Case Study 679:

Chatterbox: Inkwell

Case Study 679:

Case Study 679: The Origin of Exofauna and the Downfall of Mankind

It was on April the twenty-first of 2019 in the small Libyan oasis town of Fal that the self-proclaimed Quantum Professor Leif Scheel finally met his match.

...Not that he had a history of overcoming obstacles or anything. Actually, it was quite the opposite. The generously-named Bureau of International Trans-dimensional Experimentation was England's one and only organization dedicated to researching higher planes of existence. What it lacked in modesty, it made up for in overall failure to do anything close to what it claimed to be capable of. Not that anyone cared, of course. 

Then perhaps it should be rephrased. It was on that aforementioned date in that aforementioned year that Leif Scheel finally encountered a scenario that would change his life and career. For better, for worse, or, more than likely, for the both of them.

"Avery Warren, you get away from that spatial anomaly this very instant!" Leif's voice was all but swept away by the violent gale, flapping wildly about the arid square and barely making its way to the ears of his partner, the 2nd and only other permanent member of BITE, who was currently involved in a painfully slow maneuver towards the entity that just so happened to be the source of the wind. So slow, one should think, that Leif was in no position to scream at her with such rousing desperation. That being said, it was well known to Avery that Leif had a habit of overdramatizing every single scenario he found himself in, a habit that was almost charming on some days and insufferably obnoxious on others.

Avery sidled across the wall of a particularly long building, her eyes fixed on the strange pocket of reality-warping material that had taken up residence in the local well. "No way, Jose!" she grunted through her teeth, which were preoccupied with holding the infamous (infamous, at least, between the two of them) Quantum Analysis Rod. "I did not indulge your cross-continental road trip of pure lunacy just to pass up the chance to collect data on that thing!"

"The life of my assistant is more important than data, I'm afraid. But excuse me for having a sliver of compassion." With that last word, Leif usually would've dramatically flipped back his hair, if it were not already being welded to his scalp by a paranormal hurricane.

"Oh, so now you start caring about me? That attitude would've been nice back when you ditched me in the middle of the Swiss Alps, hotshot."

"'Twas scientifically necessary, my dear. A situation arose and I had to take care of it. Lest you forget, I returned to pick you up after a mere ten minutes. Or mayhaps you were too busy picking wild berries to remember?"

"I... what? I was not picking berries!"

"Blatant lying will get you nowhere."

"...Okay, so I was picking berries. So what? It's botany, a girl's allowed to have a hobby outside of your quantum delusions, idiot. And it's not like I had anything better to do after you stranded me." 

"Methinks the lady has an ulterior motive. Why else would she become so flustered over the mention of wild fruit?"

"Ya Lahwy! If you two don't stop that accursed bickering right now I'll give you more to worry about than a little wind," growled Dr. Jabari, the elderly doctor who had been the one to first alert BITE of the anomaly in Fal and the only resident of the town who had not locked himself up in fear at the first appearance of it. He had been the one to give Leif and Avery their first big assignment, and now they were wearing him down to his last nerve.

"My only wish is to lighten the mood, good doctor," Leif half-scream-half-purred.

"There are some moods that shouldn't be lightened," Dr. Jabari grunted. 

"Got it!" Avery lunged out from her stone tether, finally grasping one of the well's support beams. The wind radiating from the anomaly's aura was so strong here that she was blown nearly horizontal.

"Exemplary job! Now collect the anomaly's data and let's get the blazes out of here!"

"Roger that. Um... what should I?" Gripping the well with one strong hand, Avery spat the Quantum Analysis Rod into her other, just now realizing that she had no idea how to use it. Like every single gizmo that Lei- er, BITE had churned out since she joined, it was represented only by a vague idea with no clear function behind it.


"I know that, you don't have to shriek like an air raid siren. Sheesh. Maybe..." Acting completely on impulse, Avery jammed the device into the wind orb that hovered where a bucket should've been. It passed the event horizon, twisting and fragmenting into itself, or at least appearing to do so.

"Oh. Weeeeird."

Data collection now commencing. Five percent complete.

"Holy smokes, it actually works!?"

"Would I have taken the time to bring us here if I wasn't confident it would, my dear?" Leif let go of his handhold to cross his arms in triumph of his first working thing ever. He was promptly blasted backwards fifteen meters.

Twenty percent complete. Forty percent compl- Error. Data collection stagnating.

The wind stopped. The dust settled. The anomaly was gone.

"Uh, Leif? Something happened."

"So I noticed!"  Leif came sprinting back to his original position. "It appears our guest has fled the scene. You cannot hide from Quantum Professor Leif Scheel, foul spheroid! Show yourself at once!"

"You're talking to it, huh?"


"Dude, grow u- ohmygodwhatshappening"

What had once been a sandy patch of ground speckled with weeds was now a viscous pool of shimmering black substance that occupied the entirety of the square. The well was sinking. So was Avery.

"Good lord, it has assumed a different form! It has sapience! DOCTOR, I REQUIRE YOUR CANE."

"You're lucky I have a spare." Jabari tossed his wooden walking stick over to Leif, who promptly extended it across the black pool. Avery grabbed it with both hands, sticking the QAR between her teeth once again, regardless of what interdimensional contamination it had accumulated. She was yanked out of the dark pit with a sickening pop, stumbling onto the dusty ground, glancing in disgust at the goop that now coated her jeans up to the knees.

"I'm gonna have to bleach these," she said, handing the QAR to Leif.

"Let's just be glad you're safe." Leif tucked the device back into his coat.

"You owe us a new well," Jabari said with vague sadness as he watched the old one disappear into the void, never to return. 

The townspeople were tentatively beginning to come out of their houses, perceiving that the danger had passed or at least lessened, but as if to taunt them, the anomaly changed behaviors once more. 

The opaque black surface suddenly gave way to shimmering, otherworldly colors, as if it were a mirror into another world. This time, things did not get pulled into it.

Things came out.

Four vaguely humanoid shapes ascended from the portal, first appearing blurry as if not accustomed to being observed in worlds other than their own. As a few seconds passed, however, their true forms came into being. Long-armed beings, they were, with no legs, but a torso that tapered into a thin spear-point before unraveling into rigid tendrils at the last moment. They possessed hunched shoulders that melded their heads into the rest of their bodies, bodies that were completely covered in jagged white crystals that stuck out in all directions, seeming almost to pierce and distort the air around them.

Jabari shouted something in Arabic, and the remaining townspeople scattered away from the square, out of the town, many of them screaming in terror. The entities remained still, hovering above the gateway from which they had emerged, emanating a dull hum from their forms. Then, in the place where a head might be, each creature opened a slit, revealing a single, enormous, vertical eye, the only discernable feature on an otherwise inorganic body. Four crystal sentinels, risen against the setting sun of the Sahara, staring with unblinking eyes at the three puny humans in front of them, as if to pass judgement on the inhabitants of this new world. The air stood still.

In that moment, Leif's eyes were as wide and reflective as the creatures he stood before. This was the moment he had dreamed of, the moment his knowlege would be more than just a burden, the moment his failed college career and marginally better bureau would pale in comparison to his acts of heroism. He would be the one to save humanity from things they couldn't possibly understand. This was his breakthrough.

"My friends," his voice came out in barely more than a breath. "I believe we'll need a bigger boat."

"...Wrong biome, Leif."

"I know. But I've been waiting to say that since we crossed the Mediterranean."


To be continued  


submitted by J.B.E
(December 3, 2018 - 8:07 pm)

This is just a story I'm writing based on an RP. Any feedback would be appreciated.

submitted by J.B.E
(December 4, 2018 - 5:33 pm)
submitted by tttoooppp, age TTTOOOPPP, tttoooppp
(December 4, 2018 - 6:35 pm)

"Agent Warhorse."

"Hm?" Avery was surprised at the use of her irritating pet name, but this was no place to get upset over it.

"Return to the jeep. Bring the doctor with you."

The Quantum Analysis Rod was clutched tightly in Leif's left hand, his knuckles whitening around it. Avery knew the look on his face well; it was a look that indicated he was about to toss away all reason in the name of his chaotic exploits. It was a look of self-destruction.

"I won't."

Up until this day, the danger faced by BITE on a daily basis was nothing short of mundane. Besides the occasional eviction notice, the team had never faced anything on a scale like this before. Which is why, Avery feared, that her partner did not understand that he was in legitimate danger. He had created one working device, sure, and that had swollen his ego to levels even higher than they had been before. But it could also very well be a fluke, and judging by the Pandora's box of weirdness that they had just stumbled upon, it could very well be both his first invention and his last.

"You're always going on and on about protecting me. From the day we first met, it's always been about protecting me. You only ever talk about me over the course of all your godforsaken escapades, as if you're invincible. Do you even care about your own life?"

Leif remained locked in a staring contest with the sentinels. "Are you questioning me, subordinate?"

Avery felt a hot sensation rising within her. Was it the harsh desert winds that had summoned these tears in her eyes, or something else? All she was certain of was that Leif needed to be brought to his senses before he got himself killed, even if that meant losing her own senses for a moment or two. She wasn't sure that it was of her own will or not that her palm reached up and connected with Leif's right cheek. 

The sound it made resonated across the barren landscape, harmonizing with the low hum of the sentinels.

Her hand burned.

Leif's head remained jerked to the side for a while, before turning slowly, almost mechanically, to face her. His eyes were cold, completely unfazed. "I will not ask again. I suggest you stay back if you wish to keep the life you owe to me."

Now all that was left in Avery was a sense of pure disbelief. Had she heard him correctly? Was there nothing she could do to prevent this town from becoming their graves? It seemed the silence between them would last for all eternity. Until it didn't.

The sentinels were screaming. Without mouths, they were screaming.

This, of all things, knocked Leif back to his senses. The spark of madness returned to his eye. The sight nearly brought relief into Avery's heart, if not for the havoc that was about to occur.

At least a dozen car-sized blurs shot out of the portal, materializing into mammoth wasp-like insects, with at least three pairs of iridescent wings and covered in shimmering jade-colored armor. Their wingbeats were loud and fast, stirring up the dust into a number of small maelstroms.

They were such a sight to behold that it wasn't for several seconds before the humans noticed that not only had the sentinels stopped screaming, they had disappeared entirely. They were gone, just as sudden as the original anomaly had vanished.

"THE SENTINELS HAVE SUMMONED REINFORCEMENTS! WE MUST'VE INTIMIDATED THEM!" the so-called quantum professor stretched his arms out to his maximum wingspan, as if trying to fly into the sun of scientific discovery. "TELL ME, BEASTS OF THE AETHER, FOR WHAT PURPOSE HAVE YOU ENTERED OUR REALM?"

"Oh for the love of-" Avery, woken out of a haze of her own, grabbed her partner by the arm, and with as much strength as she could muster, took off in the direction of their jeep. Leif continued to scream attempts at communication with the obviously hostile creatures, but, strangely, ran with her, showing no resistance.

"C'mon doc!" Avery called to Dr. Jabari, who stood about ten meters away. The doctor looked back and forth between the members of BITE and the giant insects swarming above his hometown, with the air of a lost child in a superstore. His lips moved inaudibly, before he reluctantly turned to join the pair in their escape.

"You two must leave at once," Jabari panted as he trailed Avery. "Do not take me or my people into consideration."

"No way! We'd be stuck eating instant ramen in Manchester forever if it weren't for you, doc. I am not about to let you get killed by bugzilla."

"How exactly do you plan to evacuate everyone, then? There are five thousand people in Fal, it would be nothing short of an act of God for your jeep to carry them all."

"We'll come back with help. It will work!" 

"No it will not!" Jabari snapped. "You must leave now, this very instant, before they get her-"

Leif's jeep was blasted into ten million pieces by a homing missile twenty meters before they reached it.

"Oh, GREAT!" Leif wailed. "What are we going to tell the rental guy?"

From the cloud of smoke burst a low-flying chopper, so low, in fact, that people had to duck down to avoid decapitation. So low, that Leif and Avery were able to catch a glimpse of the several masked figures manning the open-sided aircraft, one of which was stationed at what appeared to be a gatling gun and another holding a smoking rocket launcher. So low, that they could clearly make out the insignia scrawled across the side in cold white lettering.    


Jabari wailed in desperation. "NO! It's too early for them to be here!"

"What do you mean?" Avery demanded, panic now surfacing in her voice. "Leif, what does he mean?"

"A THIRD PARTY HAS PRESENTED ITSELF AS OUR ADVERSARY!" Leif broke away from his partner's grip, before assuming a crouched defensive position and darting into a bush.

The bugs, which had ceased their mindless circling, were now spreading out in all directions, attacking anyone and everyone in their path. Men, women, children, elders- each and every one of the townspeople was now running for their life. The chopper began firing relentlessly at the creatures, which would've been a welcome sight if not for the fact that they were clearly doing absolutely no damage. Not to mention...

"Those people are getting caught in the crossfire!"

"This is what I didn't want you to see!" the doctor snarled. "FROST takes no prisoners, and they certainly won't hesitate to take innocent lives if it means destroying their target! But this is a target that cannot be destroyed. I fear humanity is about to enter a long battle that will never be anything more than futile. Where is Leif?"

The quantum professor poked his head out of the bush like a nervous meerkat. A wayward bullet punched the dust three feet from his hiding spot, causing him to immediately duck down again with a yelp.

"Mr. Scheel!" the doctor cried. "The data-collection device you have- they'll be looking for it, and in their eyes it's far more valuable than your life. You must escape with it at all costs!"

"Hold up, can you slow down for two microseconds?" Avery shrieked. "What is FROST? And how could they possibly know about the QAR?"

Rather than answering her question, Jabari ran to an underpopulated patch of land, one where he would easily be spotted. He pulled out a familiar object from the recesses of his coat, and held it above his head for the world to see-

A second QAR? No, a decoy! He was setting himself up as bait! And the chopper took it without question.

The vehicle ceased firing at the insects and changed course, swerving directly towards the doctor. The pilot opened the cockpit door, leaning out of the vehicle with one arm outstretched. He was going to snatch it right out of the doctor's hand. Or at least, that's what he would've done.

These people had made a fatal mistake. They had let down their guard, and did not even see the insect approaching until it had devoured every single one of them whole- effortlessly, in one fell swoop.

It was only then that true horror rose in Leif's throat. 

What have we unleashed upon the world?

The aircraft, now unmanned, continued to barrel on a collision course toward Jabari. At the last moment, he jumped onto it, with astonishing agility for his condition. He burst into the cockpit, took the controls, and steered the chopper back to where Leif and Avery were standing. The partners, as stupefied as they were by this turn of events, still retained the common sense to know that getting onto this vehicle was currently their best option.

"How did you get a copy of the QAR's design scheme?" Avery gasped, once they had successfully boarded the craft. "And how in the blazes did you know that plan would work?"

"I didn't," he puffed. "It was a pure gamble. But we have time for neither explanations nor contemplations of failure. All that matters is getting you two to safety."

As the chopper flew away from the desert sun, Avery shut her eyes. The thousands of lives still down in Fal, the lives that would try to escape the spawn of that horrible portal but inevitably fail, was the last thing she needed to see right now. She wanted to ask Jabari who he really was, and why he was willing to sacrifice his entire town just to keep Leif's stupid little club safe. But she knew better. She knew that no matter how hard she tried, this deceptively enigmatic man was not going to answer a single one of her questions.

But he was going to leave his own town and townspeople, his family and the people he loved. For dead.


To be continued 



submitted by J.B.E - Part 2
(December 6, 2018 - 8:46 pm)