One of the hardest parts about writing is cutting a really great scene or moment. There are a lot of reasons, most of them probably really good ones, to get rid of something but it can be a bummer. So as I work through some things with book three this is where I will park some these lost fragments from time to time.
Below is a scene that isn't cut, but has been significantly changed in the current version so I don't think I will be coming back to this. I had originally written this scene as a stand alone moment. If the novels and short stories were written in chronological order this would be the first time we get to see an Elbie.
We are back in 1999 just a few days after first contact. There is no DPA, just the FBI. And Brendan is the tender age of eighteen. Enjoy.
Brendan followed behind the two agents, arms crossed as he walked. They tried to get him to walk between them but he refused. He didn’t need to have parents or guardians so far in his life and he wasn’t going to start now, even if they were government appointed.
The federal building they were keeping him in was an elaborate maze of doors and hallways that all required access codes. Even so, he could feel they were moving toward the center of the compound.
When they came to an elevator he was not surprised. Their next move would be to go down, below ground. The three of them got into the small car. There was no panel of buttons or even a screen for indicating the floor. Instead Miranda used a set of specialized keys to activate the controls. She turned the key clockwise. Brendan waited to feel the shift of inertia but he felt no change. After a few more minutes of strained silence she turned the key back to its original position and the doors opened to what looked like the exact same hallway.
There were three possibilities. One, they hadn’t moved at all and this was their way of screwing with him even more. Two, the mechanics of the elevator were so flawless and slow that inertia was undetectable, but that also meant given the short time they were in the box they could not have moved more than one or two floors. Or three, the building moved around them. This last option would be the coolest but it was also the least likely. Most likely one is what was happening here. It was what he had come to expect from government agents who hold teenagers hostage.
Assuming this was same hallway as before they continued down the stark white corridor and stopped at a door of no significant markings. It looked exactly the same as every door they had passed by. The two agents turned to him simultaneously.
“Brendan.” Miranda started in her most diplomatic tone. “We have been granted special permission to let you see what is beyond this door. What you have to understand is that this is a matter of national security. You will be among only a handful of people who know about this room. So before we open this door you have to agree, in writing, to never reveal what you see in here. If you tell anyone what is in here it will be considered an act of treason. Because of the classified nature you will not get a trial by jury.”
Brendan looked at the door. While it looked like every other door he had seen so far he guessed it was reinforced steel. The fluorescent lights buzzed overhead.
Eriksson took out his phone. After few quick motions on the touch screen he held it out to Brendan. “If you agree to these terms, press your left thumb firmly inside the box.”
Trial without a jury. How is it that by now they hadn’t figured out that scare tactics had the opposite effect on him. He wasn’t sure if that was a teenager thing or a Carlisle thing, but the more they tried to intimidate him the more he wanted to test them.
Brendan stared at the device and shrugged his shoulders. “Sure.” He pressed his thumb within the confines of the virtual box. He wouldn’t mind seeing more of their gadgets. The box flashed and Eriksson returned the device to his pocket.
Again, Miranda had all the keys and passcodes to these places. He couldn’t help wonder if this was a specific precaution against Eriksson or if it was a standard practice to have only one agent know this information. Perhaps it changed on a regular basis and the information was passed back and forth to different agents so no one held the information for too long at any given time.
The door opened inward to a grey room. The walls were covered in plates of metal, two feet square, the rivets around each panel at even intervals. At the center of the room was a pillar of the same material and nothing else. The lighting in the room was low, like an art installation in a museum. The air smelled purified, ionized even.
Eriksson moved to stand by the pillar as Miranda closed and sealed the door behind them. Brendan heard the locks snap into place. Eriksson pulled back his sleeve. On his right wrist was a metal band with a row blue LED lights. “Sync.”
“Sync.” Miranda responded. She had a matching wrist band.
“Do I need one of those? Feels like I should have one too. I am the victimized civilian here.”
Eriksson pulled his hands behind his back. “A victim? Is that how you would prefer we refer to you?”
Brendan had definitely pushed a button. “I’m just saying.”
There were some high pitched beeps of a key pad behind him. Miranda had her back to them now as she entered a long string of beeps into the control panel next to the door. As soon as the last beep echoed into the room there was a muffled groan of metal. A vibration in the floor tickled his feet through the soles of his shoes. He looked down expecting the floor to break a part.
When he looked up to see if it was the walls instead he noticed it was the pillar that was moving. The outer layer of metal plating sank into the floor revealing a glass case behind it. A blinding white light streamed out from behind the glass. Brendan covered his eyes with his arm and groped for the welding goggles in his coat pocket. Even with the extra dark lenses on the light still hurt his eyes.
The floor stopped vibrating and the room went silent. After a few minutes his eyes adjusted and he could see better detail. A vertical glass cylinder surrounded by the glass box. At the center of the cylinder was a single free floating point of light. Brighter than any LEDs he had ever worked with. No wires, tubes, filament, or conductor of any kind.
“How are you doing that?”
He did lots of wiring for his sculptures. To make light appear out of nowhere was akin to magic. He leaned closer to the glass, his eyes began to water from the extreme luminosity. Each end of the glass tube he could see heavy, shale colored caps on each end.
Miranda came and stood next to him, facing the object with him. Eriksson had stationed himself to the side of the pillar with his back to it. He had not moved a muscle since the door locked.
“Yes.” Miranda confirmed with a smile.
Brendan walked around the display, looking under and over the pin point of light. It would appear the same no matter what angle he looked at it from. “Makes an artificial gravity well.”
The light did not shimmer or dim at all. “What is it?”
“That is what you and your friends encountered in the forest.”
Brendan straightened. “What?” He looked at her for the first time since they had let him out of his room for breakfast. “That’s really it? That was in my head?” He pressed his palm to the glass, his eyes never leaving it. It looked familiar. Not that it looked like anything per se but somehow it was exactly how imagined it should look. Tiny little suns all of them, eating at his brain, taking over his thoughts. How could such a small thing rule over him?
“Not this specific one. But one like it.” Miranda clarified.
“But if this is not the one I’ve had contact with where did it come from?”
“As far as we can tell, they all come from space one way or another. This one here has been in our possession for some time.”
“How did the FBI come by it?”
Miranda’s eyes flicked to Eriksson. “That is classified and not relevant to our current situation.”
Brendan glanced at Eriksson, who still had not so much as shuffled his feet, in fact he looked more rigid than usual.
Miranda cleared her throat. “We wanted you to know what we’re dealing with. So that you understand the severity of the situation.”
“Understand? Know what? You haven’t told me anything. What are these things?”
“To be precise, it is actually a type of energy. It has properties similar to light, but also electricity. It is technically un-classifiable but our current definitions.”
“Energy?” It was thoroughly fascinating. The possibilities of new frontiers in physics was right in front of him. A whole new level of understanding the universe probably. And the feds had it in a secret room all by itself. “And what? You think that somehow seeing it will help me suddenly understand what happened to me and my friends? It that thing is like them, the only way for that to happen is to let it take over my head and you should know that there is nothing on this planet to convince me of that plan of action.”
“Not at all, Brendan. The US government would never agree to that even if you volunteered. This entity is considered extremely dangerous.”
“Entity? Dangerous? So you’re telling me this little bugger has been a real trouble maker.” Brendan had a new found respect for it, whatever it was.
“We are telling you no such thing. But we need you to understand that if the public finds out about these things it will create a panic.”
Brendan crossed his arms again. “So before, it was all, ‘ever want to live a normal life again you’ll cooperate’ speech and now I’m your pal, I’ll be the big hero if I help you out. Am I understanding you correctly? Am I a threat or an asset?”
Miranda pursed her lips. “That is up to you to decide.”
“The free will card, eh?”
“Actually.” Eriksson cleared his throat. “We estimate you had at least ten of them in your body. Do you have any idea how many you were carrying?”
Brendan shook his head. How could he tell, he didn’t even know what was happening to him until several hours later. By the time he had gained any conscious awareness of what was happening they had already distributed most of these... these things. “What do they want?”
Eriksson and Miranda exchanged glances, which they did a lot. Miranda walked up to stand next to him. “We were hoping you could tell us.”
Brendan looked at her. His eyes shifted to Eriksson but the agent had his gaze fixed on the door. “Why the heck would I know? I was basically just a cockroach to the parasitic wasp of whatever that thing is.”
He backed away from the glass.
Miranda sighed. “Interesting... metaphor. However the parasitic wasp does what it does to the cockroach for reproduction purposes. Is that what is going on here?”
“Haven’t you studied this thing, dissected it or something?”
Neither agent answered. “So that’s a ‘no’. How come you guys don’t know anything more about these things than I do? I don’t know how they multiply. If they do at all. They talk don’t they, just ask it.”
“From what we can tell they do not have language. What you have interpreted as language is just them borrowing your preferred form of communication.”
“All I know is that I was not in control. It was like an out of body experience. I could see it all happening. I felt it on my body but I couldn’t change or influence anything that was happening. And while we sit here asking stupid questions my friends are out there going through the same living nightmare.”
Eriksson pivoted on his foot to face them. “We should go.”
Miranda nodded. “Brendan, we are doing everything we can to get your friends back.”
Brendan pushed the welding googles to the top of his head. "Is that so?"