Meanwhile, back on Earth...

"We interrupt this program with a breaking news bulletin. This is Dan Koppel with NBS Nightly News.

A number of people have recently disappeared across the country at an alarming rate. The disappearances have ranged from quiet and mysterious to instantly vanishing right in front of someone. The disappearances seem to be connected to these large electromagnetic disturbances that some call 'wormholes.'

Scientists remain baffled as to the nature of these wormholes and their sudden rapid appearance. Many in the White House suggest that these could be the work of some hostile foreign government, but reports coming in from overseas suggest that these attacks are not just localized to America.

We go now live to Cathy Quinlan, our reporter on the street, who's in Columbus, Ohio, where a number of these disappearances have taken place. ... Cathy? Cathy?"

______________

In the Jensen household, Harold, the exhausted father of the clan, had the TV on, but he missed the news report entirely, as a busy work week and a bad cold had put him to sleep long before bedtime.

His deep sleep was also the reason that he didn't notice his two children, Katie and Timothy, sneak into the crawlspace.

The crawlspace wasn't completely off-limits, but it was wet and dark (Harold really needed to replace that lightbulb) and there were some boxes with fragile items, so it was better if an adult accompanied the children, or if an adult just got anything that was needed from the crawlspace themselves.

But the eeriness of the crawlspace is also what made it seem so much fun for a 9-year-old girl to go exploring. And if she was exploring, her much more timid 7-year-old brother was going to follow.

"Are you really sure this is a good idea, Katie?" Timothy asked.

"It'll be fine, Tim! Why do you even come with even if you're gonna be so nervous?"

"I dunno." Timothy didn't want to say that he wanted to run back and get help if something went wrong. It sounded too much like he wanted to tattle-tale.

"You're a big goober," Katie said playfully. "Come on!"

She went a bit further in. It was hard to move very quickly while on one's knees with a flashlight in one hand. Eventually, Katie got to a place where there seemed to be a good spot to sit. She pulled a paperback out of her back pocket, sat down cross-legged and said, "Okay. Have you got your book?"

Katie and Timothy had both recently gotten a gift from their grandmother -- a series of books written in the late 1950s called "Tales of Terridia." The author of the books had always maintained the conceit that the stories were real and that he simply transcribed them for historical records. Audiences chuckled at this. The series had some popularity at the time, but had since faded into obscurity.

Katie didn't know or care about any of this history. She was an avid reader, and she was just glad that Grandma gave her something new to read.

She brought one book, and Timothy was supposed to bring another. They were going to read the first chapter of each aloud to each other, and then decide which one they wanted to keep reading.

"Oh....wait. I didn't! I had better go back and get it." Timothy tried to sound disappointed at this realization, but he wasn't able to hide his relief from Katie.

"Will you come on, ya goof? Look, let's just read this one for now."

Timothy sighed. "Okay." He sat down next to his sister.

Katie opened her book. "Once upon a cold December night..."

But Katie never got any further, as a sudden burst of light shone in the tiny crawlspace. The next thing Katie knew, she was falling, and the cries of her brother got further and further away.

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