The Sixth

Episode 3 – Oblivion’s Dreamer

Kevin Allen – Writer ♦♦♦ Melissa Bird – Editor ♦♦♦ Tia Myricks – Production ♦♦♦ Krystal Clear Logics – Promotion and Digital Marketing

Seven figures run from a dimly lit, adjoining underpass of a sewage tunnel. The figures stop short inside the tunnel cavity they arrive in. Haggard breaths echo off grungy concrete. Their faces drenched in sweat. They glance around observantly. There is only sewer-grade concrete, extending far as the eye can see. The wall gets darker in the distance and pitch black farther from the group’s location.

It had taken just over an hour to run the ten miles to relative safety. They hoped no one picked them up on any tracking or surveillance equipment, or worse, tracked by sniffers; people with telepathic powers like some of the folks in the group. Amplified by the energies being forced into them, the lights in the tunnel glow brighter.

The group had walked the first mile to keep the noise level to a minimum. They wanted to lessen any chance they’d be detected. They took turns masking each other best they could, during the trip through the tunnels. They took turns switching to guarding the ones doing the masking to help with fatigue. Gencor baddies, armed to the teeth, had at least five guns to each person. After the first mile, it was all out to avoid getting caught by enemy nets. Gencor retrieval units were thorough, Hunter reminded the group more than once.

“We won’t have time to dilly-dally.” Hunter looks around at a woman who looks to be in her early twenties. Long black hair, quite petite and short. “Mikah, get the tube ready. We need to clear out.” He looks at Javier and another man. “Javier, Michael – sweep the place and make sure we don’t leave anything behind. We need to be neat. You have two minutes.” The three run to their duties. “Simone, I need to know if there’s anything following us. Make sure you don’t get snooped.”

Simone nods. She takes a deep breath and her eyes become almost absent.

“The three of us stay close to her.” Hunter orders two the two remaining people standing close. “Danny, tap in. If she sees anything I want to know without her having to get distracted by telling us. We need to keep our eyes peeled.” Hunter says to the young girl who hadn’t been assigned a duty. No sense in taking chances. She nods and turns in the opposite direction from him.

Danny, an older man with a baldhead and stone gray eyes, takes a deep breath. His focus is on Simone. His eyes become distant too. He instantly shares her thoughts. Mentally viewing all that Simone senses. She doesn’t react to his presence.

Within a minute Javier and Michael, return to report cleared and ready. Another thirty seconds and Mikah appears to let them know the tube is ready. The tube is a small passenger rail built like a futuristic bullet car with tiny rubber wheels, all-metal, painted sand-gray with zero windows. It seats ten and is propelled by telekinesis and a self-propulsion system that keeps moving till brakes are applied. There are zero electronic equipment and relies heavily on there being one psychic who can sense ahead. Breaks are applied the same way it starts, telekinesis.

Minutes later the lights in the tunnel dim to their original appearance. The sewage tunnel is again the darkened grunge it was before the lights were brightened. The elongated sand-gray bullet moves forward picking up speed. Thirty seconds after it starts coasting the bullet begins to move at a quicker clip until it is a blur in the shadows.

William and Mikah, in the front and rear seats respectively, give an all clear. William will need to keep focus so they don’t hit anything or slow down in case of obstruction ahead. Mikah will keep propelling forward from her seat in back.

“With them that close, we’ll need to make sure the encryption held, soon as we get to HQ.” Javier is staring at Hunter, who nods.

Seated next to Simone is, Rory who had been given guard duty with Hunter. Her green eyes are focused on the conversation between Javier and Hunter. Partly on Simone. They have been friends for some time and she knows when Simone isn’t feeling like her usual self. There was that troubled look to her now. She also knows Simone and Cory became fast-friends and that Simone has a big crush on the guy. To lose him like that must be devastating. But Rory will not give her away.

The look on Simone’s face is anguish and, Rory knows Simone well enough to know she wanted a hug. A good friend to tell her Cory is going to be ok, and that his decision is not her fault. Not here though. She would never do that with Hunter or Javier so close. Javier would never let Simone live it down. Simone would not want to seem weak in front of Hunter.

Rory also knows how much blame Simone put on herself when Cory went home in spite of all the warnings he got from senior members. It makes no logical sense, but Simone is not the most rational girl in the world when she is stressed out. Simone got stressed the minute Cory left the compound and stayed stressed. The stress is showing now.

But more importantly, Rory knows, “we’ll likely need to scrub everything Cory touched. No telling what they’ll get out of him.” Simone and Cory talked extensively. No need to mention that, everyone knew. They puzzled over how much Simone talked with Cory around her. Simone wasn’t exactly a talker. She only became one when Cory is around her.

Hunter nods absently.

Javier smiles at, Rory. One day she will make a fine lead. “It is on the agenda once we get back.” Javier assures her. Then looks at Hunter. “Right Hunter?”

“Right.” Hunter says absently.

They all look at each other wondering what his problem is. But before anyone could ask, Rory spits out the obvious. “And, with all the warnings Cory got, we need to know why he went home. We should assume something happened and he found out about it. Which, if true, would also bring up other questions.” She takes a quick side-long glance at, Simone.

Hunter looks at her. “What would make you think that?” No one would take anything Rory said lightly. Not Hunter. Though only nineteen, Rory had the intelligence and maturity of a sage ten times her age.

Rory shrugs. Simone gives her a playful jab with her shoulder. “He’s a private kid. But he had been listening.” Rory observes. “The last few days, he’s been distracted. Simone can tell you. He didn’t say much to anyone, not even her.”

“Why didn’t either of you say anything?” Hunter looks at Rory, then Simone.

“Didn’t seem like a big deal.” Simone broods.

“That’s obviously not the case.” William objects.

“Cory has been moody since we busted him out of that dungeon.” Simone argues. “I just thought he was upset about something I said.” Why couldn’t she just say ‘to him’? Was it that hard to admit that?

“Do we even wanna know?” Javier’s lips almost tear with a seedy grin.

“No!” Simone glowers. No way was she going to tell Javier what she said to Cory or that she even said anything to him. Something she said would have to do. If anyone else told Javier, Simone would make sure they didn’t know their own names by morning.

Rory giggles.

“Anyway,” Simone continues after a quick, spiteful glare at Rory. “Cory was moodier than usual until we found out he went home to see his mother. We all know what happened next.”

“Does anyone else know this?” Hunter asks.

The girls shake their heads. They hadn’t told anyone. They weren’t going to tell anyone what happened between Simone and Cory either. Simone didn’t want anyone to know she told Cory that he wasn’t her type. It was all Rory’s fault. Rory told him Simone had a crush on him and he didn’t look too happy about it.

Simone assumed Cory seemed disturbed by the news because he didn’t like her. He’d been in a bad mood before that, so when Simone saw the look on Cory’s face she blurted that Rory was lying. She said Cory wasn’t the type of boy she liked, in case he really didn’t like her. The way he looked, she panicked. What girl wouldn’t under those circumstances?

Simone went into detail about the type of guys she liked too. Tall, dark, handsome, blond. Cory was tall but he was black. There were no blond hairs on his head or anywhere else Simone could see. Not that she was going to ask to see anywhere she couldn’t see readily. Now though, Simone wished she would have told him how she felt. She wants to tell Cory he is an idiot for going home too.

Sure, Cory is eight years older. But Simone wouldn’t mind if he admitted he liked her. He was the first older guy she has ever liked. Well, he is the first guy Simone had ever talked to as much as she did and felt good about it. She genuinely liked Cory. She would enjoy hearing him say he liked her, instead of always rubbing the top of her head.

“Does anyone else need to know this?” Simone demurs.

Before Hunter could say anything, the bullet car’s speed begins a quick, steady descent folding its passengers forward in uncomfortable plastic seats. It then comes to an abrupt halt just as fast. No one says anything. William has his hands stretched out to either side, in the front seat, and is completely focused ahead.

“They’re coming this way.” Mikah says. She does her best to remain calm.

“How many?’ Hunter is concerned. His eyes are forward like he can see out of the metal.

After ten or so seconds, Javier says, “I count twenty. I can’t make out two of them.”

“Sniffers!” William says. “They’ll bump into us if we hide. There are too many of them not to. They must have been shielding each other.”

“They might hear us if we reverse. They’re really close.” Mikah panics just a little. “Will is right, they’ll walk into us if we stay here.”

“They’ll also find out how we’re getting around, if they find us down here.” Rory adds. She looks around the car. That could create a bigger problem than being found. “Simone, you’re going to need to focus on keeping us hidden.” Rory begins thinking. Strategies run the gamut of her mind. Whatever they do must be done quickly.

“No, we need to get out of here!” Danny argues. “They find us here, it’s lights out. We don’t know what they have with them. But we know we’re outnumbered and don’t know the extent of the sniffers’ powers or the grade of their weapons.”

“No!” Rory says defiantly. Her eyes harden. “Simone, hide us! Danny, you need to shield us from the Sniffers.” She looks at Hunter hoping for his help. But all she sees are his brown eyes waiting for her to finish her thought. Good enough. “Mikah, William, and Javier will need to lift the car off the ground and hold it so they pass under. I’ll focus on the shadows.”

Javier looks to Hunter. Hunter still looks lost in thought. It could be because he has no power to speak of, but they’d been in worse situations. This wasn’t like Hunter, especially with danger so close.

“We’ve never lifted anything this heavy before.” Mikah argues.

“First time for everything.” Hunter confirms. Rory grins her appreciation.

Simone is the first to relax. Closes her eyes. Takes a deep breath. Feels the smooth outer skin of the car cool against her thoughts. Danny joins her, feeling first the minds he could find. He searches farther and farther. There are several others in separate directions coming toward the same point, eight miles back, under the house Gencor caught Cory in. If they had tried to escape they would have been trapped. Danny fights hard against eight minds trying to probe for psychic energy.

Light floods the tunnel, cascading the bullet car. It vanishes just as the armed unit comes in view of the tunnel it is in. The lights sweep the tunnel. Left. Right. Up. Down.

Armed units in black tactical fatigues move forward in a flared-line, snaking their way toward the car’s last location. They stop and pan lights attached to pistols and rifles all around the cavity. A woman in particular stands still right where the bullet car was, her hands in front of her like she can feel it still there.

Her eyes move slowly through the light beams offered by the tactical lighting. She scours every inch of the tunnel for any signs of a shadow out of place. Then she doubles her search and slows so she sees everything. The armed soldiers with her point their weapons and lights in all direction, even directly above them. Nothing.

She touches the right side of her head. “Report!”

“Grid eight is clean.” The report buzzes in her ear.

“Keep moving forward.” She orders. One last look around confirms nothing. It must have been anxiety that made her feel something here. She would have picked up a psychic trail if there were anyone down here. Her team and four others, consisting each of thirty people, two Sixths to each unit, were the only people down here. That boy had to have been searching for something, the way he was attentive to the basement walls. They had found a few homeless people.

Four teams were sent into the sewers casting a closing net in all directions. Other teams were going house to house with badges and questions above ground. A dangerous suspect had been caught. The authorities wanted to make sure no one was injured before he was apprehended.

“Move out!” She gives the command and lets the soldiers march past her. Four guards stand with her until she starts moving. They will intersect with the other team they are assigned to about three neighborhoods over. They will cover twenty miles by the time they were done. There was a nice bonus if they found anything useful.

So far they were only getting sore feet, parfum de sewage, and frustrated.

It was no less than five minutes after the armed unit had gone the bullet car reappeared on the concrete. It moved cautiously after its occupants did a check to make sure they were clear. Picked up speed as it drove along till it was a blur again.

“Every muscle in my brain hurts.” William complains from the front of the car.

“Can’t be too bad for you then, can it?” Simone sasses.

“Listen here, missy, I…”

“Stay alert!” Javier orders. They need to stay focused.

Hunter adds. “Simone, you and Danny keep a lookout so Mikah and William can keep this thing moving.”

Ninety percent of adult life for Cory Raymond has been filled with four letter words. On occasion, it is the higher end of the ninetieth percentile. Some days Cory gets really creative with those four letter words he’s learned to use efficiently. Cory learned them all while adulting and he would swear to that.

Cory is thoroughly tempted to use all of those four letter words right now. Those same ones he’ll swear he learned as an adult. The man trying to get him to talk was begging Cory to use them in no particular order.

It didn’t matter that it had been God knows how long since Cory had been silent. The man kept up the conversation on his own. It was actually pissing Cory off. He didn’t know how long he’s been here, how he got here, or where here is, matter of fact. But he’s here being forced to listen.

The uncertain situation is the worst. Cory doesn’t know if he is on his feet or suspended by something. He only knows the guy is in front of him yammering away.

More frightening, Cory isn’t really seeing the guy although he can see him. It is almost like he’s looking at the guy through some other eye. Not his. He can see the dark robe covering him. The bright sun behind the guy. Or is it the sun? The robes are heavy brown like you would see in those old shows or history books. Druids or priests and stuff.

The robe has a large hood that shadows the otherwise annoying guy’s head in complete darkness, even with the light coming from somewhere. It is a guy Cory knows. He’s known the guys since he was a teenager. He’s the reason Cory is in this mess in the first place. He is the reason Cory became a Sixth.

He’s been M.I.A. for nearly a year and a half. Cory wants to start his response with the letter F, adding three other letters to color it properly. The guy is asking for it.

It’s rude not to answer someone talking to you.” The annoying robe says.

Cory doesn’t answer. Eyes. Cory feels like his eyes are closed. Cory thinks it is odd because he can see the talking robes in front of him. It still feels like they’re closed. The whites of eyes are staring at him. Cory doesn’t know what to say. He should cuss his ass out and leave it there. That is all the jerk deserves.

Cory, we’re running out of time.” The robed jerk pleads.

“For what?” Cory hears his voice but doesn’t believe it came from him. It sounds slurred and muffled like he is drunk. It sounds far away.

Don’t use your voice.” The robes warn. “Talk to me with your mind.”

Cory focuses. It is hard. Harder than it usually is to tell someone something. It’s become a simple thing to tap into someone’s mind. Cory should be able to do it. Why can’t he?

Keep doing that.” The robe says. “Calm breaths. Focus. Remember?”

Cory recalls those words. That’s how this whole mess started. He was sixteen when the voice told him to be still. Keep trying. He was nineteen when he could hear it clearly. Cory had just turned twenty when he followed the advice of the guy and sent his mother’s favorite vase out the window of their second floor apartment. He worked overtime to replace that window. Cory owed the robed jerk a cussing for that.

Where…” Cory feels the tingle at the cortex and spinal cord first. It gets a little deeper each time he tries.

That’s it.” The jerk says. “Good work. Calmer. Focus. You’re doing great.”

Where am I?” Cory feels the words in places it is hard to feel. “Why do I feel like this? What happened? How did I get here?

I’ll tell you that after we talk.” The jerk says.

Where the hell have you been?” Cory demands. “Mom thought I was crazy. I thought I was crazy.”

I didn’t tell you to be an idiot, kid!”

Screw you!”

You should learn some manners, Cory.” The jerk reprimands. “Respect your elder.”

My elder, you’re not even real.” Cory chuckles. There is something else in the back of his mind he wants to say. He just can’t remember it right now. “They thought I was crazy when I told them I was hearing voices. You didn’t even answer me when I called you.”

Oh, but, Cory.” The robed jerk says. “I have been answering. And if you recall, I told you not to say anything to anyone. You’re the one who chose not to listen.”

So that gave you a right to not answer and then show up here?” Cory chuckles. “Know what, this is some sort of nightmare. Why the hell can’t I wake up?”

You’re still not listening.”

Why the hell should I listen to some hallucination?”

A sharp pain causes Cory to groan. His body twists with the sharp jab just beneath the left ear. The robed jerk is still staring at him from the black cloak. “We do not have much time so you need to listen.”

You keep saying that.” Cory says. “What’s going on and why should I listen to you?”

Because if you don’t you’re going to kill a lot of people, Cory.” There is a serious tone to his voice. “And you will regret every single one you kill, but you will not be able to stop it. You will kill until they decide you should stop. Then you’ll kill again when they send you to kill.

Cory wants to say something, but he feels the truth reverberating through the impression he gets from the jerk. Fear. Cory feels fear. Then something else. “Why are you angry?”

Because you’re my responsibility, Cory.” The robed jerk says. “I chose you. And it is up to me to stop you if you go on a rampage. I don’t want to do that.

Cory laughs. He could feel his body vibrate with laughter like he feels inside. “I’ve heard that one before. If you were around you’d know I’m one of the strongest Sixths in the world.”

There is a sudden surge in impression. More like a typhoon. Like the skies have opened and hell is being let loose. Cory feels raw energy surging through every part of his body. It takes root in his memories. His cells. It feels like he’s being pressed down and is unable to move. Cory realizes that the robed jerk is showing off.

Stop!” Cory manages.

The feeling ebbs. Cory feels relief. The jerk stares at him stoically. “Not even a fraction and I’m not the strongest you’ll run into.”

You’re real?” Cory gets an affirmation. “Who are you?”

The more important thing is, I need you to stay calm, Cory.” The jerk says. “I need you to tell me what happened to you at the wall. How did it feel to let go? And Brick, how did it feel when you finally beat him?”

I jumped, I didn’t let go of anything.” Cory thinks about it. He was being chased. How long ago was that? How did he escape them? He jumped over the wall. An impossible leap. And Brick. Brick was a power to be reckoned with. The man is able to lift three tons. “Brick got hit by that tree.”

Hm?” The jerk says. “How did the tree fall on him, Cory? You were hiding behind it.”

I was hiding because he was trying to crush me with those huge rocks.” How did the jerk know about that anyway? He wasn’t there.

How did the tree fall, Cory?

I don’t know.” Cory says. He feels a little stupid. What was the idiot asking him that for anyway. The tree fell over. It just fell. Was he really there watching and didn’t help?

Walk me through the end of that fight?” It was a demand.

Cory feels obligated to answer. Something was pushing at the back of his mind. “I moved behind the tree to hide when Brick, started heaving those huge boulders. I was… I was afraid. And when one of the rocks hit the tree I pushed it to make sure that if it fell I’d get pushed off it and not get hit too hard. I thought it was better than waiting for it to snap.”

Then what happened, Cory?” There is a slight shift, right, to the robes head.

Cory thinks. The tree cracked. He heard it. Then it felt a little weighty. Cory kept pushing at it until it started falling away from him. The tree had broken where the boulder smashed into it. The tree, Cory could recall, was in his hands. Then he let it go and it fell forward onto Brick.

That’s right, Cory. Tell me what happened to the tree?” The robed jerk says.

Cory is looking directly into the hood. He can see the eyes blinking. A question begins to form and he is forced to present it. “Did I break the tree?” As Cory recalled, the rock thrown by Brick had damaged the tree. But while he was trying to fend it off the tree’s root had snapped in two and the tree ended up in his hands.

“I don’t know, Cory. Did you break the tree?”

Cory blinks. Looks at the robe. The night he was being chased by the soldiers trying to take him back to the lab, he had felt that same defensive surge in power. The wall. When his legs compressed, he felt like he could have carried a ton up with him. Cory had felt light as a feather when he leapt off the ground.

Tell me what happened, Cory?” The robe asks, kinder now.

Cory lets it settle. “I broke the tree with my bare hands.” He says. Then asked what about the night he was being chased. “I think I could have jumped higher.”

How Cory?”

I got stronger!”

Cory sees teeth from a grin under the hood. A pleased grin. “That you did, Cory. How did you get stronger? Think it through before you answer. I need you to understand how.”

He needed to escape, Cory did. Both times. He needed to break free. He was being caged in by the soldiers that night in the alley. Brick was going to crush him with rocks. He needed to be stronger. Cory thinks. How? How did he get that strong?

Come on, Cory, you know how it happened.”

Cory’s breath begins to gush through his lips. He can feel it brimming again.

Calm. I need you to be calm, Cory. Till you know what happened, you need to be calm.”

Cory takes shallow breaths. Easy breaths until he’s calm again. Thinks. “I…” He thinks some more. The answer seems way too simple. It could not be that.

Why not, Cory?” Robe is staring straight at him.

Cory thinks. The guy has to be playing with him. Make him think. This is some sort of test. “Because,” Cory starts. “If I am afraid and that makes me stronger I’d be the most powerful man in the world. Wouldn’t I?” The way the eyes twitch under the hood makes Cory afraid to say anything else.

Could be. But how would you do that?”

Cory stares at the eyes looking back at him. “If you’re suggesting I can make myself stronger then why would I need to worry about anything? I could beat anybody?” Cory thinks.

The eyes blare white at Cory. “I am not saying a thing.”

It would be easy to deny. But Cory feels an overwhelming emotion aimed at him. Pride. “What?” Robes says nothing. “So I made myself stronger. How and why?

“You tell me?” Robes orders.

Overwhelming pride not his own, flows over Cory. There are shows, explanations, books on that sort of thing. Transient power. The ability to call up power when one wants to. In the case of Brick. Cory needed a way to defend against the attack. In the case of the wall, Cory needed a way to escape the soldiers.

I see.” Cory says. He feels a chill swimming through his being.

Tell me.”

I upped my strength.” It feels stupid saying it.

How, Cory?” Robes is focused on him.

The answer is simple. It sounds stupid. “I increased my strength to defend myself and to escape.” Cory says it anyway. “I can become stronger when I need to.”

Close enough.” Robes mocks. “I need you to understand how this works. Most of those who you’ll run across don’t. You should know your power and how it works.”

So you’re telling me I can become stronger anytime I need to?” Cory thinks. Gets no answer. “Like adrenaline strong?”

An exasperated groan stares at Cory. Then another figure appears next to the robes. This one is almost indiscernible from the wind itself. Cory just realizes it is there because he feels it staring at him. It has always been there, matter of fact. A familiar thing. How had he never noticed it before… now?

He reminds me of you.” The thing says.

Don’t start!” Robes whines.

Regardless.” The things says. “He should decipher your message for himself. He is the one that will need to do, for himself.”

I don’t think he’s ready.”

I will not count on what you think.” The thing vanishes from sight… or whatever it is that Cory was feeling.

He’s there alone with Robes again. “So you have a voice of your own, huh?”

Robes stares at Cory from under the hood of the cloak. A dangerously narrow glare. There is a hint of reddish brown in there. “Listen, kid. Don’t piss me off.” Robes says. “I need you to listen. I need you to keep calm while listening. You’re almost close enough that I can help you get free, so I need you to listen.”

Cory begins to breath just like Robes has shown him before. The deep breaths that helped him get control of his abilities at first.

You are part of an armada. You were captured four hours ago. Keep calm.” Robes says. “You’re being delivered to a lab out in the desert. Those guys you were with are planning to hunt you down because they think you’ll be brainwashed.”

What?”

Calm!” Robes says. “You are in a suppressor chamber that’s all but nullified your powers. I’m going to reverse the chemical intake in your body when the armada gets close. Don’t look for me. Run into the desert. Run north. Keep running north. Do not stop for anything. There is a cave out there I left a sack of supplies in. Take the supplies and keep moving deeper into the cave. There is a drop in the cave. Go down. It will double you back out into another region about seven miles from here.”

North! Supplies. Drop. Got it!”

Good.”

You’re meeting me there?”

I have work to do, Cory. You will need to train your powers. No one can help you with that training. If anyone does, you won’t become strong enough.”

But…”

Cory feels a tug. His head. Something feels like it’s pulling from his head. His body begins to shake. “I want to give you a gift. Something to reach for. Something… partially your potential, Cory.”

Pure euphoric bliss washes over Cory soon. The Robe vanishes from sight. Everything does. Then he feels as if he is everywhere and nowhere. His mind a churning sea of nothing and everything. Stars. Seas. Waters. Forests. The wind itself. Then he sees it. Feels it. The Earth and its stunning beauty beneath him. Cory is mesmerized and frightened. Something keeps him calm. Lets him know it is ok to be here.

Cory gazes into the Earth and its seas and islands. The air feels different here. Almost like it wants to hold him in place. Cory realizes that he is too high for the mountains to be mountains. Up this high with the naked eye, they resemble tiny rocks on top of dirt.

Turn around, Cory.” The invisible voice prods.

Turning, Cory is frozen solid by what he sees. The stars off in the distance. The moon as close as he has ever seen it. The sun blaring far away. His body begins to float further from the Earth to where the air begins to feel… less. Harder to breath the farther into space his body takes him. Far enough that he feels pockets of ionized air, hot and cold suspended in zero gravity.

The sounds he hears coming from the Earth arrives like bubbles in water, splooshing and then its gone to be replaced by other random splotches. Horns. Voices. Birds. Other things. Cory would have never thought of hearing those sounds here.

Then he tries to float further, too fast. The air thins to near weightless. Sucking in what he can, air nearly overloads his lungs and almost drowns him. Coughing hard, Cory lets the air out into space. Not fast enough. It exits slower than it entered and nearly chokes him.

Focus Cory!”

Cory does. Air pours from his lungs and in.

Breathing out here is different than down on the Earth. You may forget to breath while on the Earth, here, if you just breathe you might die drowning from too much air. You have to learn to breath right.”

This is amazing!” Cory turns slowly, gazing at all his eyes can see. “But why bring me here? How is this my potential?”

You will need to figure that out on your own.”

Why? What’s all this about?” Cory asks.

Cory is turned to face the world. “Because everything you know needs you to figure it out, Cory.”

And if I can’t?”

A sad thought. Then. “You will die. Everything will die because you die.” The Earth vanishes again. Cory is in pitch black. “We don’t have a choice anymore. Time is running out for Earth. Time is running out for mankind. I will explain all of it when you’re ready. But you need to escape. Run north.”

Cory calms his breathing. He can hear frantic voices all around him. Men and women. Cory swears someone just screamed something about vitals. A stronger dose of inhibitor, he would swear someone else screamed.

You’ll need to run, Cory. Use everything you know to escape. I can’t help you any more than I’m doing. Do what I told you to do. When you’re finished, show your friends, if that makes you feel better.” The voice prods. “Now, Wake up, Cory. Run.”

Cory takes a breath. Tries to move. A loud BOOM puts a stop to that.

Continued

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