Sneak Preview from “The Last War”: The Faraday Gate

Here’s a peek at the project I am currently working on, the sequel to Tesla’s Ghost called The Last War. The scene here shows Dr. Reuben Zwick, head of Eden Technologies taking 19-year-old Brenda Saffold to meet insane professor Alois Truman and the aliens known as The Guardians three months after they have taken over.


Dr. Reuben Zwick and Brenda Saffold took his elevator to the basement of Eden Tower. It opened to a long tunnel with concrete walls and two suited security men standing at the elevator.

“Consider yourself very special,” Zwick said to Brenda. “Only half a dozen people have talked to Dr. Alois Truman in the past three years, and fewer than that have met The Guardians in the past three months.”

“Why is that?” Brenda asked. “Are they top secret or something?”

“The Guardians, probably,” he said. “I mean, let the wrong person, like E.L.I. for example, have access to The Guardians, and we might have an interstellar war on our hands. Of course, it wouldn’t last long. Our planet would be a cinder within a matter of minutes.

“But Truman? Well, he’s an acquired taste. He’s spent too much time with the aliens. You’ll see when you meet him.”

As they talked, they walked down a concrete-lined hallway to a large room with another large door with two security guards standing outside. Zwick nodded to them and they stepped aside. Zwick placed his hand on the security pad and it turned green. The door opened.

Inside was a studio apartment furnished similar to what one might see anywhere.  A kitchen table and chairs were set to one side, with a double bed against the opposite wall. In the middle sat a 30-something man on a brown leather couch, reading a book by lamplight. He was wearing jeans and a sweater with leather slippers, and his hair had turned gray at the temples.

Zwick stopped at the door and turned to Brenda.

“This is as far as I go,” he said. “We’ll have you on camera, but we wanted to see how you respond to Dr. Truman and, if it gets that far, to The Guardians as well, as well as their reaction to you. I don’t want to taint the experiment, so to speak.”

A feeling of panic flooded over Brenda, and then she grabbed hold of herself. What does one say to aliens, or to one who consorts with them or a regular basis? she thought. She thought back to all the unexpected surprises she had been faced with in past pageants. Once she had struggled with a judge trying to kiss her just as she was supposed to go on stage. It had reddened her cheeks, that was for sure, but not as much as the slap mark where she had hit him.

Take control, she told herself. She paused to regulate her breathing, then stepped into the circular room with the strange man sitting on the couch. As she approached, he acted as if he didn’t hear her until she was almost upon him. Then he finally, slowly, raised his face and looked at her.

“Hello,” he said quietly. “You must be one of my new students.”

“Sort of,” Brenda said. “I’m Brenda Saffold. I’m here for a job interview. I’m not exactly sure what kind of job, however. They’ve been pretty vague about that.”

“Hello Brenda,” the man said, as if not hearing anything after her name. “My name is Professor Alois Truman. I teach Physics here.”

Brenda bit her lip and slowly shook her head. “I’m pretty sure you don’t do that anymore.”

“I don’t?” Truman looked confused. “What am I doing here?”

She paused. “Well, I think you talk to aliens.”

Truman stared at her for a long moment, thinking. Then he nodded.

“Aliens, huh. Very interesting. What do they look like?”

Brenda chuckled nervously. “I was hoping you could tell me that.”

Truman hesitated and thought for a moment. “Aliens, huh?” Then a small smile came over his face. “I’m just teasing you. I know exactly what this is and who you are. In fact, I know a lot more than Dr. Zwick gives me credit for. The Guardians have known for days that you were coming. I’ve been looking forward to meeting you.”

Brenda was speechless. She sat staring at Alois Truman, the man she had thought was insane. Now she wasn’t sure what he was.

“And as for Reuben Zwick, well, let’s put it this way. He has his agenda and The Guardians have their own. I don’t trust him and I never have. Hence the crazy man act.”

Brenda opened her mouth to object, but Truman raised his hand and smiled.

“The cameras? Don’t worry about them. You have to remember that our friends are the masters of everything electric. We’re perfectly safe here.”

Truman smiled at Brenda, and suddenly she was torn between a realization that she was caught up in a conflict much larger than she could ever imagine and a feeling of peace, knowing that aliens from another planet had anticipated her arrival today.

“So,” Brenda said finally. “Maybe you can tell me what I am supposed to do? I mean, what is my job going to be?”

Truman sighed deeply. “You want the short answer or the real answer? The short answer is that you will be the spokesperson for Eden Technologies to the media. They feel they needed someone who can relate better to the public, and it looks like you’re her. Lucky girl, you’ll have every perk you can imagine. But you will be challenged too.”

“And what’s the real answer?” Brenda said, her voice level and cautious.

Truman chuckled quietly. “The real answer is that they don’t trust me, which they shouldn’t. They want someone who will interact with The Guardians, yet who can represent the interests of both aliens and humans. That means Eden Technologies, of course. And their Eden Project.”

“What’s the Eden Project?” Brenda asked.

Truman smiled thinly and shook his head. “You’re going to have to trust me on that one. I’ll share it with you in due time, but now’s not the time. Right now, what’s most important is that you meet The Guardians.”

Brenda’s heart caught in her throat. “Will it be painful?”

Truman laughed out loud.

“Not in the least,” he said. “I mean, yeah, when I was struck by lightning and had my first interaction with them, now that was painful. I felt like my body was on fire. But they’ve interacted with me enough that we’ve figured out a less invasive way of communicating with them.”

“Do I have to go up to their…spaceship or something?” Brenda asked. “I’m sorry, I just don’t know these things.”

Truman smiled and shook his head.

“The Guardians live in a different dimension than we do,” he explained. “They consist of pure energy, while we are made of matter. For eons, that has kept us apart. But with the opening of the portal, they are now able to interact with us. Come with me.” He stood and reached out his hand to her. Brenda took Truman’s hand. It was very cold.

Truman led her to one side of the round apartment into a smaller room. Where the main apartment had walls of solid concrete, this new room, about ten feet square, was lined with a fine mesh of copper wire. In the center was a metal chair and two porcelain posts with copper balls extending from the top of them.

“Sit down,” Truman instructed her. “This room is the opposite of a Faraday cage. I call it a Faraday Gate. Where my apartment is insulated from outside electrical interference, this one is directly connected to The Guardians. When I leave and close the door behind me, it causes a connection that welcomes them into the room. To interact with them—actually communicate with them, you will need to put both hands on the two terminals there. When you are ready to leave, just take your hands off and come out the door.”

Truman raised an eyebrow. “I’ll be right outside if you need me.”

Brenda’s heart was thundering in her chest as the door closed and she sat down in the chair. This is madness, she thought. Talking to aliens made of electricity.

The copper wire around her began to sing. She felt it rather than heard it. It had been so long since she had been around large amounts of electricity, such as a transformer, that it felt very strange. After about ten seconds, she felt the hair on her arms begin to stand up, then the hair on her head began to rise. Purple clouds of smoke formed in front of her, and what seemed like a semi-human form approached her, walking toward her through the cloud. The Guardians were coming. Her mouth went dry.

Mama,” she whispered to herself as she leaned forward to grasp the terminals. “Daddy.”

The figure drew closer, and her heart thudded in her chest.

Welcome, Brenda, she felt rather than heard. We have been looking forward to meeting you.