Prologue

Event Day -3

“Honey you need to get up! You’ll be late for work!” Helen pierced my dreams as she called from the other room.

I sat up in bed and stretched, “I hate Mondays.” I said to no one in particular. I went through my regular routine, the shower dressing in slacks and a button up shirt. I’d much rather be wearing jeans but my employer didn’t allow it. Their reason was something lame about professional appearance.

After getting dressed I wandered down the hallway and nearly tripped over Zachary who was sitting in the hallway playing with matchbox cars. I stepped on a Lego block, known by all parents as carpet landmines. I hopped on one foot and managed not to fall on my son.

I was about to say something hash to the kindergartner when he smiled at me. “Morning dad, do you have to go to work today? I don’t have school cuz the teachers have a meeting. Can we go fishing?”

I regained my balance and sighed. I crouched down and messed up his dark brown hair. “I’d love to Zach, but I’ve got to go to work. We are having an important presentation. We can go fishing this weekend okay?”

He looked down at his little cars then back up at me. “Okay dad, Saturday!”

“Son, you need to get dressed, you don’t want mom to see you still in your jammies do you?” He still had on his mismatched Spiderman and Batman PJ’s. He scrambled off the floor and went to his dresser, where he began driving his little car on top of it. I shook my head and continued down the hall dodging the remaining Lego blocks.

I opened my daughter’s door and peered inside, as usual she was still out. She had wrapped herself around a blanket and was clinging tightly to her little plush puppy. Her shoulder length disheveled golden curls were everywhere.

I picked up Sara my baby girl, okay she really wasn’t a baby anymore, but she was barely two. She stirred as I unwrapped her from the blanket and dropped it on the toddler bed. She had a death grip on Dirt-Dirt her little stuffed dog. I pulled her close and she wrapped her free arm around my neck.

Why couldn’t they stay this size forever? I asked myself as I made my way out into the kitchen. Helen looked amazing even though she was wearing sweat pants and an AMD t-shirt. She always was claiming the free shirts I got at tech conferences as her own. Her dark brown hair was pulled back in a pony tail and she was dancing to the radio as I walked in.

“Morning honey.” She said with a smile. We kissed and I put the half asleep girl down in her booster seat at the table.

“Morning. What’s for breakfast?” I asked, hoping she was about to cook some eggs and sausage.

She shrugged, “Cereal. I’m going to the gym with Rebecca after I drop Zach off at school. We’re going to do a Kickboxing class.”

I grabbed a bowl and spoon and poured some Raisin Bran.

“I don’t know how you can stand to eat that stuff.” She said as I took another bite.

I looked at my watch, it was almost seven thirty, I was going to be late if I didn’t get out the door right then, and I still hadn’t put my shoes on. So I slammed the cereal grabbed my sack lunch and hit the door to the garage running.

“Honey?”

“Yeah?” I replied.

“You’re not going to leave without giving me a goodbye kiss, are you?”

I had almost forgotten. I set my lunch on the washer and turned back to kiss my beautiful wife. As we released she said, “I love you. Have a good day honey.”

“I love you too. Kick the crap out of a punching bag for me.”

On my drive into work, that I had lovingly nicknamed “The Gauntlet” I turned on a local AM radio talk show.

“…tists are detecting increased cosmic ray activity, which could result in an increased rate of computer failures. NASA scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory are cautioning people to not be alarmed, that this is probably a random increase due to sunspots.”

I changed the station to country music; I didn’t really want to listen to some pocket protector wearing nerds in a lab talk about cosmic rays. I just hoped my boss hadn’t listened to that report. Wait a minute, sunspots? We happened to be in a solar minimum. A few days ago I had clicked on a wrong link looking for Hubble photos when I had found a website where they studied the sun. The latest pictures showed it was all but devoid of sunspots. What were these guys hiding? I turned the radio back to the AM station but they had already moved on to talking about congress spending tax payer dollars to fund a new entitlement program.

The scientists at JPL wouldn’t have made a mistake like that would they? The paranoid side of my brain was thinking that maybe the Men in Black did exist? Was the government covering up some sort of strange conspiracy? Russians? Aliens? Meh. Who knew? I snapped out of my daydream just in time to see the brake lights ahead of me. I slammed on the brakes, and managed to keep my radiator out of the next guy’s bumper. Thinking too much could be dangerous.

Finally I pulled my old pickup into the Geotech parking lot underneath my favorite tree. In September I didn’t really need the shade, but old habits and all. I went to work that day and did the same crap I always did to get paid. My boss was on vacation and wouldn’t be back in until later in the week so I figured it wasn’t too bad for a Monday.
I got home that evening, and was surprised to see that the garage was empty. I came in the front room and found a note on the table.

Couldn’t reach you on your phone, Zach fell and hit his head. One pupil dilated larger than the other. I’m taking him to the Hospital.
Love ya

Great, if she was back in the emergency room I wouldn’t be able to call her. I must have been in the server room when she tried to call. I opened my phone; I must have turned it off earlier. I had one missed call at 3:57pm, which just happened to be when I was installing a new switch in the server room.

I sat all alone in the kitchen. After a few pointless minutes watching the crap that passed for television programming I turned it off and fired up my laptop. As Tux the Penguin greeted me on the desktop I clicked on Firefox. I went to the JPL website and read a boring press release on the increased cosmic ray activity. The document stressed for people to not panic, that cosmic rays were natural and fluctuated from time to time.

I Googled, about the phenomenon and found a whole host of websites claiming they were being caused by the government, or the same aliens that were responsible for cattle mutilations, or the CIA who were involved with aliens from Wolf 359. Why was the internet so full of crackpots?

I shut down the computer and leaned back in the lazy boy. I hoped nothing serious had happened to my boy. Head injuries were nothing to take lightly. A few years ago a neighbor of ours had a toddler fall down the stairs and die from internal bleeding.

I must have dozed off because the garage door opening woke me up. Zach came running and tackled me in the chair. “Hi dad!” He exclaimed.

“Well hello son, how are you feeling?”

He smiled, “I got stickers!” He showed me the SpongeBob stickers affixed to his t-shirt.

Helen came in looking bored and tired. “So what’s the verdict he seems happy.”
“We just wasted somewhere around $1500 dollars.”

I shook my head, “Hey it’s better that you took him instead of letting what happened to the neighbor kid…”

She came over to me and I stood up, setting my boy down on the floor. I hugged her and we didn’t say much for a while.

“Oh I almost forgot,” she said after a couple of minutes. “Little Sara fell asleep in the car can you go get her?”

I retrieved my golden haired little darling and laid her down in her own bed, with her favorite stuffed toy, Dirt-Dirt.

Later that evening, as we were lying in bed, Helen asked, “Marty, when we were in the hospital I thought about losing you and the kids. I don’t think I could go on if that happened.”

“Yes you would, you’re strong. Don’t talk that way honey, we’re going to be together forever, I promise.”

“You promise?”

“I do. Nothing will keep me away from you.”

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2 Responses to Prologue

  1. craig says:

    kinda creepy to read it now. especially with the sequel already under way.

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