Floored

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I landed on my back. Six jumped in front of me and fired a volley of bullets at the shield. None of them got through.

Our attackers inside the shield ran right at us. Six didn’t move. He kept firing. The shield was going to hit him.

A shadowy figure shot past Six and through the shimmering shield like it wasn’t there. The shield vanished. The new arrival punched the shield carrier to the ground. He leapt and grabbed the flyer’s leg, yanked him down, then kicked him, sending him flying back into the graveyard.

He turned and waved at us, then pointed to the farm, ordering us to run for it.

ShadowAspect.

It was really good to see him again.

He couldn’t have timed his intervention any better.

The Bulletproof woman

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The flyer couldn’t deflect our bullets himself. He had to stay behind the shimmering cloud to make sure he didn’t get shot.

Six and I turned and ran. Six looked over his shoulder every few steps and fired another shot. Then he reloaded so quickly I almost missed it.

We were getting away.

A second figure leapt in front of the flyer. I could tell it was a woman. Like the flyer, she wore a mask and was dressed in all black. The shimmering air burst out from between her hands. As she moved in front of the flyer, the shimmering air enveloped them both like a shield. Once they were both protected, she ran at us, the flyer hovering behind her.

Six gave up trying to shoot them and we ran for it. We reached the last rows of graves. I glanced over my shoulder. They were still right behind us. The one wielding the bulletproof shield pushed her hands together, making a bright burst of power. She flung a blast out of her shield. The force hit me in the shoulder and blew me off my feet.

The Bulletproof Flying Man

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Six and I backed away through the gravestones. The dark figure flew after us.

We changed direction, turned and ran, aiming for the back of the graveyard and the meadow beyond.

The dark figure veered in the air, sinking until his feet nearly touched the ground, then took off after us.

We ran hard, but the flying figure was catching us up with evey stride we made. Six pulled his gun, turned and fired two silenced shots at him.

The air shimmered in front of the flyer. The bullets zipped into the shimmering air and deflected into the night.

Six fired again.

The air concentrated into a glimmering, silvery cloud. The bullets ricocheted away. We backed away as Six kept firing. The bullets didn’t get near the flyer.

My eyes caught a shimmer to the flyer’s right. He wasn’t the one deflecting the bullets. Someone else was doing it for him.

The Figure in the Graveyard

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The car was stuck. Six gave up stamping on the accelerator and scowled. My shoulder and ribs sang from where the seatbelt had dug into them.

“How the hell did that happen?” he grated.

My phone vibrated.

“What happened?”Silas texted. “Why did you stop?”

“Something took control of the car and crashed it. We’re fine.”

“Get out of the car now. Take what you need and run. Leave files and computer – I have copies of everything. Check the boot.”

I hated leaving my laptop and manuscripts, but I knew I couldn’t run with them. Six found guns, ammo and night vision goggles in the boot. With out night vision goggles on, we left the car and ran over the field we had crashed into, which rose up towards the silhouette of a church at the top of a small hill.

I reached the church gasping for breath and leaned against the wall before my legs gave way. Looking back towards the car, I could see three figures skulking around it. They were searching for us.

Six and I crept around to a graveyard at the back. It was like an army of stones standing to attention. Beyond the graveyard was a meadow leading a mass of buildings that was the farm.

We picked our way through the gravestones, staying close to the biggest ones. Then Six stopped and pointed. I froze. Across the graveyard someone was moving. I couldn’t tell if we’d been seen or not. It looked like a man in a balaclava.

He stopped and lifted his face into the air like he was listening for something. What happened next was so unreal, I don’t think I would believe it now – if Six hadn’t been there and seen it too.

The man in the graveyard spread his arms. He lifted slowly into the air and flew right at us.

A Near Miss Followed by Bullets

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We tore right at the van, seconds away from a head-on collision. Six swung the car right suddenly. I was thrown to the left. My face slammed into the window.

The van didn’t turn in time.

We shot right past it. I braced myself as we just missed the van’s front bunper. Six hammered his foot down and accelerated again, operating the gearstick like a rally driver, his eyes fixed on the road.

I opened my eyes and glanced at the road, thinking that danger was past, but another car, a Porsche SUV sped right at us. A guy heaved himself through the passenger seat window with an assault rifle in his hand and opened fire.

That’s not a Mask

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With Six on high alert, pacing between the window and the door, I took my turn to sleep, my mind full of stories and spies. Then a fight broke out. Guns were drawn. Punches landed. Furniture crashed.

No. It was coming from inside the room.

I snapped awake with a jolt. Six stood pinned against the wall near the window, his eyes wild, aiming his gun over the bed at the wall nearest me. It was pointed at a dark shadow, which moved towards me as I sat up.

ShadowAspect.

“It’s alright. Don’t shoot,” I blurted out, my head still fogged with sleep.

“What the hell are you?” Six hissed. “No one can walk through walls.” The more he studied ShadowAspect, the wider his eyes and mouth opened. “That’s not a mask,” he gasped. “That’s not clothes. Where’s his face?”

“As far as I know, the technical term for him is an Alius,” I said, my head clearing. “Best just to suspend your disbelief and go along with it. He’s on my side and he’s saved my life a few times already.”

“Didn’t see him when Nine was here,” Six muttered.

“I don’t think I’m his master’s only concern,” I said with a touch of bitterness, thinking back to what the last figure in black had told me.

ShadowAspect simply pointed to my laptop – where an email was waiting for me.

“Time to go,” was all it said.

“Go where?” Six demanded. He eyed ShadowAspect suspiciously. “With that?”

Despite ShadowAspect’s lack of features, I could tell his hackles were rising.

“Him,” I gently corrected Six.

“And does “he” drive?” Six asked.

ShadowAspect shook his head.

Once my stuff was packed, ShadowAspect held out both hands to Six and me. I knew what was going to happen next and I was pretty sure Six wouldn’t like it.

The Hitman’s Second Instruction

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The Vudrian hitman picked up a pile of ShadowAspect’s notes and drafts.

“It must kill you – having seen the real thing and now making do with secondary material.”

“What do you mean?” I shift in my chair.

“I know an addict when I see one. You’ve looked into the Infinistra. Now you’re stuck in a room wanting more. Very clever of Sarasin it was too.”

“Nothing I can do about it now,” I snap.

“I can’t find Sarasin,” he said flatly. “And I don’t have the time to waste hunting him down. Killing you would set him back, but not for long, so I need to know you’re going to hide the facts in the fiction.”

“I was going to anyway,” I shrugged.

“My planet has its own problems. But you’re in the middle of two worlds that are about to collide. There is a real danger of harmful information coming out and I need it kept secret.”

“Unless it’s presented as fantasy, you mean?”

“Some of it is about to be presented as fact. And once it is out, there will be no stopping it.”

He advanced on me. I really didn’t like where this was going.

“You need to get to it first. There is a file of information hidden somewhere and you need to find it before anyone else does. Then you must use it in your stories. If someone does try to present it as truth later on, no one will ever believe them.”

“How do I do that?” I spluttered. “What am I looking for?”

“Ask your friend Silas about a dead cop. Then you’ll know what to do.”

“What if he won’t help.”

“Tell him he can hide all he likes. I know where to find him.”

With that, he parted the curtains, stepped through the window like it was water and vanished. I ran to the window, but he was gone.

At home watching TV

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Without having actually met him, I was already thinking of Silas as a friend. He understood just what it was like being cooped up here like a prisoner. The TV wasn’t much. I could follow a few favourites like NCIS, Agents of Shield, Person of Interest and Scorpion. But having to limit my online activity meant I couldn’t order or stream anything, so he sent me some DVDs to keep me entertained. Turns out we have similar taste in crime and murder: Criminal Minds and Castle for starters. There was the first season of Blacklist and a few episodes of Blindspot to try as well.

When I was in Sarasin’s cave, we watched Star Wars through the Infinistra, but that could only hold me for so long. I always write with something on the TV anyway, so I soon felt at home and was able to get on with my work.

Living in a hotel, I was cut off from the world. I almost forgot that there were people out there looking for me.

The Dangerous Reality

jason ryback bullet point for blog“Take it easy in future,” came Arvalane’s voice from just beyond my right ear. “That thing’s not meant for you.”

I came to, lying on a mattress in the adjoining cave.

“You’ve been asleep a while, but it’s time you got up. You need to see this.” Arvalane helped me to my feet. “Merry Christmas.”

I saw hundreds of happy childern opening their presents. I watched thousands of awestruck elves gazing from their snow-covered city – like in Sarasin’s book.

My attention turned to other familiar characters. I realised I had a choice to make. New Year’s Eve was amazing. Fireworks everywhere. I saw every spectacular show on Earth. And a few from somewhere else altogether – I couldn’t bring myself to ask.

Next thing I knew I’d been there a week, sitting on the floor, staring at the Infinistra, gazing at one unfolding real life story, then quickly scouring the images for a better one. Right then, I knew it. I had to be a writer. I needed the stories. If I backed out now, I would never forgive myself. I was scared of the danger that still lurked around every corner, but I had no choice.

The conflict could make me a better writer – and give me my own story to relate to my readers. Whatever the danger, I had to use Sarasin’s stories. I had to see more. I was finally earning a living as a writer and I couldn’t stop now.

The Infinistra

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I couldn’t take my eyes off the Infinistra. Stories. Stories everywhere. I flitted eagerly from one image to the next. I saw thousands of normal people going about their lives, all making up bigger pictures of war, crimes and deaths taking place as I watched. I could see inside homes, palaces and government buildings. I watched top secret meetings and briefings.

As I edged from right to left across the Infinistra, the lives I was spying on became more strange, more hidden, more secret. People and organisations working away from the public eye. Murders, fraud, spies and undercover cops.

I couldn’t help myself. I was seeing incredible things. The volumes of non-fiction bestsellers I could write just on what I had seen already. But I had to see more. What else was there? At the far end, I caught glimpses of worlds, castles and battles that should have belonged in fantasy novels and comic books. I watched figures in black cloaks preparing for war. They looked like the figure I saw drop past my window.

Then something else caught my eye. I stepped up and explored the smaller images making up the larger one and those clustered around it. I was watching people I recognised. I knew their descriptions from the manuscripts Sarasin had sent me, from books I had written and worked on.

Suddenly it all dawned on me. Why I was in hiding and why I was being followed. The people I was writing about were real. I was publishing fiction about real people who existed in real, dangerous worlds and would stop at nothing to silence me.