The story so far:
February 23, 2000
An icy wind whispered across the quiet sands of the Mojave and tickled the flames of the crackling campfire.
“Damn, I didn’t think it actually got this cold in the desert.” Suze nestled up closer to her long blond haired and scruffy boyfriend Byron.
“No doubt. You’d think this big **** rock would provide us a little more shelter.” Byron said as he draped his arm around her.
Alex leaned forward, his dark hair and darker eyes giving away no hint he was joking when he said, “Hey there daddy-mack, easy how you talk about Rachel’s magical rock.”
Chilly chuckles came from five of the six college kids huddled around the fire.
“Yea, yea…I know. Were on sacred ground and blah, blah, blah.” Byron offered while passing the half empty bottle of rum to Shar.
Rachel shot Byron a few daggers then shook her head toward Alex as she quickly got to her feet and wandered off into the night.
“Rach…Hey Rach, come on. We didn’t mean anything by it.” Alex called after her but she didn’t respond.
“Good goin’ jackass.” Alex shot toward Byron who shrugged his shoulders with indifference. “Now I gotta chase after her before she gets lost.”
Alex managed to grab the roach clip out of Dereks hand and take a quick hit before he staggered off to find his too sensitive girlfriend.
Rachel wandered around the corner of the Giant rock, right into the hands of darkness. She was overly emotional today and couldn’t help the tears that welled up in her eyes. This trip meant so much to her. She had spent weeks convincing them all to come with her on this weekend retreat into the desert. Her hope was that they would at some point share in her enthusiasm. That they would all feel the energy here and marvel at the history of the area. Instead, all they wanted to do was get wasted and make fun of her. She had had enough! She believed this place was special. She believed the stories were true. Van Tassel and his experiences with the extraterrestrials. And she believed there were answers here. For the world…Or maybe just for her. She couldn’t explain it but she believed that she was meant for something more than spending the rest of her life in a lab doing tests. It was hard enough for a woman studying physics to be taken seriously, let alone one that had been cursed with her mother’s good looks. She hated being beautiful. And no matter what she did to hide it, baggy sweatshirts, librarian glasses, unflattering pant suits…it never seemed to stop the snickering or ogling. There came a point when she had decided to give it all up. Maybe get a job as a model or an actress. But then she had discovered the story of Van Tassel and she felt an immediate connection to it. Like, suddenly her life had meaning. It was impossible to explain to someone. The only example she could give was how some people felt when they believed they had found Christ.
And now, to finally be here, at this sacred location, she felt that connection more than ever. There was a current running through her. In her blood. In her organs. In her soul. Definitely in her cells. It began with the ‘sound bath’ she had forced everyone to take earlier at the Integretron. Everyone except Byron of course, who had been too busy smoking pot and making, ‘big-hard-rock jokes.’ Every since then the sensations were only getting stronger. She felt her hair tingle and her skin crawl. She felt so aroused that she had nearly climaxed earlier. Her panties were constantly wet. Her nipples erect. Her mouth dry. Actually, she had finally admitted to herself that it was starting to hurt just a little. Her temples ached and her joints were stiffening. That was the real reason she had gotten up and walked away from the campsite. Only, she wouldn’t let Byron know that. Let the **** think it was because of him. Maybe if her head exploded he would feel guilty. She doubted it. Even so, it was becoming harder and harder for her to concentrate.
She thought she heard Alex calling after her, but she couldn’t be sure. She tried to turn around and head back but her feet seemed to take on a life of their own as they resisted her demands and continued forward. All around her was an enveloping aura of staticy current and it seemed to be closing in. She peered into the distance but found only darkness. Darkness…and light? The contradiction perplexed her. How could she see light if all she saw was darkness? And she yeared for that light. It held promise and…plans?
Then she felt it. Like thousands of delicate fingers on her body. On her breasts. On her face. Up and down her spine.
Suddenly, her fear was like the darkness and the sensational rapture was like the light.
She felt the embrace of another world and she melted into it. It lifted her into the air and she felt her body suspended far above the desert sand.
The remaining four watched as Alex staggered out into the darkness after Rachel. Byron waited until he was out of earshot before he spoke:
“Awesome. Now that buzz kill is gone I can finally take a piss on this big **** rock.” More laughter from Derek, Shar and Suze.
“Seriously, I gotta go bad!” Byron unhinged himself from Suze, stood up on wobbly legs and then dashed around the corner of Giant rock. He had wanted to christen the damn thing earlier but Rachel’s persistent whining about Indians and time travel energy or some **** had convinced him otherwise. Not because he believed her…Hell no! He wasn’t about to buy into any of that tabloid **** about ‘sound baths’ and ‘cell rejuvenations.’ He just wanted to shut her the **** up.
He continued to move along the outside of the rock. It was literally pitch black except for the millions of stars twinkling high above. Byron walked for a while, making sure he was well away from the campsite. He would never admit it to anyone but he was actually a little gun shy about pissing around people. Mostly because he was uncomfortable with his dick size. He wasn’t sure what was considered ‘average,’ and he hadn’t received any complaints from the ladies…still, he imagined sometimes that they were giggling behind his back. Maybe he was just being paranoid. At any rate, he figured better safe than sorry.
He finally came to a halt as his hand detected a little inlet he could aim his stream into.
He unzipped his fly and pulled little Byron out.
“Do your thang little man.” He muttered in relief.
“Little is right.” Came a throaty reply from behind him.
Byron nearly jumped out of his shoes. He chocked off the stream and without thinking about the implications of being caught with his tiny pecker in his hand, whirled around to face the jokester. However, in the blackness he couldn’t make anything out. So he opened up the valve again and let the current come flowing back out. He moved his body left and right, spraying urine in a semi-circle around him.
“How you like me now ****? HUH!”
There was no response.
Byron figured it was probably just Alex. Got tired of his crybaby girlfriend and decided to play a practical joke on him. Byron really didn’t know Alex that well but he seemed like a real douche-bag. Typical hacky-sacking, Dave Matthews band loving frat boy. Always sucking up to Rachel like she was something special. Byron had to admit, she was pretty damn hot. He would do her in a heartbeat. What a set of knockers! But he wouldn’t put up with that whiney **** attitude from anyone.
“You didn’t scare me Alex.” He called out to the blackness.
Still no response.
Byron tucked his little man back into his pants and zipped up. He figured Alex had probably crept silently away back to the camp. No doubt he would get some ribbing when he got back. No big deal. He could ‘take it’ as well as he could ‘dish it.’
Feeling confident he was alone again Byron pulled out a cigarette and casually struck a match to light it. In the ensuing glow he could have sworn he spotted a man standing off to his left. And it didn’t look like Alex.
He stumbled backward into the rock and dropped both the match and his smoke. His suddenly very cold fingers struggled to ignite another one. He thought he sensed someone, or something closing in on him. Something old and dirty.
He struck the match and it sparked to life, only to be extinguished moments later by a sudden gust of frigid air. Byron had only a fraction of a second to transfer his gaze from the match to the surrounding scene, and in that fraction, he saw the figure again. It was a man alright. He looked like he was out of some old western movie. Not a cowboy though…more like one of those west coast gold miners or something. Must be some homeless guy. Hopefully not insane.
Byron began to move slowly sideways, back along the wall of the rock, in the direction he had come. He timidly pulled another match off and was just about to strike it when a foul odor smacked him the face. It was the scorching hot stench of day old Texas road kill.
“Oh god please…please just leave me alone.” He whimpered.
Silence. Another heated breath in his face. Byron gagged out his next words:
“What do you want, huh? Money…is that it man? Cause I’m **** loaded! You just let me get back to the car and I’ll give you my wallet. Honest. I’ll…”
“Shut up.”Came the rancid reply.
Byron shrank back against the rock. He felt the heat of the mans hatred drilling into him. Scanning him.
“What are you doing here boy.”
Byron thought hard. He didn’t want to say the wrong thing that might set this nut job off. His life may depend on it.
“Were here to, ah…just to see the big rock here man. Oh, and to go to that intervention thingie or whatever a few miles away. Ya know, for that bath thing is all. I swear. We aint hurting nothing.”
A roll of stinky laughter erupted in Byrons face. He nearly threw up.
“You’re hurting a lot more than you think boy. You shouldn’t be here. Not anytime…but especially not tonight.”
“Yea. Yea okay…I’ll go. Right now man. I’ll get everyone and we will get the **** out of here right away. Okay?”
“You better get the hell out of here boy. And when you see that meddling little bitch Rachel, you tell her this for me…”
As Rachel hung suspended in mid-air, a comforting voice spoke to her…from inside of her own head. The words reverberated through her entire body:
“You are special Rachel. We see in you a woman of vision and the ambition to move forward with plans. Plans that began many years ago by a wonderful man named Moses. Plans that have continued slowly throughout your species evolution by other special people like Roger Bacon, Jabir Ibn Hayyan, Nikola Tesla and most recently George Van Tassel. It is your turn now Rachel. You must continue Van Tassels work. But beware. There are those that seek to destroy the plans. Those that do not want your species to rejuvenate or to master the art of time travel. They need you to remain just as you are, Mortal. So that when you cease to exist they may harvest the energies within you for their own selfish needs. Beware these creatures who seek to destroy you. To destroy us. They come wearing disguises of familiarity and offering you assistance in achieving your goals. And they will come Rachel. You must be ready.
The events that are about to occur will be very confusing to you at first, and you will be hurt Rachel, not physically, but in your heart. Trust us when we say they are necessary. In order for the plans to continue, the power must be released. Accept it…and let it in. Once you learn to harness all of your new energy, you will come to understand exactly what it is you must do.
This is a lot to comprehend Rachel, but you are special and we know you can handle it. When the time is right, we will visit you again.”
As the last words ricocheted through her mind she felt her body slowly descend back to the earth and the light faded back into darkness.
She stared blankly ahead of her…trying to grasp the enormity of what had just occurred. Had it been real? Was she going insane? Maybe she had gotten a contact buzz from Derek’s pot?
Then she noticed someone standing before her. He looked familiar…
He was speaking to her, but all she could hear was a loud humming in her ears. What was that? She raised her hand to touch the person in front of her and she felt the energy within her boiling. She was electric. She felt so…powerful.
“RACHEL!” The person’s words finally penetrated into her head and she immediately identified him as Alex. Even so, his words perplexed her.
“RACHEL…WE GOTTA GET OUTTA HERE. SOMETHING CRAZYS GOIN’ ON…I THINK IT’S AN EARTHQUAKE!”
Byron didn’t bother responding to the crazy gold-miners words, he just ran like a bat out of hell. How had he known Rachel’s name anyway? He must have been spying on them earlier. Well once he got back to camp he would round up Alex and Derek and they would go teach that dirty **** a lesson.
As he rounded the corner and finally spotted the campfire, a tremendous sense of relief flooded through him. He didn’t want to admit it to himself, but he had really been terrified. Afraid for his life in fact.
But the relief was short lived. As Byron began to take in the panicky scene around the campfire he realized for the first time the heated electric hum in the air. It seemed to pulse throughout him. And it was growing in intensity.
He continued to move forward toward the others trying to make sense of the nightmare scene. Was it some sort of joke?
Suze was rolling around on the ground with her hands clamped to the sides of head. Her pant leg had apparently come too close to the fire and it caught a spark. He rushed forward to help her put it out. He was having trouble hearing anything above the constant electric humming, but he could see Suze’s mouth was stretched into an impossible ‘O’ shape which led him to believe she was screaming. When he was close enough he began to kick sand at her leg trying to put the fire out. He looked to Derek for help but what he saw there caused him to stop and gape.
Derek was bent down on his knees next to Shar. Her eye sockets were empty and her face was covered in a gooey red mask. Blood. Derek looked up at him and Byron saw blood gushing wildly out of his nose. He tried to pull Derek to his feet, to get him away from this madness and into the car, when Suze’s hand grasped hold of his ankle. Somehow she managed to get her grip up under his pant leg and her long nails dug deep into his soft flesh. Byron wailed at the top of his lungs. The humming in the air had gotten so loud and so thick that he could barely even hear his own screams. He looked around helplessly and for the first time spotted Alex standing off to his left by the car. He was just standing there like a zombie. Byron screamed for him but Alex didn’t move. He was staring at something…Byron followed his gaze and saw Rachel.
She was positioned in the middle of an electrical storm. Lightning bolts sizzled and cracked around her. Yet, she seemed unfazed. Almost at peace.
Byron screamed again and looked back to Alex for help. This time Alex heard him and apparently it had broken the spell. He rushed toward Byron at full speed.
Rachel knew what she had to do. She wasn’t sure how she knew, but after everything that had just occurred, she felt confident enough to follow her instincts. She raised her hands high in the air and felt the energy surge between them. The scene before her was madness. Her friends bloody and most likely dying. A part of her wanted to go to them. To save them. But she had a higher purpose now. This was bigger than all of them.
She looked to her left and saw Alex still standing still where she had left him. For that she was thankful. She didn’t want him anywhere near the campfire.
She closed her eyes and imagined her strength. She summoned the great forces of the universe. She felt the electromagnetic field around her vibrate. She felt an energy surge up through the Earth beneath her and enter into her heels…racing up through her blood stream, into her muscles, into her soul. She had become a human conductor. She aimed her thoughts toward the Giant rock…and she willed it to split.
Alex slammed into Byron with such a determined force that it not only knocked him backward but his momentum continued to carry him for several more yards. As he tried to rise up to his feet a flash of light stunned him into paralysis. For a few moments, time seemed to stop. He saw Alex’s head raised upwards with an expression of terrified awe. He saw Derek with his arms up as if to stop the sky from falling. He saw Suze embracing Shar as they prayed to some God. And then, as if someone suddenly pushed the play button, all Hell broke loose. The Giant rock violently shook and a huge piece of it cracked off and dropped directly down unto the campsite.
A tremendous burst of dust and sand sprang up around the fallen boulder, temporarily blinding Byron. He closed his eyes and still on his knees, began praying to God. Out loud. It was the first time he had done so since grade school.
“Dear Lord, please...um, forgive me my trespasses. Please let me live. Please, please, please. I promise I will do good things.”
He repeated the prayer over and over, until finally, a reply came:
Byron opened his eyes. It wasn’t God. It was Rachel.
“Everyone is dead. Except you and I.” She spoke matter of factly.
Byron looked around. There was nothing to see. No more dust cloud. No more campfire. No more Alex or Suze or Derek or Shar. Just a huge chunk of broken rock with a glaring white center.
Byron stood up and turned to face Rachel. He wanted to scream at her. To tell her to go to Hell. She was obviously some sort of witch or demon. Or maybe the Devil himself. But as he looked into her eyes, he instantly knew that he would serve her for the rest of his life. She owned him. And he was okay with that.
She smiled warmly at him as a tear slid down her cheek. She knew too. She had read his thoughts.
“You have a message for me Byron?” She asked without moving her lips.
It took him a moment to rummage through his mind to retrieve it. When he did, the rancid stench of the stranger’s breath made him wince.
“Yes, I do. Frank Critzer says you better watch your back, because he’s gonna be hunting you through time.”