The electricity bill stared up at Kimie like it glaring at her just like the other bills that she had placed on the fridge did, all of them red and warning.
Things had not gone well at the gymnasium. While the numbers were good few people had been interested on hiring a personal trainer. Most of her clients were interested in yoga and karate, none of the lazy bastards so much as sniffed at the boxing or wrestling flyers.
As for her acting career. Well, the least said about that the better.
Feeling bad for herself, Kimie opened the fridge door and was faced with a deserted wasteland filled only with baking soda and questionable meatloaf. There was not so much as a rouge beer to distract her from the crippling debt that she was in.
She couldn't even go and watch some television as she had pawned the idiot box to make rent.
She was just in a rough patch. That's what her mother had called it. She just had to trudge through it and things would work out. Though, Kimie had to admit that this was less of a rough patch in her life and more like the Great Depression.
Dreading every time she did so, Kimie once again picked up the newspaper and skimmed to the spot that she had highlighted.
DO YOU HAVE CONFIDENCE IN YOUR BODY?
DO YOU HAVE THE LOOKS?
NO EXPERIENCE NEEDED.
While this advertisement could have been for anything from sales assistant to waitressing, the silhouette of the dancing woman who was wrapped around a poll told another story.
Kimie grit her teeth and slumped back against the wall. At first she had laughed at the idea of turning into a striper, but as the late payment notices and mean phone calls came the idea slowly grew from a joke to something more.
It wasn't that she was shy about her looks or her body. She wore tank-tops and she had repeatedly been complemented on her tight arse. Due to her body building she had more muscle than a few of those skinny bitches.
She had been on the magazine cover once. It was meant to sell some dumbbells but she did look hot on it.
She look down at her breasts. Due to working out her abs might have looked as if you could forge a sword on them but her chest wasn't very impressive.
She stared at the advertisement like some might look at a loaded gun. Picturing herself shaking her bum in the air, fighting for every note and smiling as the hoots and cat calls came.
The very thought made her want to take a shower and wash the filth and desperation off.
In such times a person looks back at their life and tries to finger the exact moment when things became such utter shit. Now it was looking as if she was going to add one more to Kimie's full bad idea scrapbook. This one going right next to using those pills her friend talked her into using.
Feeling as though her feet were made of lead she slowly walked to the phone as if she was walking to her own funeral. She needed money or else she was going to lose her house.
She reached out to take the device when the phone rang. Kimie jumped in shock but let out a sigh.
She picked up the phone expecting it to be another prick calling up about her credit card. She got ready to explain and launch out excuses.
“Kimberly Chrysopoulos.” the voice belonged to a man and he sounded British or something similar.
“If this is about the car, I'm getting the money.” Kimie sighed.
“No, my name is Frank. I talked to your manager Max. He said that you might be what I am looking for.”
Kimie managed to hold in a snort. She couldn't remember the last time that leech Max got her work. She rubbed her head, “I'm sorry, I'm just about ready to rethink my acting career.”
“Yes, you were about to go into stripping. You might want to reconsider. The manager of the place you were about to go for is an underground money laundering, they also do some questionable photography. You might have trouble getting hired as I just teleported a whole FBI SWAT team in there.”
Kimie looked at the phone, “Am I being cranked called?”
“Hang on, I'll send you an advanced. Look on the counter.”
There was a heavy thud from Kimie's immediate left. There, sitting on her counter was a stack of money, all of them wrapped in rubber bands.
Carefully, as if expecting there was a venomous snake hiding within the mound of treasure, Kimie reached out and took a single wad. The money looked real enough. Counting a thousand dollars per stack, she estimated that twenty thousand dollars had just magically landed on her kitchen counter.
Staring at the money in dumbfounded silence she faintly heard the guy on the other end of the phone calling out to her.
Instead of going through the bubble of intense heat and deadly radiation, Frank chose to find out more about the creatures who intended to cross over into another dimension. This was not out of learning more but for liability reasons.
If he were to attack these arseholes who invaded his turf then it was possible that he could not only be brought up on charges but be sued for gross negligence and be given a horrible fine. Taking precautions he elected to bring in some outside assistance.
“It appears that this universe is covered by any of my company's competitors, Frank.” Throat Punch said admiring the gulf of endless space.
Due to being only a small independent business owner, Frank could only afford a junior insurance agent. Abrams, Booster, and Awesomes wasn't the best multiverse insurance agencies out there but they had been with Frank's people since thirty thousand years ago when Dark Sedige gave less than their usual customer performances.
Throat Punch was a junior of the firm. Before coming an multiverse insurance agent, Throat Punch had been a space marine, a detective working in a corrupt city full of gangster robots, had discovered a new element, and he had won a galaxy wide tuba competition.
So far Frank was pleased with the junior agent's customer service but that could quickly change if this didn't go well.
“All you're telling me is that they aren't insured.” Frank said rubbing the bridge of his nose in frustration. “The only hope I have is to either sue these backwards hicks or settle this out of court.”
The rift had opened up in the vacuum of space, which was natural. Most natural occurring universes were filled with nothing but a cold void, that or some nightmarish entity that was like an all powerful god.
From out of this infinite expanse a beam of bright hot light reached out and penetrated the hole in reality like a chopstick in an open wound, forcing the rift to stay open.
Frank looked at the battlemech's instruments and raised a surprised eyebrow. “That is odd. It looks like this is a focused beam of solar energy.”
“I admit that it is a crude way to keep a rift from opening but it is not the strangest thing I have seen.” Throat Punch said.
“Same here. One time I met this creep who thought the rift in his basement was some kind of god, so he sacrificed his family to it.” Frank said.
“Let me guess, a sacrificial torture demon was on the other side manipulating the jackass. It happens a lot.”
“Nope, you know those toyland worlds? The ones where everyone is a doll and stuffed animals. The rift opened up in a kindergarten.”
Throat Punch laughed, “You're shitting me?”
“The teacher thought the wife's intestines were steamers. One kid used the daughter's skull as a bird house.” Frank kept his eye on the readings, “Mmmm. I'm following the beam's origins, fifty light years away. But it's like it's coming from nowhere.”
Throat Punch pushed several buttons and wore a serious expression, “Not nowhere. It's coming from a white dwarf, but it is being covered with something that is stopping it from producing light.”
Frank and Throat Punch began to tap on their keyboards, trying to find more information.
“It's happening everywhere,” Frank said. “Heaps of stars but they aren't shining. They are giving off normal amounts of heat and radiation but the light's being blocked.”
“Force fields?” Throat Punch suggested? Many nocturnal and supernatural entities disliked light and made it their purpose to extinguish their most hated foe. Worlds where vampires and gingers were the ruling class bathed their planet in nuclear winter just to escape a sun burn.
Frank screwed up his face in thought, “Does this thing have high beams?”
A button push later and the forty story tall robot was shining like an exploding sun. It's light was so bright that it reached across the gulf of nothingness and touched the massive beam of solar energy that was being funnelled through Frank's door. Then it abruptly died.
“Where did my lights go?” Throat Punch said checking to see if his lights were still on. They were but the light was being supressed by some outside force, but the mech's movements were still fluid and powerful.
“Damn,” Frank hissed. “Don't bother I think I know what's happening.”
“Well, don't leave me in suspense. This is a company robot, if it breaks it gets taken out of my pay.” Throat Punch said.
Frank checked the diagnostics twice just to make sure what he assumed was correct. “The prime beings that we are dealing with are made out of light. Complete holographic based life forms.”
An expression of incredulity crossed Throat Punch's face as the insurance agent checked the readings. “My god, you're right. But I don't understand it, if they are made out of light why is everything so dark?” He checked his robot's sensors and found that over a million life forms were covering his robot like tar on a sandwich.
Frank lay back in his chair, pondering how he and Throat Punch were going to approach this. “Because they aren't just made out of light, it’s their diet. The stars around here must be like farms or prime real estate.”
He nodded to the main screen and at the universe outside, “If they cross over every sun in my territory is going to be going dark.” He glanced over at the insurance agent, “Think of the environmental disaster.”
Throat Punch gave Frank a sceptical glance, “Yes, the environment. Mr Frank, as your agent I do have to remind you that you are partially responsible for you claim's potential destruction. You were purposely opening the rift to mine it.”
Frank casually pointed to the giant death beam, “Look, I am the victim here. Those bastards were luring people to dig for the rift. The rift is what? Fifty light years away from that sun. That means that they have been planning to invade for at least fifty years.”
“Sir, I am just asking you what a lawyer will if these people take it to court. It is extremely coincidental that you just happened to mine a rift the moment these people attempted to open it. A person might assume that you allowed them to get a foothold just so you could harvest more rift energy. Please, please tell me that you have the diagnostic readings to say otherwise.”
Frank pulled out his phone and sent Throat punch the necessary documentation, “I got the readings. These pricks are trying to illegally jump my claim. And their death beam killed a whole stack of people. That is malicious intent.”
Throat Punch closed his eyes and Frank could see what he was thinking. This was already going to be a pain in the arse.
If these arsehats did go to court they could explain that they were invited in by one of native life forms. A life form that had been supplied with a mind altering substance due to Frank's incompetence. Frank could pull out the recording of their manipulations but Nikolajs was dead and therefore couldn't testify. The whole court case could linger on for months or possibly years with no conclusion.
They could call for a judiciary but if these people weren't insured than there was no point. As his insurance agent turned off his lights and began to call his head office, Frank called his own employees. “Yo Cyme. How is it going with Kimie?”
After about five minutes of hearing his employee whine like a little who didn't get the doll that she wanted, Frank hung up and turned to Throat Punch.
“Listen, this thing is loaded with a spatial refactor isn't it? Couldn't we just direct the beam elsewhere and I can close the door?” Frank asked.
Throat Punch thought about it for a second and looked at the giant death beam. Finally he shook his head, “Let me repeat myself so you understand. I scratch this, I pay for it.”
Frank was growing impatient, “I just need to close the door on both sides and the rift will break up. A minute, tops.”
Not convinced, Throat Punch gestured the beam, “Not possible. They forced open the rift. It's now practically a Thorn Gate. I'm surprised they haven't put in a turn style. You could send a train through it. It will take years for both universes to repair...” then it came to him, “God damn it Frank. “Think of Environmental” my arse. Do you know the paper work that you're going drop on me? And what about the Abstract? It can't survive those kinds of forces.”
“Hear me out. All we need is a small black hole bomb and toss it inside the rift.” Frank said. While it was a well known fact that multiverse insurance agents detested paper work they did enjoy blowing shit up with extreme prejudice.
One call to Abrams, Booster, and Awesomes’s main office and five minutes later an apocalyptic explosion rippled through the rift and into the invader's universe like a tidal wave made of pure fire.
The entities, which were perfectly evolved to handle the unbelievable heat and radiation of a raging sun were unprepared as the force of a hundred million suns detonating outwards, cut a swath of death and destruction through their population.
The untold millions of unidentified light eaters who had been planning a vacation in this hopeful new world with its unspoiled suns and stars, had their dreams and their molecules crushed as an unscheduled supernova.
Throat Punch and Frank observed the damage from above Thebes. They watched as the supernova entered the small pocket dimension that Frank had set up to contain the invaders.
Already pushed to the limit from keeping the rift open the Abstract was utterly destroyed as the Thorn Gate fragmented and destabilized.
Fortunately, the reality bubble held and the creatures inside were ripped apart by the immense forces, but damage had been done. There was nothing left of Urilus Marus or his mansion except and irradiated hole.
As he watched both sides of the explosion on his monitor, Throat Punch spoke. “You're not insured for blowing up your own property. You do know that. You just destroyed your bar.”
“I like to think that I invested my property in helping save this world from an evil invading army. Rescuing millions of people and protecting this universe.” Frank went into hiss back pack and pulled out a bag of popcorn. “It also helps that I moved all of my belongings before this screw up. Now be quiet, it's not everyday that I blow up a sun.”
Popping a kernel into his mouth Frank leaned back in the chair and smiled, “I don't suppose you can give me and my staff a lift could you?”
Born in Australia I am a late bloomer when it came to books. I started writing when my grandfather died and it just sort of turned into a hobby.
I like science fiction, but not space opera. I like fantasy but I am picky when it comes to epic and urban types. I try to stay away from vampires, zombies and romance novels when I can.