(Another flash fiction I wrote for the fun of it – my first sci-fi actually)
Word Count: 689
The machine hummed to life, spitting green sparks from thick, titanium coils.
“This is it, Celeste,” whispered the old man as he felt for the hand of his teenage daughter. “Daddy’s invention is about to change the world.”
“Clear the staging area,” shouted one of the soldiers.
Green-garbed security and white-coated scientists retreated behind electronic panels and monitors. Screens showed digital graphs giving readings for energy output, radiation and the chemical make up of the air trapped in the small reinforced steel building. Even the temperature of 75° Fahrenheit glowed in bright green dashes.
“We have the all-clear sign from headquarters.”
The guard nodded. “Proceed with initial testing.”
“Activate the portal frame,” someone called.
The sharp fizzing sound of electricity grew, the red light over an empty metal door frame flashing in a slow pulse. The air tasted of sterilized steel and static charge. The machine sputtered, a flash of gold among the green sparks.
The doorway took on a luminescent tint, then a glow, while the sparks from the machine turned pale yellow. Beneath the continual verbal reporting, a nagging alarm started beeping, the output graph flashing.
“Doctor Pilrhea,” the soldier said as he turned to the inventor, “Just how high is the power consumption estimate?”
The inventor stared at the machine. “The activation of the gate should have triggered. Once activated, it is near self-sustaining, but I can’t say what’s wrong.”
“Increase power again,” the soldier said with a frown.
Light arched across the metal frame, reaching out to the machine. Technicians shied away, shielding their eyes. The cables along the floor trembled, smoke rising from them as a burning smell filled the room.
“We can’t sir, the breakers aren’t responding.”
Silver-white sparks spilled from the machine, bouncing across the steel flooring while monitors flashed red warnings, the noisy alarms drowning out the yelling of the technicians. The inventor and his daughter covered their ears, Celeste staring around wide-eyed. The metal doorway shook, the space within melting to a ghostly blue.
A control panel sparked and a cable burst into flames. An emergency team raced forward with a fire extinguisher, sending clouds of dusty white into the air and giving the flashing lights an eerie look – like a UFO landing in a movie.
“Sir! The power grid.”
The entire room plunged into darkness. Monitors scrambled with lines and blipped out while research lamps died a yellow death, leaving only blinding afterblurs behind. The alarms vanished mid-whine and the silence pounded in the ears.
A singular wavering light source remained within the frame – the blue light shimmering like water lit by cloudy daylight. The light grew, whitening. The surface rippled, the metal frame groaning.
The sound of a distant yelling echoed inside the steel building, but the words weren’t English.
One of the technicians paled, turning to the soldier. “Sir, that sounded Cherokee.”
Celeste peered up at her father, who smiled. “Finally.”
“Get someone to translate that,” the soldier ordered. “And who’s working on restoring power to this place?”
The light in the doorway darkened to a woodland scene. Thunder seemed to shake the ground and a buffalo ran by. The metal frame cracked and twisted, breaking apart at the top corner. Blue light flared and bled out. A man in loin cloth and gripping a throwing spear at ready stuck his head into the scene, squinting into the dark room. Seeing the people, he shrieked and turned to yell back in his own language. More native Americans appeared, several on horseback, gathering around the gateway.
The research lights blinked as power returned. The room erupted in chaos with flashing lights, alarms and sparks. Several Indians howled and shouted, throwing their spears at the consoles.
“Get the gateway shut, now!” shouted the soldier.
The machine hummed to life again, coils sparking as the emergency team turned back on the extinguisher. The Indians fled and the gateway blinked out of sight.
As the buzzing alarms and hum of the machine faded, the inventor took in a deep breath, unable to look away from the broken frame. “Well,” he said to no one in particular, “it works.”