This is the fourth installment of a relatively new piece, Meteor Man. First written in July ’94, I was never satisfied with it until my last rewrite this past September.
It’s a longish piece at 11,300 words, so I’ve broken it into five sections. I hope it’s worth it.
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Read Meteor Man (part 1).
Read Meteor Man (part 2).
Read Meteor Man (part 3).
Meteor Man (part 4)
Geertz and Meninquez stood on opposite sides of the five man digteam. All of them were huddled around a hole in the lower right corner of The Wall barely large enough for a surgical needle to move through. Behind them Singer and La Velle’s asher held racks of floodlights in its mormons so they could see. Behind their asher sat the second asher placed for ascent.
Geertz kept his reader at The Wall, constantly checking for any anomalies in the glyphs. “Go ahead.”
A minute later the cutter had opened a probe-sized hole on the inner surface of The Wall. He glanced at the cutter’s progress on another reader. “Stop.”
Meninquez came over to the reader. “What is it?”
“I didn’t want the cutter to enter the inner world. I just wanted it to make a hole. Now we’re going to send the probe through. It’ll be more able to tell us if there’s something over there.”
One of the team members opened his pack and placed a surgical-sized, gray missile on the ground. Where there should have been a warhead was a black diamond structure. Each third of the missile’s length was demarcated by a ruby ring. The man handed the guidebox to Geertz who fitted it to his reader.
He tapped the reader’s plate and a deep red aura surrounded the needle, lifting it in its own repeller matrix as it crawled along the ground to The Wall. There it rose vertically until the black diamond and the rest of the needle behind it were even with the hole.
Geertz guided it as everyone watched its progress on the reader. The needle had moved through The Wall. The black diamond, ever so slowly, poked its head through to see what was inside.
Meninquez came up beside him. “Turn on the viewer. Let’s see what’s in there.”
Geertz tabbed the viewer on.
The Wall dissolved without a trace. Before the team could pull back, before Meninquez could order them out or to cover or throw down a guard, before Geertz could summon his surrogate eyes back through The Wall, the entire structure gone in a burst of silence, as if it had never been.
Only the glyphs remained.
They hung in space in the position they had while buried within. The needle, not having any commands coming in, automatically turned to inspect the energy source which were the glyphs themselves and showed them still there, now blazing inside a small black sun.
Only Geertz moved. Meninquez and his team were frozen, holding their hands over their faceplates, guarding against an avenging angel.
There was a pull which Geertz sensed more than felt and the light from Singer and La Velle’s asher bent until it became a funnel feeding into the glyphs in the center of that sun. One by one the asher’s floods winked out and the cavern was in darkness.
Meninquez commed, “What just happened?”
Geertz’s reader illuminated his face. “Whatever’s inside is powered by an energy selective gravity source. It pulled in non-living EM, but not us, not living EM.”
Meninquez nodded. “Advanced.”
“Or it knows we’re here.” Geertz moved through. “Rolfson?”
She appeared beside him and became the only light in there, her human face smiling in the mask of the virtual suit she wore. “I’m here, Donald.”
“Can you determine which wavelength this was designed for?”
“The creatures who built this,” she paused. Her hands lifted from her sides and she circled the black glyphic sun, a moth in a universe of flame. “They had only one sense and used it for all things.” She paused and spun as the glyphic sun engulfed her. Her image dissolved then reconstituted as the sun melted away. “That which attracts, that which keeps away.”
She said nothing.
“I don’t understand what you mean, ‘that which attracts, that which keeps away.’”
Again she dissolved. The sun reappeared between him and the rest of the team. Her voice came into his helmet. “This one can exist only so long as somewhere the other exists.” She reconstituted but further in.
He shrugged, attributing her behavior to interference, perhaps from The Wall itself. “Magnetism? Monopoles?”
“Then how can you stay here?”
“I can’t.” She lifted her right arm and pointed to her left. He hadn’t noticed, but her left side slowly dissolved. In the complete blackness of the glyphic sun he could see individual photons of her image pull away and, like meteors in a dense atmosphere, blaze bright then fade away.
“What is this place?”
“A remembrance, I think.”
“Of what? I can’t see.”
“Come.” Without waiting for a reply, her image swirled as if sucked into some vortex and fled down a rhombic passageway.
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