by Colin Holm
Frank creates a device that allows him to speak to a man from another dimension
"Frank, it's half past midnight. I'm going home. You should leave too" she said gently. "Get some sleep. You don't want to be an old recluse like me. You're 26 for God's sake; you should be living your life, not hunched over a multi-faceted unionizer."
His blurry eyes looked up at Janice, slowly coming into focus.
12:30? It was 10:01 like...five minutes ago.
"Can you bring me a coffee before you go, Jan? And you're not that old. I mean, my mom is older than you."
She came back, giving him a coffee and a concerned look. Leaving, she shot another over her shoulder at Frank.
The device's screen popped up.
"Eureka! Janice! It's on, Janice!"
Where'd she go? What time is it? Oh, she left. That's right
The clock read 1:29 am. Frank stood up and stretched; he'd have to tell her about it tomorrow. They'd been working on the machine for a long time. A new wave! Janice had given him the best idea for the name.
"The Omega ray" he muttered to himself. "Little cliché, isn't it?"
He turned the dial, tuning the frequency higher, and adjusted the unionizer. The power coupler sparked and fizzed, but it didn't fail.
I wonder if anyone else is on here. Some secretive government organization, perhaps? Eh, maybe.
The static sound stopped, and Frank heard a static voice! He held his breath. If there really was someone else, who knew if they were friendly?
"—There? I repeat: is there anyone there?" What do I say? How much trouble would I get in?
"Hi, uh, Frank Morton here. Who's this?"
A coughing sound came through.
" Marten Rosek. Help me, they're coming!"
He launched into a tirade about obscure figures coming for him, not giving any real details.
"Slow down, Marten. I'll help you if I can, but I need you to calm down, OK? Who's coming for you?"
"I don't know! All I know is that they come and take people in the night! Every single night, someone goes missing from the Neighborhood."
Frank wondered what to do. Who was this crazy guy?
He's insane. And why'd he say neighborhood like that, like it's a city or something?
"What's the Neighborhood? Someplace you live?"
"What are you, an idiot? How do you not know what the Neighborhood is? You live under a rock or something? Everyone's lived in them since the war."
He's insane. Poor guy. Well, I'll humor him.
"No, I really don't know. Tell me."
"I don't have time! I shouldn't have spoke out against the Elite. Since you don't know anything, I guess I'll explain. Since my grandfather's time, a group of—I don't even know what to call them— has ruled us. They came from another place; I don't know where. We aren't allowed to learn anything except how to work, but my mom had this book that came with some parts, and it showed me how to build this thing. I'm a good farmer; maybe the Elite will forgive me. Wait! Frank! I just figured it out! You and I are in parallel dimensions!"
Frank was scared. After all, this psycho could try finding him.
"Marten, I didn't want to have to say this, but you're insane! There's no such thing as aliens, and you're not in another dimension! Get some help!"
Frank jumped as a loud bang sounded outside. Dark blue light filled the room, and Frank stumbled towards the window with a hand over his eyes. A whirlwind swept through the room, papers and office supplies going everywhere.
He spun around, seeing a man bathed in the blue light. He was skinny, with sunken cheeks and a lanky frame, a few years younger than Frank. Dark hair framed his pale face.
"This isn't where I was, Frank. I was just in my house, talking to you, then I passed out!"
Marten. Oh my God
"You— You weren't lying." he said quietly.
Spinning, he looked out the window, seeing something that shouldn't exist. A large metal cube floated in the sky.
"You've gotta be kidding me. Aliens are real. You're from another dimension. In your dimension, humans are enslaved. Sound about right?"
"Yeah. Look, I feel like I brought you into this. I'm so sorry." Frank sunk to his knees, completely numb.
"I'm not even surprised at this point. 2020 sucks."