In 2172 it was supposed to end the world, as most cataclysmic events threaten to do. A spatial tear that formed near Earth's orbit, predicted to drift into the planet's path long enough to engulf it and crush it black hole-like out of existence. As the nations of the world erupted into mass hysteria and rioting, prophets proclaimed the end of all things and madmen threw themselves to their deaths off the highest building. And behind the chaos scientists all across the globe raced to find the technology to save it all.
With a shudder in the local space/time continuum, Earth passed over the tear's threshold and for a long, heart-stopping moment, the sun, the stars and everything else in the universe disappeared. And much to everybody's surprise it reappeared a moment later.
At first everyone thought they had survived the end. That somehow everything was the same as it was before. After all, no cities were destroyed, the landmasses didn't move, nothing was flooded, burnt or buried. Governments still ruled, people still lived; nothing had changed.
They were wrong.
His goateed face tightened as he looked up at the street clock with its glowing holographic numbers: 20:42. Eighteen minutes to curfew and he still had a mark to take out. Adjusting his quantum shadow goggles and pulling his loose coat closer to his lean form, he scrubbed a hand over his bare head and looked down the street. Like many such streets in the hollowed out wreck that was once Toronto, Canada, it was empty. Or was it?
There, the slight shift of light being bent at the corner of a nearby intersection. A cloaking field, and a good one too. Drawing his disruptor, a weapon that worked no matter what the target's quantum signature was, he focused his goggles in that direction. And he grinned when a halo appeared around the bubble of bent light. 'Bingo.' He thought.
Taking a two handed grip on his weapon, he carefully eased his way down the street, keeping to the shadows as much as possible. Unfortunately this section of the city had been relatively spared the destruction that marred the greater part of it and the street lights were still working. That forced him to hug the walls of the buildings lining the street to stay out of the pale yellow circles the lights cast on the ground.
Not that it mattered; long years spent hunting these things had taught him they didn't see things like humans did. There was a better than average chance this thing already knew he was coming, and could see quite well in the dark to boot.
The bubble didn't shift in the minute or two it took for him to get into weapons range. Either the cloak was a decoy and it had circled around to try and take him out from behind. Or it was confident its cloak was keeping it nice and hidden. He smiled tightly. Either way, there would shortly be weapons fire.
He was taking aim at the bubble when, without warning, a voice blared from a hidden speaker built into the street clock behind him.
"Citizens! Be advised that martial law is in effect. You have fifteen minutes to clear the streets or you will be arrested." The voice paused, then began to repeat its message.
Having lived through more than his fair share of distractions, the man didn't flinch when the curfew message started to blare. Whatever was hiding under the bubble apparently wasn't so hardened. As soon as the amplified voice began to echo along the broad street, the bubble popped as it spooked and a dark shape bolted down the cross street.
"Shit." He hissed. Then he was running full speed to the corner, turning hard left and running after it.
Whatever it was, it was quick, flying over cracked concrete and seamed pavement so fast it left a dust trail. That tightened the man's expression even further. He had tracked things like this one during the war and it hadn't taken long to learn there was only one way to slow them down: you put a hole in their head.
YOU ARE READING
Through Darkened GlassScience Fiction
The Fracture: a tear in the fabric of space swallows Earth for a brief moment and changes everything forever. Ex-soldier Gabe Keplar is doing his best to survive on the new, broken Earth hunting down rogues and bringing their tags in for cash. But...