Superpowers In A World Gone Mad
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The Midnight Runner, Issue #005

July 8, 2013 in The Midnight Runner Tags:

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Issue #005 – – – – – controlled by Ken Thompson – – – – – Credits 32

The Midnight Runner sat in the control chair in his office and let the massage function roll out the knots and tension in his back.  The painkillers were already easing his migraine away and he had taken a shower and changed his clothes.   He was feeling better.  None of this made it any easier to face what he had to do, but he knew it was time.  For the better part of a year The Midnight Runner had been the keeper of a secret.  A huge, impossible secret.  He knew this, but he did not know what the secret was – and there was a reason.  He had deliberately erased the information from his mind.

A little more than a year ago, something had happened.  The Midnight Runner had encountered a problem he needed to deal with and while he had tried to handle that, things had begun spinning out of control.  The Midnight Runner did remember a few fragments of what went on.  He knew that the creation of the Deep Storage Area dated back to that incident.  He knew that his migraines were just one of a host of symptoms that had made him very ill at the time.  He also knew that the event was so vast that he had struggled to deal with the consequences.  To save his own sanity he had been forced to take dramatic action.  But he’d built in a safeguard.  Xara could reveal the truth to him.  The computer knew the secret and could fill in the blanks in his mind.  He knew this was dangerous.  But he also knew that Dark Future’s breakout was a game-changer.  He had to know, or how could he deal with it?

Taking a breath and steeling his nerves, Midnight called Xara: “You awake?”
“I am a cybernetic construct,” Xara reminded him.  “I do not sleep.  What do you need?”
“I think it’s time, Xara,” he said.
“Time, sir?  For what?”  Xara asked.  Though her synthetic voice had taken on an unfamiliar edge.  It appeared that even computers could be concerned.
“It’s time for you to tell me everything I never wanted to know,” he told her.
For a moment the computer was silent, though a series of red lights blinked on panels around the room.  The hero wondered for a moment if the computer was going to disobey him and refuse to reveal the information.  But then the light display ended and Xara told him the truth.

One year Ago:

The explosion ripped out one side of the laboratory and the explosive decompression sucked furniture and people out of the room.  For some reason The Midnight Runner was not pulled towards the rent in the wall with quite the same force as the others, which probably saved his life.  “Help, help,” one of the white coated scientists screamed.  Midnight tried, but he was gone out of the hole in the blink of an eye.

He’d been tasked with securing the lab from assault and he’d done his best to make sure the security was tight.  But there was no way of predicting this.   It should have been that the missing section of wall revealed a small private lake and some green fields but instead there was just black empty nothingness.  He spied one of the doctors clinging to a table that was, luckily, bolted to the floor.  “What’s going on?” He shouted over the strange whistling wind that buffeted the lab.  “What is this?”
“It’s a hole in reality,” The doctor shouted.  “We have to close it, or it will keep growing and growing!”
“You probably should have considered that before you opened it,” The Midnight Runner told him.  But there was no point moaning about it.  Scientists will be scientists.  They just can’t help themselves.  “How do I close it?” He called.
“You need to go out there,” Was the reply.  “You should see a small orange globe, the one that was in the lab before the rip happened?”  Midnight remembered it.  The scientist continued: “It wont have gone far.  It’s anchored to the real world.  Just find it and bring it back.  We can use it to close the hole.”
“You want me to go out there,” Midnight said, “Through a hole in reality?”
“I’ll be sending a bill for extra services,” The Midnight Runner snarled, before walking towards the growing drag of the strange black hole.

Once through the hole into the darkness The Midnight Runner found that his stomach was tied in knots, his head was screaming in pain and, just to make things interesting, there did not appear to be any air.  Luckily his force field was on and it’s small bubble of oxygen would sustain him for a minute or two.  He could not see any of the scientists or officers who had been dragged through.  They were just gone.  But it took The Midnight Runner only seconds to find the orange globe.  As the scientist had predicted it was hovering near the hole.  From out here, floating in nothingness, the side of the building looked strange.  The complete absence of light or colour in the void gave way to a flash of reality and the effect was to make the lab look almost cartoonish by contrast.  It was as though he were in an utterly dark room staring at a page of a comic book under the glow of a torch.  Trying to avoid projectile vomiting and hoping that his head would stop trying to explode he willed himself towards the orange light.  It worked, he floated slowly towards it.

It was when he was only seconds away from the globe that he noticed the other things floating in the darkness.  They were hard to see because they were black and were floating in blackness.  But as he closed on them he could make them out.  A series of what appeared to be floating coffins of various sizes hung in the air.  The orange globe appeared to be attracted to them.  Feeling horribly sick and knowing his air would not last long, The Midnight Runner was nonetheless curious enough to float over the boxes and take a closer look.  There were people inside them.

The Midnight Runner sat up in his chair.  “What the hell, Xara?  I asked you for everything.”
“I’m sorry sir,” Xara said.  “The hard disk has been erased past that point.”
“What?”  Midnight shouted.  “How?  If something or somebody is erasing our disks why haven’t you reported it?”
“That is a high security question,” Xara told him.
With a dangerous edge to his voice The Midnight Runner said: “You are my computer, Xara.  This is my system.  The data we are talking about is my data.  So whether it is high security or not is not an issue.”
“I am sorry sir.  I am your computer, this is your system and the data is also yours.  I am operating precisely as you instructed me to.”

The Midnight Runner could feel his migraine threatening to return.  “Okay then.  I instruct you to reveal the high security answer to the high security question you are trying to avoid.”
“Very well, sir.  The hard drive was deleted by you.  You also instructed me to demand permission to reveal the high security information in this instance.”
“And when, precisely, did I do this?”
“The last time you gave the security phrase and asked me to reveal everything to you.”
“The last time?  This has happened before?”
“This has happened six times before, Sir.  Dark Future is the seventh escapee from Deep Storage.  They appear to be waking up, one-by-one.”
“Why would I not want to remember this?”
“I believe you have a plan sir.  You can find out by accessing the backup files.  I think the other half of the First Incident is still stored there.”

2 Responses to “The Midnight Runner, Issue #005”

  1. False Bill Says:

    Interesting, tell us more Xara..

  2. Ken T Says:



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