Earth 500
Tales of the Fifth Slider

Otherworlds Earth 500

Into the Lifeless (FS-4)
by David Pesqueira

© January 1999


PART ZERO

This document (in whole or in part) an be freely distributed with the condition that it is not modified or sold in any way. Some characters and elements of this story are the property of St. Clare Entertainment and the Sci-Fi Channel, used without authorization.

WARNING: This is the fourth story of the Fifth Slider Serial, a Sliders fanfiction series created by me that introduces a fifth slider to the group. Each story will closely follow the previous one in the series, so it is recommended you start with the first one and read them in order. Without reading the first story, the stories to follow will likely make no sense to you.

As of now, the story list of the serial in order goes:

1. Silent Voices
2. Have A Nice Day
3. Natural Selection
4. Into The Lifeless

If you haven't read these stories listed above, e-mail me or the authors who wrote the stories to retrieve them.

Also, you can participate to write for the serial, but you have to send me an e-mail first before joining.

NOTE: In the Fifth Slider Serial, since its three years on hiatus, nothing changed between the previous story, "Natural Selection" (Jules Reynolds) and this story. Keep in mind that it is still 1996, not 1999.



PART ONE

David looked at all of the vibrant colors while sliding in the wormhole. Blue, green, purple, red. Some sparkles went through him as he continued to slide. David looked ahead at the brilliant light at the end of the tunnel. He crossed his arms above his head and straightened his legs.

David hit on the cold, hard pavement. He could feel the chill creeping over his cheek. He rose to his feet and pulled out the timer. He looked at the LCD display. One hour. He looked around the dark alley. Everything was dim. The sky was pitch black.

David didn't see his brother Quinn rushing out of the vortex, heading at him. Both of them collided and fell to the pavement. Quinn pulled him to his feet and signed, "Are you okay?"

David nodded, seeing Quinn's signing in the light of the vortex, then retrieved the timer which he'd dropped. They moved away from the roaring wormhole as Wade, Arturo, and Rembrandt leapt out of it before it contracted into nothingness.

Rembrandt walked behind David and took a peek at the timer. Then he tapped on David's shoulder to get his attention. "How long will we stay on this world?"

"An hour." David put the timer back in his pocket and studied the black sky. He felt goosebumps forming on his arms. He blew on his hands to keep warm, then he looked at his wristwatch. "It's only two in the afternoon but it's dark."

"We should have expected it to happen sometime. Probably the orbit of the Earth is not identical in all alternate universes," Arturo explained to the shivering boy. Then he began to shiver himself. "It sure is freezing out here."

"Man, this is bad. Real bad." Rembrandt shivered. "No people on this world."

"Let's get inside." Quinn rubbed on his freezing hands as the quintet walked through the dark alley to the adjacent building. The windows and walls were covered with frost. No bright lights came through the windows, only blinking lights.

Quinn stepped forward to the front door and turned the frost-covered doorknob. It didn't budge. He struggled to open the door until it finally broke down. The others cheerfully hurried toward the door, but then they noticed a huge circuit board blocking the entrance. Quinn tried to kick it down also, but it held firm. They exchanged looks.

Rembrandt wasn't certain what it was. "What is that?"

"A circuit board. But what for?" Quinn mumbled, breathing out a cloud. He continued to kick against the circuit board. He only left a light chip on the surface. He looked at the building across the street. "Let's try this one."

Quinn walked across the street toward the next building. He pulled the freezing door handle with all his might. This time it opened without any struggle. There was also a circuit wall blocking the entrance to the building. Quinn frowned at his companions. "Same here. Damn it."

"Hey, let's spread out and see if we can find one that doesn't have these circuits inside," Rembrandt suggested around chattering teeth.

"I'm guessing that all of the buildings around here have those kinds of large circuit boards inside," Quinn said.

"But it's freezing cold out here," Wade complained. "We don't have the right clothes."

"I don't mind the cold, but not this cold," David signed with shaking arms. "I can't talk when it's freezing. It numbs my hands. I wish we'd brought warm clothes."

"We didn't expect it to be like this," Wade explained. "At least we didn't slide back to that Ice World where the four of us first slid together."

"I lost my Cadillac on that world." Rembrandt sighed. "Man, you guys have no idea how I miss my Cadillac."

"Really?" David grinned. "What color was it?"

"Red. Like a heart, man." Rembrandt smiled, putting his hand on his chest. "I have great memories with that car, even when I was at the peak of stardom with the Spinnin' Tops."

David smiled while Wade translated Rembrandt's words to his question. "From what you just described, it must be pretty cool."

Rembrandt nodded.

Quinn heard a strange growling. He looked around the dimmed street. There were just different kinds of color blinking through the windows of the buildings. But the growling grew louder, getting on his nerves.

"You seem to be nervous, Mr. Mallory. What's bothering you?" the professor asked.

"Not sure. Did you hear the noise out there? It's coming closer. I don't know what it is but it doesn't sound very welcoming," Quinn told the professor. "We should get out of here before it finds us."

"Mmmm." Arturo scratched his beard. He knew that they shouldn't be jumping to conclusions.

"How much longer until we slide?" Wade asked Quinn.

"About fifty minutes."

"I can't wait to get out of this freezing weather. It was supposed to be fall, not winter," Rembrandt complained, shivering through the cold air.

The growling got even louder. Quinn looked around. The empty street was now filled with military cyborgs, marching as if they were going to join in a battle. Fortunately, the cyborgs didn't notice the Sliders standing in the alley. Quinn pointed toward the opposite direction. "Let's get out of here before they see us."

"Why?" David asked.

"Because they would probably harm us," he signed. "Maybe that's the reasons we didn't see any people here. Maybe they executed the entire human race."

"How could you possibly know?" David looked down at himself. "If they were to harm us, they would come this way and kill us. And there are no blood stains--"

"You never know," Quinn interrupted.

"Let me look for something to throw at them. Then we will see how they react to it." David searched the alley and found an icy brick. "I won't aim it at them. Just to see if they notice it or not."

"It would be a good idea to avoid the consequences. I suggest you put down the brick and evacuate the area," Arturo said.

David shrugged and threw the brick overhead. It hit on the pavement. But the cyborgs didn't stop. They were still marching the street. David grinned at the others. "See? No harm."

"You shouldn't have done that, Dave." Wade moved back, signing. "Look. Look behind you."

"Wha?" David turned around and looked right at the metallic armor of a cyborg standing in front of him. He looked up and saw the blinking red eyes looking back at him. The other cyborgs walked into the alley to accompany him. David gulped. "Hi."

Quinn grabbed him and scolded him. "Told ya. Let's get out of here!"

"Hey, that's what the circuit boards are for," Rembrandt said. "The buildings of Los Angeles are disguised as, what do you guys call it?"

"Generators!" Wade shouted. "No time to talk about it. We have to get out of here!"

"Generators to recharge themselves, like batteries." A laser ray ran past Rembrandt and hit the wall. Rembrandt screamed and began to run.

They rushed through the alley, dodging the rays the cyborgs fired at them. Quinn saw a tunnel up ahead and yelled, "We must get in there and hide from the cyborgs!"

David ran past Quinn, breathing hard. He looked at the structures. It seemed familiar to him, as if he had seen it in a dream. He also felt the freezing air numbing his face. But he knew he couldn't stop. It was his idea to throw the rock. Now the cyborgs were after them. He stopped by the door of the tunnel and panted. He quickly opened the door just in time as the others approached him.

"Get in!" Quinn shouted. They hurried into the tunnel. Rembrandt closed the door and locked it shut. The adults panted and glared at the kid.

David looked down the moment they looked at him. "I know what you're thinking. I shouldn't have done that. I was just trying to prove my little theory, that's all."

"Just don't do it next time." Wade signed.

"You know, a while back there I looked at the buildings," David signed, still breathing hard. "This must be the year 6971 or something. I dreamed about this world many years ago. No people. Just cyborgs." Then he shuddered.

"Sliding is never time travel, David," the professor fingerspelled. "And this is not the year 6971."

"Anything's possible in alternate realities," David reminded him. But they weren't listening to him. David realized that they had fallen silent. He felt the vibrations on the ground. "What was that?"

"A mechanical voice. I think it said the date was October 6, 6984." Quinn signed.

"6984?" David signed in puzzlement. "But the last world it was 1996. Must be the world I dreamed about."

"The possibilities are, in fact, infinite, and some of them are similar to the ones you dreamed about. Calendars play no importance here. As you said, David, anything's possible."

There were sirens. Cyborgs broke down the door and approached them. The mechanical voice boomed again. "Humans must be terminated. Terminated!"


PART TWO

They faced the cyborgs in the tunnel. Other cyborgs stood behind them. The quintet was surrounded by the lifeless beings. All of the laser guns were aimed at them.

"Man, you shouldn't have thrown the rock at them." Rembrandt's eyes looked like he was going to cry. "Now there's no way we can get outta here."

"I didn't know!" David signed angrily. He turned to Rembrandt. "I said I was sorry! What could I do to make up for it?"

"Don't--" Wade gasped. A cyborg fired. The laser ray hit David in the shoulder. He fell to the ground, unconscious. Wade gulped. "--move."

"David!" Quinn whispered. David just lay there, not moving a bit. Quinn met the cyborg's bright red eyes. He clenched his fists. "Damn you."

The cyborg just stood there, still pointing the laser gun at him. The mechanical voice growled. "Bring them to Headquarters for termination. Be prompt. If they resist, kill them."

The cyborgs lowered their weapons and held them with their metal clasps. One of them picked up David and carried him in its arms. The sliders couldn 't resist the firm grasp of the cyborgs. They forced them to move out of the tunnel. The four of them shivered as they were being moved outside. David didn't feel a thing. But time was running out.


Headquarters was the tallest building in town. Two steel poles with round, blue light bulbs stood before the silver doors. All of the windows mirrored the dark, cyborg-ridden city. It was the only building not covered with frost.

Quinn kept glancing over to the sleeping David in the cradles of the cyborg. The timer was in the kid's pocket. Quinn couldn't be sure of the countdown. But he knew the slide would happen very soon.

The doors opened with a humming sound. No circuit boards blocked this entrance. They covered the walls instead. In addition to circuit boards, there were flat computer monitors, switches, and buttons. Under their feet, chrome floors only reflected lights and dull shadows. Air vents on the ceiling warmed the hallway.

The conscious four gradually stopped shivering. They were still tense inside. David had the timer. But he was still knocked out. In the grasp of the cyborgs, they knew they couldn't break free and grab the timer.

The cyborgs stopped and ran the humans through the laser scanner. The mechanical voice appeared again. "Place the sleeping human in compartment 5B. The remaining are to placed in the Termination Center to await the termination process in a hour."

"What?" Wade gasped. The cyborg carried David into the adjoining hall while they continued in the same direction. The timer was out of their hands. "If David doesn't wake up in time, we will miss the slide."

"It's up to David now," Quinn whispered. "We better hope that he will wake up before the slide."

"I don't think so," Rembrandt fussed. "We're gonna die and there's no denying that. We can't push these robots off because they're pointing those laser zappers at us. The Cryin' Man will be the Dyin' Man!"


David woke up and faced the chrome ceiling. He felt a slight pain in his shoulder. The others were nowhere to be seen. He rested his hands on his waist. A solid object in his pocket reminded him. The timer. David quickly pulled it out and looked at the indicator. One minute. Panicked, he ran to the metal door and banged on it. He screamed with all his might.

After screaming for a while, David felt sore in the throat. He sighed and sat on the steel bed. He picked up the timer and looked at the indicator again. 29.7 years. He would be over forty when the next slide came along. Rembrandt and the professor would be old men. Quinn and Wade would be middle-aged adults. David blamed himself.

The door opened and the cyborg entered the compartment. Its lifeless face looked at David, then it raised its arms and headed toward him. David stayed back, guarding himself with his arms. The cyborg blinked its eyes and held David in its grasp.

Pushed by the cyborg, David looked at the circuit boards on the walls of the hallway. His hand covered his pocket to keep the timer hidden. Up ahead, David saw the cyborgs carrying four bodies which were burned to cinders. He recognized the fragments of clothing on the charred bodies. They were Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt, and Arturo.

"No!" David screamed, trying to get free of the cyborg. But the cyborg kept firm. Tears emanated from David's eyes as he looked at his burned friends. After only a month of sliding, David was alone again. And stuck on this lifeless world forever.

The cyborg stopped by the door labeled: TERMINATION CENTER. David breathed hard. He'd suffered after his real family deserted him. Quinn's double had put to an end to David's suffering by asking him to slide with them. He was fascinated by how different things were in the last few worlds. Now his friends were dead. And he was going to die.

The door opened and the cyborg placed David in a metal chamber. There were heating components inside. The cyborg blinked its lights again. David didn 't know why it did that. It looked like the cyborg was trying to tell him something. But David didn't care. There was nothing in life for him now. David kept staring at the cyborg with anger.

Vibrations growled in the chamber. The components began to glow red. David took a deep breath. Sweat came down his forehead. He bit his lip while his skin grew sensitive to the heat. He was starting to burn. David closed his eyes tightly and screamed.


PART THREE

David opened his eyes. He wasn't in a chamber anymore. He was still in the room with the chrome ceiling. The door was open. But there were no cyborgs marching through the hallways. David quickly took out the timer. He held it, begging to himself. Then he looked at the indicator. Five minutes. He let out a heavy sigh. They hadn't missed the slide after all.

He looked at the door. Still open. David put the timer back and rushed through the doors. Siren lights went off. David ignored them and kept running in the hallway. He hoped his friends weren't burned to a cinder. It was just a dream.

Up ahead, David saw the Termination Center labeled on the adjoining hall. He turned and headed in that direction. He panted as he ran but he knew he couldn't stop. He looked around and saw cyborgs zooming toward him.

David skidded to a stop by the Termination Center door. He kicked on the metal door. It didn't open. David looked around the wall for buttons or switches. There weren't any. But there was an entrance label. David stomped on the ground with his feet. "Damn it to hell!"

One of the cyborgs fired the laser gun at David. He ducked and it hit the wall. David looked at the charred section of the wall. He grinned and stood in front of the label. The cyborg fired again. David quickly slid down the chrome floor. It hit the label. The door hummed as it opened.

David hurried inside and saw four separate chambers. He turned around and saw the buttons by the door. The cyborgs were nearing. David pushed on every button until the door finally sealed itself shut. He sat on the floor and sighed. He looked at the timer. Two minutes.

David got up and looked at the chambers. They were all locked. But he could feel his friends kicking inside. They were alive, all right. But time was running out. David rambled the room and opened all the metal cabinets. There were laser guns inside. David took one and carried it back to the chambers.

David aimed at the nearest chamber and fired the gun. It melted the lock and Quinn kicked the chamber wide open. He saw his brother and shouted. "David!"

"Quinn!" David shouted. They hugged each other. "We have to hurry. There are laser guns in the cabinet over there!"

Quinn nodded. He grabbed the gun from the cabinet and fired at a chamber. "Hey guys! David's here!"

"Thank goodness!" Arturo hollered through the chamber that Quinn was melting the lock of. He pushed the chamber open with his legs and stepped out. All of them were out of the chambers now.

"Didn't think you'd make it, Dave," Rembrandt said, giving the boy a pat on the back. "I'm sorry I got upset with you."

"That's okay," David signed. He took out the timer. "From now on, I won't do anything that would put us in danger. And we need to slide now."

"That was close," Wade signed.

They watched as David activated the timer. The swirling blue vortex formed in front of them. The cyborgs crushed the door and approached them, armed with laser guns.

"Hurry!" Quinn shouted. They slid one by one. The vortex contracted again to nothingness. The cyborgs lowered their weapons. The sirens went off. A cyborg with a blue patch on its arm picked up a radio and began to speak. "The humans have disappeared. A circular hole appeared out of nowhere and they jumped in it."

"Damnation!" the mechanical voice replied.

THE END



Otherworlds Earth 500