Ch. 1

Gaining ground

"Damn, Kenzie!" my roommate remarked, "You were out for awhile. Surprised that one beer did ya in." "Shuddup," I mumbled and held my head in hand. I hurt like hell. "I am never doing that again!" I said. "Oh c'mon!" my roommate replied. She appeared to be really perky considering the amount she drank last night. "How are you happy?!" I asked her incredulously. She flipped back her bright red hair. I raised an eyebrow. Last time, I remembered it was yellow.

"You're gonna kill your hair if you keep doing that," I told her. She just shrugged and flopped onto the bean bag in the room.

We were currently on break in New York. We both managed to convince our parents to let us come here on our own. We had saved up since our freshmen year in high school, when we first met, and we were finally here!

I sagged back onto my bed and covered my face with the pillow. My head throbbed. I added "feeling sick" onto my list of symptoms. "Hey, didn't you read the one book, Botticelli-something?" she asked me.


"If I remember correctly, that one character was drunk one time and the one way she actually able to get sober again was that she drank the same amount of water as she did beer."

"So you want me to drink a crap load of water right now?"

She nodded.

"God, I swear you are retarded sometimes," I muttered.

She just looked at me. "Whatever," she said, "Look, I'm gonna order some food. You want anything?"

"I don't care. Just get me something that won't make me sick."

"That's real specific," she replied.

"Well, that's what you get for making me drink that beer that I didn't want to drink."

She stuck her tongue at me and left the room to order food. As soon as she left the room, I pulled out my laptop that was under my bed and turned it on. It was at 50%. I opened up a few programs and set to work.

I'm a hacker. I don't do all that "illegal" shit stupid people get caught with, I'm smart enough to not get , it isn't illegal if I don't get caught. I had recently accessed a company's, named Gentek, network(they have shitty security) and found a file named PROJECT: BLACKLIGHT or something like it. It was referring to some freak accident that happened in 1969 at Hope, Idaho. I pulled out one of my maps and looked around for it. Couldn't find it at all. I researched some more and came across an old newspaper clipping talking about a nuclear explosion that wiped a city off the map.

I got curious, so I began to dig deeper. Here, the security was tighter. Watched by some part of the military called Blackwatch. From what I could tell, these guys were merciless. I logged that file for digging later and focused on the '69 accident. There wasn't much data on the subject at all. Didn't surprise me; somebody probably purged the system of sensitive data that could jeopardize the mission or whatever it was that they were doing. Today I was going through two week's worth of security tape at Gentek and one of the nearby subway stations.

I paused, played, replayed, forwarded, and re-winded. That's when I came across this one part. It happened maybe two days ago, if not longer. It was near a subway station. It showed a man (who looked very good looking, I might add) who looked to be in his mid-twenties, in an awesome leather jacket, with a gray hoodie, white shirt, dark blue jeans, and what looked like kick ass man-boots. He held a capped test tube in his hand and the military was surrounding him.

The video couldn't pick up any of what they were saying, but whatever was happening, they did not want him to drop that test tube. I hoped in my head that he would be smart and set it down and walk away but he didn't. He dropped the test tube and the military gunned him down. That was all I could hear: the ratatatatat of gunfire. I covered my mouth, headache all but forgotten. I didn't even hear my roommate, Kate, enter the room until, "Hey, ordered you Chinese. Hope it's that one cute gu-" She stopped and I quickly slammed my laptop shut. A bit too quickly.

Kate looked at me.

"You okay?" she asked.

"Uh... yeah. There was a... bug and it freaked me out. Panicked a little," I replied.

"And you squished it on your computer?"


"And here I thought you loved that thing. You nearly killed me one time when I almost spilled coffee on it last time."

I gave her a quick, somewhat innocent smile. "You're strange. You look alright now. I guess that bug scared you sober," she remarked. My smile faded a little. Kate shook her head and left the room. I waited a few seconds before opening up my laptop again, just to make sure she wasn't coming back in. "Ooookay..." I muttered to myself, "His name is- was Mercer. Uh... his body is now at the morgue... that's just down the street." I wrote down the address and placed it into my back pocket. I closed my laptop properly this time and placed it in the England crested bag I got for my birthday. This guy's story just piqued my interest. I left a note on my bed, telling Kate I'd be back in about an hour. Hopefully that's all it would take... Or so I thought.

I checked the address again to make sure I got it right. It was about 7:30 p.m. and it was cold. I was glad I brought a comfy sweatshirt with me. At this hour, the morgue gave me the creeps. Hell, at any hour this place freaked me out. I had to walk past it twice before I managed to gather up the nerve to enter it.

Nobody was at the front desk. I check the times. The hours said they were open Monday-Saturday, 5:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. Freaky, I thought. The room was half lit. I walked carefully and quietly through. And froze when I heard voices. I peeked around the corner and saw two guys dressed up in hazmat suits. They must work here, I guessed. That was when I glanced at the steel table they were looking at. I gasped. The two guys whipped around. I pulled myself back as quickly as I could before they saw me.

"Eh, it was probably just the wind," I heard one of them say and the set back to work. I kneeled down and watched.

"Hey, I recognize this guy. He was Blacklight," said one.

"Well, now he's ex-Blacklight. What's his name?" asked the other.

"Ah, Mercer, Alex J. Next of kin, Mercer, Dana A."

"His wife?"

"Hell, I don't know."

They seemed to be so engrossed in their work that I began to edge around the corner to get a better look. I was paying more attention to the men and their... work that I didn't see the little table stand. I smacked my knee on the corner of it and gasped. The two men spun around.

"What the hell's she doing here?!" asked the first one.

"I don't know! I thought the door was locked!" said the second, "Hey, how'd you get in here?"

"The, uh, door was open," I replied, nervously. Suddenly, the young man on the table started to move. We turned to watch. The two guys backed off immediately. "Hey! I was told that he was dead!" said one. "He was!" replied the other, "Had no heartbeat, pulse, or brain activity!"

The man held his head in one hand. It looked like he was in pain. He looked up and around and quickly fixated on me. I pushed past the two hazmat guys and grabbed his arm and began pulling him away from the morgue staff.

"Do-do you know what's happening?" he asked me.

"Hah, I know just as much as you do," I replied. Then, I heard, "I'm calling security!" "Crap," I muttered, "Have to get you out of here." I pulled towards the exit. "Okay... uh... uh...," I said aloud, looking around as soon as we got outside. There were a couple of cars nearby. I pulled Mercer towards it and we both hid. Suddenly, a door opened and the two hazmat guys stepped out into a group of soldiers. None of them looked too happy. There were shouts of "Freeze!" and "If you move, I will fucking shoot you." The two hazmats didn't seem inclined to listen to the men with guns.

Then, I remembered that these were the men who gunned down Mercer. I started taking a couple steps backward and into another military vehicle. Mercer looked back at me, then we both jumped at the sound of twin gunshots. Both of the hazmats were dead. "Go, get out of here!" Mercer whispered urgently to me. I looked at him.

"What? No!" I hissed.

"Just do it," he replied.

"Fine," I grumbled and carefully crouched behind the few cars that littered the small parking lot until I reached the military vehicles on the other side. Before I rounded the corner, I looked back and saw Mercer nod his thanks when the soldiers surrounded him.

I didn't leave just yet. I knew it was stupid to watch, but I stayed. I couldn't hear anything but then I didn't have to. They began to corner him by a wall. "Wh-whoa wait, wait, wait," Mercer said with his hands up.

Suddenly, they let loose gunfire. I clasped a hand over my mouth to keep from screaming. Suddenly, Mercer started, what looked like, convulsing. Red, black, and gray tendrils swirled around him. The soldiers back off slightly and I could Mercer saying, "What's happening to me?!" when the troops let loose another crap load of bullets. They hit him but all Mercer did was absorb the impact. I stood there, horrified and amazed.

He stood there, just as amazed as I was and then he took off, bullets chasing him. A few of the soldiers chased after him, but it was futile. They stopped, only slightly defeated. Then, two of the soldiers came over by my hiding spot.

"Before he took off, he was looking at somethin' over," I heard one of the soldiers say.

"Yeah, let's check it. Might be an accomplice," another replied. Ah fuck! I thought. The soldiers began to approach my hiding spot. I took off before they could reach me. They rounded the corner but I was already down the alley. "Hey! After her!" one yelled. I ran and ran and ran.

I was not about to let them capture me.

I took off across the street, not bothering to use the crosswalk. A taxi skidded to a stop and I rolled across the hood. I landed and continued running. "Dumb bitch! What the hell are you doing!" I heard the taxi driver yell. It was always the taxis. Damned taxis!

I got home about fifteen minutes late. I scurried up the steps to my apartment and quickly opened the door-

To see Kate eating with the cute guy from the pizza store two blocks down. All Kate had to do was look at my face to know something was wrong. She didn't even need to tell the guy to leave. He nodded, thanked her for having him over, and left.

As soon as the door closed, she asked, "Okay, Ken, why are you all sweaty and what's with the freaked out look you're giving me?" I glared at her.

"Could you say that any louder?! He could be one of them!" I hissed and pointed at the door where Pizza Guy left.

"Who? Eric? One of whom? Ken, what are you talking about?"

I said nothing and walked quickly into my room. Kate knew enough to follow. When I was in the bedroom, I closed the door, and covered all the windows. I took another quick look around the room, looking anything that could be possibly bugged. When I was absolutely sure, I set my laptop on my bed and turned it on. "Okay," I started as the videos, information, and programs started uploading, "I'm not entirely sure but have you ever heard of Hope, Idaho?"


"That's because it was wiped off the planet in 1969." I grabbed the map I used earlier and laid it out on the bed next to the laptop. "See? It's not there!" I said.

Kate looked at the map and squinted. She checked the date of the map. "It was the most updated version I could find," I told her. Then, I began the long process of showing everything that I knew. Well, almost everything. I told her that that Mercer guy was alive but I didn't tell her that's who I went to find when I went out.

"This isn't good," Kate muttered.