APRIL 2, 2022
BY ANALIA RAINES
The entire city of Terminaburg witnessed visions yesterday afternoon during the appearance of what is being called an extradimensional anomaly.
A “hole in the sky” appeared over the Tondo Tower at approximately 2:15pm. It was suspended in the air, and did not look as if it was part of the sky or cloud cover around Heart. According to reports, the interior of the hole was black, dotted with white—witnesses on the scene remarked that it “looked like space”.
Jane Singal, an executive at Neely, Neely, and Davis, a public relations firm on the upper floors of the tower, remarked, “It was there. I could see right into it. How could I not? It was right outside my office window!”
Sandy Kanden, an astronomer from Terminaburg University, wasn’t as quick to agree with that assessment. “I was there,” she said, “and there’s no way those stars could have been there. I’ve never seen anything like that at this time of year, no matter the time of day.”
If the hole itself is the subject of speculation and discussion, its effect on citizens while it happened and after it occurred is not. At least 100 people reported fainting and blacking out, and others reported a voice speaking loudly in their own heads, enough to cause severe headaches. Others weren’t so lucky, suffering strokes, heart attacks, and aneurysms in the wake of this event.
A Department of Defense spokesperson issued a statement, saying, “We are allotting our full resources to this incident. Rest assured that we will find out how this happened, and we will do our best to ensure that this does not happen again.”
“They’re lying. We’re going to be working on this case, and we’re going to crack it,” Captain Nicodemus Cashew, a detective with the TPD Special Investigations Unit, said in a phone call after the statement. “Some crazy stuff happened, and they’re not going to touch it once they figure out that it wasn’t from Earth.” When asked if he knew any additional details about the case, he said, “Yeah.”
At press time, no new details have been uncovered or shared.
Alvin looked down at the sheet of paper in his hands. The previously immaculate, unfolded, pure white slip was now smudged, stained, folded, and limp from handling. Hands shaking, he unfolded it, looking at the address and appointed time for this meeting, along with a reminder to come alone and the name “Switcher”.
Now he was here, and he felt like he was going to die. His heart was pounding out of his chest, and his clothes felt heavy and stifling—a feat, considering that it was the dead middle of the mildest spring on record, and wearing a loose t-shirt, thin linen shorts, and the lightest pair of flip-flops he owned. Alvin’s forehead was beaded with sweat, his normally loose and poofy hair hanging lank in wet strands pushed behind his ears. He had showered moments before leaving, cleaning himself more thoroughly than he had in years, heaped on mountains of deodorant, shaved off every bit of facial hair, and sprayed on that very expensive cologne he had never before used—a bad idea, considering its notes of tobacco leaf, bourbon, and leather clashed with the surprisingly fresh scents of this current spring—but still managed to have stained armpits. He could not hide them, which only added to his anxiety.
His roots were showing, the bold red he used to color his hair faded—to orange, to pink, to strawberry blonde, to rose gold, it all depended on how the light hit it—which just added to his unkempt appearance.
“Did I really need two cups of coffee?” he asked to no one. The three cigarettes he smoked on the way didn’t help matters either.
His phone chimed—the time had arrived. The wooden door, now more nails and boards than wood, opened inward. Before him was darkness. A green light flicked on in the distance.
“Enter.” The voice was staticky and stiff.
No going back now, Alvin thought. He took a shaky step inside, and the door closed behind him.
And to think this all started with a letter to the Terminaburg Daily from 1949.
(This will be an occasional feature of some small bit of work that doesn’t fall neatly into the wider narratives of my large projects, but I find amusing and important enough to share. They will mostly be very small peeks into the worlds I’m creating. This one is related to Children of the Godsteel/Terminaburg.)
“The Pamphleteer?” Joe chuckled at the name.
All activity at the table, situated deep in the darkest corner of Betsy’s Book Bar, stopped. Francine, Daniel, Erica, and Henry all went silent, turning their heads in unison to glare.
“What?” He said, chuckling again, with less spirit.
“Have you never heard of him?” Francine asked, leaning in.
Joe shook his head. “I mean, that’s kind of a dumb name, right? The Pamphleteer? C’mon.”
Henry leaned in, sidled up next to Joe. He gestured for the others to pull in. “Pamphleteer ain’t no joke,” he mumbled, jabbing his finger in Joe’s chest for emphasis. “Any history leaves him out is garbage.”
“We need to tell him now.” Erica’s tone suggested it was a command, rather than a request.
“Hell yes we do!” Daniel turned and waved to the bar. “We got a newbie!”
Brett, the bartender, let out a whoop of approval. “You’ve got the tab tonight, you lucky boy!”
Henry pulled Joe in closer. “Relax, we’re drinking cheap.” He held his hand up, fingers outstretched. “Bottle of the cheap shit! Five glasses!”