures flying around on a blank background like a screensaver."

"Huh, well, isn't that the way?"

"Indeed."

Dr Brainstorm plopped back down in his swivel chair and stared at the screen again.

"So what's going on in there?"

"Well, apparently, there's something moving about in the void. Whatever it is, its generating a lot of energy if it's detectable through the void."

"I suppose so."

"So you know what that means?"

"Yes, I do."

"Oh you do not!"

"I do."

"What then?"

"You want to harness this power for yourself so you can take over the world."

There was a pause.

"Oh. So you do know."

"You're not hard to read."

Brainstorm scowled and started typing.

Jack sighed. "May I point out that the only way to get to the whatever-it-is is it break a whole in reality and get into the void?"

"Of course!" Brainstorm snapped. "A simple task, really."

"First of all, no, it's not, and secondly, it's not a good idea either way. We don't even know what it is."

"Ah, but I'm a genius! I can open the void long enough to get that pesky power supply, and then close it before any damage is done."

"Yes, I admit you're a genius, but you're also about as coordinates as a one-eyed, one-horned, flying, purple people-eater."

Dr Brainstorm stared at him.

"What?"

"Well, they only have the one eye. They probably lack depth-perception."

"Ah… No matter! I shall get to work!"

And he stormed off to his lab.

Jack sighed. "I should probably get the gas masks and the iodine out," he muttered, heading for the first aide room.


The next morning, Calvin and Hobbes walked down the walk towards the bus stop and stood there, waiting for the bus to come.

Calvin pulled the MTM out of his pocket and checked it.

"Hmmm…," he said. "These readings are getting interesting."

"What's the thing doing?" Hobbes asked.

"Not much at the moment, but it seems to be moving closer to the wall of our universe."

Hobbes thought about this.

"Hey, our universe is constantly expanding, right?"

"Yes."

"So where exactly is this wall?"

Calvin stared into space for a moment, pondering that.

"Er… Why don't you field this one, MTM?" he suggested.

"Yeah, sure," MTM said, wishing his could roll his eyes. "The wall is between the universe and the void, and it's always moving with the expansion of the universe. That satisfy your curiosity?"

"Yeah. Sure," Hobbes said with a sigh.

The bus pulled up moments later.

"Alright, I'll see you this afternoon," Calvin said, pocketing MTM and grabbing his book bag.

"I'll be here," Hobbes replied, tousling his hair.

Calvin clambered up the steps and walked down the aisle to a window seat and sat down, waving goodbye to Hobbes as he was driven away.

Once they'd been going for awhile, Calvin pulled MTM out again and started studying the readings.

Susie sat down next to him.

"Hi, Calvin!" she said cheerily.

"Mmm," Calvin replied, still glaring fixedly at the MTM's little screen.

"What are you doing with that CD Player? Are you listening to music?"

"It's not really a CD Player, Susie."

"What is it?"

"It's my MTM, my miniature time machine. Of course, I don't use it for time travel much anymore. It does lots of other things as well."

Susie stared at him before rolling her eyes. "You're so weird," she muttered.

"Only because you don't take the time to understand," Calvin replied swiftly, not even bothering to look at her.

Susie sighed and focused on her book instead.

"Did you even do your homework?" she asked.

"Of course I did," Calvin snapped. "I did a great job too!"

"Do you even remember what it was?"

"It was social studies! We did a paper on Ancient Greece!"

"Calvin, that was two months ago."

Calvin considered this.

"Oh… Well, better late than never. That's my motto."


Jack wandered around the lab one morning, heading for his favorite chair in front of the giant television screen. He settled down with his morning toast and orange juice and stared up at it.

"Okay, let's see… What's on CBS?"

He pressed the remote button and watched it roar into life.

"Eugh," he muttered, glaring at the screen. "Morning chat shows. Nobody in the world should be that perky in the AM."

He sat there for a few moments before shrugging.

"Oh well, I can't watch NBC or Fox on principle."

And thusly he sat there, watching a pair of overly-cheery morning people promote ridiculous products.

BABOOOM!

"Thank goodness," Jack muttered, getting up.

He strolled into the lab and looked around, trying to find the source of the explosion. He eventually found a great big skid mark on the floor that went three feet before disappearing altogether. Bits of metal and wiring lay strewn about the place.

"Frank?" he yelled. "Where are you?"

"DR BRAINSTORM!"

Jack looked up at the ceiling and saw that Dr Brainstorm was slammed into it, wedged into the crater he'd created in the process.

"…How goes progress?" he asked, crossing his arms.

"Hush, Jack! I'll have you know that this time it was a minor miscalculation this time!"

"You used that excuse the other five times as well."

"Hmph. Just get me down from here!"

Jack sighed and extended his arms towards the ceiling and latched onto Dr Brainstorm's sides, and then after a good yank, he had him down again, bringing some of the ceiling with him.

"There, all better?"

"Shut up, Jack. I'll harness that power if it's the last thing I do!"

"You know, one of these days, that phrase is gonna come back and bite you in the keister."

And with that Jack turned and left the room.

Brainstorm scowled and glared into space, trying to think of a new plan. His eyes wandered, and he glanced over at the tool area. He saw a pair of pliers sitting on the bench.

He stared at them for a few moments before a grin stretched across his face.


Miss Wormwood went through the motions as she got to work teaching her class.

"Alright then, class," she said. "It's time for math. We're going to continue working on subtraction for now, because some of you don't seem to be getting it."

Everyone suddenly looked at Calvin, who seemed very offended.

"Oh, why do you all feel that you can make the situation better by gawking at me? How does staring at me like I'm a freak make this better? How does it make our world better?"

They continued to stare at him.

"MIND YOU OWN BUSINESS!" he snapped at last.

Everyone quickly stared straight ahead again.

Calvin sighed. Sometimes offensiveness and brusqueness are the only things people listen to.

"Now then, if we may begin," Miss Wormwood said sternly. "We'll start with some basics. I want you all to go over these worksheets and once I've seen what you've learned, I'll teach accordingly."

So she passed out some worksheets.

As she did this, she noticed Calvin had the MTM out and was pressing the buttons on it.

"Calvin, put that away. I don't want you listening to music while we're working," she said.

"I'm not listening to music," Calvin replied. "I'm just checking on some sort of life form living in the void between our universe and the next one."

"I'll have no nonsense in my classroom, young man. Put it away."

Calvin checked the MTM's screen one last time before relenting.

"Alright, alright," he sighed, putting it in his desk.

"Thank you. Now get to work."

Calvin took the worksheet and got started.

Once everyone was working, Miss Wormwood sat down at her desk and got to work on grading papers.

There was silence for all of thirty seconds.

Then there was a strange beeping noise.

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

Everyone looked around, wondering what it was.

Calvin opened his desk and pulled MTM back out. He promptly checked the screen and typed some new commands into it for a moment.

"Calvin, what did I just tell you?" Miss Wormwood said warningly.

"Sorry, sorry, I forgot to turn the beeper off. It's just letting me know of some recent void activity," Calvin replied, not even looking at her.

"I don't want you disrupting class again, Calvin."

"I know. Just a moment, I'll set it to vibrate."

Calvin pressed another button on the MTM and put it back in his desk. Apparently not realizing he'd caused a disturbance, he set to work again.

Sighing to herself, Miss Wormwood went back to grading papers.

However, promptly ten seconds later, another noise was heard, sounding very much like a drill.

VVRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! VVRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

Everyone looked up again and saw Calvin pull MTM out again and promptly begin to work with it again.

"Okay, that's it. Give it here," Miss Wormwood said, holding a hand out.

"But Miss Wormwood, I still need to study the void! Something is inside it and trying to break through to our reality! It could be dangerous! I need to know what its doing!"

"You are disrupting my class. I'll take your CD player, and you'll work these problems."

And with that, she took the MTM and went back to her desk, placing him inside a drawer.

Calvin tried to ignore the mocking smirks of his classmates as he angrily returned to his class work.

For ten seconds, all was quiet.

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

Everyone looked up once again.

Miss Wormwood sighed and reached into her desk to do something about the MTM.

Strangely, when she opened the drawer, she found it wasn't there anymore. She dug around trying to find it, but there was no sign of it.

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

Everyone watched her digging for a moment.

Calvin looked confused until he realized the beeping was coming from his own desk. He opened and pulled the MTM out, looking at it with a knowing smirk. He deactivated the beeping and checked everything he needed to.

"Calvin, how did you get that back?" Miss Wormwood demanded.

"It teleported back to me," Calvin replied, knowing full well Miss Wormwood wouldn't believe that.

"I don't believe that!" she snapped.

"I didn't think you would."

She walked over and snatched it away from him and took it back to her desk, this time locking the drawer when she put it inside.

Ten seconds passed, during which she watched Calvin very closely.

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

She quickly unlocked the desk and looked inside the drawer.

Once again the MTM was nowhere to be found.

She looked up and saw Calvin had it and was working with it again.

"Calvin, this is becoming intolerable!" she yelled angrily.

"Tell me about it. This void thing keeps coming in our direction. I'm getting worried."

"You are making a mockery of this class! Either you stop this nonsense right this minute and give me that, or I'm sending you to the principal's office!"

She took MTM once again and this time, she locked it in the filing cabinet.

"Now get to work!" she ordered.

Calvin quickly resumed work on his subtraction.

This time, twenty seconds managed to pass, and Miss Wormwood this time watched the filing cabinet, making sure nothing happened, and that Calvin couldn't get to it.

For awhile, she thought she'd finally outsmarted him, but then…

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

She practically leapt from her chair and yanked open the filing cabinet and dug around, looking frantically for the MTM.

It wasn't there.

And then she turned and saw Calvin once again working with it.

Her eye twitched involuntarily.

"That's it, young man. You're coming with me!"

Calvin was surprisingly willing, and he followed her obediently to the principal's office.

They walked in silence down the long hallway, and before they knew it, they were both standing in front of Principal Spittle.

"Okay, Miss Wormwood, what's he done now?" he asked tiredly.

"He's disrupting my class," she said angrily.

"I could've guessed that much. How is he disrupting your class?"

"It's his CD player. He won't put it away!"

"He's listening to music in class?"

"No, he's just fiddling around with it."

"Fiddling around with it? Do you have it with you?"

Calvin handed him the MTM.

Mr Spittle looked at it. "What about the headphones?"

"I lost those years ago," Calvin replied.

It didn't even look like an ordinary CD player. There was a large speaker grill in the middle and loads of complex circuitry and wiring going around it.

"Calvin, you couldn't even listen to music in this if you wanted to!" he said, looking very disturbed.

"Sure, you just have to select the right feature," Calvin assured him.

"So what were you doing with this in class?"

"Look, I'm sorry for the interruptions, but it beeps whenever something important is happening."

"Mmm-hmmm… Miss Wormwood, why didn't you just take the CD player from him instead of bringing him to me?"

"I did."

"You did?"

"Yes. He kept getting back."

"He took it back from you."

"…Sort of."

"Yes?"

"I put it in my desk drawer, and when I looked up again a few seconds later, he had it back."

"Oh, really?"

"Yes, and then I locked it in my desk, and then somehow he got back again!"

"I see…"

"And then I locked it in the filing cabinet, and I watched it carefully, and then when I opened it again, it was gone, and Calvin had gotten it back again!"

Mr Spittle stared at her for a long few moments.

"Miss Wormwood, I think it's time you had that sabbatical we talked about. I think you're working too hard."

Miss Wormwood opened her mouth to say something, but then she thought about the whole scenario, stared at Calvin for a few moments and then glanced at the MTM before finally sighing heavily.

"Yes, maybe you're right," she said. "Come on, Calvin. Back to class."

She headed away.

Calvin quickly motioned for Mr Spittle to lean in close.

"She drinks the Maalox straight from the bottle," he whispered.

And with a wink, he picked up MTM and walked away.

Mr Spittle stared for a moment before shuddering and resuming his work.


Back in the lab, Jack was listening to the sounds of sparks flying and servos blowing up as Dr Brainstorm worked on his latest tasks. He was growing more and more bored as he waited for something to happen. But so far, Brainstorm hadn't destroyed anything since the ceiling incident.

Bored, he looked over the Void-Movement Detector. The computer was still beeping about the void thing, so he decided to take a look at what all the fuss was about.

As he took a close look at the screen, he saw that the view was of the wall between the universes, and the void was in the very narrow space in between. He then saw the void stuff that was getting all the attention, and something interesting was happening with it.

The thing was actually right between the void and this world, and it was actually trying to get in itself.

Jack thought about this.

This thing that Frank was trying to get at wasn't just some harmless entity.

It was actively trying to enter their world.

It was trying to enter their world.

Something about that told Jack something was up.

It was trying to enter their world.

Why would some non-sentient being try to enter their world?

It wouldn't. It couldn't.

That meant only one thing.

Whatever was trying to enter was alive.

And it wanted to enter their world.

"Uh-oh…," he whispered.

Just then, the door to the experimenting room burst open.

Dr Brainstorm was wielding a pair of pliers that were attached to various wires and coated with some sort of metal.

"THEY…ARE…COMPLETE!" he shouted.

Jack stared at him while Dr B held his dramatic position.

"What are?"

"My Interdimensional Pliers, of course!"

"Oh… When did you start on those?"

"Two hours ago! What do you think I've been doing?"

"Hey, if the place isn't on fire, then it's usually none of my business."

Dr Brainstorm glared. "Fine. Well, I'm going to rip open a hole in the universe. I'll open it up just long enough to get the power from the void thing and then I'll snap it shut."

"How're you going to absorb the power?"

"You'll use your power extrapolator and contain it."

"I can't contain that much power."

"Then find somewhere to put it!"

"Where am I supposed to put it? Raw energy in this much open space could potentially destroy the world!"

"THEN I'LL THINK SOMETHING ELSE! NOW STAND BACK WHILE I RIP THE UNIVERSE!"

And then Dr B ran back into the experimenting room.

Angry and frustrated, Jack glared after him and then glared at the computer again.

Then he remembered.

It was trying to come into their world.

"Oh right," he muttered.

Dr Brainstorm held up the Interdimensional Pliers to the air and began to prime them up.

"Okay, here we go…," he said quietly.

The Pliers began to glow slightly, humming slightly, and they began to do something.

Specifically, they were beginning to rip the hole into the universe.

Dr Brainstorm stared in amazement at the rip he was creating.

"It works… IT WORKS!" he crowed.

Jack heard these words in deep shock.

Dr Brainstorm's stuff never works.

"Frank, don't open that hole!" he yelled, hurrying into the room.

"Why shouldn't I? The world is finally mine!"

"But there's something you didn't notice on the computer?"

"Oh yeah? What's that?" he snorted.

"It's already trying to get into our universe! It's alive!"

Dr Brainstorm stared at Jack for a moment, and then he stared at the rip he'd made.

Already, black smoke was pouring out of it and into the room.

"Ah…," he said slowly.

The black smoke poured all around them now.

"You know, in hindsight, I probably should've said that earlier," Jack remarked.

The smoke was now filling the lab.

"Close the rip, please."

"Er, yeah, hold on," Dr Brainstorm replied, struggling with the pliers.

But nothing was happening, and the smoke was still pouring in.

"Huh boy," he said, starting to cough. "Yeah, I think that's not an option right now."

"So what do we do?"

Suddenly, the smoke start to swirl around the room, and the sudden movement picked them both up and threw them into the wall.

WHAM!

They slid down the wall and landed in a heap on the floor.

"This is why I don't smoke," Dr B grumbled.

Suddenly, the black smoke swirled again, but this time, he went into the nearby computer.

"What's it doing now?" he asked, trying to see the screen.

Jack got up and walked over, looking at it. "I think… I think the whatever-it-is has gotten into the computer systems. It's flying through the internet. I think it's trying to figure out where it is, so it's gone to the biggest information source it can get."

"Oh great. We're going to have a great big gaseous entity running about who's obsessed with videos of fat goalies getting soccer balls in the business," Brainstorm grumbled, getting up and dusting himself off.

Suddenly, a shower of sparks erupted from the computer and it went dead.

"What happened now?"

"It's gone. Maybe it overloaded the server."

Then there was a crackling sound from the intercoms.

A deep, threatening voice rumbled throughout the lab.

"I…AM…YOUR FUTURE…"

Brainstorm and Jack stared at each other uneasily.

"I…AM…THE FUTURE…"

Out of the corner of his eye, Dr B spotted a quarantine chamber. His cutting about the room, he measured the distance, calculated the necessary speed and made a decision.

He suddenly broke into a sprint and dove across the lab towards it, slamming his fist into the security pad, managing to strike the right code, and he dove through the opening door, managing to shut it behind himself before he hit the floor.

Panting heavily, he managed to turn around and look out the glass wall.

He could see Jack staring back at him from across the room.

"Nice sprint," he shouted.

Brainstorm glared.

Suddenly, there was a loud explosion from over him, and he watched in horror as a shower of sparks flew from above him. Then another bang came from the keypad. The whole thing rattled and quivered.

"YOU WILL BE MINE!" the voice shouted.

But nothing happened.

Dr Brainstorm smirked. "HA! My quarantine chamber is a success! It even keeps out otherworldly beings from the void! I'M A GENIUS!"

Jack rolled his eyes.

Suddenly, the creature materialized in the middle of the lab, glaring at Brainstorm.

"You can't hide in there forever," it growled.

Then it turned and faced Jack, who backed away uneasily.

"…You…are irrelevant," it growled, waving him off.

"Hey!" Jack yelled, feeling offended for reasons he could not identify. "Who're you calling irrelevant?"

But the creature ignored him. Instead, it dissolved into black smoke again and phased up into the ceiling and then out into the real word.

To be continued...