Ramsden was grateful he didn’t feel drained like he had the first time. He actually felt more than ready to open the portal again. He took his position and began to weave words and hand motions together. Something was different this time. He didn’t just see the formulas in his mind’s eye, he nearly stuttered as he thought he saw the words flowing out of his mouth like breath vapor. He kept speaking and the vapor continued, leaving his mouth and clumping up into symbols that his hands happened to grab in the air and place in the position of where they fit in the formula. That is is! That is why hands motions and incantations need to work together! It was amazing. But what changed that he could see these now and not before?
When he got to the linking part of the process, he couldn’t do it. He would see the symbol flow out and form in front of him. As his hand grabbed the formula and tried to put it into place, it would fizzle and fade. He tried this three times before giving up and standing there dejected.
“What’s wrong?” Silvia asked. Ramsden kept replaying things in his head. He was doing the exact same thing as before, but something was lacking and he didn’t know what.
“It’s not working for some reason. I’m going to try something else.” Ramsden began the process for the fourth time. This time when he got to the linking part, he focused on his lifeforce and the symbol around that. The symbol flowed out of him and formed, with a tinge of red around the form. As he was about to put the symbol in place he started feeling drained. He froze in place. There was a chance he’d be able to complete the procedure, but at what cost. He didn’t need to be laid up in the hospital again for nearly a week. He didn’t want to wait either, but they did have a lot of video and data to take back and analyze.
He took the symbol and squashed it in his right-hand and with his left he wiped away the formula that floated in the air in front of him. He turned to the others and shook his head.
“I don’t know why I can’t open the portal again. Everything seems to work perfectly until I get the part where I link into the leyline to channel that power instead of my lifeforce. It seems I could force it through lifeforce, but for all I know it’ll kill me, not just put me in the hospital for a week. The others nodded in understanding.
“What now?” J.J. asked.
“Lets analyze what we have. I need to document my findings and speak to Mr. Jainukul.” The others started packing up. Silvia came over and put a hand on Ramsden.
“You okay?” she asked with a look of concern on her face.
“Actually I feel better than when we arrived,” Ramsden answered honestly.
“You don’t know what this process is doing to you. I applaud you for showing restraint and not pushing on into things that could cause you great harm. Thanks Ram,” Silvia said. Ramsden gave her a quizzical look.
“Thanks for what?”
“For showing restraint is all.”
“I guess I have plenty of opportunity to show plenty of my unrestrained self,” he said and they laughed together.
* * *
NOTE: This next scene only works with adding other “stuff” to the scene where Ramsden opens the yellow portal.
Agent Lance Caldwell looked with sleepy eyes at the stack of papers collecting on his desk. When he transferred to the anti-terrorist division of the FBI, he had no idea it would be this much paperwork. He was approaching the end of another twelve hour shift and all he could think of was a pillow and some z’s, not the stack of possible leads on his desk.
He had tried to go the digital route, but his eyes got tired more quickly than reading actual print outs. Not to mention that he was one of the last hold outs in the office who still like the feel of a good book when sitting down to read, which translated into him printing everything before he read a file. He realized he was daydreaming and his thoughts running away with him. He vaguely remembered reading the same page three times and still didn’t know what it said. It was time to call the work day quits.
Assigned to the San Francisco branch had it’s perks. There was always something to do in the Bay Area, wether it was a Giants game, walking China Town for some good authentic food or travelling to any number of excellent vacation spots within a two hour drive. Today though he figured he’d head back to his tiny apartment near Geary and Van Ness. It wasn’t a great place to live, almost like living in an office building, but it was central and gave him easy access to most of the city.
Opening the bottom drawer of his desk he pulled out a pair of Nike running shoes with neo green sole and black tops. It wasn’t his favorite color combination, but after trying on nearly twenty pairs of shoes at the Nike Outlet, these had been the most comfortable. The color was starting to grow on him and he wore them proudly now. He slipped off his dress shoes and before putting them in his bottom drawer add a bit of foot deodorizer to the shoes to keep them somewhat fresher smelling. Once he had his Nike’s on he stood to leave, when the phone at his desk rang. He looked the phone trying to decide what to do.
“Agent Caldwell,” he said as he sat back down. He loosened his solid black tie and unbuttoned the top button of his baby blue colored dress shirt.
“I have a transfer from San Jose PD, please hold,” FBI dispatch said before a series of clicks and then the line was open with someone talking in the background to someone else.
“Agent Caldwell,” he said again.
“Agent, this is Sergeant Booth from the San Jose PD. Thanks for taking my call. We have something you guys might be interested in.”
“What do you mean something?”
“Witnesses are saying there was some sort of explosion, followed by a bright light shinning off the hills for nearly an hour before disappearing.”
“This is the anti-terrorism division Sergeant. That description isn’t a lot to go on. You sure you got the right guys?”
“I just got back from the sight myself. It’s weird and so I figured you guys might be able to weigh in since for all I know it some sort of new bomb or whatnot. I’m sorry to throw this at you, but…”
“No it’s alright. That’s why I get paid the big bucks. Actually, I need to get out and get some fresh air. I’m just finishing up a full shift. Okay if I come out in the morning?”
“No problem. We taped off the area and its not a place a lot of people go near any how. I can email over the preliminary report and site location.”
“Sounds great, let me give you my email,” Caldwell said as he exchanged contact information with Boothe so he could easily get back in touch with the sergeant if necessary. He hung up shortly after, saw the half empty cup of coffee on his desk and figured he’d wash his mug out tomorrow.
Caldwell looked forward to his seven block walk home. He tended to keep the pace fast so he got a bit of a workout, since he wasn’t always able to make it to the gym in order to run on the treadmill. As he made his way home, he kept thinking about the call. It wasn’t a lot to go on, but he appreciated the break. He’ll have to remember to send an email to the team tomorrow to let them know he’s out in the field.
“Agent Caldwell, how goes it?” A man with a dirty face and about ten layers of mis-matched clothes leaned against one of the buildings with a cup in his hand he held out to those that passed by.
“Evening Sam,” Caldwell said as he rummaged in his pocket for some change. “Good day today?”
“So-so. Business down near Union Square was piss poor today. Just trying to catch nice people like you on their way home for the day,” Sam said as he smiled a set of yellowed teeth at Caldwell. Caldwell dropped some change in the man’s cup.
“Keep up the good work. And be careful, this building they’ll call the cops on you,” he said. Sam only smiled more broadly.
“I know that. It helps my cause some days to be seen being run off by the cops. People feel sorry for me and tend to be more generous.” He had a bellow of a laugh and Caldwell smiled in return.
“See you tomorrow Sam.”
“If it be in the stars,” Sam said with one of his usual New Age replies.
“Hopefully it will be,” Caldwell said as he picked up his pace and headed home for the evening.
* * *
Caldwell arrived at the San Jose site sometime after ten in the morning. He had to go into work first, get the email, print it out and then check out one of the FBI’s finest generic square cars. In his haste he had kept his Nike’s on, which clashed with his navy blue slacks, white shirt and plain navy blue tie. He didn’t bother wearing a jacket, but left it in the car. He liked the cool weather of the Bay Area and often wore shorts year round when not on duty.
He parked the car near where the road veered off onto a dirt road that led up into the hills. He was okay with the walk and the cool morning air was refreshing. Within minutes he saw a field sectioned off with the yellow tape, the grass around the area flattened out. Even at this distance he could see something was strange. As he approached he slowed and then stopped. Looking more closely he began to walk the perimeter.
The grass wasn’t only flattened it was drained of all color. It wasn’t dead and brown, but grey. Also the area seemed to be imprinted into the shape of a perfect circle. Crap! he thought. He shouldn’t have left his field kit in the car. He wasn’t thinking straight today. Maybe too many long hours were finally getting to him and he was losing his edge.