iii is the interdimensional investigations initiative. The first book is titled ‘invasion.’ This is an idea I had maybe 8 years ago, and started to develop into a bizarre post-apocolyptic RPG setting. Initially unsure of how things worked, the only thing I knew was that I wanted everything, absolutely everything. Giant scorpions made out of thousands of knitting needles, that would come and attack you to get you out of your wool sweater, nations transformed into something like a combination of Skynet and the Matrix. Europe covered in magic and powered armor mechas and faeries.
You could have a character from any movie, any video game, any comic book, all the books and TV series(es) and whatever else your twisted little mind could produce.
It was clearly iiinsane, and never rose off the ground. However, it never left the tortured old cerebral cortex.
iiinstead of an apocalyptic wasteland, what we have is a portal opened to another dimension, and out flows every sensation iiimaginable. It’s a YA series. There’s time travel, robots, aliens, military, zombies, everything. I’m having a lot of fun messing with the world… ‘invasion’ is in editing stages and hopefully will be out before Halloween.
You can catch chapter 1 here. Enjoy.
Chapter 2- Amputation, T-Minus Six Days
Ryan’s eyes had a hard time adjusting to the sight of Derek… walking down the hall towards him. Weird flashes of sensation lit up his nerves, from the smell of mint chewing gum to the feel of horse hair under his hands. When he brought it up to look at it, his entire hand seemed off somehow, like it didn’t belong.
“I filled Whitney Moseby’s locker with shaving cream,” Derek said. His broad shoulders were slumped way down, until it looked like his hairy arms reached almost all the way down to his knees.
“Uh… what?” Ryan couldn’t process for a second.
“April Fools,” Derek said in a low, mopey tone. “I didn’t actually do that. Jerry would kill me.”
Ryan was still an entire box of pieces short of the whole puzzle. “Jerry?” It hit him all at once. Gerald Weinstein, Whitney Moseby’s boyfriend. He was absolutely perfect in every way, except in the personality department. “Ohhh, right. Jerry. Guy’s a jerk.”
“She deserves it though.”
Ryan knew why, even though Whitney Moseby had been his lab partner last year and she’d been nearly tolerable. To Ryan, that was, and he knew it was because she needed him for the grade. For most other people, she was a foot fungus: impossible to get rid of, something you didn’t want to even think about, but which drove you absolutely insane nonetheless.
The guy she was dating: a whole body fungus. Or a nasty case of hemorrhoids.
“Flubber,” Derek mumbled. She’d called him Flubber again. Which was better than Five Nine, which stood for ‘Five feet nine inch pile of dog crap,’ and worse than Seventh Dwarf, which she apparently thought was named ‘Mopey’ rather than Dopey.
Wait a second. Ryan lifted his arm and discovered his right hand firmly attached to his right wrist. He stared at it for a while, and Derek went on about Whitney Moseby.
Derek included Tara Allen, Stephanie Vanderpelt, and Jessica Rollins in his sullen description of the torture he’d suffered that morning. Ryan counted himself lucky that he rode his bike each morning, and lived pretty far away from the high school. Derek lived even further out, and was bussed in with Whitney and her evil henchmen. Plus, they lived close to one another, so she was always on the bus with him.
“Only a month,” Derek finished up.
The whole ordeal with the inter dimensional portal was already fading, with the giant octopus and the smells and sounds. It was like a terrifying dream, except Ryan could still feel the sharp bite of a steel-toed Derek boot in his ribs, and faintly the numb shock of having part of himself detached from the rest of himself. Sights and sounds and smells still stuck out: a smirking Asian face, a sofa the size of a stretch limo, a weapons rack with every sort of laser weapon in every movie you’d ever seen.
This was all going, even though he knew he ought to try to hold some of it down. It slipped off into the future.
“Huh?” Derek had said something spiteful, but Ryan was too busy trying to pull in pieces of the future with one hand removed. Submarine and helicopter, a cartoon from his childhood, Bright Star Goddess…
“Jerry’s sixteenth birthday?” Derek asked.
The future (with its kangaroos and giant land octopus and cyber pirates,) winked out.
Neither of them wanted anything good for Jerry Weinstein, but once he had his car, he’d be bringing Whitney to school and Derek would be spared the humiliation of every day of his life riding the bus to school with Whitney Moseby.
“Dude, is there a field trip next week?” he said.
“Next Monday. Extra dimensional observation. Could be the only cool thing to happen to us this year.”
“Let’s skip it,” he said. “Let’s go to Benny’s and blow ten bucks in quarters on some arcade game. I’ll steal some of my dad’s money. He’s in Germany this month.”
Derek shook his head. “No can do,” he said. “They emailed the permission slips home to all the parents. My mom got it, she already signed it, she’s got it marked on the calendar.” Derek’s mother also worked at home, and was vigilant about grabbing the phone when the school inevitably called to report her son absent that day. These things happened when your mother sold hand crocheted products via the web and your father was a concert piccolo player.
“That sucks,” Ryan said, and flexed his right hand. He was starting to wonder if he was going completely out of his mind. But… who has vivid dreams about a time machine while standing in the middle of the hallway on a Monday morning? “But we can’t go. We can skip out early. head to the Dice and Dragons and just play there all day.”
Derek bobbed his entire body in a sort of slow-motion, ultra-sad nod. “Can’t. Bus brings us right here. Well, you could.” Ryan walked to school, and was spared all the torture Derek endured daily.
The Tessera University Institute of Science and Technology had this amazing program running, totally making history in a completely boring way, and the students of Inkster High were just lucky they lived within two hours’ drive of the place where all the action was taking place.
“What the heck is that?”
Derek looked to where a pixie of a girl was charging down the hallway with a load of books clutched in her comically thin arms. She had on the biggest pair of headphones Ryan had ever seen, and her violently dyed swept down over one of her eyes in a magenta curtain. The other one, though, was very Asian and was determinedly not staring at Ryan.
“A… girl? They have those on the planet you’re from, right?”
“She’s… have you ever seen her before?”
“People suck,” was Derek’s reply, and he wasn’t wrong. Generally, people did as Derek advertised.
“I… I have to go talk to her.”
“Dude, don’t,” Derek mumbled.
“Okay, okay, be my guest… but when you get shut down like an old school IBM, don’t come crying to me.”
“Weak, dude.” Ryan immediately regretted this.
“I know,” Derek said. The dejection in his voice made Ryan wince.
“Look, I think she’s new. Look, she’s looking around all confused, like… it’s our duty to help her out, okay?”
Derek just looked at the Genie power walking down the hallway, then looked back at Ryan, and then back at the girl. “Your funeral, Don Juan.”
“Hey!” he hissed. “Hey, Ge— uh, geez, you look new here.”
The Genie ignored him, and Ryan immediately started to question his sanity. He had been playing that Star Wars MMO entirely too much to be good for his grade point average, and Derek was being more of a curmudgeon than normal. It hadn’t been an elaborate dream. That would be so lame…
…actually it would be awesome, honestly.
She seemed to notice him for the first time, and he thought he detected the tiniest fraction of a shake of the head.
“Uh,” he continued.
She pulled off the headphones. “Uh, hi.”
“You’re… new here,” he said hopelessly.
“You’re very perceptive,” she said, and went to put the headphones back on.
“I’m Ryan,” he said. He had to be quick. This was too disorienting. “Ryan Gardner.”
“Ginny,” she said. “Ginny Easley.”
Another curveball. That name was far too close to Ginny Weasley for comfort. And too close to Genie for it to be a coincidence.
“Do you want, um, some help getting to your class?” he asked. Lamely. The more he looked at her, the more that itchy sensation in his mind increased: he’d met her before. This wasn’t deja vu. Looking at her brought back the smell of dragon’s breath.
“I’m fine,” she said. “See you around, Ryan Gardner.”
The bell rang, and Ryan headed back over to where Derek was flipping through a Bloodpool comic. He favored Ryan with a commiserating frown on striking out, and clapped a hand on Ryan’s shoulder. Ryan had to suppress a shudder at knowing the future: that hand was going to swing the ridiculous, impossible-in-terms-of-physics darksaber and cut Ryan’s hand off.
“Gotta hit math,” Ryan said. “Is it good?”
“Swimfit,” Derek mumbled. “This one’s good… Bloodpool’s suit is always on the fritz though. The teleportation system always fails just when he needs it. You can borrow it after I’m done.”
“Have fun,” Ryan said. He was too distracted by the situation to remember that to Derek, Swimfit class was the most torturous experience of his life.
Head-on-straight time. Either he’d imagined everything and the field trip in a week would be smooth, they would see roiling colors in the middle of a dimensional window and go home, or the end of the world would start pouring out of the window. If it was a choice between boring or the end of his life, he’d take boring, but he saw a third option: stop the field trip entirely.
No challenge there… right. How was he supposed to— uh oh. He spotted one of the horrid old crones who served as the hall monitors, and rushed off to his first hour class before he was forced to speak with her.
In math the rules made sense, thank heavens. All the work fit a formula, and if you knew that formula you could just plug and play until your homework was done. Ryan enjoyed this. He did not particularly enjoy English, where anything could happen and the book was always better. Ryan wasn’t sure he believed it, but everyone who’d read the book said that, so there was probably an ounce or two of truth in there.
He also had the nagging feeling that this Ginny girl was the key to remembering what had happened… or was going to happen in a week’s time.
He flipped to the back of his notebook, which was generally reserved for roleplaying characters. He had a couple of decent superheroes he was working on, a vampire from the middle ages with some cool powers, and a necromancer who wasn’t a bad guy. Because seriously, just because you dealt in death magic did not necessarily make you evil. It was like the belief that everybody from House Vennem would root for the Dark Priestess, or that everyone from House Phoenicks was automatically a hero.
Okay, he needed to stop the field trip. He had a week to do so.
He wrote down Genie and stopped. Then put a giant question mark next to the word, and spent an inordinate amount of time filling it in, while not remembering a single thing about the coming week.
After that he listed a couple of different ways to stop the field trip. He crossed out Bomb Scare right away. He didn’t really want to go to jail, and then have the field trip go bad with him there.
His next class was science, where Mr. Walder greeted them with one of his patented enormous smiles.
Ryan had no clear idea why their class took place in the school’s huge, state-of-the-art lab. They never used these deep hexagonal sinks with the hose attachments for the Bunsen burners, or the massive fume hood at either end of the lab. Ditto the room-spanning countertop dotted with more sinks. The only things that got use in this room were the projector and the white board.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am about our field trip next Monday!” Walder gushed. It was probably his dream to be an actual scientist, but he had to settle for being a stupid, bubbly teacher with too many students.
“We’ll be doing something no one in history has done, ladies and gentlemen,” he continued. “And we have front row seats.”
Ryan’s hand shot up before he could stop himself.
“Isn’t it dangerous?” he asked.
“That is a great question, one that’s been asked a lot throughout our history. Should people have messed around with nuclear fission? Who can tell me why not? Leslie?”
“And Nagasaki, yes, you’re correct. If we go by the loss of life from nuclear fission, we also have to take into account the radiation burn victims, the people who ended up dying of cancer, and the thousands upon thousands who were obliterated in the blink of an eye. But… our understanding of fission and radiation has given us some good things as well. Do any of you know what I’m talking about? Anyone?”
Ryan knew: the nuclear reactor, which was massive energy with almost no pollution, unless you counted horrifying waste that couldn’t be disposed of. Radiation and chemotherapy had also come out of that line of research.
“But there’s also solar and wind energy,” Ryan protested.
“Only now becoming cost effective,” Mr. Walder said.
“Tell that to nature,” he muttered.
“I didn’t catch that.”
“We shouldn’t go on this field trip. We can’t go. Something terrible is going to happen.”
The rest of the class was laughing at him. Ryan realized just after the words were out of his mouth how stupid he sounded, and he burned violent red. He didn’t have a mirror, but wouldn’t doubt that he looked almost purple from the tips of his ears to his skinny chest.
Failed attempt at stopping the field trip numero uno.
He caught sight of Ginny at lunch. She was carrying a tray overflowing with cafeteria food, and not even the standard line stuff either. He hadn’t known there were apples, oranges or bananas in there, though he’d seen the cookies, brownies, and bags of chips before. Was that a sub sandwich?
“Hi uh, Ginny,” he said.
“Ryan Gardner,” she said. For now the enormous headphones were around her neck, and he noticed the tip of one ear seemed a little too pointed.
He distinctly felt the slap of a slimy sucker on the back of his neck, and whirled to find nothing there. Several of the non-nerds gave him measuring looks, as if they were trying to figure out how many metric tons of pity he required.
“Listen, do you want to… sit with me? And Derek, he’s my best friend, over there.”
“The giant pile of self-loathing?”
“He’s having a rough time with the acne. Not his fault. He’s actually pretty cool if you get him away from a lot of people.”
“Like down a dark alley?”
She shrugged and angled over to sit down across from Derek before realizing he didn’t have his lunch yet. Possible disaster imminent.
Ryan sprinted to the lunch line, grabbed up pizza and fries with milk, all the while dreading what Derek might be telling her. He had to get her alone, see if she knew something about his weird dream, and if it really meant something terrible was about to happen. In the meantime, it might be better if she never heard Derek speak at all.
“So wait,” she was saying, “you’re telling me a Disciple of Korath slowly turns into a demented spider creature?”
Derek nodded. “You get darkvision and the ability to climb walls at first level… the extra arms and other stuff come later. But the prerequisites for the job class are pretty difficult.”
Ryan flushed a flush so deep and hot that he felt like he might explode like a phoenix, and in the ashes he would be a tiny version of himself, possibly a little baby Ryan.
“Dude,” he said. “Are you talking C&C with a girl?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Ginny shot back, clearly annoyed. Great, chance to talk about the future flushed down the toilet.
“Girls generally don’t get Caverns and Creatures…” he trailed off lamely. Might as well keep digging that hole.
“Oh, so my tiny female brain can’t handle whatever this is… what is it anyway?”
“A roleplaying game,” Derek mumbled around a mouthful of fries.
They lapsed into a thoroughly awkward silence for a few minutes, while Ryan’s brain tried to figure out a way to get him even deeper into Ginny’s bad side.
“Look, I had a girlfriend for a couple of weeks last year…” Until she found out that he was a hardcore nerd. Thankfully she hadn’t crucified him with the rest of the girls at school. Allison Avery was very cute, in a bookish sort of way, and he’d always had a thing for this girl named Delilah, who was unbelievably gorgeous… plus she was a theater nerd, which put him somewhere in her league.
“Six weeks,” Derek said.
“What happened?” Ginny asked.
“She found my character sketch for my elf blademaster.”
“That sounds pretty cool.”
“It was a good drawing,” Derek said.
“Where is it? I want to see it.”
“I tore it apart and threw it away.”
“You tore apart your artwork because of a stupid girl?” Now she looked disgusted with him. Yep, he’d done it.
“His elf blademaster was a female. He was roleplaying as a girl.”
“Ahh,” Ginny said, smiling. Ryan couldn’t figure out if it was a laughing-at-you smile or not. This lunch idea was a disaster.
And this was exactly why you did not discuss RPGs at the lunch table when girls were within hearing range. Or within sight.
He intercepted her on the way to her locker.
“Ginny,” he said. He’d been thinking about this all day. “Did I already meet you… I mean have we met before, or…”
A weird sensation of rubbing against shark skin swept up and down his body. He shuddered, which earned him a perplexed look.
This single question had blocked him from hearing, understanding and remembering anything from English class, and had earned him a strange look from Mrs. Blaine.
He yelped as a ring of searing pain made its way around his wrist.
A twinkle of mischief lit up her visible eye. “What are you talking about?” Then she snorted at him and clomped off in those clunky boots of hers.
He was going insane. That was a perfectly logical explanation for this.