gone_byebye: (Default)
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Coronach/Scobey Border Station Airport
Coronach, Saskatchewan


The problem with the Mounties' reputation for always getting their man, thought Constable Barnhardt, was that it was a world-wide reputation that even foreign powers relied on. Months ago, the Americans had notified them of an escaped fugitive heading for the border from one of their federal prisons. He'd been spotted twice, and both times fled the vicinity before the Canadian border patrol could do anything about him, but three days ago Walter Peck made the fatal mistake of crossing into Canada and threatening several citizens in the process. The man had no knack for subtlety at all. They'd caught him a day and a half later.

The extradition request had been filed yesterday. Constable Barnhardt was pretty sure these things were supposed to take longer, but she had her orders this morning: bring Peck to the border station airport just north of Scobey, Montana, and turn him over to the Americans who would be arriving shortly. "You all right back there?" she called, looking up into her car's rear view mirror.

The man was too pale to be healthy, his formerly neat (if prison-short) red hair spatched and speckled here and there with odd clumps of grey or white, and his eyes a little too wide and wild for Barnhardt's liking. Peck just glared back at the Mountie and said nothing.

"Fine, be that way," Constable Barnhardt murmured. She didn't especially care. The man was an ass.

It was still quiet in the car when she noticed the sedan making its way up towards the airport runway. She didn't really blame them. The winds were too high today for a plane to take off safely. The car pulled to a stop on the Coronach side and two men got out. A few badges and filled-out forms later, and the men were waved on through. "That's your ride," said Constable Barnhardt. "Out of the car, Peck."

She chose to ignore the man's muttering as she got out herself. "Afternoon, gentlemen," she called. "Papers and identification, please."

"Agent Daniels," said the first one. extending his FBI credentials with the bored air of someone who has done a thing a thousand times before. "Agent Mirren," said the other, and held up-

"What the hell kind of identification is that?"

"National Paranormal Activity Survey," said Mirren. "Mr. Peck constitutes an extraordinary flight risk based on his prior behavior in the States. We've had to take some extra precautions beyond the ones normally employed by the FBI."

"You mean like only sending two people for a fugitive your extradition request describes as extremely dangerous?"

"Constable," said Daniels, "Mr. Peck's inherent risk has little to do with the common definition of the term. I don't know if you've noticed, but we've got an ongoing arcane situation south of the border. Agent Mirren is one of our best men for dealing with exactly that sort of risk."

Barnhardt eyed the two Americans, then shrugged. "I don't know," she said. "If it were me-"

"Well, it wasn't you," said Daniels. "All the paperwork is in order. Can we have our prisoner, please?"

"Your funeral," said Barnhardt with a shrug. "Come on, Peck, move it."

She watched the Americans bundle him into the car, Mirren pausing to draw a number of peculiar signs on the doors and windows in some sort of faintly glowing substance, and watched them drive off with Peck in the back seat. With a sigh she turned back to her own car to start work on her report to her superiors.

Five minutes later the sky over Scobey, Montana lit up with eldritch fire.
gone_byebye: (Riva)
Saturday, October 6, 2007
2560 St. Ann's Avenue
North Bellmore, NY


Ray flopped back in one of his sister's chairs and rubbed at his face with both hands. He'd all but forgotten, over the course of his time in Melcene and Nyissa, just how badly his sister reacted to certain things. Oh, sure, she'd come to a measure of acceptance once, but between the Dr. Mezga incident and today's headlines, it really just wasn't a good week for her. At least she was still letting him teach the boys as his apprentices. He'd been worried about that. Of course, it helped that she was in Montauk just now and all he had to deal with was her husband, Alan.

"Hey, Ray?" called Alan from the kitchen. "Do you have any problems with ordering Chinese tonight? The boys and I don't usually bother with cooking when Catherine's away."

"No, I'm good," Ray said. "Do you have a menu?"

"Sure. Joey? Send your uncle a menu, would you?"

"I need a line of sight, uncle Ray!"

Ray headed into the kitchen. Alan Haff, a tall, somewhat angular man in his late thirties, watched with some amusement as his five year old son concentrated fiercely on the paper lying on the kitchen counter. A few moment later it lifted into the air and wafted its way over to where Ray was standing. "Thank you," Ray said.

"You're welcome, Uncle Ray," said Joey. "Dad, can I go play in the backyard?"

"Only if you and Alex are back inside by the time the delivery man rings the doorbell," said Alan. Joey nodded and dashed out the back door.

"Wow," said Ray. "I didn't know you guys were letting them use their talents so casually around here."

"We're not," said Alan. "Not usually, anyway. I don't want them taking it so lightly that they start abusing it in public."

"Thank you," said Ray as he scanned the poultry section of the menu. "That makes my job a lot easier, having their parents' support."

"I don't know that I'd go that far," said Alan wryly. "Catherine's still not enthusiastic about the prospect, you know."

"I know," Ray admitted. "I'm really sorry. I don't know what else to tell you guys, except that with the way they're doing it now, it probably would've hit a little before puberty whether I was here or not."

Alan nodded slowly, leaning against the counter. "We owe you some thanks, then," he said. "It could've gone a lot worse, huh?"

"It really could've," Ray said. "You know, I probably should've said this months ago, but you're taking this a lot better than I ever thought you would."

"Because I'm married to your sister?" Alan asked, amused.

"Well-" Ray hesitated; Alan held up a hand.

"Ray, there's something you ought to know. I need to ask you not to mention it to Catherine. She really wouldn't take it very well."

Ray eyed the other man with more than a little suspicion. "What?" he asked warily.

"Nothing harmful. At least, not as far as I know. It's... more of a reputation thing, or at least it was originally. But it's a big part of why I'm not as taken aback by all this as my wife. Promise me you won't tell her I said this?"

"If you insist," said Ray, the menu forgotten in his hand.

Alan nodded. "All right. It's like this. My great-grandmother on my father's side came over from England when she was a young woman, looking for work as a nurse. Great-grandma Lil never really talked about her family growing up, and I got the impression she didn't really like 'em very much. I didn't find out about why until I did some genealogical research."

Ray winced. "That's never a good thing," he said. "Should I sit down?"

"Probably not," said Alan. "It's not all that big a thing now, but back then- well, it was enough to make Great-Grandma Lil very, very happy to take Sam Haff's last name when she got married. It just turned out that she'd been giving the rest of the family a fake maiden name all along, too."

"Uh huh," Ray said; he still wasn't sure he shouldn't be sitting down for this.

Alan shrugged. "I don't really blame her," he said. "Remember, this was the 1920's. The last name 'Crowley' wasn't exactly a ticket to popularity in polite society."

Ray blinked a few times. "You don't mean as in-"

"I don't know, Ray, I honestly don't. Great-Grandma Lil's Ellis Island papers said her mother's name was Rose Kelly, and that she was a divorcee. I haven't had the chance to look her up any more than that, but the one time I looked up Crowley in the encyclopedia, he was married to a woman named Rose Edith Kelly for a while."

"Oh, man," said Ray. "Considering that the popular press was calling him the wickedest man in the world for ages-"

"You can see why my great-grandmother wouldn't've wanted to have a name even the least bit associated with him, whether they were related or not," Alan confirmed. "And why it would be something of a family tradition to keep it quiet. Great-Grandma wanted her kids to be respectable citizens, and she kept my grandfather and his siblings as far from any unusual or weird studies and interests as possible. Grandpa Richard wouldn't even let my father dress up and go trick-or-treating at Halloween. The way I see it, you don't really put that much emphasis on keeping quiet about something unless there's a really good chance that it's for real."

"And you don't worry so much about kids getting interested in weird things-"

"Unless they're likely to turn weird on you," Alan confirmed. "So... you can see why I'm not really all that surprised about the boys. Or about what you do. Or anything else that's been going on lately, for that matter."

"Wow. So what are you going to do about it?"

"Do?" Alan shrugged. "Nothing to do. I'm a family practitioner, Ray. That's all. Nothing spectacular, nothing extraordinary. My sons are the extraordinary ones in this family. If they inherited it from a great-great-grandfather I'm not even sure about, so what? All the more reason to make sure that someone morally trustworthy teaches them how to use them. God knows Catherine and I aren't suited to it, and Sensei Chris and Sensei Darren have their hands full already."

"Thanks," Ray said, grateful and a little bit awed. "I don't know what to say."

"Well, you can start by saying what you want for dinner. I'm starved."
gone_byebye: (President Winston)
Friday, October 5, 2007
Presidential Oceanside Retreat
Ogunquit, Maine


". . . so that's the deal, Mr. President. The NPAS field staff's been filing so many reports that the director's gonna file his official preliminary report next week."

President Randall M. Winston, Jr., sighed; his attention was partly on the Secretary of State's words and partly on what he was trying to do with a fish hook and a lead sinker, and both activities were suffering for it. "Correct me if I'm wrong, Mike," he said, "but aren't they jumping the gun a little on this? I seem to remember the plan was for a two year survey."

"It was, sir." Mike Flaherty was, if anything, significantly worse than the President at anything to do with fishing. He privately suspected that he got invited to Ogunquit more often than not precisely because of this fact. Still, one had to keep up appearances, and so he was half-heartedly fiddling with his own reel as he waited for some sign that the President was paying attention. "But I gotta say, Mr. President, I've seen a bunch of their reports myself. I don't know that we even really need to finish the national survey for anything except a baseline. . ."

"Ow! Stupid hook. . . I'm sorry, Mike." The President stuck his thumb in his mouth a moment. "It's really that bad out there, huh?"

"Sir, according to the field reports, at least fifteen states are showing the exact same signs of all hell breaking loose as New York City did back in early 2003. Some places more than others."

Winston leaned against one of the pier's pilings, tightening the knot on his hook one last time. "Gimme a for instance."

"Skokie, Illinois," Flaherty said immediately. "The Illinois Nazi Party was assembling for a court-protected march down the main street of town on September the first-"

"Ooh. Talk about timing."

"Yes, Mr. President. Anyway, the Party members had assembled for their march when fourteen hundred witnesses, including an NPAS field researcher who was on her way to an assignment in Crystal Lake, all saw a 1980 black-and-white Dodge sedan materialize in the middle of the street and drive straight into the middle of the Nazis."

"Mike," said the President patiently, "that's a scene from The Blues Brothers."

"I'm aware of that, Mr. President. Agent Goldberger said the sedan vanished a moment later, only to re-materialize once the Nazis had reassembled. They didn't bother getting out of the way this time." Flaherty paused. "Old Orchard Hospital's psychiatric admissions room had to use a fire hose to get rid of all the ectoplasm."

"Huh," said the President, his fishing rod all but forgotten. "Okay, anything else? Maybe something a little less movie-inspired this time?"

"Ghosts do have a tendency to be associated with stories told the same way over and over again, Mr. President," Flaherty pointed out. "But sure. St. Augustine, Florida, is experiencing a major surge in their tourism-based economy ever since an NPAS field research team verified that the Old Drug Store- that's it's actual name, before you ask-"

"I wasn't going to ask."

"Yes you were, sir, I could see it. The Old Drug Store was built on a Native American burial site, and as of this past April, four of the Seminoles buried there have been sighted and photographed harassing the tourists. The NPAS team was there for a week. They've got video footage, film footage, sworn testimony, and a torn shirt from two frat guys from Cleveland who irritated the Seminoles."

"Huh," said the President again.

"And then there's pretty much the entire state of Massachusetts," said Flaherty. "It's incredible, sir. Starting with what they found when the NPAS guys got to go out on a Woods Hole expedition-"

"Yeah," said a slick, faintly gurgly voice from the water at their feet. "About that."

Flaherty scrambled backwards several steps as a pair of big, blue-grey, webbed-fingered hands clapped themselves onto the pier. The being that pulled itself up a moment later was shaped not unlike a man, if one looked past the blue-grey skin, the fins where hair probably ought to have been, the other fins running along its spine and the backs of its limbs, the almost total lack of nose, the widely-spaced unblinking eyes, and the very very visible gills. Flaherty had just enough time to think We don't pay those Secret Service frogmen enough to deal with this before it shook itself off and said, "Mr. President. . . we gotta talk."

The only thing that kept Winston from leaping off the other side of the pier in terror was the fact that Mike Flaherty was in the way.
gone_byebye: (Riva)
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Ben's Kosher Deli
209 W. 38th Street
Manhattan, NY


Ray dropped into his usual seat at his usual table without taking a menu- all the waitstaff here knew his preferences by now- and waited. He'd gotten as far as thanking the waitress for his soda before a very cranky voice said in his ear, "I'm not even supposed to be here today."

"Why on Earth not?" Ray said, glancing sideways. Grandpa Maxim was as solid as Ray had ever seen him. Some days it was hard to remember the old man had been dead since Ray was thirteen.

"Shemini Atzeret started last night at sundown. Don't you pay attention to the calendar?"

"Only the really big days," Ray said. "Sorry."

Maxim Stantz snorted and moved his seat around to the other side of the table. "So," he said. "What's so important that you had to show up here early today, anyway?"

"Well," said Ray, "there was the incident last week with the scientist at the Natural History Museum raising most of their extinct mammals from the dead."

"I saw that. Giant robots, Raymond?"

"One of them was a friend and one of them was a complete surprise, believe me," Ray said dryly. "We're hoping not to have to do anything that spectacular in future."

"Probably wise. Your friend Chen's got an inquiry board appointment because of it."

"I know. He told me." Ray glanced around for the waitress, but it was starting to get busy. "I was going to mention my daughter next, but you obviously heard about that already. We're planning on going up to Ulster County somewhere sometime soon to get her used to the new form's capabilities without disturbing anybody too much."

Maxim nodded. "Wise idea. The less witnesses, the better."

"Yeah, that's what I figured," said Ray. "And then there's the part where I've stopped aging completely and became immune to poisons and stopped getting sick and lived forty-seven years in the past of another world before I finally managed to get back to here."

"Okay, I- wait. What?"

"You heard me, Grandpa." Ray leaned forward across the table. "It took me a while to notice, but I noticed, all right. Talk about having to get ready for serious long-term planning."

"Uh-"

"Grandpa Maxim, I swear on the grave of Charles Proteus Steinmetz, if you had any idea this was going to happen to me and you didn't tell me about it, I'm gonna spit in the pastrami sandwich when you're not looking."
gone_byebye: (Riva)
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Clyde Tombaugh Science Operations Center
Boulder, CO


"Move over, Charlie," called a woman's voice from down the hall. "Dr. Bishop and the guys from Jodrell Bank are here."

"Thank you," said another woman's voice.

Charlie Rapoza grinned and started scooting chairs away from the custom-built, specially low instrumentation panel. T-SOC had been planning for a visit from Britain for months, and these days anything involving British space science involved Dr. Campbell, and by default, Dr. Bishop. Sure enough, the distinctly tinny sound of Dr. Campbell's piped-out voice spoke up: "I do hope you've got something promising for us today, after all the rot they put us through to get here..."

The go-kart wheeled around the doorframe and into the control room, Dr. Campbell's cylinder gleaming under the fluorescent lights. Dr. Campbell had achieved an amazing amount of mobility and control over the thing since his return to Earth last December, but it was still a little unwieldy. "Hallo, Rapoza," the cylinder called. "They tell us you've been getting some nice snaps from the Pluto Kuiper Express?"

As the rest of the English delegation- three scientists Rapoza didn't know and Dr. Bishop, who'd become Campbell's inseparable companion almost as soon as they'd stepped off the spaceplane- filed into the room, Rapoza nodded. "Sure have," he said. "Alice, LORRI, and PEPSSI're all churning out the kinds of feeds we used to only dream of. Need any help hooking yourself up?"

Campbell's cart fit snugly into the space allotted in the belly of the instrumentation panel. "No, I'm fine, thanks," the cylinder answered. "Dr. Bishop, everyone?"

A murmur of assent went up from Dr. Bishop and the English scientists.

"All right, then," said Campbell's cylinder. "Let's see what your girls have to show us."

Rapoza nodded and signaled the other engineers. The control room for the Express was at APL, in Maryland, but this was where the scientific instruments were controlled from, and they got the first look at all the incoming data. Alice was the probe's ultraviolet, X, and gamma imaging spectrometer. PEPSSI was the plasma sensor. As for LORRI, the images coming in off the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager were up on the room's main screen. Pluto wasn't much more than a glimmer in the distance, of course, but considering the technology involved it was one of the most detailed glimmers in NASA history. The British scientists were chattering excitedly to one another and to Dr. Ciaglia, the woman who'd brought them in, mostly asking about comparisons to earlier deep visual field imaging taken from Earth orbit. Rapoza was more than happy to let her handle that. Alice was his baby, and it warmed his heart to see that Dr. Campbell's own monitoring screen was flooding with data from the spectrometer.

With very strange data from the spectrometer.

"Dr. Campbell?" said Rapoza, leaning forward to peer at the screen. "What in the hell are you looking at?"

"I was about to ask you the same thing," the cylinder said grimly. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Pluto proper that cluster of pixels just right of center?"

"Coulda sworn it was," said Rapoza. "Let me try something with my controls-"

The image that Alice was returning looked... well, honestly? If he'd seen a visual spectrum camera spit up an image like that, he would've told somebody to go wipe the lens off. It looked like Alice was doing the equivalent of peering through a huge, distorting raindrop. They'd all been looking forward to getting a look at Pluto's atmosphere, but Alice shouldn't've been able to pick up on that just yet. Hell, the Express wasn't even as close as Neptune's orbit yet. No way it ought to've been picking up that kind of gamma distortion. It looked-

"Son of a bitch," Rapoza swore. "That thing's the size of Earth! What the hell?"

"It's not there on LORRI," said Dr. Ciaglia, peering over Rapoza's shoulder. "There's nothing at all in the visual spectrum- Dr. Campbell, would you mind?"

Obligingly, Campbell switched the image on his screen for a visual of corresponding size and placement. Pluto was exactly where they'd left it, but in the space marked out by Alice's scans there was no corresponding object. There were even a few stars visible in the distance. Campbell's cylinder hummed briefly as the disembodied scientist fiddled with the two images, and then superimposed LORRI's readout over Alice's.

Either Pluto's atmosphere was sufficiently large and active in the farthest gamma portion of the EM spectrum as to mimic that of a planet the size of Earth, or something was very, very wrong. Rapoza swore under his breath and turned back to his panel. "It was working five minutes ago," he muttered. "It was just fine five minutes ago. I've got the damn diagnostics-"

"I don't doubt you do." Campbell's tinny voice was surprisingly gentle. "I doubt very much that this is a flaw in your machinery, Mr. Rapoza. This is something else entirely."

Dr. Bishop's fingers tightened on the top-most part of the cylinder.

"'The sun shines there no brighter than a star,'" Campbell quoted, his voice not much more than a mechanized whisper, "'but the beings need no light. They have other subtler senses, and put no windows in their great houses and temples...'"
gone_byebye: (Default)
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Columbia University


Henry Yager ran a hand over his face and wished deep in his heart that he had had the sense, years ago, to say 'screw you all' and go into a field less rife with controversy and second-guessing. Tobacco farming, for example, or the mining and production of asbestos. Or pornography. There was always a market for pornography, and nobody outside the field cared very much what direction the management of any given company took or whether they made any radical course changes. Oh, sure, you worked with some thoroughly revolting people on the management side, and the actors and models probably had better things to do with their time, but really. How did that differ from what he was doing now?

He pushed the thought away and told himself firmly that this was a matter of the Public Interest. At the time he and the University trustees had made their original decision, it had made perfect sense. There'd been no results. There'd been no respectable papers. The closest any of them had ever gotten to being published in a peer-reviewed journal had been the Fortean Times, for God's sake! Of course the university wasn't going to keep throwing good money after bad. Nobody knew at the time- there was no way of predicting any of this...

It wasn't his fault. No one could say it was his fault. Even the donors had agreed it wasn't his fault. He'd done what had made sense at the time, and now it made sense to take an entirely different tack. And that was the problem. At the time, he'd done the right thing. What he was doing now was also the right thing. But this was New York City, and the subtle distinctions between one time and the other would be lost on the vast majority of the Fourth Estate. They'd never let him live it down, a thought that lingered in his mind as he fumbled for his bottle of prescription antacids and shook out half a handful. He choked the lot of them down with water as he looked over the official announcement one last time.

New York, NY -- For the second time in University history, Columbia University has established a diploma program in Parapsychology. The program, beginning next autumn, will be administered by a committee authorized jointly by the Psychology and Anthropology Departments. Frances Stuehrenberg, of the Sheldon Scheps Memorial Library, will serve as its director...

Dean Yager rubbed at his face and thought to himself, There are not enough days in the week for all the therapy I'm going to need.
gone_byebye: (Riva)
Monday, October 1, 2007
Burger Lord Restaurant #4389



"Welcome to Burger Lord, home of the all-new twelve-piece teriyaki chicken nuggets Daimyo Meal," said Bill O'Connell, man at the drive-thru window, for the fifteenth time that day. "May I take your order, please?"

He'd gotten to the point where he didn't even have to hear the customers' full words to know what they were going to ask for, even the hesitant ones who wobbled back and forth on what they wanted and the really annoying ones who thought it was funny to ask for seventy-five dollars' worth of food at a single pass. He'd reached that point on day three. The crushing depression that set in when he realized that he'd come found his calling and it was in fast food had led him to pull a number of fairly stupid stunts in the hopes of getting fired. So far they hadn't, not even hacking his terminal so that he had Internet access beyond the Burger Lord corporate network. Just now he was seeing how many Youtube videos he could watch before getting a reprimand.

He clicked on one marked Chelsea Piers Kaiju Battle and started tapping in the customer's order. Then he actually looked at the screen.

The next customer had to lean on her horn to get his attention.




"Sir," said O'Connell to Alphonse Jannot, manager of Burger Lord Restaurant #4389, "there's something I really think you should see."

"If you're trying to get fired again, O'Connell, it's not going to happen," said Jannot. "Both of us are stuck in this hellhole until sweet, sweet death comes for us. Believe me-"

"Sir," said O'Connell urgently, "it's about the Ghostbusters."

Jannot froze.

"Dr. Stantz in particular."

"Shit," said Jannot under his breath. "What've they dug up now?"

"I, uh... it's not about us, sir. I don't think they even know we're still alive."

"Then why are you bothering me about it?" snapped Jannot. "Aren't things bad enough?"

"I kind of thought you should see it before you accidentally turned on a news program and burst a blood vessel or something, sir," said O'Connell. "I know you don't watch TV any more, but just in case."

Jannot paused. "How bad is it?" he asked warily.

"Well, ah..." O'Connell rubbed at the back of his neck. "Remember how the final tech assessment we had on them said that they had roughly enough firepower to take over the West African nation of their choice?"

"Yeeeees...."

"I feel safe in saying that that can be expanded to include the rest of the continent and pretty much any of the non-nuclear powers east of the Caucasus Mountains, sir."

Alphonse Jannot, manager of Burger Lord Restaurant #4389- and nothing but manager of Burger Lord Restaurant #4389- watched the video, and put his head in his hands, and wept.
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