“When National Space Exploration and Discovery, or NSED, discovered the existence of intelligent life in outer space in 2072, they captured the peoples’ imagination and helped a world still shaken by the Angran Cold War of the 2060s recover. Even though humanity has yet to make actual contact with alien life, many consider its discovery to be the single greatest event of the 21st century. This documentary was brought to you by…”
“Change to channel 8A,” interrupted the man watching the holovision documentary from his couch, “let’s watch the ball drop.”
On the man’s coffee table, a three dimensional holographic model of Times Square appeared. He saw all of the holograms displayed within it: the words floating over the peoples’ heads advertising products such as Redwin’s Beer, Dr. Tanner’s Total Body Rejuvenator, and the new Ford Legacy, accompanied by animated images in the air. Most prominently visible was the glistening ball atop a tower in the center of the square, which was to be dropped to symbolize the New Year. With the ball and the attention-grabbing holograms all around, the nearby buildings seemed drab in comparison.
He saw the large numbers of revelers around the square. While some were transfixed by the ball, most were already celebrating. There were many people cheering. A few couples were kissing and making out in the crowd. A rather excited child was sitting on his mother’s shoulders. These, and many others, were all eagerly anticipating the dropping of the ball and the beginning of the year 2100.
“This is Wes Creston reporting,” a reporter, prominently standing in the center of the excitement, said, “I’m here to you live over the internet, from Times Square in New York City. The time is currently 11:58 PM. In just under two minutes, the ball will drop to mark the beginning of a new year, and the twenty-second century.”
As the time drew close, the ball began to descend, and the countdown began. All of the other holograms in Times Square vanished, and giant floating numbers counting down the seconds appeared in their place. The crowd began to cheer the countdown, and counted along. The man on the couch watched the ball continue to descend, as the count continued.
Then, when the crowd reached three, the ball strangely stopped descending, and the holograms faded. The people continued to count down, though, too enthralled by all the excitement to care. When they reached zero, and began to scream “Happy New Year”, the sky turned darker. Something huge appeared above the city, blocking the moon and the stars. As the sky turned black, the peoples’ screams of jubilation faded into a terrified silence.
“I don’t know what is going on here,” Wes reported, “but the ball has stopped, and a large unidentified flying object has appeared out of nowhere in the skies of New York City. This is Wes Creston, and we’re reporting this to you live!”
The man in his living room leaned forward, to take a close look at the hologram of whatever was in the night sky. Though the image was dark, the limited light from the holovision reflected off his face. The red tips of his otherwise black hair stood out well in this light, as did the unusual shine in his eyes.
“Adjust the viewing angle,” he said, leaning in to the holovision, “focus on the object in the sky.”
The angle of the holographic image shifted, to focus directly at whatever was in the sky. It was a large flying vehicle, a ship of some sort. The man studied it carefully. It was too dark for him to really see the details, but he knew it was not of human design.
“Something is descending from the object,” Wes reported, “it’s…it’s…”
And then, the holovision images faded. The holograms completely vanished for several seconds, before cutting to an image of a newsroom. A brunette woman was sitting at the news desk. She was breathing rather quickly, and her hair looked like it hadn’t been combed prior to going on the air. Despite her appearance, though, she spoke relatively calmly.
“This is Vanessa Castarelli, reporting to you live from the Channel 8A news room in Washington D.C.,” the reporter said, “you have just witnessed what appears to be the beginning of an alien attack on New York City. We now bring you live footage of these shocking events from Skyjet Nine hovering over Jersey City.”
The holographic image changed to show the New York skyline with the large ship hovering overhead. The man continued to inspect the ship, but couldn’t get a good view due to the angle of the picture. He then noticed a strange white glow under the ship. The glow began to form into an opaque white plate of energy, which continued to expand over New York City.
Then, the edges of the plate began to grow downward, forming a solid dome that slowly lowered over the entire city. As the dome fell, the panicked screams from the people underneath it grew louder. Though none of the people understood what was happening, they all appeared to be trying to flee the city, though due to the size of New York City, this would be futile for most of them.
The man watched the chaos closely, hunched over the holovision curiously. He showed no signs of surprise or fear throughout the attack, as if he had anticipated it.
The dome struck a skyjet that was flying out of the city. The skyjet was sliced into two pieces, divided by the path of the dome, and they both started to plummet toward the ground. As the dome got lower, it struck and sliced a few buildings in a similar way. The buildings were a lot more stable than the skyjet, but were still mostly demolished by the dome.
As the man saw the damage, he uttered a brief sigh.
The dome continued to lower until it had struck the ground, completely sealing off the city. The panic immediately stopped, as the dome blocked off all the sound within. A large group of people gathered outside the dome. These were mostly curious bystanders, and people who were fortunate enough to escape. Several police vehicles and enforcers were rapidly hovering towards the dome, in an attempt to seal the area and inspect the damage.
The glow under the UFO faded, and then the ship itself vanished into the night sky. The man did not bother looking for it; he knew it couldn’t be found.
“And you have just witnessed,” the reporter said, “what appears to have been a dome surfacing around New York City, being formed by an Unidentified Flying Object, which we can only assume to be piloted by hostile aliens. Once the dome had finished forming, the UFO has completely disappeared into the night sky without a trace.”
The reporter paused to gasp.
“We’re getting eyewitness reports saying that the dome formed a giant wall,” she continued, “We cannot get inside, or see or hear anything from within the dome. Millions of people are trapped inside, their fate unknown, and the dome is blocking all wave signals in or out.
“We have just received word that the director of the WDA, Charles Caldwell has announced he shall be beginning an investigation of the nature of this dome. He will be holding a press conference within the hour, and we will bring that to you live. We also received word that President Winthrop will be addressing the American people about this incident shortly.”
The reporter paused to gasp once again.
“Local police are gathering information about this dome,” Vanessa continued, “but FBI and WDA agents are also being called in. Now, for those of you just joining us, New York City has just been sealed inside…”
“Turn off the holovision,” the man calmly said.
The holographic image of the news room disappeared.
Despite the highly disturbing events he had just witnessed, the man did not panic. He simply stood up, and calmly walked towards the window. On the way, he accidentally knocked a book titled “Perfecting the Human Genome”, by Adam R. Kroll, off of one of his end tables, and onto the floor. He noticed the book had fallen, but ignored it and continued to walk past.
He stared out his side window, looking at the skyline of Washington D.C. Though the city still looked peaceful despite the tragedy that had just occurred in New York City, he knew the citizens were at home, reacting to the attack. Some people were at New Years’ parties, but the incident caused their revelry to end prematurely. He knew that at the capitol, the president and congress were scrambling to prepare a reaction. Some people slept through the incident, but the man knew they were in for a rude awakening in the morning. Even though the skyline of Washington looked the same as it always did, he knew it was now a different world.
“Cromm,” he uttered to himself with a sigh.
Author’s Notes (may contain spoilers):
So, yeah, I said I’d have something special this week, and here it is: the prologue to my hopefully-soon-to-be-published novel, “The Cromm Conspiracy” (formerly titled “The Overman Conspiracy”, until I learned said title was taken). I have the complete draft written, 82 chapters, 100,000 plus words long (this is roughly the length of Harry Potter 3), and one great story. I might publish a few more chapters here sometime in the future, but I do not expect to be publishing the entire thing, as I fear that would jeopardize its ability to sell if I can get it published as a book.
So, what’s there to say about “The Cromm Conspiracy”? Well, I do consider it to be the best thing I’ve written to date. I can’t really say too much about the plot, because there are some major twists, and I would surely give away spoilers if I wasn’t careful. The idea came to me in a dream, though a very bizarre one (like most of my dreams). I played with the events a bit to produce the novel in question.
As for the prologue, I wrote it some time after I had finished several chapters. I was concerned the exposition-heavy chapters one and two would not hook the readers, so I wrote this prologue, creating a big event that sets the stage for the events later in the book, over six years later. But after a few revisions, the connection between the prologue and the first few chapters grew deeper and stronger.
I originally began the prologue with the line “As the people of the world waited out the last few minutes of the year 2099, they were unaware of the fact that they were not just awaiting a new year, but a tragedy that would change the world forever.” as a hook. It was a strong hook, but also gave away events that would happen later, and make it less of a surprise when the ball dropping was interrupted.