Gil awoke to a particularly loud boom and lay thinking about the woman from his dream while he waited to see if the warning alarm would sound. She was no one that he knew. He couldn’t even see her face for the misty haze surrounding her, but the way she had felt in his arms was still fresh in his mind. Every attack didn’t trigger the alarm. The protective system was resilient enough to absorb some hits that were powerful enough to rattle him out of bed.
“Bloody bastards!” You can never give me a moment’s peace. Not even long enough to finish a dream.
The reality of being alone was always the most bitter during the middle of the night, not that he ever got to sleep through the night any longer. He was happy that his companions didn’t have to face the constant threat of death any longer, but he would have given almost anything for someone to talk with. Solitude had taken on a whole new meaning since his colleagues had escaped. He had been particularly fond of a young woman named Amanda. On the eve before everyone slipped away, she had professed her love for him in no uncertain terms. Had the escape gone according to plan, Gil was certain that they would have been married. But more than a year had passed since he had last seen her and that wonderful night was just a fading memory.
I wonder who Amanda married. I certainly wasn’t the only one who was interested. She probably got with— no. I have to stop torturing myself over things I can’t change.
The space-time disturbance in the corridor was pulsing with energy again, translating impulses from the other side into tangible electromagnetic waves in Gil’s universe. The energy danced across his skin like static electricity making the hairs on his arms stand at attention. Every time the disturbance was active, it triggered the dream like someone was beaming a transmission through, directly into his mind.
The ancient castle where Gil had taken up residence housed a junction point between multiple universes, or dimensions. Despite the collective scientific knowledge of he and his colleagues, they had never conclusively determined the nature of everything that came together in that place. They dubbed them Realities for convenience.
No one had come up with a solid theory for the castle itself, either. It appeared in the earliest known cave drawings in the region, that were from a time before human kind had developed sufficient skills to build such a structure. One hypothesis proposed that the castle was the last remaining artifact from an advanced civilization that evolved prior to the homo sapiens currently inhabiting the planet. Another speculated that some alien race had built it for an undetermined purpose. That idea had gained traction after the space-time disturbances were discovered. Some of the disturbances allowed passage to other Realities and were labeled Doorways. Others, like the one that was making his skin crawl, only gave glimpses of what lay on the other side and were accordingly named Windows.
Red and green LEDs flashed on the Alternate-Reality Junction Locator sitting on his nightstand, indicating activity occurring in the Window. Gil glanced at the screen, but the data gave no clue about the nature of the energy pulses, just like always.
The warning alarm didn’t sound. The protective Barrier Sphere system was functioning normally, keeping all threats out of the compound. Apparently, the attack hadn’t hit a vital area. His latest adjustment to the Emitter frequency still had his enemy off balance. They’d stumble upon a way to defeat his tweaks eventually, but for the moment he was safe. Gil rolled over and adjusted his pillow but knew he’d never get back to sleep. After half an hour of tossing and turning, he climbed out of bed and got dressed.
The Window was still pulsing, calling to him like the faint voice of a desperate friend lost in the distance. It struck him as odd that he thought about it that way, but along with the sensation of tingling on his skin, he got the notion that there was a sound component just beyond the limit of his hearing. His instruments couldn’t detect any auditory information coming from the other side. Despite all his analysis, he hadn’t managed to pin down a single particle that had come from outside his universe. He had begun to consider that the Window might be like a drum skin and whatever was hitting it on the other side didn’t pass through, only made it vibrate in his Reality.
Gil stepped into the corridor outside the dorm rooms and sauntered along to the relative position that corresponded to the location of the disturbance. He knew that he wouldn’t find anything out of the ordinary waiting for him, but he was drawn to it just the same. There was no visible component to the Window, but the closer he got the stronger the pulsations registered on his skin and in his mind. That Window was different from all the other space-time disturbances. The few glimpses through it that his instruments had given him, showed that an identical corridor lay on the other side. One other Window opened onto a duplicate corridor but that one didn’t exhibit any attention getting activity.
Could this really be a form of communication? Why were none of my colleagues able to feel it? And why does it always coordinate with the dream? Questions upon questions and never any answers.
Gil made his way outside. Cool night air filled his lungs, suddenly sharpening his senses and bringing him fully awake. The booming on the Barrier sounded somehow more ominous from outside the building and always managed to unnerve him, even though logically he knew the old stone structure couldn’t withstand a single hit. He strolled through a gate in the compound wall and headed toward the Barrier Emitter Housing Facility, the point from which the Barrier Sphere energy shield originated. It was a ring-shaped metal building that ran all the way around the outside perimeter of the ancient fortress.
The night sky was alight with energy weapon fire, all directed at him. Bolts of every color in the spectrum rained down from orbital weapon platforms and blossomed into beautiful multicolored flowers as they impacted the Barrier. The United World Brotherhood had been pounding it with everything they could get their hands on for the five years since the world’s scientific community had pulled off their rebellion, but so far the Barrier had held firm.