Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2313659-Invisible-Threads--Chapter-07
Rated: 13+ · Fiction · Thriller/Suspense · #2313659
The continuation of Invisible Threads--Book One of The Anomaly Series

Writer's Note: Please read Invisible Threads--Prologue and Chapters One through Six before reading this.


Gary was trying to dig in his heels. "We can't just go barging in."

"Better us today than the Superstar camera crew tomorrow." Cherie thought that she was maintaining her professional calm. She was wrong.

"That's tomorrow?!"

"I don't know. It might be. They haven't called yet. But it's going to be this week."

"Lecki's going to go ballistic."

"He'll go less ballistic if we talk to him in advance. Like right now. He's in his office, right?"

"Yes, his office hours are from two to four. He's always alone since none of his students would dare walk in there."

"Then, let's do this." She headed toward the hallway.

He didn't follow.

She stopped and turned back, "Gary, I am beginning to get less calm."

"I'm coming. I'm coming."

She led him down to a closed door with a smoked glass panel. On the glass were the words Malcolm Lecki, PhD, Physics. "What's the protocol here? Do we knock?"

"Come in!" a voice bellowed from inside.

Gary stepped past her to enter first. "No, I guess we stand at his door and talk loudly enough for him to hear."

She could hear Gary mumbling under his breath as he opened the door into a small and cluttered office. Two walls were dominated by white boards with faint marks that would never erase mixed with brighter, newer overlays. The other two walls held a window and the door. A large desk dwarfed the room with freestanding bookshelves on either side of the window and two file cabinets that apparently were too full to close properly. In the cliched tradition of academics, every flat surface was covered with scattered papers.

"Richardson. What can I do for you?" Lecki looked up over the top of his reading glasses that were perched down on the end of his bulbous nose. This forced him to keep his head tilted slightly down while looking up with his faded, blue eyes. The toupee he wore no longer matched the color of the hair above his ears.

As Cherie entered the office, Lecki removed the glasses and adjusted his face upward. "Okay. What can I do for you... two? And you are?..."

"Cherie Chandler. I'm from Northwestern." She figured to start with academia and work up to Superstar.

"They have a good department. Our biophysics people work with them a lot. Do you know..."

"I can pretty much guarantee that I don't. I'm a theater major."

He became wary, "Well, that's unexpected. What can I do for you?"

Cherie smiled her headshot smile, "I'm helping Gary prepare for the next round of Superstar..."

"The television show!" He switched his gaze to Gary. "Oh God. Did you actually do that?

Gary's hands bunched into fists in his lap. "I told you I was going to."

"Do you understand how embarrassing this is for the University? Do you know how embarrassing this is for me? I'm still dealing with the fallout of your going behind my back. All for a foolish practical joke."

"If it's a practical joke, explain it. Tell me how I do it!"

Cherie had never seen Gary so vehement. It was startling.

"I can't. And I can't tell you how a magician saws a woman in half. That does not mean he really does it."

"Professor Lecki," Cherie interrupted in her calmest voice, "however we got to here, here we are. Gary is a contestant on Superstar and had a very successful opening round."

Lecki's wariness increased. "What does that mean and what do you need from me?"

"Are you familiar with the show?"

"Not at all." He was going to make this as hard as possible.

"Well, in the opening round, they single out some of the most promising acts and they send out a film crew to get some background on them so that the audience..."

"Oh, dear god!" Lecki sighed, dropping his forehead into his hands and almost unseating the toupee. "A film crew? Please tell me they don't want to come here."


"No. Unacceptable. Out of the question. Can you conceive of how embarrassing that would be for the department to be associated with a magic act?"

"I was notified by Superstar this morning that it was cleared by the university. They specifically said that you would be participating."

"Me? Why?"

"We requested it. You are Gary's faculty advisor. That is as close to family as we can get. His mother is ill, and his father passed."

"I am aware of his family situation but that changes nothing, I will not be associated with this."

"Are you sure that the university hasn't notified you about it?"

"I've had my phone with me all day."

"What about e-mail?"

He turned back to his computer screen and his increasingly bulging eyes flicked down the scrolling e-mails. His visage froze while the mouse clicked three times. He was silent for a moment, reading. His shoulders slumped.

He glared up at Gary. "I've been told that I am to support you including appearing on camera if so requested." He looked to Cherie. "When is this planned to take place?"

"Tomorrow sometime. They are kind of like the cable company, they get here when they get here."

"I have two classes tomorrow and Gary has a lab. I will not reschedule the students around this nuisance."

"That is completely understood."

"And another thing," He returned his gaze to Gary. "I will not say that I support this nonsense and I will not dignify it by referring to it as science. I will not have my reputation further sullied by association with your asinine pranks."

Gary spoke, "What do I have to do to prove it to you?"

"There is nothing you can do. Impossible is impossible."

"Dr. Lecki, tell me what you want me to move. Something in this office. Something outside. Anything at all. No weight or size limit."

"Right now, I would like to remove you from my office."

"No. I'm going to prove it to you again. With something even you can't ignore." He sat back into his chair, stilled his breath, and focused his mind on the memory.

Cherie maintained her reasonable voice: "Gary, I think we accomplished what was needed here. Gary?"

Gary sat among the threads. Dr. Lecki remained sitting in front of him looking angry. Cherie was talking. He heard her but was focusing his mind on the threads running through Lecki's desk. Moving the entire thing out in the corridor... What was that?

Behind Lecki, there was an area devoid of threads. It was as if something was there, but he could both see it and not see it. Like in the lab with Cherie. He tried to bring it into focus. He turned his head to the side and tried to get an image from his peripheral vision. It almost took some shape but, when he looked full on, the sense of it faded.

But there was something. He continued to focus on the area trying to use his eyes to bring his other senses to bear. It was as if... as if...

It hit his chest like a hammer.

Cherie was beginning to worry. Gary had a perplexed look on his face and his mouth was working as if he were chewing or talking but there were no sounds coming out. She leaned close to his ear and whispered, "Gary, are you all right?"

Dr. Lecki sighed. "Seriously, Mr. Richardson, I am very busy here and have a mountain of papers to review." To make his point, he spun in his chair to the paper-jammed credenza behind him, showing his back to Gary and Cherie.

And then, Gary disappeared.

"Gary!" Cherie looked at the empty chair unable to process what had just happened.

Dr. Lecki swung his chair back, jumped to his feet, knocking a pile of papers to the floor, and erupted, "Richardson! Is this more of your shenanigans?!".

A loud crash came from the hallway outside. Then, "Ow!" It was Gary's voice. Cherie and Dr. Lecki ran out into the corridor where lines of heads were sticking out of the doors like prairie dogs attracted by the sudden noise. Gary was flat on the floor covered in books from the shelves that lined the corridor. Two of the shelves lay toppled around him.

He looked up at her, "What just happened?"

Cherie shrugged and shook her head. "If you don't know, I don't know."

Dr. Lecki stepped forward to tower directly over Gary laying on the floor. His voice was cold. "Mr. Richardson, I am tired of these stunts."

"This isn't a stunt. I don't know what happened."

"This obsession of yours is now getting dangerous. If my reputation and that of the department would not suffer so much, I would declare it an experiment just so that I could shut it down." He pivoted on his heel and returned into his office.

Cherie picked up two books from Gary's chest and laid them aside. "Are you hurt? Anything broken?"

"Two bookshelves just fell on me. Yes, I'm hurt."

"Should we call 911?"

"No, I don't think so." He rolled over and pushed himself to his knees.

"Is everybody all right?" The question came from the first head sticking out of a door down the corridor. Gary knew the face but not the name. He looked farther down the hall and saw all of the faces directed at him.

"Everything's fine. I... uhhh... tripped. Sorry for the commotion."

That seemed to appease the crowd who found their work more interesting than a clumsy physicist.

"Are you sure you're okay?" Cherie looked legitimately concerned.

"Yeah, I'm fine. We ought to put these shelves back up." He lifted the first of the two shelves and leaned it back against the wall.

"Fine." She reached down and grabbed the second shelf. "But while we're doing that you need to explain how you disappeared."

"I didn't disappear. I could always see me."

"You were in Lecki's office... and then you weren't."

"Yeah, there's that."

"Yeah, there's that? There's what? What happened?"

"I was trying to move Lecki's desk out into the hallway. I guess the thread that went through the desk went through me, too and I didn't notice. So, when I tried to move the desk, I went instead."

"You teleported?"

"Not really teleported. It was more like..." No words came to mind that matched what had just happened.

"It was more like what?"

"It was very disorienting. My stomach is a little queasy. And a bunch of books fell on me."

"Did you... did you sense motion? Could you see yourself passing through the wall?"

"No. I was in the office. Then for a split second I was in the office and the hallway. Then I was in the hallway. And then the books fell on me."

"Why are the books so important?"

"Because they hurt."

"Do you think you could control it and do it on purpose?"

"I don't know. It scared me."

"What if we tried it in a big open area where you could see where you were going?"

"Things fell on me."

"Yeah, yeah, I got that. But if you could teleport... right on stage... that would be huge. It would be water cooler talk that would shut down whole offices!"

"I don't know..."

"This is next level stuff. No, this is beyond next level stuff. This stuff creates its own level. Now let's finish getting these books put away so we can figure out how to fit this into your act."

"My act? This is more important than just the act. I have to figure this out."

"We've been through this. In order to figure it out, you need money. In order to get money, you need notoriety. Notoriety comes from winning Superstar. Your words, not mine."

He nodded.

"Good. And we have a new rule. We speak of this to no one except each other."

"What about Lecki?"

"You heard him. He's not going to tell anybody. This is going to be your big grand finale. We will build an act completely around it."

"What I just did isn't enough?"

"No, of course not."

© Copyright 2024 Loyd Gardner (glide10001 at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2313659-Invisible-Threads--Chapter-07