As the morning sun rose over the vast dunes and weather-beaten steppes of the western Gobi, Bok Bolor peered through slitted eyelids as his mother, Bok Bayarmaa, shook him violently. "Bolor! Wake up! Sleeping only makes the visions worse.”
Bolor twisted around on his mat and peered out the small fold in his family’s yurt. Purple smoke, as thick as fog, hung about their small desert settlement and crept across the floor of their tent.
Bolor’s father had been the tribe’s shaman, and his visions of a man with a deviously illustrious moustache had anticipated the discovery of the brilliant metallic probe that emitted the inescapable purple fog. Soon, the entire tribe was haunted by the man’s face. At first, the men tried to ride their horses out of the smoke’s circumference, but as they strayed too far from the probe, their ears were besieged by an unbearable screeching. Bolor’s father rode as far from the probe as he could bear, feverishly seeking to escape its dominion. As the weeks went by, the father’s visions of the devilish man became stronger, and the father began to show signs of madness. Recently, he had been confined to a makeshift shelter outside of the family’s tent. The members of the clan had begun to visit him to compare their nightmares, despite his increasing incoherence.
“Seventy-seven suns have set since your father’s visions began. I feel that the moustached devil will come for him soon. Bolor, remain vigilant! Do not let him take you too!” Bolor was disturbed by his mother’s unease, but he did share her fear. The face of the strange man had begun to beckon to him in his dreams—the man seemed to offer an escape.
“Bolor, get out of bed and bring your father his yak’s milk. And listen carefully to what he says—His visions have been much stronger lately.” Bolor nodded wearily.
“I can barely understand a word he says anymore,” whispered Bolor as he waded through the fog to the plot where the yaks awaited him.
“Doctor, you said Billy was part human, right? What happened, did you toss some fingernails in the formula or something?”
“That’s very funny, Nickel, but no. Billy’s creation was much like my own, only much more… Severe.” Dr. Gerstein sighed and shook his head. “There isn’t much time to explain, but what you should know is that every human that enters this universe is extraordinarily privileged. The power that is at your fingertips here… It can be intoxicating.”
Sven thought of his own desire as Dr. Gerstein spoke. “But… I’m sorry, but I just do not understand. We’ve been taking a lot of what’s been happening in stride so far, and if you’re one of the men in charge, perhaps you could be a little more forthcoming! I understand that it was theorized that the LHC might open vortexes to other dimensions, but shouldn’t these dimensions have existed beforehand? Did you really create an entirely new universe?”
“For all intents and purposes, this place is as ‘new’ as they come!” Dr. Octopi stood in a metal-framed doorway with an unnervingly confident smile on his face, like an overeager real estate agent. “After all, my former colleague and I provided all of the furnishings!”
Bolor’s father refused the yak’s milk, his face stretched gaunt and his limbs contorted like an acrobat’s. “Father, what is it? Is he coming?” The old shaman stared ashen at his son. His lips trembled.
“Olgoi-khorkhoi!” The shaman lunged at his son. Bolor flinched, suddenly quite terrified. “Olgoi-khorkhoi!” The ground began to tremble, and then there were loud screams. The sound of lightning ripped through the air, punctuated by a strange liquid sizzling. Bolor could see the shadow of the olgoi-khorkhoi, the Mongolian Death Worm, through the skin of the yurt. His father released him from his grip and emitted a guffaw choked by a sob. The smell of burning leather filled the air, and Bolor looked up to see the hides of the tent melting away. And then the worm came into view. Its size far exceeded even the more outlandish stories, and Bolor could barely make out two riders perched on the worm’s red back. Then Bolor’s stomach became tight. With the tent torn away, he could see the full scope of the decimation, although he could only bear to glance furtively. Charred bodies were strewn across the landscape, frozen in their panicked attempts of escape and still veiled by the purple smoke. Bolor’s father glanced upwards, tears of a crazed laughter rolling down his face. He gibbered through the litany of the tribe’s prayers and curses. As wisps of purple smoke cleared, Bolor knew that the man atop the worm was the man from their nightmares.
“Chip. Chip,” the man spoke. The horrendous, razor-toothed creature roared and belched a bilious projectile liquid that coated Bolor’s father’s skin. The man screamed, and the young boy covered his face. “Sorry about that, my dear fellow, but your people are not very receptive to what I have to offer… Strange, I felt I was being quite generous. But the impression I’ve gotten from you was much more positive. I hope all this mess didn’t change your mind!” Bolor opened his eyes and saw the man’s yellow, madly grinning mouth underneath his wispy moustache. Bolor noticed that the man’s mouth did not move as he spoke. “I apologize for not speaking aloud, but my Mongolian’s quite rusty.” Dr. Octopi smirked. “You only have two choices. You can join the devil, or you can die. So how about it, Bok Bolor? Mind if I call you Billy?”
“Hans, I thought we had a deal. You bring me the girl, I clear up your little monkey problem. You seem to have all of the worst characteristics of a pillowbeak—always jabbering on when you should just keep quiet,” Shawty threw a stare of outraged disbelief at Dr. Gerstein. But his sonic screams he directed at Dr. Octopi. The evil doctor did not wince, but suddenly seemed covered in a protective shield of light. “What do we have here, a traitor in our midst? Oh Shawty, and you were one of my favorites…” Dr. Octopi returned Shawty’s attack with one of much higher frequency, and the pillowbeak crumpled against the wall like a sock puppet.
“Shawty!” Violet screamed. She turned to Dr. Gerstein. “You tricked me! But Billy sent me to you!”
“I’m sorry Violet, but Octopi is too powerful to be stopped. I couldn’t have stopped him—I was only able to contain the damage he was able to cause. And after all, as I said before… Being half-man half-monkey is no way to live.”
“When did you become such a wet blanket, Gerstein?” Dr. O jeered. “You certainly didn’t have these oppositions out on the Gobi. I’d say we caused quite a bit of damage after we sent that time probe… And you were by my side, then, just as responsible as I. ‘As long as the progress is the bottom line,’ you said. The power that we have at our fingertips now… That power… Is progress, is it not?”
“You’re a mad scientist, Octopi. Your plan is far too convoluted to ever succeed. As long as Billy remains outside of your grasp, you have nothing!”
“Gerstein, I do not need Billy, and I do not need you.”
“You lie, Octopi. You never intended Billy to become so powerful… More powerful than you. What happens to you when Billy comes back? What happens to you when he realizes just how much of a useless coward you are? What happens--”
With another well-aimed blast, Octopi silenced his former colleague. “Oh, I think that might have killed him! Sorry about that, my friends!” Octopi turned now to Sven and Violet. “Now I have a serious proposition for you. I want both of you to help me, or I’ll kill you both. How about it?”
Bolor was mortified, but something made him motivate his limbs and grab the hand of the moustached man, who hoisted him onto the back of the olgoi-khorkhoi. The creature hurdled across the desert, splitting a clear path through the purple smoke. Something glimmered on the horizon—the metallic probe. “Destroy it,” said Octopi. “We’re done here.”
The moustached man’s companion began to speak. “You think we’re done with these time probes now, Octopi? Now that you’ve gotten a new subject for the experiments? You know, the manufacture of those probes isn’t a simple process. What if this boy doesn’t survive the antimatter treatments, just like the others? What makes you so confident now?”
“I’ve learned from my mistakes, Gerstein. Trust me. Let’s get home now, Billy’s got a long road ahead of him!”
Dr. Vanderslice could barely contain his wonderment. “It’s uncanny! It’s bizarre!”
“What is, Dr. V?” said Junior Mint, fawning over the addled scientist.
“Well, the LHC is only designed to create the Higg’s Boson… It’s a particle scientists have been trying to isolate for years… But the readings the computers have been producing suggest that the machine is capable of doing something far more… substantial!”
Suddenly, a thick purple smoke filled the room, and Junior Mint shrieked. Suddenly, a tall Mongolian boy in ripped pants stepped into view. “Hi Dr. Vanderslice, my name’s Billy. I need your assistance with a relative of yours… He’s been causing me a lot of trouble, a million years into the future…”