• Published 27th Apr 2012
  • 28,475 Views, 1,737 Comments

You Do (Not) Belong - 2dextreem



A serious take on the HiE self-insert genre. This is the story of a by all accounts normal human being, caught up in events beyond his control. Forced to deal with the possibility of being stuck in a world that's strange in more ways than one.

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Prologue: A Cosmic Contingency

You Do (Not) Belong

Prologue: A Cosmic Contingency


It all began with a storm.

It was the kind of storm that only comes along once in a generation; equal parts mysterious, ferocious, and utterly unexplainable. It appeared completely out of nowhere one night, with pelting rain, howling winds, and ear-splitting thunder and lightning. For a small town like North Tonawanda in the northeast United States, it was enough to even provoke fears of a tornado. But then, as quickly as it had arrived, the storm system blew itself out, disappearing completely, as if it had never been there in the first place.

For most people living in the area, they were just glad it was over. But for one person in particular, it was arguably the most interesting thing to happen during his entire nineteen year-old life -- or, at least, during his week home from college for spring vacation.

There was nothing particularly special about Connor. He was an above-average college student with a healthy obsession for video games, and an aversion to social situations. That's not to say he didn't have many friends; on the contrary, he had plenty of friends, both on campus and across the Internet. It was just that he preferred spending his time at home on his laptop than hanging out around other people.

Staying up late on the night of the storm, he had managed to tear himself away from his computer screen long enough to sit back and observe the weather from the safety of his living room. And even though the power eventually went out due to a particularly devastating bolt of lightning, forcing Connor to navigate his way to bed using nothing but the meager light from his iPod, it was still quite the entertaining spectacle.

Yet, there was no way for him to know that as he lay himself down to rest, certain events had just been set in motion. Events that, under the right circumstances, had the potential to change his entire life in ways he could never even imagine...

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Three days passed with nothing much of import, and despite the local news stations' bafflement about the storm, it was nothing that couldn't be brushed off as a freak occurrence due to global warming or some other token explanation. Regardless, it was the farthest thing from Connor's mind as he spent his time playing games, watching television, and making the most of what was left of his vacation. Everything was perfectly normal, and that suited him just fine.

Normal, that is... until that night.

Connor was dreaming -- at least, he figured he was. It was always hard to tell: usually, the night passed his unconsciousness by with absolutely nothing to show for it but a blank span of emptiness. And even on those occasional nights when something interesting did happen, by the time he woke up, it would already have started to fade from memory; nothing more than a half-remembered fantasy by midmorning. Regardless of the case, what may have started as a dream this night quickly became something more, as Connor was instantly aware of a bright, blinding light filling his entire field of vision.

The teen groaned involuntarily, bringing his hands groggily up to his face even as the interruption of his sleep brought his eyes open by a sliver. As he did so, the irritating light immediately ceased, and Connor shut his eyes again, spots swimming under his eyelids even as his fingers moved to massage their corners.

“What the hell?” he croaked, still feeling half-asleep as he raised himself up in his bed, waiting for his eyes to stop stinging. Soon, the pain had mostly ebbed away, and Connor chanced opening his eyes again in order to find the someone or something responsible for his rude awakening.

His vision panned slowly across his modest bedroom and he noticed that, while not nearly bright enough compared to just before, the ambient light in his room was far more than the meager supply streaming in through the window from a pale moon. He then turned his gaze from the object-crammed shelves on the far side of the room, to the door leading out into the hallway, and it was then that the mystery deepened further. Underneath the crack between the door and the carpet, a soft glow emanated through from the other side without shifting or flickering in the slightest. It was just... there.

That’s not the hallway light... Connor could tell, it wasn’t the same color or shade.

His curiosity piqued for the moment, he lightly tossed back his bedsheets and swung his legs over the side, shivering as he did so as the cool night air greeted his exposed upper body. He paused for a moment in order to twist his body around at the waist, and was rewarded with a short series of pops and cracks from his back as his stored up tension was slightly relieved. He then did the same for his neck.

Satisfied, Connor stood up and walked slowly and silently up to the door, hand hovering over the handle. Gently, he pressed down, and with a muted squeak of the hinges, popped the door open by a small crack as he positioned himself to see through. The moment he did so, however, there was no source of light there to greet him, the hallway looking just as empty and dark as his bedroom.

Thinking this strange, Connor propped the door open a few more inches and stuck his head out, looking from side to side. Even without his glasses, he could now see that same bothersome light now peeking around the corner from down the stairs into the kitchen.

Is it moving? he wondered, and decided then and there to voice his suspicions. “Mom? Dad? That you?” he called out into the house, to which he received only silence and stillness as his answer.

He turned to face the other end of the hallway, to the door that led to his parent’s bedroom, and found it still shut, with no signs of movement audible within. He instantly regretted raising his voice now, hoping that it wasn’t enough to rouse his parents if they were still asleep.

Connor brought his head back and closed the door without shutting it completely, contemplating his next move. He spared a glance at the alarm clock on the dresser, of which the digital readout had just ticked over to 12:03 AM. With a look of consternation, he peered at his bed, looking warm and inviting, then back to the door, behind which that eerie glow had somehow returned, peeking through around the cracks.

That cinches it. I’m investigating.

And with that, Connor stepped over to his closet, reaching in to grasp a plain white T-shirt off of a random hanger. He threw on the shirt as he walked to his dresser, fished a clean pair of socks from one of the drawers and slipped them on. Summarily dressed, he grabbed his glasses off his bedside and put them on, the world around him once again crisp and clear. Before setting out, he had a brief thought.

Wait. What if it’s a burglar or something? No, no, it couldn’t be. A burglar wouldn’t bring a freakin’ searchlight. And besides, Riley would be making noise if someone was snooping around. Still... better stay cautious.

His bedroom door creaked open all the way, and ever so quietly, Connor tiptoed out, closing it behind him. Without making a sound, he made his way in the direction of the illumination, stopping when he reached halfway down the stairs. Steeling himself, he peered around the corner into the kitchen...

...to find that the light had suddenly shifted still further away, now pouring in through the entrance to the back porch.

Connor’s eyes narrowed as he pressed onward, the final steps of the staircase groaning slightly under his weight. The sound was accompanied by the light jingle of a collar coming from from the direction of the living room, and he turned to see his dog, Riley, raise his head and give a long yawn.

“Heh. Sorry, Riley. Did I wake you up?” Connor whispered softly. “Nothing to worry about, just go back to sleep.”

The dog simply stared at him for a few moments, before placing his head back on the floor with a groan and breathing in deeply to let out a loud exhale.

Now situated on the ground floor, Connor made for the other end of the kitchen, stopping before the door trying to look behind the shades to get a better view. Outside in the open air, the mysterious incandescence now shone from behind the back garage, seeming to have covered a distance of many yards in mere moments.

This is beyond freaky. I am so getting to the bottom of this, Connor decided with no hesitation.

He snatched his blue Dockers jacket off a hook in the wall nearby and put it on, securing the buttons as he slid his feet into the pair of black sneakers sitting below it. Bending down to make sure they were on tight, he then got back up and briskly made his way out the door onto the porch breezeway. Taking a deep breath, he grasped the handle of the last door, and opened up the portal to the outside, where a cool breeze swept onto his body and threw his hair back a little.

Connor gave an involuntary shiver as he stepped out into the cold night, the porch door slamming behind him suddenly and with a loud crash, causing him to jump.

“Goddamn! I keep forgetting about that stupid door,” he berated himself, now remembering this particular door’s tendency to react badly to any sort of wind.

Connor looked around the scene of his backyard. Despite it being in the dead of night, the world around him was plainly visible on account of both the unexplained luminosity, and also the serene glow of the crescent moon among a handful of stars, high in a sky completely free of clouds. The result bathed his surroundings in a surreal bluish tinge, with fences, buildings, and trees on either side outlined crisply against the dark.

After sparing a moment to adjust to the cold, Connor made his way across the backyard and around his garage, the sound of his sneakers hitting pavement being the only noise echoing amidst the steady breeze. Now at the chain-link fence separating this portion of the yard from the wide open expanse of grass beyond, he could see clear beyond to the wooded area far on the other side. The light was now what seemed to be miles away, peeking out between the multitudes of trees, and almost beckoning him to follow down the one dirt path that cut through the tree line.

Connor moved through the gate in the fence, closing the latch behind him with the clink of metal on metal, then proceeded in a fast walk across the grass towards the woods. He was growing increasingly eager to be done with these shenanigans, and as he left his house further behind, his pace quickened into a brisk jog, the sound of dew-covered grass squelching underfoot. By the time he reached the tree line, he was in a full-on sprint.

Yet, no matter how fast or how far he ran, the enigmatic luminescence remained just out of sight, along the path that was more or less a straight line right through the wooded area. So close, yet still seemingly far away, it taunted Connor with its elusiveness as his legs pounded along the dusty ground.

Finally, after a minute of solid running, he suddenly stopped short at the end of the forest path. He bent down, his head bowed forward and his hands on his knees, gasping and wheezing to catch his breath; he hadn’t run like that in a long time.

“Whew... I need to... hah... get out more,” he said between breaths, then closed his mouth in order to breathe through his nose in a deep, steady rhythm. His respiration slowed after a few moments of doing this, and with his heart no longer trying to force its way out of his chest, he allowed his gaze to shift from his shoes, up towards what awaited him at the woods' edge.

He’d been to this place before: a wide, yet shallow lake filled with murky water. He’d come here a few times back when he was younger; usually to skip rocks or something whenever he got bored and wanted to get some air, but he hadn't been back for a while. Not that there was much interesting here to begin with. The lake itself was standard, with its only defining feature being a small island about a hundred or so feet from the shore.

The island itself: a barren little patch of dirt, on which stood a decent-sized stack of three large, oblong stones. This formation, a little over ten feet in height, surely couldn't have been natural, yet it remained innocuous. Just another misplaced curiosity. Their positioning reminded him of a snowman, and so he simply figured some people got together one day and put them there somehow, to use as a base for making such a sculpture.

As Connor looked up this night, however, he was surprised to see a number of changes to the landscape that weren’t present all those years ago. For one, the island itself was no longer an island, as a raised path of land now bridged the gap between it and the shore, turning it into a shallow peninsula.

And on the far end of that bridge, he could now see the brightness that had eluded him until now was emanating from the bottommost of the three giant rocks. It shone like a beacon in the night, reflecting off the placid surface of the water in such a way to give the whole scene a strange, almost haunting beauty.

Connor found himself unable to describe what he was feeling out loud, or in his thoughts, and he felt the barest sensation of foreboding in the back of his mind as he took a few timid steps forward onto the land bridge.

Seems stable... Barely wide enough to walk on... But, why? This wasn’t here before. Did someone make this?

Eyes trained on the stone monolith, he edged his way forward cautiously, alert for any sign of changes in his surroundings. But the light remained stationary, a perfect disk of pure white on the surface of the rock, barely wider than his own hand. It was just then he realized that the wind had died down. It was completely and totally quiet when Connor tentatively approached the formation. Even the myriad sounds of bugs and other nocturnal animals were absent.

His heart now beat almost as fast as when he was running earlier, his skin was flushed, and he was now shaking very slightly. Something was wrong, and his body was trying to tell him. He felt apprehensive... nervous... scared. This was scary, and he knew it. But he was so close now. He wouldn’t settle for coming out all this way for nothing.

He wouldn’t stick around much longer. Just touch the stone... just to see what would happen.

His hand trembled as it hovered over the glowing beacon, and he licked his lips before swallowing deeply. This was it. He was going to do it.

Without a moment’s more of hesitation, Connor took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and pressed against the surface of the rock.

It felt warm to the touch. Not hot, but a soft, gentle warmth that felt stark in contrast to the chill air.

He held his hand there for a few moments, opening his eyes in a squint to see if anything had happened. He was disappointed when, after a few moments more, nothing did.

“Well,” he said, his breath still a little shaky. “That’s a bit of a letdown. I guess that’s it?”

Connor blinked a few times, then, feeling like there was nothing more to be gained by sticking around, pulled his hand back from the strange obelisk and its mysterious luminosity.

Just as he did so, however, the circle glinted brightly in a brief flash before fading away, leaving the dull gray stone behind. Connor looked around nervously, unsure of what to do next, before he was caught off guard by the light’s sudden return... from underneath him.

The circle appeared again, tracing around his shoes and forming a perfect disk of white on which he now stood.

“Wah! Whoa! Get away!” he cried out ineffectively as he stumbled backwards out of the radiating periphery. Or rather, he would have moved, if his legs would even respond. But alas, they refused to budge, almost as if an invisible force was holding him in place.

“What the hell is this!?” Connor shouted frantically, heart pounding, breathing rapid, and very much wanting to be anyplace but there right now. “Help! Anyone! Oh, God, no. No, stop it!”

He then looked up back at the three stones, now giving off a multitude of glimmers across their entire surface as a series of odd glyphs traced themselves into existence. The formation itself, indeed, the very atmosphere surrounding him seemed to thrum with eldritch power. On the pallid circle below, streams of light, weaving together into a sort of wall, pulsed their way upwards as dust and grass from the ground picked up in the air, swirling around.

Too frightened now for words, Connor could only helplessly watch as the scintillate wall raised past his waist, then his chest, then up to his eyes, completely filling his field of vision. He raised his hands in a futile gesture, hoping beyond hope that whatever this was, it would end soon.

And then, suddenly, everything went black.

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To an outside observer, the scene on the lake would have been a beautiful thing to see. A light as bright as the daytime sun covered the whole of the island and its sole occupant, making the whole surface of the lake seem ablaze with holy fire.

And then, suddenly and without warning, the emanations drew inwards and condensed on a single point.

A split second later, that point exploded onwards and upwards into a vast, growing column of pure white, piercing the heavens even as a great and powerful roar pierced the absolute silence.

As the brightness slowly faded, and all sounds echoed off before dying in the distant horizon, the only light remaining was that which was provided by nature.

The light from the lonely crescent moon, sitting amongst a sea of stars, filtered down through the crisp night air to reveal the island, completely stark and bare save only for that which had stood from time immemorial, and a lone line of dusty footprints.

Connor had vanished, without a single trace.

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