Dr. Sheridan Bloch and Lt. Beecher Skotte are lost somewhere outside of space and time. Follow their ongoing adventures in this exciting installment of “Dr. Bloch’s Great Momentosphere!”
Copyright © 2016 Austin Malcome. All rights reserved. Including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof, in any form. No part of this text may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of the author. This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events or locales is entirely coincidental. This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with.
Move towards the exit!
The Void is everything and nothing. It touches all things at all times simultaneously. The Void is not God, but I suspect that it approximates the true nature of the Infinite Divine.
It is also, all things considered, rather dull. I do not know if any other human souls, living or otherwise, have ever visited this plane, but if they have, I assure you that they weren’t visiting because of the scenery. The Void is just that; a complete and perfect black nothingness.
Our entry into this strange place was made possible by Dr. Sheridan Bloch’s fantastic invention, the Great Momentosphere. The Momentosphere was like a train switching tracks, and the Void was our train yard. From within the Void, we could take any path to any world in any dimension, in any time.
The one thing we could not do was predict our destination.
So we drifted, at the mercies of fate, not knowing where or even when we would drop out of the Void.
The Momentosphere was not without it’s comforts; the interior of this incredible machine was actually quite lovely, and resembled a stately manor. The larder and wine cellar were full, the library was without equal, and the doctor proved himself a worthy rival at the chess board. Although, our games had ceased as of late; it was impossible to tell how long we had been in the Void, for time passed slowly here, but it seemed ages since last we’d joined in cerebral combat. In fact, I could not recall the last time that I had even seen the doctor. The smell of his clove cigarettes was thick in the air. That was unusual for Dr. Bloch; he only smoked on rare occasions. I decided that I should find him, as I was worried for his health. The doctor’s focus was intense and unwavering where his work was concerned. I fully expected to find him one day, curled up beside his chalkboard, dead from dehydration because he could not be bothered to stop for water.
I scraped the dottle from my pipe, and set the pipe in it’s place on my desktop pipe rack. The doctor was a most gracious host. He had provided me with a fine room, and all of my needs were attended to without complaint. His kindness was almost enough to make me forget that I had, in effect, been shanghaied.
I switched off the artificial fireplace, and the illusory flames blinked out at once. I made my way down the corridor, to the hatch that led downward, to the lower decks.
Clove cigarettes overwhelmed me.
I enjoy my tobacco, within reason, but the lower deck smelled like a pub. A cloud of smoke hung in the air, so thick and dark that I thought it might begin to rain. I followed the cloud to it’s source—down the hall, past the cockpit, to the doctor’s workshop. My clockwork leg clacked on the diamond-plated chrome floors as I walked.
The doctor yelled from his workshop. “Confound it Beecher, will you cease that infernal racket? Some of us are trying to work here, man!”
Dr. Bloch was disheveled and unkempt—quite a change from his typical, proper self. Springs and gears littered the workshop. He was hard at work with a large brass blowtorch, working on some project that was half-concealed by an asbestos fire blanket. He looked at me and frowned.
“What is it, man?” he said. “Can’t you see that I’m busy?”
“Yes, I can see that,” I replied. “And just what is this new creation, doctor?”
“The one thing that the Momentosphere lacks, Beecher—the one thing that all proper gentlemen need—a butler.”
“Indeed. It’s a complex machine, but not nearly as complex as the Momentosphere. Hand me that screwdriver, will you?”
I did. “Is it finished?”
“Nearly. The eyes are a problem; the thing simply must be able to see, but the eyes have proved to be a most confounding puzzle, a puzzle I have yet to solve. These eyes keep me awake at night.”
I chuckled. “In order for that to be true, you would first need to attempt sleep.”
He rubbed his forehead, and stretched his back. A series of loud pops issued from his spine. “I suppose you’re right, Beecher,” he said. “I have been at this for some time; maybe I should get some rest.”
“Rest your lungs, at least,” I urged. “I’ve never seen anyone smoke as much as you.”
The doctor glanced at his ashtray; it overflowed with smoldering cigarette butts. “Ah, yes. Well. When I work, I have a tendency to overindulge.”
“Overindulgence I could understand, doctor, but this borders on suicide.”
He wiped the cog-grease from his hands with an old shop cloth. “If that is how you feel, then I shall grant my poor respiratory system a brief reprieve. I think I shall have a sandwich and a nap.”
However, he was not to have either luxury for some time, for as we spoke, the Momentosphere began to shake. We looked at each other, and ran for the cockpit.
The picture window was still blank. The automatic tele-tickers clicked madly as they printed instrument readings onto long strips of paper. The lights on the computation cabinet blinked in sync. I took the helm—a massive wooden wheel, the likes of which one might expect to find on an old tall ship—and I held it tight.
The Momentosphere shook harder, and the doctor confirmed what I already knew.
“We’re about to exit.”
“Why now, after all this time?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t been able to work out all of the math yet; we’ve crawled out onto a new branch of physics, and I have no way of knowing where we fall from here.”
“Please,” I admonished, “don’t say ‘fall.’” The memories of our first adventure in the sphere were still fresh; I still bore the bruises from that ignominious landing.
A loud moaning sound echoed through the Momentosphere. The shaking grew, until the sphere practically vibrated. My teeth rattled in my head.
“Here we go!” the doctor cried.
I held fast to the helm.
The moaning noise mounted along with the vibrations, until it felt as though we might shake apart into our component molecules.
Then it stopped. There was a loud pop, and the Momentosphere tore through the mysterious black fabric of the timeless Void.
We did not drop from the sky this time, but rather, we shot forward in a straight horizontal line, like a giant burning billiards ball. Books and tools spilled across the floor, eliciting a rare curse from the the doctor.
“This is why we need a butler,” he cried.
“No, we need brakes!” I replied.
“Impossible! The Momentosphere has too much kinetic energy upon exit. No mechanical system could brake it.”
He twisted the large knob that controlled the view on the picture window, and an image appeared.
There were people.
And they were running.
The Momentosphere had exited into a crowded city.
The doctor and I stared at each other, mute with terror. We watched, helpless, as the Momentosphere plowed through the city. The great radiant heat emitted by the sphere burned everything it passed. Market stalls bloomed with fire. Storefront canopies caught flame, and shared their gift with the buildings.
The entire city would surely burn.
Our destructive course soon brought us into a new part of the city. We appeared to be in some kind of a circular cavern, where we were greeted by a spectacular feat of architecture. Gargantuan stone columns, carved from the rock itself, supported a great structure. A building, or perhaps several buildings, consisting of many levels, wrapped around and lined the circular walls of the cavern. It resembled, in essence, that ancient gladiatorial arena, the Coliseum of Roma, but balanced upon stilts of stone.
Stilts that we were about to destroy.
One of the columns loomed large in our path. With no way to maneuver the sphere, the collision was unavoidable. We crashed into the column.
The Momentosphere sliced through the rock as if it were a bar of soap. We slowed, but not by much. The sphere kept moving—to crash into another column.
And another, until a goodly section of the dramatic structure collapsed.
People fell from the building as it sank upon us. Marble blocks and gypsum dust rained upon the sphere, and the street. The sphere’s lense-scopes were all either shattered or obscured, and the picture window went blank.
We were blind.
The doctor ripped a piece of paper from one of the tele-tickers. “We have stopped at least, and that is something,” he said.
I rolled up my sleeves. The doctor watched quizzically.
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Lt. Beecher Skotte and Dr. Sheridan Bloch are lost in space and time, trapped in the dark Void. Life in the Void is a bore, but when the Great Momentosphere exits into the middle of a strange underground city, our heroes will have more action than they bargained for. Who is the mysterious empress? Can she be trusted? Will there Momentosphere roll again?