A man locked the door of a closet, and he put his weight against it. He was safe for the moment, but it wouldn't be long before the police found him. Or worse, if they found the device on the roof. He had created it for emergencies, and this was definitely an emergency.
Somehow, he had to get up there.
A vent on the ceiling provided his best way for escape, but as soon as he reached the interior of the vent, the police had broken down the door.
"The roof!" a policeman said, pushing the other officers out of the room.
The man found his way to the roof, and he slid out the vent. He spotted his device and quickly dashed to it as the police broke through the door with guns in hand.
"Freeze!" the policeman screamed
"I'll do it!" the man said, putting his hand on the device.
The police didn't know what the device was capable of, so they backed up.
"Come on, Maggie!" Quinn said, looking at the timer. "Why did she do that?"
Maggie was several feet above their heads, parachuting down to the ground after a successful skydive.
"She said she needed an adrenaline boost," Rembrandt said.
"We're about to travel in a vortex to a parallel dimension where we could be killed by God knows what," Quinn said. "Is that not good enough for her?"
"I guess not," Rembrandt said, as Maggie hit the ground.
"It's time to go!" Quinn said, as he activated the timer. "You have one minute!"
Maggie smiled and waved him off as she carefully removed the parachute.
"Fine," Quinn said. "I'm going."
Quinn jumped in the vortex, followed by Arturo.
"Is she going to make it?" Wade asked. "It seems like she wants to be left behind."
"Don't worry," Rembrandt said, smiling. "She knows what she's doing."
"Okay," Wade said, diving into the vortex.
"I'm bringing up the rear," Maggie said, jogging towards the vortex.
"Fine," Rembrandt said. "But ten bucks say you don't make it."
"You're on," Maggie said, now running the remaining forty feet to the vortex. "Now this is what I call an adrenaline rush!"
Rembrandt dove inside, and Maggie started to run faster as she saw the vortex start to destabilize.
The man had his hand on the switch, but he wasn't doing anything.
"He's bluffing," a policeman whispered to his commanding officer. "Let's send a warning shot."
"Don't hit him," the officer responded, giving him permission to fire.
"Put your hands up!" the policeman said, firing a shot several feet above his head.
The man, obviously distressed by the shot, pulled the lever, and a small forcefield was created around the device. Immediately after, the device emitted a large shockwave, knocking the officers unconscious.
The man smiled, knowing that his device worked, but it wouldn't turn off. He tried to pull the switch back, but it wouldn't move.
The shockwave continued to move across the city, knocking everyone in its path unconscious. It reached Maggie, knocking her out a couple of feet away from the vortex.
Seconds later, Maggie pulled herself up and saw that the vortex had closed. She was alone.
She had missed the slide.
On the other side, the four sliders emerged, and it closed before Maggie exited.
"What happened?" Quinn asked, looking at Rembrandt.
"I don't know," Rembrandt said. "She was ready to go, and she was running towards the vortex when it closed. There should've been enough time to jump inside."
"You think something happened?" Wade asked.
"She was playing around," Quinn said. And we're going to have to waste another slide to go back and get her."
"How long will that be?" Arturo asked.
"We're in luck," Quinn said, looking down at the timer. "It's only going to be a day."
Quinn was very angry. He was glad that they caught a break with only a one day stay, but he didn't want to waste time. It was going to be a long journey either way, and wasting time didn't help anybody.
Maggie struggled up to her feet, and she looked around. Other than a small headache, she felt fine. But the two people she saw were both unconscious, and the area was eerily silent.
She walked through the streets, trying to see what happened, but everyone was unconscious.
After a few more yards, she heard a faint buzzing sound, and she walked towards it. After awhile, she came upon a building with a roof glowing red.
She walked inside the building, taking the elevator to the roof. Inside, she started to feel dizzy, and she fell to the ground. She started to shake as if she were having a seizure. It only lasted a few seconds, but it really scared her.
Maggie reached the roof looked around. She walked towards a glowing red sphere, having to step over several unconscious policemen.
Suddenly, the red light started to dim, leaving a man crouching beside a large machine.
"Who are you?" the man asked, shaking.
"My name is Maggie Beckett," Maggie responded. "Can you explain what happened?"
"What happened?" the man asked timidly.
"The whole city is unconscious," Maggie said. "And you're sitting in a big bright red ball, and you don't think something strange has gone on?"
"It affected the whole city?" the man said, pulling himself up. "I'm in for it now! All I wanted to do was save myself from the police, I swear! You're not from the government or the military are you?"
"I haven't been for a while," Maggie responded.
She didn't trust this man, but she had to find out some answers. This man had caused her to miss the slide, and she didn't want him to mess it up again.
"What are you going to do?" Maggie asked.
"Lie low," the man said, walking to take a look at the city. "Maybe they'll think that it was a mistake, and I can get away."
"Shouldn't you turn yourself in and accept the consequences?" Maggie asked.
"Who are you?" the man asked sarcastically. "McGruff the Crime Bear?"
"By the way, I'm Thomas Wilson," the man said, extending his hand.
With some time to kill on a calm world, Quinn and Arturo decided to relax at the hotel while Rembrandt and Wade went out to have some fun.
"Tell me about your apparent connection to Kromagg Prime," Arturo said.
"Boy, is that a long story," Quinn said. "I don't know if it's true anymore. Hell, I don't know if anything I've been told is true anymore."
Quinn started to laugh, hoping he could somehow mentally sort it all out.
"Well," Quinn continued. "Everything was fine until we landed on what we thought was Earth Prime."
"That turned out to be false," Arturo said.
"Apparently," Quinn said. "Well, I found my mother and she told me that I was adopted from Kromagg Prime, and that I was supposed to find my way back to my real mother and father."
"I don't know how to explain it," Arturo said. "But that might actually be the truth."
"What?" Quinn asked.
"I haven't told Rembrandt because I still can't explain it," Arturo said. "But when we were searching for you, originally, your quantum signature differed everyone else's. It appears that you might actually be from another Earth."
"I don't know," Quinn said. "Do you think that might have to do with the merger?"
"Could be," Arturo said. "But we won't know until we have a chance to analyze you."
"I can't wait," Quinn sighed.
"What do you think you're going to do?" Arturo asked.
"My first priority would be to get you all home," Quinn said. "I made a promise five years ago, and I'm going to fulfill it. Then, I guess, I'll take Wade back to her world and try to find Colin."
Arturo looked confused.
"If the whole Kromagg Prime story is true," Quinn said. "Then Colin is my brother."
Arturo didn't fully understand, but went along with it.
"Its not as simple as it used to be, is it Professor?" Quinn asked with a smile.
"It never is, my boy," Arturo said. "It never is."
While Thomas looked at the city, Maggie began to have another seizure. She fell to the floor, trying to call to him.
"Maggie!" Thomas screamed, running to her side.
Maggie started to shake more violently than the last time. A few seconds later, she stopped and felt better.
"Is that normal?" Thomas asked.
"Not really," Maggie said, recovering from the seizure.
"Then you were hit by the shockwave, weren't you?" Thomas asked.
"No, Thomas," she said, standing up. "I was out of the way."
There was no reason to tell her that she had been hit by the wave. If it knocked everyone else unconscious, how would she explain that it didn't knock her out?
Obviously, the shockwaves had caused the seizures, but there was no reason to put any more grief on Thomas.
Rembrandt and Wade walked the streets, looking for something to do while Arturo and Quinn talked. But, oddly, no one was out walking the streets.
"Where do you think everyone is?" Wade asked.
"No idea," Rembrandt said. "It almost looks like the town's been abandoned."
"Well," Wade said. "The concierge did look at us strangely when we walked out the front door. Maybe people don't go outside during the day on this world."
Suddenly, a woman opened her window and screamed at the sliders.
"You two!" the woman screamed hysterically. "Get out of the streets! A flood is coming!"
Wade and Rembrandt both looked at the sky. It looked like it might rain, but it certainly didn't look like a flood was coming.
But they didn't know anything about this world, and they assumed that it might be possible for a flash flood to appear in a matter of seconds, so they rushed to the apartment building.
The woman met them at the stairs, thanking God that she had found them before the flood hit. She immediately took them up to her apartment.
"What are you two doing on the streets?" the woman asked. "Didn't you watch the weather this morning?"
Rembrandt looked at Wade and shrugged his shoulders.
"Not today." Rembrandt said, trying to act disappointed in himself.
"Yeah," Wade said, agreeing with Rembrandt. "We must have missed it today."
The woman looked worried for them, as if they were crazy.
"You missed the weather?" the woman asked. "Have you lost your minds?"
Rembrandt didn't want to insult the woman, but she seemed overly serious about something like the weather. But since it appeared that everyone was hiding from the floods, he gave her the benefit of the doubt.
"What is supposed to happen?" he asked.
"Floods are coming," the woman said, sternly.
Thomas stood up and looked at the horizon. Maggie wouldn't tell him how far the shockwave went, so he had to try and find out how far the devastation went.
"I'll be right back," Thomas said to the resting Maggie.
Quinn and Arturo were talking, and the conversation turned to Maggie's condition and what to do.
"I don't know, Professor," Quinn said. "She and I used to be really close. I mean, we even got married and had kids!"
Quinn remembered that Arturo didn't know anything about his and Maggie's bubble world.
"It's a long story," Quinn amended. "Well, I don't know. Now that I've been separated from Mallory, I see thing so clearly now. I'm focusing on getting home and nothing else, and when I see Maggie, I'm reminded of so many things I've done wrong in the last few years."
"She's a good woman," Arturo said. "You shouldn't blame her for what you feel you've done wrong."
"I know," Quinn said. "But things are just so much clearer when she's gone."
"What are you saying?" Arturo asked. "You're not honestly thinking about just leaving her on that last world."
"Come on Professor!" Quinn said, standing up to argue. "You saw how glibly she was treating the slide! It was like she was trying to be left behind!"
"She wasn't," Arturo said.
"I know," Quinn said. "I just really want to get you home, and I hate to have to backtrack."
"You'll get us home," Arturo said. "And if you don't, I guarantee it won't be because of this."
"Damn," Quinn said. "Why do I keep arguing with you when I know I'll never win?"
In the woman's apartment, the woman quietly focused on the television, stuck on the weather channel. She seemed disturbed that Rembrandt and Wade weren't watching, but she had already been convinced that they were completely crazy.
Wade observed the walls, then she tapped on Rembrandt's shoulder.
"Hey Remmy," Wade said. "I lived in an apartment just like this in college. The walls are very thin."
Rembrandt tapped on the walls, proving that she was right.
"I remember being annoyed at the fact that I was always hearing what other people were watching on TV," Wade said. "You could always tell if they were watching the same show as you, or if they were watching something different."
"I don't hear anything," Rembrandt said.
"Exactly," Wade said.
"Are you saying that everyone is watching the weather?" Rembrandt whispered?
"That's what it looks like," Wade answered.
"What do you think it is that makes people so fascinated?" Rembrandt asked.
"Maybe we should watch," Wade said.
Rembrandt agreed, but he was worried that the weather channel was somehow controlling people's minds. It seemed like an outrageous concept, but they had seen stranger things.
Thomas returned with a pair of binoculars. He was afraid to go to the street, but he definitely wanted to look around the city to see what kind of condition the people were in.
He looked down to the street, and his fears were confirmed. Everyone in sight was lying motionless on the street. He was sure that some of them had minor injuries, and it was possible that several had major injuries.
He knew the more severe their injuries, the more severe his punishment would be, and that worried him. Especially when he considered the possibility that people could be dead.
When night fell, Thomas also discovered that the city's electricity had been affected because few of the city's lights were turning on.
But the darkness allowed Maggie to see some light a few miles away.
"Check over there," she said, calling for Thomas' attention. "Do you see that light over there by the horizon?"
"Yeah," Thomas said, looking through the binoculars. "It looks like some sort of encampment."
"When I was in the military," Maggie said. "I used to hear old war stories where soldiers would set up base camp a few miles away when they came across a battleground where they suspected biological or chemical weapons were used. Then, they would test the area to make sure it was safe before moving in."
"Why didn't they just survey the area with gas masks?" Thomas asked.
"Well," Maggie said. "On my world, they didn't invent gas masks until later."
Maggie stopped after she caught herself. She had said too much, and Thomas caught her.
"What do you mean, 'your world?'" Thomas asked.
Maggie thought quickly, but she had trouble coming up with a good excuse. But, on the other hand, she didn't want to reveal herself as a slider so she used her lame excuse.
"Well, I lived in a very isolated area," Maggie said. "We used to call it 'our own little world.'"
Thomas was skeptical, but he could tell that Maggie didn't want to talk about it. So, he left it alone and changed the subject.
"So is that what you think they're doing?"
"I bet," Maggie said. "They're probably worried that whatever caused these people to collapse could affect them. But as soon as they assume that they're safe, they'll move in."
Immediately, Thomas worriedly started to pull his things together.
"Then I have to get out of here," Thomas said.
Maggie tried to get up, but Thomas stopped her.
"I guess you're my responsibility now," he said. "I'll tell you what. I'll let you get your strength back, and we'll leave before daybreak hits."
Maggie had to agree with him for the time being. Of course, she had to find a way to escape so that she could rejoin the group when they returned. But right now, she had to stay with Thomas.
As night fell, the woman was still fixated on the television and the weather channel. Rembrandt and Wade had been watching, and they hadn't seen anything that made them worry. And the weather outside didn't seem any more serious.
It just seemed like the woman was overreacting. But it also appeared that the rest of the city was reacting the same way.
"This is an update," the weather man said. "The American Weather Center has officially updated the status of the storm on the West Coast to a flash flood warning. So, anyone living on the West Coast should take cover immediately."
The woman instantly became very nervous, and she ran to the closet, emerging with boards, nails, and a hammer.
"Here," the woman said, handing Rembrandt the boards. "We have to board up the windows before it starts."
The entire West Coast was under a flash flood warning? He and Wade decided to keep giving the world the benefit of the doubt, but neither felt like they were in any kind of danger.
Rembrandt wanted to intervene, but he didn't want to seem any stranger than he already did. He helped the woman board up all their windows and doors, and they moved the television and the couch into the center of the room.
The woman went and grabbed a battery-operated weather radio out of the closet, as Wade gave the woman a strange look.
"Don't worry, Dear," the woman said. "If we have to, we can all get in the closet and we'll be safe."
Wade was worried that they were trapped with this woman, and they wished they could just go back to the hotel to spend the rest of the slide. At least they were only there for a day.
On the other side of town, Arturo and Quinn were also seeing the effects of the weather announcement.
"What's going on?" Quinn asked, seeing people outside rushing to their cars, throwing suitcases and sleeping bags from windows down to the street.
"It appears they're fleeing the city!" Arturo screamed.
"What for?" Quinn asked.
Arturo shrugged his shoulders as Quinn turned on the news. He assumed to see news of some kind of invasion, but every station was doing weather news.
"You'd think that the news would be covering whatever is making them run away," Quinn said. "But every station is doing the weather."
"Maybe it's the weather they're worried about," Arturo responded.
Quinn looked out the window, as it began to lightly rain.
"You think people are affected by rainwater on this world?" Quinn asked.
Although the people seemed to be afraid of the rain, it didn't seem like it was affecting them physically in any way.
"Interesting," Quinn said.
As the first light of morning approached, Thomas began to get restless. Maggie had slept throughout the night, and he felt it might be time to move her.
"Maggie," he said, tapping her on the arm. "I think we need to get moving."
Maggie rubbed her eyes and struggled to her feet.
"Did the camp move?" she asked.
"No," Thomas said. "But it looks like there's a lot of movement, so I don't think we have a lot of time."
The pair gathered up all of Thomas' stuff and ran to the stairs. But when they reached the tenth floor, Maggie fell to the ground.
"Not again," Thomas said.
He tried to sit with her, but he heard footsteps coming up the stairs.
What would he do? He could either risk trying to move her and get away with her or he could abandon her. But when the footsteps sounded like they were coming closer, he became very nervous.
"Sorry," he said, grabbing Maggie's hand.
It looked like the seizure was almost over, but he knew it wouldn't be right to move her. He knew she wouldn't get in trouble with the military, so it would be okay to leave her. But he had to get out.
Maggie smiled and motioned for him to go, and he started to run up the stairs.
"Freeze!" a soldier said, pointing his gun at the stairs.
But Thomas was already beyond his view, and he stopped when he came to Maggie's body on the ground.
"I got a live on here!" the soldier said, and two fellow soldiers joined him.
"Another man was alive here," the soldier told his commanding officer. "He ran up the stairs when he saw me."
"Take a look around," the commander said. "It might've been the guy who did all this, so be cautious."
"What do we do with her?" the soldier asked.
"She might be able to give us some answers," the commander said. "I'll get her to a hospital."
A few hours later, Maggie woke up in a hospital surrounded by the sliders.
"Maggie!" Rembrandt said, coming to her side. "You sure like to cut it close, girl!"
"How long?" she asked.
"Five hours," Arturo responded.
"And we weren't going to come back again," Quinn said as a joke, but Arturo knew he was serious. He knew she had a legitimate excuse for missing the slide, but he didn't want to waste any more time waiting on her.
Suddenly, Maggie remembered what happened.
"Do you know what happened to Thomas?"
The sliders shook their heads, but the military commander in the room approached her with the answer.
"Mr. Wilson is engaged in a standoff on top of his apartment building," the commander said. "When we found him and tried to take him into custody, he retreated to his machine, and he's threatening to use it again."
"What's going to happen to him?" Maggie asked.
"We're going to stop him," the commander said. "We've been informed that the shockwave hasn't killed anyone, but the doctors don't know what will happen if they're hit again. And there's no way we can get everyone out of the radius in time."
"So, what are you planning to do?" Maggie asked.
"We're going to stall until we can get a good shot," the commander said.
"No," Maggie said. "I can stop him!"
"Maggie," Quinn said. "You're in no condition to go anywhere. The doctors said that you had a seizure, and they can't even isolate the problem."
"I'm fine," Maggie said. "But I've got to stop him. I'm the only one who can."
On the roof, Thomas was having déja vù. He was on the same roof, holding his hand on the same device, while at gunpoint. But this time, he was a fugitive against a much bigger opponent.
"I'll do it!" Thomas said nervously. "I did it before, and I'll do it again."
"I don't believe you want to kill all these people!" the military negotiator said. "I've told you what will happen if you use it again, and you're obviously in emotional shock over what you've already done."
"I'll do it!" Thomas said, his hand firmly on the device.
Maggie slowly walked to the front line of soldiers, calling to Thomas.
"Thomas, don't!" Maggie screamed.
"Maggie!" Thomas responded.
"Let it go, Thomas!" Maggie said. "Just turn yourself in and tell them the truth, and you will be treated fairly."
Thomas didn't want to give up, but he didn't want to run anymore.
"Okay," Thomas said, softly.
He motioned to turn off the machine, but one of the soldiers thought he was going to activate the machine. He fired, prompting even more shots at Thomas. He immediately fell to the ground.
"Thomas!" Maggie said, running to his side.
"It's okay," Thomas struggled to say. "I'm free, now."
Thomas tried to lift his head to see his executioner, but he collapsed and died on the roof.
Maggie pulled herself up and looked over at the officer responsible for the shooting. The commanding officer was already speaking to him, and he looked remorseful.
Maggie looked at the roof, and she felt awful. A good man had died, and another man would probably be punished for firing too quickly.
Rembrandt approached Maggie and helped her back to the building's elevator.
Back at the hospital, Quinn reentered Maggie's hospital room.
"I'm sorry about your friend," Quinn said.
"He wasn't a bad man," Maggie said. "He was strange and impulsive, but things just got out of control."
"Maggie," Quinn said. "The doctors told me that they don't know what is causing your seizures. They know that the shockwaves did something, but they can't explain why you weren't affected the same way that everyone else was."
"You know why," Maggie said.
"Yes," Quinn said. "We assume that your body somehow was defended against the wave better, and the seizures are some kind of a side effect."
"So," Maggie asked. "What can we do?"
"There's nothing we can do," Quinn said. "At least, nothing we can do here. The doctors think that they might be triggered by overactivity."
"Well," Maggie said. "We'll just hang on until we land on a world with a better medical community."
"Yeah," Quinn said. "We could definitely do that."
"But that's not what you want to do," Maggie said.
"It's not that," Quinn said. "I love being around you again, and I promise I'm not trying to kick you out of the group. It may seem that way, but I promise it's not."
Maggie didn't believe him. She knew that he was trying to recreate his original group, and she was just getting in the way. But she didn't want to argue.
"You want me to stay here," Maggie said.
"It may be for the best," Quinn said. "What if we land on a volatile world before we land on one that can help you? It would be dangerous to us, and it would be dangerous to you."
"I'm fine, Quinn," Maggie said. "And if something happens to me on the slide, then I know you'll be smart enough to save the group and leave me behind. But I'm going to fight you, and I'm going to need you to help me."
"Okay," Quinn said. "We're going to slide in an hour. Will you be ready?"
"Yes," Maggie said. "I'll be ready."
Quinn turned around and walked towards the door.
"Quinn?" Maggie asked, calling him back into the room.
"Yes," Quinn said.
"Things aren't going to be the same between us, are they?" Maggie asked.
Quinn looked into her eyes, and he wanted to tell her that everything would be all right after things were sorted out. But he couldn't.
"No," Quinn said softly. "I guess they won't."
Quinn walked out of the hospital room. He rejoined the rest of the sliders, leaving Maggie in the room alone.