The Doom Tapes

Midnight. The sky was streaked with green. Doctor McFadden limped across the Seacoast College campus, his silver-tipped cane tapping on the sidewalk. His other hand clutched a crumpled flyer torn from a bulletin board. “Northern Lights Party! Drink, Dance, And Watch The Sky!” Damn kids had no idea what was really happening. Surrounded by knowledge and still so ignorant.

Conversation and laughter spilled down the hill between the men’s and women’s dorms. A dozen students were sprawled on blankets in the grass, drinking cans of cheap beer and seeing who could throw their empties in the recycling bag from the farthest away. A portable grill shaped like a hubcap filled the air with the smell of charred hot dogs. A few members of the campus AV club were filming the strangeness in the sky with a video drone, a tiny handheld camera, and the history department’s ancient VHS camcorder.

A dreadlocked woman in an Army surplus jacket pointed at the strange, green glow. “This is so cool! I didn’t even know you could see the northern lights in San Francisco!”

“This is a geomagnetic storm!” McFadden called out. The students turned to see a white-haired man in a cardigan jabbing a cane at the sky. “An energy field from space is interacting with the earth’s magnetosphere. Usually, we can see them coming, warn people, give them a chance to get ready in case it knocks out telecommunications satellites. But this came out of nowhere.”

A freshman in a pink tanktop held his hand in front of his eyes. “It just keeps getting brighter. Is it supposed to do that?”

“No,” McFadden said. “Something is wrong, quite wrong! At first, I thought it was just a solar flare, but this is like something I have never seen before. The sun works on an eleven-year cycle. It should be in a period of low activity right now. This just does not make any –”

The sky shook, exploding with light. The energy slammed into the ground like a meteor, sending the students and McFadden flying. All over campus, light bulbs instantly burned out. Computers sparked and smoked. Cell phone batteries burst into flames.

As the students struggled to their feet, their eyes glowed a brilliant green.

In San Francisco’s Mission District, a two-story, brick building stood at the edge of a tiny parking lot. The faded, red and yellow sign read “Last Chance Video”. Just inside the door, three enormous television screens played the beginning of a mostly forgotten mid-sixties monster movie, “Bigfoot Beach Party”. Well-worn, red carpet lead down rows of white plywood shelving offering up thousands of VHS tapes for rent. The popcorn machine had broken down over a year ago, but much of the store still smelled faintly of fake butter flavoring.

Victor Phillips cleaned his thick-framed glasses on the edge of his red polo shirt and flicked on the neon “OPEN” sign. A few minutes later, the door chimed as a taller, skinnier man in a matching shirt walked in. “Good morning, boss!” he said.

“Gabe, I told you not to call me that,” Victor said. “You’re two years older than me.”

Laughing, Gabe headed to his post behind the counter. “Hey, you were the one who decided to start a business instead of following me to grad school. So you get to be Big Boss Man, while I’m off partying and picking up girls.”

Victor snorted derisively. “Since when do engineers pick up girls?”

“Hey, I spent last semester building a perfectly good robot forklift. …Anyway, why are you here so early?”

“Have to inventory the new movies. I went to an estate sale and bought crates and crates of tapes.” He stretched and grunted, his lower back still aching. “A local collector died, some old guy with the history department at the university.”

“That’s sad.”

“Not really. I heard he was pretty racist.”

“Oh, that’s fine then.”

The front door chimed. A pear-shaped man with a shaved head walked in and stood at the counter. “Hello, Buddy,” Gabe said flatly. “So good to see you again. Okay, get the hell out.”

“Alright, look,” Buddy said, “I know I’ve been banned from the store, but I’m giving you guys another chance.” He reached into the pocket of his baggy shorts and produced a fistfull of cash. “I’ll spend it all here. It’s more money than this place sees in a week. And all you have to do is let me rent the Psychic Samurai Detective Trilogy and the unrated version of Nine Rings of Venus!”

“Not a chance!” Victor snapped. “You know the rules. I don’t rent to movie pirates. It’s illegal. And not in a cool way, like boat-based piracy. So sail away and get scurvy.”

Buddy sighed deeply. “It’s not piracy, it’s preservation! One day soon, these tapes will wear out. Copying movies is the real way to preserve them, not this anachronism you call a video store!” He turned and pulled open the door. Over his shoulder, he added, “Next time you buttholes are out LARPing, watch your back! Budai The Rogue does not forgive and he never forgets!”

“The customers may be horrible,” Victor said, “but at least the pay is shit.”

“Why don’t you do something else then, boss?”

“What else is there?” He gestured at the row of businesses outside the windows. “Nothing out there but soul-sucking office jobs and brain-killing manual labor. No excitement, no adventure, and no fun. At least here we get to watch movies… And stop calling me ‘boss’.”

Gabe glanced up at the spaceship clock on the wall. The big laser hadn’t quite reached the nine. “…Welp, still a few minutes until we’re officially open. Guess I should come up and help.”

They climbed the narrow stairs to Victor’s office. The office walls were lined with the same cheap shelves as downstairs, but instead of films, they were full of action figures and other toys. Even his desk looked like a toy, a huge boomerang made of bright orange plastic. An oak frame held a photo of an eight-year-old Victor and his dad, both smiling madly, their arms full of tapes for their weekly movie marathon.

The rest of the room was hidden by stacks of milk crates full of b-movies from the 1960s: The Bloody Skies of Mars, Alien Prom Queen, Vicious Space Vixens, and hundreds more. Apparently the collector had a thing for women in metal bikinis. Gabe grabbed a tablet and started scanning bar codes. One tape didn’t have a case or a label. No identifying information at all. “That’s odd,” he thought. “Maybe the old racist made a sex tape…”

He showed the tape to Victor and popped it in the VCR. Shaky shots of college dorms, the night sky, streaks of green light. Static. A white-haired man in a cardigan appeared. There was no set or background – the man was simply floating in a void. Wide-eyed, he called out, “Hello? Where am I? Can you help me? I have to get out of here fast! We are being invaded by aliens!” He repeated the request several times, growing more and more agitated.

Victor had a flashback to watching old horror movies with his father. They loved shouting advice at the screen. No matter how often the actors ignored them and ended up dead, it never stopped being fun. He replayed those memories in his mind more than he rewatched his favorite films. “Try swimming through the black!” he said to the TV. “Maybe you can find a door or something!”

The man jerked his head this way and that, examining his surroundings. “No, no doors here… wherever ‘here’ is.”

Gabe tried to shake the confusion from his head. “Um… did that just work? Can he… can he hear us? Hey, old guy, if you can hear me, describe what I look like!”

“Of course I can hear you!” the man snapped. “Why wouldn’t I be able to hear you? You have blonde hair, you need a shave, and your slacks are wrinkled. The other one is black haired with glasses. There. Do you believe me now? You have got to help! We are being invaded!”

Victor picked up the remote control. “I just have to try something.” He rewound the tape a few seconds and pressed play again, but instead of repeating himself, the man just stared.

“Well?!” the man sputtered angrily.

Victor tossed the remote on the desk. “This has to be someone pulling a prank. It must be a hidden camera and a live video feed. Watch this.” He took his jacket from the back of his desk chair and held it in front of the TV screen. Slipping his hand between the jacket and the TV, he said, “How many fingers am I holding up?”

“Two!” the man said. “…Now three… two again… four… a rude gesture… and two fingers. What in the hell is your problem, boy? Why won’t you tell me where I am? I have an alien invasion to stop!”

Victor threw the jacket aside. “Okay, maybe it’s not a camera after all. This guy really seems like he can see!”

The man screamed. “Yes, I can see, hear, think, and communicate! Why won’t you believe me?” He tried to throw a punch at Victor, but his fist just swung through empty space. “Look, whatever you think of me, just tell me where I am!”

“I feel crazy saying this out loud,” Victor said, “but… You’re in a movie. Well, not in a movie so much as are a movie.”

“What in the hell are you talking about?”

“You’re a movie, a VHS tape. We’re watching you on TV.”

“Are you boys on drugs?!”

“Not right now,” Gabe said. He switched on his phone’s camera and turned the screen to face the television. “See that? That’s you.”

The man stared out at the image on the phone, wide-eyed. Like a child seeing a mirror for the first time, he made a few testing waves, and watched the phone screen wave back. At last, he said, “I suppose it’s better than being killed in the invasion, but not by much.”

“So you’re an actual person?” Victor asked. “You’re not a movie character?”

The man shook his head. “I am very real. My name is Doctor James McFadden. I am an astronomer with the Seacoast College Planetarium and Observatory. …Or, at least, I used to be.” He related the story of the previous night – the sudden appearance of the strange light in the sky, driving to campus to investigate, and discussing the bizarre phenomena with students. “There was a bright flash, and I felt myself having a heart attack. Suddenly, I was hurtling through space. I was surrounded by my brothers and sisters, a vast torrent of green light. We were beings made of energy, minds without bodies. A moment later, I awoke in darkness, with nothing but the aliens’ memories.”

“Who are these aliens?” Gabe asked. “What do they want? …Are any of them girls?”

“Their race – if you can call it that – has no name. They aren’t even technically alive. They are essentially a set of instructions that uses a host to reproduce, a virus made of thought. When they enter a biological host, their thought energy takes over its brain. They steal whatever knowledge and memories they want, and the rest is destroyed like… well, like a tape being recorded over. But my mind survived.. My mind’s electromagnetic energy was blasted from my body and ended up saved in the nearest storage device, which was apparently a student’s VHS tape.”

Victor furrowed his brow. “That’s not even close to how brains work. Besides, a tape couldn’t possibly hold all the data in a human brain. What did you say your degree was in again?”

McFadden continued, ignoring him. “I felt my body die before the aliens could overwrite my mind, but some of their thoughts and memories were passed along to me. I know what they can do, and that they intend to ransack every human mind on this planet. Perhaps more importantly, I think I know where they will be tonight…”

Late that night, Gabe and Victor hurried across the Seacoast College campus, carrying a bag full of video equipment. Most of the streetlights and lamp posts around the college were still burned out from the aliens energy. “I don’t think we should be doing this,” Gabe said.

“I was thinking the same thing,” Victor said. “Isn’t there a space marine or a ninja we could call? I hate confrontation. I don’t even collect late fees. Besides, what if they catch us?”

“I don’t care if we’re caught,” Gabe said. “It’s the hiding and filming I don’t like. I’m sick of movies. It’s about time we had an adventure that’s not on a screen. Let’s just bust in there and kick their asses!”

Victor laughed. “Even if I brought my greatsword, it’s just fiberglass wrapped in foam. The only person I know with real weapons is Buddy, and he’s… well… Buddy. Anyway, the filming isn’t for us. We need to get some evidence of the alien invasion before we go to the rest of The LARP League for help. Otherwise, they’ll just think we’ve gone crazy, like when Rachel tried to convince everyone that her felt cat ears were real.”

“Fine, we’ll do it your way. But next time we’re invaded by aliens, I’m in charge.”

They crept along outside the library, ducking under windows, as Gabe probed the walls with a contact microphone. “Found it. They’re right on the other side of this wall. I can hear them moving chairs, getting seated for their little world domination meeting.”

Victor crouched by a window and positioned his camera at a gap in the curtains. About a dozen students were sitting at a long meeting table, their faces void of all emotion. Their eyes were glowing, as if lit by some inner fire. Occasionally, they turned to look at one another, but no one appeared to be talking. “Are you picking up any sound?”


“Why aren’t they saying anything?”

“Maybe they’re telepathic,” Gabe said, “or a hive mind. Or maybe they communicate with pheromones.”

“Or maybe we just already know you’re here.” They turned to see a huge, well-muscled man standing behind them. He could have been the quarterback of the football team, or a mountain made of pectoral muscles. As he raised his fists, his arms lit up with a sickly, green glow.

Slowly, Victor lowered the camera. “Now wait, wait a minute, no need to resort to violence here…” A loud crack, and the man mountain fell to the ground.

Gabe shoved his .38 revolver in his waistband. “I told you we should just fight them. I’m going inside. A few more bullets, and this little alien invasion problem will be solved.” Noticing Victor’s shocked expression, he said, “Of course I brought a gun. Aliens are body snatching people! Why wouldn’t I bring a gun?” The man mountain groaned and tried to stand. Gabe put two more bullets in his chest and another in his head, but he kept moving. The library door banged open and the green-eyed students flooded outside.

Victor and Gabe turned to flee, narrowly avoiding blasts of energy. They ran to the parking lot, but before they could reach Victor’s van, they were cut off by a campus police car. The police jumped out of the car, guns drawn. “Get down on the ground! Down on the ground right now!”

Victor and Gabe dropped to their knees, just as green energy bolts flew over their heads and knocked the officers to the ground. Victor and Gabe scrambled to their feet and into the still-running police car, driving off into the night.

“…And once we disabled the police car’s GPS tracker,” Victor said, “we ditched the car in the woods and hitchhiked back to Last Chance.” He grabbed a chocolate bar from the display by the counter and tossed Gabe a bag of trail mix.

“I doubt there was a need to hide anything,” McFadden said, speaking from the three big screens at the front of the store. “If the police officers are under alien control, they will most likely do their best to cover up the theft. They certainly would not want to risk you getting arrested and revealing the invasion to the authorities. They have probably already gone back to the police station to erase the dash cam footage of the mob chasing after you.”

Gabe patted the revolver in his pocket. “And they can’t go to the police about the guy I shot, without people wondering why Swiss Cheese McHoleface is still up and walking around. I think we’re safe, at least from the law. So how do we stop them? Even if we keep them from taking over our minds, we still can’t kill them. Not with bullets, anyway.”

Victor broke off a piece of the chocolate and watched it melt in his fingers. “I think I have an idea. I’m going to need the microwave…”

“Saving the world with popcorn?”

“Not quite. I’m going to –” He was interrupted by a loud banging on the video store’s glass door. Buddy. He gestured for Gabe to turn off the VCR.

“C’mon, open up!” Buddy yelled through the glass. “I can see you guys in there! I just want to talk!”

Victor unlocked the deadbolt but left the chain on. He opened the door a crack. “Come back in the morning. We’re doing inventory.”

“At one AM? Yeah right. I saw you watching a movie!”

“We’re inventorying how much bad language is in the unrated films, so we know if we can rent them to kids or not.” He called over his shoulder, “How many swears in that one, Gabe?”

“Fourteen hells, three shits, and half a fuck.”

“See?” Victor said. “Now go away.” Reaching through the crack, he pushed Buddy away from the door. Buddy turned and stomped off to his car, like an oversized toddler being forced to go to bed. “Finally! …Gabe, come up to the break room with me. I’m going to need your help.”

They retrieved the tool kit from behind the refrigerator and disassembled the microwave. The magnetron and transformer would form the core of the weapon. Using a rubber mallet, they pounded the metal shell into a narrow funnel, the barrel of the gun. The microwave’s door switch would serve as the trigger. For power, they wired the gun to a backpack full of car batteries.

At last, Gabe stood back and admired their creation. “I can’t believe we build an EMP gun! Now we can cook pizza rolls from ninety yards away.”

“The electromagnetic pulse will also fry computers, cell phones, and hopefully, alien energy beings. We just need to find a way to protect ourselves from their mind control rays.”

Gabe pulled open the drawer in the microwave cart. “Hold on, I think we got some tinfoil in here. What’s your hat size?”

The following night, they returned to the college campus. Victor was glad for the darkness. He didn’t want to be seen by anyone, aliens or students. He always felt silly wearing his chainmail armor outside of a LARP event, and he felt even sillier now, wearing it over a neon blue wetsuit. “I think the tinfoil hat would have been less embarrassing,” he said.

“I was just joking about that. Tinfoil doesn’t really work. This is a much better idea. The chainmail acts like a Faraday cage, blocking electromagnetic fields, and the wetsuit serves as an insulator.”

Victor’s brow furrowed with worry. “That doesn’t sound right at all.”

“It’ll work!” Gabe insisted. “They can blast us with their mind control rays all night long, and we’ll be fine. …Just don’t get shot in the face.”

This time, the library was dark. Gabe probed the walls with the contact microphone but didn’t hear a sound. The student center, the science building, and the language arts building were also empty. “I wish we could call McFadden and ask where else we should look,” Victor said. “Okay, think like an alien… If I were an evil mind virus from space, where would I hang out? …The planetarium!”

Sure enough, the doors were standing wide open. The planetarium was lit up like a neon sign. Apparently they weren’t too worried about being interrupted. Victor switched on the EMP gun and held his finger above the trigger.

“Tell me again why we only built one of these things,” Gabe said.

“Because someone didn’t want to take apart their own microwave.”

“Oh, right. Well, you could have gotten yours from home!”

“I don’t have one. I prefer toaster ovens.”

“You’re so weird! I bet you only listen to cassettes, too.”

A familiar voice came from behind them. “You guys should really learn how to be quiet. It makes sneaking around so much easier.”

Victor spun on his heel, firing the EMP. The musclebound giant spasmed like he’d been struck by lightning. As he collapsed, green sparks showered from his eyes and mouth. Victor let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. “Well, looks like the gun works. Let’s hope your idea is just as good.”

They crept inside the planetarium, listening for approaching footsteps. Instead, they heard Ricardo Laredo, an actor known for his deep, baritone voice. “For centuries, mankind has told stories about Mars, the red planet…”

“Why are they watching the solar system show?” Victor whispered.

“Maybe they’re trying to get directions home.” He unholstered his revolver. “This will slow them down long enough for you to hit everyone with the EMP. …Alright, you ready?”

At Victor’s nod, Gabe threw open the theater doors. The theater was trashed – seats ripped from the floor and strewn about the room, lights broken, furniture piled in front of the emergency exits. A hundred heads turned and glared at the intrusion, their eyes blazing green. The original group had multiplied, and now included faculty, the entire football team, and random people who had made the mistake of coming to campus to visit the planetarium. The aliens climbed over seats and shoved past each other, rushing down the center aisle. Victor blasted away with the EMP, sending the first wave of students collapsing in fits of electric sparks.

A parrot-haired punk in a leather jacket tripped over her fallen comrades but managed to get off an energy blast as she fell. The beam struck Victor in the chest, dissipating harmlessly. Gabe dropped a few students with his revolver, the sound reverberating through the theater. They didn’t stay down for long, and he quickly ran out of ammunition. Several energy beams lit up his armor, but his mind remained his own. “See?” Gabe said. “I told you it would work!”

Two men in blue made their way through the crowd. The police officers from the night before, now under alien control. They drew their pistols and aimed carefully. “Gabe,” Victor said, “is chainmail bulletproof?”

“No, of course not. Run!”

They bolted out the doors and down the hall, the crowd of alien invaders close behind. The cops fired off several rounds, but other than a few shattered windows and exploding lights, didn’t manage to do any damage. Apparently the aliens hadn’t retained the cops’ memories of shooting practice.

Gabe and Victor jumped into the van and, tires squealing, sped from the campus. Victor swerved around a delivery truck, pounding his horn. “Are they following us?”

“I don’t see any green light. Wait… There are a couple of sedans headed towards us… And swerving from one side of the road to the other. That’s gotta be them.”

“Do you want to open the back doors and hit them with the EMP?”

“That wouldn’t work. Cars are Faraday cages, too.” A convertible rushed past them, narrowly avoiding a sedan in the wrong lane. “Hopefully they’ll crash. Bullets can’t kill them, but maybe being trapped in a ball of flaming wreckage can.”

“That’s some morbid shit, Gabe. …Um, Gabe? How do you get to the police station?”

“I thought you knew! Just look it up on your phone!”

“I’m wearing a wetsuit and chainmail, two things that do not have pockets!”

“Well why didn’t you stick it in the backpack with the car batteries?”

“Because I thought you’d have yours!”

“I don’t have pockets either!” Gabe screamed.

Victor took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “That means we’re going back to Last Chance. Hopefully one of us will be able to call the cops on the store phone before the aliens catch up.”

Several nervous miles later, they careened into the parking lot and squealed to a stop directly in front of the door. They jumped from the van, engine still running, and rushed inside. The lights in the parking lot were enough to see by, as long as they kept close to the windows, but the rest of the store was dark. Gabe started to move some shelving to the front of the store, but decided barricading a glass door was probably pointless. “I can’t believe we don’t have bars on the doors and windows! Stupid safe neighborhood.”

Victor dropped his weapon and vaulted over the counter. Grabbing the phone, he pounded the buttons, but to no avail. “Gabe, it’s dead! They must have done something to the telephone line outside!”

“Really? They can’t remember how to shoot or drive, but they remember how phone lines work?!”

The parrot-haired woman stepped out of the darkness, a shotgun in her hand. “Not really, no. But I did figure out how to crowbar open your back door and unplug everything electronic.”

Gabe laughed. “What are you going to do with that? If you’re anything like those cops out there, you probably don’t even know which end to point at us.”

“For the humans in the blue shirts, learning to shoot was just something they did for a job. No drama there. No excitement. Those memories aren’t worth watching. But this human, she grew up hunting with her father. Using this gun to kill was the foundation of her childhood. Those memories are treasures! I’m going to love rewatching them, right after I kill you.” She took aim at Gabe’s head.

“Wait!” Gabe screamed. “Don’t I get some last words?”

“Oh! Like in your species’ films. Yes, I suppose you should.”

Catching Victor’s eye, he jerked his head at the EMP laying on the ground. Victor nodded and slowly made his way around the counter. “So is that what you do?” Gabe said, a little too loudly, praying the woman wouldn’t turn around. “You conquer entire planets, not for natural resources or to expand an empire, but for other people’s memories? Just pick an empty planet and stay there! Have experiences of your own!”

“Only physical bodies can have the experiences we crave. But meat is so temporary. Once we enter, it quickly withers and rots. After that, we return to space, formless minds searching in the dark.” The woman’s eyes suddenly glowed even brighter. “Enough! It’s time to end this little battle and continue our war. The emptiness between worlds is vast. We will need a lot of new memories to watch.”

Victor dove for the EMP. “Watch this.” The woman’s body jerked violently. She crashed into a shelf and slid to the floor, buried in a cascade of romantic comedies. Sparks poured from her mouth and eyes, exploding like fireworks.

“Vic! That was so badass!”

“No time to celebrate yet. Those two sedans just pulled in.”

The two police officers and half a dozen students stepped out of the cars. The cops fired at the video store’s front door until nothing was left but a pile of shattered glass. Tossing their guns aside, they lead the charge for the entrance.

As Victor fired away with the EMP, Gabe climbed a shelf and pulled one of the huge televisions from the wall, flinging it down upon a cop’s head. One after the other, the students fell in a shower of green sparks. The officer’s partner rushed for Victor and knocked him to the ground, pulling the power cord from the EMP. “You killed my family,” the officer said, his eyes burning, “but taking your mind will help me start a new one.”

He reached down for Victor’s face, his hands glowing. Oddly, Victor started laughing. “What’s so funny, human?”

“Oh, you’ll feel it any second now.”

The cop collapsed, Buddy’s katana through his neck. Buddy withdrew the blade and wiped away the blood on the edge of his shirt. “You know, in Japan, when you save a man’s life, he has to be your slave forever.”

“That’s not even close to true.”

“Irregardless,” Buddy said, “I’m not asking for that. You know what I want.”

“Fine, you can rent. But no copies!”

Last Chance Video closed for a few days to give Victor time to repair the damage and clean up the mess. When Victor and Gabe explained about the alien invasion, Buddy eagerly volunteered to dispose of the bodies. He didn’t say how he was going to do it, and they were too afraid to ask.

A week later, the store had its grand re-opening sale. Thanks to a well-timed press release about the fiftieth anniversary of VHS, and rumors about a serial killer seen hauling corpses out the back door, the store was filled with customers for the entire day.

As they were getting ready to close, Buddy came in and laid a tape on the counter. “I know I told you I wouldn’t copy any tapes, so I just digitized this one and put it online.”

“That’s the same thing!” Victor said.

“Oh, don’t worry,” Buddy laughed. “Nobody’s even going to watch it. The cover says it’s a romantic comedy, but it was just some chick screaming ‘let me out’. I hate to say it, but women just aren’t funny.”

Gabe rushed for the romantic comedy section. Nearly every tape had been rented. He took the last three and carried them over to the VCR. They all showed the same woman, the alien who had broken into their store a week earlier. She was trapped on the tapes, just as McFadden was. He grabbed an armload of random films from the surrounding sections, and each one had the same issue. “She’s on every tape in the store!”

“We rented out over ninety hundred movies,” Victor moaned, “and they’re all infected with alien mind viruses. You don’t think they can escape and get out into the real world, do you?”

“How many complaints have you gotten about the weird tapes?” Gabe asked.

“Oh my god… None!”

“Then yeah, we’ve got another invasion on our hands. We’re going to have to kill all our customers. As someone who works in retail, this is pretty much a dream come true.”

“Why didn’t you tell me the aliens can infect movies?” Buddy said. “You buttholes really need to work on your communication skills. I’m going to go sharpen my sword.”

After they closed up the store, Gabe went home to get his microwave. They were going to need all the weapons they could build. Victor trudged upstairs to his office and hit play on the VCR. “Hey McFadden! Glad to see you’re okay. I’ve been thinking… VHS tapes aren’t a safe way to store movies. Or people. I think it’s time we moved on. I’m selling Last Chance, and putting you online.”

McFadden rubbed his hands together, examining the lines and age spots. “Sure, why not? It might be nice to be immortal. What are you going to do next?”

“With any luck, I’m going to save the world. But even if I fail, I’m going to live a life worth remembering.”

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