A sudden burst of light swept across the city like a wave, bringing daylight where there had been only darkness then plunging the town back into the dead of night. During that particular incident, it consumed all of the available electricity. Weird things had been happening, mostly at night, ever since the international company set up shop in the sleepy town.

Livestock mysteriously vanished, leading some in the small town to speculate that microbiologists were conducting experiments on the animals. It failed to account for the strange blimps of lost power and energy sparks coming from the lab atop the mountain to the north of the city.

A man at the nearby farm left his house, armed with a flashlight, and made his way through the pitch blackness of the ranch to the barn. He entered, shining his lamp into the room where he hoped to find his cattle sound asleep. To the contrary, he turned up empty-handed.

He hurried back through the ranch’s trenches, the flashlight’s beam skittering aimlessly in the pitch black. As he climbed the stairs and plowed through the screen door, his heart nearly burst from its chest from the pressure of the rushing blood.

The man quickly grabbed the telephone and dialed the number of the nearby sheriff. “Help. Something has happened to my herd. When last seen, they were inside the barn. The worthless experimenters took my cows.”

The police had heard that story many times before. There was no evidence to support the claims made by the residents of the city that the new laboratory was to blame, despite their best efforts to persuade the authorities of this. Police nevertheless made the trip out to the farm, lights flashing in the night. They slid to a halt on the gravel driveway, crushing rock which echoed in the silence of farm life. Bystanders emerged from nearby houses to watch the spectacle.

The sound of the officer’s shoes striking the wooden planks of the porch rang out, alerting old Charlie to the fact that the officer had arrived. The screen creaked as Charlie opened it. As soon as the officer entered the room, he took stock of his surroundings and noticed Charlie’s nervous wife quaking in fear, partial hidden behind the sofa.

Officer Brody took notes on the complaints before leaving in his patrol car. Nothing could be done about an accusation. The incident would be recorded as usual, and the cattle might eventually reappear with an explanation. Brody, committed to his work, drove up to the lab and, just as he approached the entrance, the lights came on. There was a brief fluttering, followed by a constant flow of light.

He stormed through the front door with authority, fully anticipating that a less experienced security guard would try to stop him. Instead, he was greeted by no one at all. At the high-tech company, there was no one stationed to keep watch. A layer of goosebumps covered his skin and raised the hairs on the back of his neck. He drew his pistol as he detected the presence of something dangerous. He crept into the building very stealthily and took to the heights of the building by stairs to conducted a reconnaissance mission. Empty.

Brody made it to the final door and slammed it open with all of his might, revealing that snow was covering the rooftop. Shock and awe filled his eyes as he gazed upward at the snowflakes. He saw what appeared to be a face encircling the sky, as if God himself were looking down upon him. A gigantic hand materialized in front of him, ready to crush him, but it stopped, and its fingers rested on a dome-shaped roof above him.

The world that Brody inhabited began to shift and tilt to the side. He grabbed onto anything he could find in an effort to prevent himself from falling off the edge of the building. The snow then slid down the inverted roof and onto the dome below. The hand, which was now below him, flipped his world right side up, and snow began to fall all around him. Brody landed on his stomach with a thump as he fell.

The world spinning on its axis caused Brody to lose his balance, but he managed to get to his feet and run back into the building, down the stairs, and out the front door. As he rushed to his car, flames licked at his lungs as he caught his breath. His vehicle plowed through the darkness with a screech of tires and slammed into an invisible barrier that prevented him from leaving the town. A never-before-seen sign read, “Greetings From Chester’s Mill.”

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