Holes appeared randomly and suddenly and disappeared just as quickly.
No one knew why they first appeared or where the Holes led, if
anywhere, but to Frederick Lang, their pull was almost magnetic.
were fiery rainbows curved back upon themselves, Moebius circles
of pulsing light, beckoning, and hypnotic, irresistible. Dozens
of people, if not scores, had answered their silent siren call
and passed through the shimmering veils. None had returned.
longed for the opportunity to see one close up, to stand beside
it and see if he could resist its blazing, seductive appeal. Witnessing
one blocks away brought a thrill almost as good as sex but he
had yet to have a close encounter with one.
God, why do you want to see one? Susan, his wife of ten
years asked as he sat glued to the TV, watching the news. Theyre
disgusting! Theyre dangerous!
one knows that, he countered without looking up. Its
just idle speculation. Look at them. Theyre beautiful!
is beautiful until it burns you. Theyre like fire.
dont understand, he replied. Theyre like
tiny, flickering pieces of God.
sighed. No, I dont understand, Fred. I dont
understand your obscene fascination with them. You sit here and
watch them for hours or you ride around hoping for God knows what.
What would you do if you came upon one, walk through?
I dont know.
for Gods sake, Fred, grow up! You have a wife and a child.
Youre much too old to play with fire.
he thought. Yes, the colors were like fire but cold and alluring,
not hot and demanding. He knew the sensuousness of fire, the way
it danced and seduced, calling him closer until his skin seared
and the tiny hairs on his arms singed. Fire was alive, a creature
freed from its ethereal chains and unleashed into a world of combustibles.
Maybe these Holes were just that, another kind of fire from another
kind of place.
he wanted to touch one more than ever.
and fire were old friends, almost lovers. At ten, Frederick had
almost burned down his parents house playing with matches.
The flames had fascinated him, dancing hypnotically on the head
of the match, leaping for the sky as if trying to fly away on
tiny blue and yellow wings. They smiled at him as he touched the
match to the living room curtains.
sixteen, he torched his first abandoned building, a run down warehouse
near the riverfront. He could still remember masturbating frantically
as the glorious flames leapt higher and higher, softly licking
the glowing underbelly of the clouds. The colors, the heat, the
elemental fierceness of it had flowed through his veins like liquid
summer backyard barbeque, every winter evening fire in the fireplace,
was an offering to the elementals, his flame muses. They were
just miniature altars to the Fire God.
put her hands on her hips and turned away, a sign the conversation
was over. Then, she turned back and looked at him, her eyes silently
pleading. Dont think I dont know about your
unholy fascination with fire. Ive seen your face as you
watch a house burn on television or when youre barbequing.
I've seen the way you almost caress the flames. Its
its obscene. Its sick! She stalked off.
dont understand, he said, quietly, more for his benefit
than hers. No one understood. The flame chose its disciples, not
the other way around. One did not simply choose to become a firebug
or even a latent firebug. First, you had to hear the call of the
flame; then you had to submit to the will of the Fire God.
one understands, he repeated as he got up and went to the
garage. He decided to take a drive. Maybe this time, he would
Nevada, was small town, the only town in the whole world affected
by these strange phenomena, it seemed. Everyone was positive but
no one could prove that the Holes were a result of secret government
testing at Groom Lake Base, otherwise known as the infamous Area
51, just a few miles west of the city.
far, the military had shown almost no interest in the Holes, which
was odd enough in itself. It was as if they were afraid to acknowledge
their existence. A dozen news crews roamed the small town searching
for answers but so far, they had uncovered only more questions.
saw one news van driving slowly down a county dirt road just a
few miles from his house. On an impulse, he decided to follow
it. He had driven only a few minutes when it appeared, a Hole,
shimmering just a few inches above the roads surface like
a traffic light to
where, Heaven or hell. The vans
driver saw the Hole just about the same time Frederick did.
vans driver slammed on his brakes and skidded sideways in
the road. Frederick almost rear-ended the van, so intent he was
on the Hole. He got out and walked up beside the van. The newscaster
in the passenger seat was frantic, motioning to the cameraman
in the vans rear, trying to get him out of the van.
up, John! he yelled. It might disappear.
out of the van, his eyes never leaving the Hole, the cameraman
shouldered his camera and signaled thumbs up to the newscaster.
The newscaster swiped his hand through his immaculate hair and
and gentlemen, this is Sal Wiesenthal of KBRT 6 News. A Hole has
just appeared a few yards in front of us. I dont know of
anyone who has gotten closer than this.
for the people who walked into one, Frederick wanted to yell at
him. Frederick ignored the reporter. The Hole was talking to him,
not in words that he could understand, but in flashes and pulses
of light that burned into his soul, Morse code for the acolyte
of the flame. Listening closely, he could hear the quiet whisper
of wind as it flowed from the Hole. He walked closer. The newscaster
was still rambling.
one knows the origin of these mysterious
are you doing? he yelled at Frederick.
ignored the newscasters calls.
you? Mister! he stopped talking to Frederick and returned
to his unseen audience.
and gentlemen, something is happening here. It looks as if this
man is going to walk into a Hole. No camera has ever witnessed
this kind of thing before. Hey mister, why do you want to walk
through? he yelled at Frederick.
realized the newscaster was talking to him but the mans
voice just interfered with the voice from the Hole. Impatiently,
he waved a hand at the newscaster to silence him but the man persisted.
it a death wish? Do you want to die? Is it making you? Does it
have control of your mind?
smiled and looked into the camera. We have control of the
horizontal. We have control of your vertical. We have control
of your TV, he whispered and laughed. It was a line from
the old Outer Limits episodes.
man seems demented, folks. Maybe the Hole is controlling him.
This could be serious.
laughed again. The reporter thought the Hole was controlling him
but was making no attempt to stop him. Anything for ratings, it
seemed. The sound was the persistent, high-pitched sigh of a leaking
tire, but this was not what was calling him. It was the Light.
cherry-fire red rushing outwards through shades of orange, yellow
and green, from cold blue flames to indigo and violet, the pulsing
circle of light called him as if he were an old friend. It spoke
to him in images only he could understand him and perhaps
those few that had already walked through. It spoke of memories
he had tried to bury but could not. It spoke of ecstasy and pleasure
that only the fire could provide, only flames could understand.
center of the Hole was lost in a shimmering heat haze, a doorway
that beckoned him like a crooked finger on a seductress. He could
feel the rise in temperature from where he stood, rising as he
and gentlemen, I cant believe it. The man in front of me
is walking directly into the Hole, live on TV.
walked closer and stopped an arms length from the Hole.
He could feel the air pushing against him as it exited the Hole
from the other side. The heat was intense but somehow soothing.
He could feel it gently caressing his arm like a lover, drawing
He knew what the Holes were. He, of all people, should know their
purpose. They came for him. He stepped forward.
dont know if the man has a family, but whatever has driven
him to this end surely must be extreme. If aliens are not involved
then our own government surely
Family. He stopped.
What about his wife, his child? Was learning the answer more important
than they were? The hairs on his arm began to singe. He could
smell them as they burned. The skin off his cheeks were red and
stinging, would probably blister tomorrow.
With the willpower of an addict ripping off the tourniquet and
tossing aside the needle even as it touched his arm, Frederick
took one step backwards, then another.
immediately, the Hole began to dance and quiver, the rainbow colors
circling faster and faster. It vibrated like a struck drum; then
vanished, making a popping sound as it disappeared.
stood there, empty, broken, drained of purpose. He had lost a
friend, a lover. The newscaster rushed up to him, thrust a microphone
in his face.
happened? Why didnt you go through? He asked breathlessly,
eager for his story.
looked into the camera and shook his head. Ill be
home soon, Susan. You dont have to worry anymore.
the mans frantic barrage of questions, he walked back to
his car. He knew, or at least suspected, there would be no more
Holes, at least not in Caliente. He knew now what they were, where
they had come from. The Holes were simply invitations from the
other side, another dimension, a dimension where fire ruled. They
were the reflection of the rainbow of a lit match, a burning building,
a projection onto our world.
of all, they were postcards from another place Wish you
were here. They were the answer to a pyromaniacs life
sacrificial altars to the Fire Gods. He knew now why the flames
danced. He imagined the others stepping through the Holes, people
like him, people that had his problem, or at least, the problem
he used to have. Their dance, their primitive obeisance to their
God was the dance of the flames.
knew he was cured, now. The call of the flame, the lure of the
Fire Gods would not take him down that dark path again. The Holes
had come to claim their own; sacrifices to the Fire Gods. In the
end, they had deemed him not worthy.
had called the Holes into being, he and others like him. Their
sick lust of the flames had created living entities out of their
obscene desires. The others had succumbed to the call. He had
not and would never again.
he drove home, he reached into his shirt pocket and removed the
ever-present pack of paper matches.
more, he said and tossed them out the window, unopened.
wondered what Susan had cooking for dinner. He didnt think
he would be barbequing any more, not for a long time.