Prologue: Constructing the portal
He was running for his life, away from the great horror. He ran away from what he saw back there but wasnít sure if it was following him. He ran until he came across the portal that brought him to this place so many times. Only now he saw it in more detail than before. He could now see the basic electronics with which it was built. He tried his best to remember thisÖ
Then the horror caught up with him and he woke up with sweat trickling down his forehead. He jumped up from his bed and started to draw the circuit diagram for this portal.
The student was having these strange dreams for weeks now. The last dream was the only one with which he could see the portal with such clarity. When finished, he took the diagram sheets and went to the lab.
The lab was in the university. All he really did there was experimenting with building little robots. He already build two of these, one utility robot to do all the circuit board burning and component placing, and the other is still in the programming phase. He knew these dreams had to mean something, something, which he was trying to figure out now.
It took him about a half an hour to get to the university. In this time he took the liberty of phoning his best friend Damon from his cellphone.
"Hey, Damon you got to get down to the lab right now, I got to show you this!"
"Bruce, you do realize it is two in the morning, canít this wait till I get up?"
"No, I have to show you now before I lose my inspiration."
"Okay, Iíll be there in a few minutes just keep your jacket on."
And so Damon went down to the lab to see what Bruce was up to. When he got there Bruce had already programmed the utility robot with the circuit board for the portal. Damon asked Bruce what was going on and so Bruce told Damon what he saw.
"You mean to tell me you saw this in a dream? ", Damon protested after hearing the story, "You canít mean that I woke up so early just for a dream? ".
"You donít understand Damon, it was surreal. It was like I was really there. And look, this circuit diagram looks legit."
"Yeah, it does, but you know this could have waited till morning."
They worked for a few hours, making the frame of the portal exactly like Bruce saw it in his dream. The outer frame of the portal was actually just a box for holding the circuits but the inner portal; this was to be made of steel. They melted a few rods of steel in a quickly made mold so it also looked like the one in the dream. This frame was put inside the outer frame so its spikes came out the sides of the frame. These spikes are where the inner frame made contact with the circuit diagram in the outer frame.
Bruce looked at his handiwork and said "This looks almost like the one from my dream but there is still something missing."
"What? What is missing?" Damon asked as Bruce stepped over to the portal.
"I donít know." Bruce said and switched the portal on.
They both stared at the portal as nothing happened.
"Well that was a waste of time. Iím going over to the kitchen to make some coffee. Want some?"
"No thank you just make for yourself." Bruce answered.
When Damon came back with his coffee he walked over to the portal that they just made.
"It should work!" Bruce said very upset.
"It looked like it was going to work, are you sure the frame is made of steel?"
There was a pause then Bruce said, "I donít know, I really donít knowÖ"
That evening Bruce was to anxious to go to sleep so he went to the town bar. There he met up with Damon again.
"To restless to sleep?"
"Yeah, I hate this anxiety. I came here to have a couple of drinks soÖ"
Red, a big guy who visited the bar frequently, interrupted him.
"Ya sitting in maí chair laddy. What yeí got saying for yeíself"
"Well I didnít know it made any difference where one sits in a bar."
"Well laddy, hereís a news flash for yeí, you are sitting in maí chair!"
Red picked Bruce up by the collar and dragged him to the door. Damon tried to stop Red but was discouraged by some of Redís goons when they gave him a glance.
"Iím gonna kick yer chair stealing behind out of this bar!"
He pushed Bruce out the door so hard that Bruce fell and hit his head against a hydrant.
The next thing Bruce opened his eyes and he was back in this strange world where he could see with perfect clarity this time. He was standing in a chapel type place with stained glass windows.
"I see you have returned," this said by a man Bruce knew, but didnít know, "I know you tried to duplicate the portal. You have to succeed, it is your destiny."
"What do you mean Ďmy destinyí, what am I supposed to do, why am I here!"
"All in good time, just calm down for now. I will tell you the story as I now it. Ancient prophecy have foretold a great horror, a great darkness that will befell our world. A mad man will open a dimensional gateway or portal, as you would like to call it, to the nether realm, the void, and summon a dark being to devour our land. The prophecy also foretells of a man from another realm, different than our own, who would come to save us. That man has been found to be you."
"Me? Why me? Iím just as normal as the next man!"
"The prophecy foretells of a man that can make metal walk. This walking metal can be the only thing that can be made in armies as we need them."
"You mean the robots? Now what if I donít find the materials I need in your little realm."
The man thought for a moment. "Well, weíll just have to wait and see. But in any event, you should duplicate the portal to come here. You have to use star-metal to construct the portal. Also, youíll need these ruinstones."
There was silence in which Bruce took the time to examine the ruinstones. After that the room began to blur. All Bruce could hear was the throbbing of his own heart as he began to wake upÖ
"You got yourself a nasty bump there last night." Damon was sitting across the room looking at something as Bruce started to sit up.
"What happened? I remember being in the barÖ The hydrantÖ Then I was in that chapel."
"Chapel? Maybe it has something to do with these. When I went picked you up from the ground, I found these." Damon stood up and gave Bruce a small black bag and a long purple rod.
"Look in there, the bag."
Bruce opened the bag and found six disk shaped stones in the bag. He took them out and examined them. "Theyíre from the portal. I remember now. Iím supposed to fix these on the outer frame of the portal."
Bruce picked up the rod and looked it over. "And this must be the star-metal. This Iím supposed to use on the inner frame. The man in the chapel gave these to me. But how did it get here?"
"I donít know, it was just there when I found you. It surprised me no one else noticed it."
"Well Iím going to the university. Iím going to finish this portal and go through it."
"And Iím coming with you." Damon said as Bruce stood up to make preparations to leave.
It took them about a half an hour to get ready and leave for the portal. Bruce packed a few clothes and equipment then went to Damonís house to pick up his equipment and clothes. They then went to the university where they fixed the portal. First they had to take out the inner frame again and replace it with the new star-metal frame. It took the star-metal a few hours to actually melt. Then they poured it into the mold and waited for it to become solid again.
"This is going to take forever, Bruce. It seems as once this metal is in one form it is hard to get it in the other form."
"Damon, you donít know what your talking about. You must be tired, letís go home and sleep this off. Tomorrow weíll see if this metal solidified yet and then we can try it again."
The two guys went home and went to sleep.
Then Bruce began to dream again. This time Bruce was in giant hall with candles along the walls and on pillars. Other than the candles the place was pitch dark. Then two yellow eyes appeared at the end of the hall. The eyes grew bigger as they came closer and Bruce felt afraid. Bruce started to run in the opposite direction along the hall. He ran and ran until he came to a wall.
It was a dead end. There was nowhere to go. Bruce tried to leap out of the eyesí way when they caught up to him. Then he saw whom the eyes belonged to. It was Damon! Bruce couldnít believe his eyes at the sight of his best friend with a huge head and two sinister eyes poking out of it. Damonís mouth was as big as a bathtub, ready to swallow Bruce with one gulp. Just as Damon came into biting range of Bruce, there was a huge explosion of white light and Bruce held his arms up to protect his eyes. Even with his eyes closed he could see the light, as blinding as it can be. Bruce then took his arms away knowing he couldnít escape the blinding light. The light went from blinding to being justÖ there. Bruce looked around and could see nothing. There wasnít a thing in sight. It was all just white. White as newly washed bed sheets. Bruce started to walk into what he though to be in front of him.
Bruce couldnít distinguish between the ground upon which he walked, and the sky, or what he thought was the sky. The place was empty. Not a hollow empty, but still empty. Bruce could feel himself being watched, but he couldnít tell where from. He took of his shoes because his feet began to feel like squashed potatoes. He left his shoes on the ground and walked on, into the nothingness. Bruce then noticed something in the pure white sky and looked up. There, in the big white sky, was a small black speck. Bruce ignored it and walked along. He walked until the speck came down in front of him, slowly at first. Then Bruce began to run toward the speck that was now almost in front of him. The speck became bigger and bigger as Bruce came closer to it. Then Bruce let out a gasp of despair as he realized what it was. It was his shoes!
Bruce realized he must have been walking in a type of sphere and collapsed to the ground. Just then the whiteness disappeared and left Bruce hanging in space. There was nothing. And this time it was black. No light. No nothing. Bruce started to feel alone. The presence that was there earlier was gone now. It left Bruce with a total emptiness inside. Then after spending what seemed like an eternity hanging in the void Bruce fell to solid ground.
He was in a forest. And over there was the portal. His only salvation. His only way out. This portal. Bruce started to run towards the portal in a hope to find a way out of this nightmare. He got to the portal and prepared to step through it, when the portal suddenly came alive. The opening of the portal turned into a giant mouth, which enveloped Bruce in one quick movement.
Then Bruce woke up, gasping for breath. He looked at his watch, seeing it was only 4 in the morning. Bruce slammed his head back into his pillow with relief.
Not tired anymore, Bruce got up and got dressed to go to the lab again. Bruce decided that if he attached the inner frame now he wouldnít have to wait until morning. Bruce was exited when he got to the lab, not really remembering the dream. He was also glad to see that the star-metal had hardened. It took only a couple of minutes to replace the steel inner frame with the new star-metal inner frame. Bruce was filled with the anticipation of the portal actually going to work so he switched it on. The portal did nothing for a moment but then began to glow. The open space inside the portal started to ripple as though it was a pool, hanging vertically. Bruce leapt with joy and yelled out in excitement and decided to phone DamonÖ Damon the horrible thing from his dream. This thought only stayed in his mind for a moment as he explained to himself that it was only a dream. But so also was the portal. Until nowÖ
It took Damon only a few minutes to get to the lab after Bruce phoned him. Damon was also very excited about the fact that the portal actually worked. He was actually going to go to another world with his best friend. Hopefully it works, Damon thought to himself. What if itís just a scientific fluke? What if the thing will rip them apart as they step through it? Damon banished these thoughts from his mind when he met up with Bruce.
Bruce told Damon what he could remember about the dream and Damon agreed that it was just a dream. The fact that it was a dream disturbed Bruce because of the fact that the portal was also Ďjust a dreamí. And now here they are. Facing a thing that neither of them has ever seen. The pair stood and watched the portal in silence, both knowing what must be done but neither of them brave enough to do it.
Bruce broke the silence with, "Iím going through it. Wait here while I check out what is on the other side. Iíll be back in 30 minutes. If Iím not back by then, I suggest you donít come in after me. Iíll come back as soon as I can." With that Bruce took his backpack and stepped over to the portal. "See ya!" Bruce said before stepping through the portal.