To Remain Unseen

The notes on the laptop ShadowAspect had left me didn’t say when it had happened, but the fact the incidents were marked “Urgent” suggested it had all taken place recently.

Shadow Aspect emerged in a central London street in the dead of night. It was darker than he’d expected. Over half the streetlights he could make out in either direction had failed to turn on. It was perfect for him – and anyone else not wanting to be seen. Someone had taken out the lights on purpose.

A car rolled down the street, its headlights already turned off. It parked about fifty metres away.

ShadowAspect noticed something on the wall above. He stretched up the wall and touched his elongated fingers to the security camera belonging to the shop behind him. It wasn’t working. Every other security camera on the street wouldn’t be working either. Someone didn’t want to be seen. And they had the power to make that happen.

Escape

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Six turned and ran for it. I scrambled to my feet and followed. I felt dazed and a little delicate from being hit, but I just shook it off as I ran.

The farm was further away than it looked. Running in the darkness towards the shape of a group of buildings, I didn’t dare slow down. Glancing over my shoulder, it didn’t look like anyone was following.

Eventually we reached the farm and hid behind the wall of a barn. I collapsed to the ground, my lungs burning. My legs screamed in pain.

“Who the hell were they?” Six uttered. He wasn’t even breathing heavily.

“Dunno,” I gasped.

“They weren’t like ShadowAspect,” he thought out loud. “They were more like the woman who dodged my bullets.” He peered around the corner. “We need to get out of here before any of them see what car we’re driving.”

Six led the way and I staggered after him. He found a barn by the lane leading out of the farm and hauled the door open.

My phone vibrated in my pocket. Car doors unlocked in front of me. The lights came on inside the Ford Focus sitting in the barn.

Six jumped in the driver’s seat. I sank into the passenger seat. He accelerated and drove at breakneck sped out of the farm.

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.