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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2321323
Antibe finds a stranger in his basement.

Antibe fumbled in the darkness, looking for the light switch. It had to be here, it was always here. But the wall receded from his touch, leaving him with a void that might be ended just a few inches away or, equally, it could go on and on in the inky blackness, leading him ever onward until he fell into some pit or trap unseen.

This is ridiculous, he told himself. You can’t get lost in your own basement. And walls don’t suddenly change position so that you can go wandering round forever. That blasted light switch is here somewhere, and I’ve just got turned around and looking in the wrong direction somehow.

And then his fingers touched the wall. He walked them around, looking for the switch. Then felt them stepping on to living skin and flesh. Someone else had a hand on the wall.

“What the hell?” Antibe blurted. “Who the heck are you?”

“Victor,” returned a male voice. “And you?”

“Never mind that. What the hell are you doing in my basement?”

“Looking for the light switch,” said the voice. “I tried asking the computer, but either you haven’t got one, or I’m using the wrong name for it.”

“I don’t use a computer to turn on the lights,” said Antibe. “There’s a switch on that wall somewhere. Find it and turn them on.”

There was a click and the basement was suddenly flooded with light. Victor was standing by the switch, eyes squinting in the sudden brightness. He was about the same height and build as Antibe, perhaps a little slimmer, but his hair was cropped close to his head, unlike Antibe’s wild and curly variant. It was his clothes that held Antibe’s attention, however.

The stranger was dressed in what could have been a uniform, a one-piece covering that jacketed his entire body apart from his hands and shoes on his feet. The material was slightly shiny and seemed to conform to the body underneath very tightly, for at no point did it wrinkle or fold. It was like a blue-grey second skin, stretching and shrinking to follow the body underneath whenever it moved. A belt with little compartments and buttons surrounded the man’s waist and guards like an archer’s wrapped his wrists.

The man was talking while Antibe took in the sight of the weird suit.

“Sorry. They told me you guys already have computer-driven households. It didn’t even occur to me to look for a switch.”

“No, some people have that sort of thing but I think it’s creepy. Much prefer doing things for myself.” Antibe dragged his eyes from the suit up to the man’s face. His skin seemed perfect, without a wrinkle or blemish anywhere, so monotone, in fact, that the face looked as if it belonged on a plastic dummy.

A thought crossed Antibe’s mind.

“Who are ‘they’?”

“Ah,” said Victor. “I thought we’d get to that. Just not so quickly, is all.”

Antibe was not to be deflected. “So what’s the answer?”

“They’re the ones that sent me on this little expedition. It’s all a bit experimental at the moment so arrival point is a bit variable. I wasn’t expecting this, for instance.” Victor looked around at the bare and dusty basement.

“Oh well, that’s very encouraging, to know that they are not really interested in my basement. What sort of experiment and where are you based?”

Victor sighed. “I’ll answer your questions but you’ll have to be quick and accept them without argument. I haven’t got much time…” He paused there, stuck a finger to his temple, concentrated for a second, then continued. “Just nine minutes, in fact, and then I’ll be called back. And I have to take you with me.”

Antibe stared at him. “What? Take me where? And how’re you gonna make me?”

“The future,” answered Victor. “Where else did you think I came from? You should have guessed by now.”

“No way. Even if I believed you, I wouldn’t go. I have a life here, you know. And there’s nothing to say you’ve not broken in from next door and are planning to kidnap me. You’re just a scam artist.”

Victor put a finger to his temple again. “Seven minutes,” he said.

Antibes looked suddenly concerned. “You’re joking, aren’t you?” And, when Victor shook his head in denial, Antibe continued, “Why would you want a useless bloke like me, anyway? I mean, I’m nothing special and…”

“Wasting time,” said Victor. “Just your bad luck, that’s all. Can’t let you stay behind to spread tales about time travellers and so on. It’s all in the regulations.”

“I’ll fight you for it,” said Antibe, a bit too hesitatingly to be believed.

“Three minutes,” said Victor. “You can try but you aren’t going to win. I could hypnotise you like that…” His fingers snapped and Antibe’s eyes went glassy. His arms fell nervelessly to his sides. Victor snapped his fingers again and continued, “Or you can come quietly and enjoy the experience.”

Antibe did not know what had just happened but he felt the weirdness of coming to the surface after long immersion. Or what seemed like it. His anger subsided to be replaced by fear.

“How long now?” he asked.

Victor felt his temple. “A minute,” he answered. “We’d better get ready. Which way is it going to be, quietly or in a coma?”

“You’re the boss,” said Antibe.

“Good.” Victor took his arm and they stood there in the basement as though waiting for a bus. Then they seemed to stretch upward until they began to disappear through the ceiling. They were gone and the light clicked off.

It was several days before Antibe’s neighbours began to wonder if he had been abducted by aliens, as he had always maintained was possible.

House Martel

Raven Task # 3 (x5)

Word count: 967
For "Game of Thrones The North Remembers, What’s His Story Prompt 12
Prompt: He fumbled in the darkness looking for the light switch, but when he finally found it there was someone already there.
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