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16

Wally looked up. “Hasn’t the Pentagon figured out that whoever uses the Box can never come back?”

Earhart’s grin was wide beneath his beard, as his eyes warily glanced at the chattering and departing crowd behind Wally’s back. “Do you know what the world’s most famous oxymoron is?”

“Not off the top of my head.”

Earhart leaned forward for emphasis. “Military intelligence!”

It was at that moment that the building shook with an explosion and a muffled roar. Everyone set their champagne cups on the nearest surfaces and pulled their outerwear more tightly about themselves. All looked instinctively at Earhart for direction, who stared in the direction of the one door that allowed passage to and from the labs.

“Everyone stay calm, and don’t move!” Earhart himself moved, walking out of the room that was the site of the Christmas party and into the large, eight thousand square foot space that housed the Box and its numerous auxiliary devices. All eyes followed the gray ponytail dangling behind the physicist as he walked past the bay of windows and approached the immobile plate of a steel door that separated them from the outside world and the rest of the research complex.

It was as Earhart reached the halfway point between Christmas party and door that the muffled staccatos of several automatic rifles drifted in from beyond that portal. Earhart spun around to return to the safety of the desks protected by bulletproof windows just before the steel plate was blown open by a tremendous blast that knocked him halfway across the room and into the very windows that would have protected him.

Judy screamed and more than one man moaned as Wally and the others remaining in the room watched Earhart’s contorted face stick to one window pane, then slide down to the floor with the rest of his body and leave a bloody trail on the glass. Wally was rushing past the others in an instant, narrowly avoiding restraint by Dwyer, and fell to his knees beside the twisted and bloodied body of Earhart.

Alternity, Chapter I:

1/ 2/ 3/ 4/ 5/ 6/ 7/ 8/ 9/ 10/ 11/ 12/ 13/ 14/ 15/ 16/ 17/ 18/ 19/ 20/ 21/ 22/ 23

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