Trevor Gisborne slept like the proverbial log, his wife Julie always said, except of course that logs don't snore. She would wake as the sun rose but he found it hard to shake of the night's sleep. He would grump out of bed and make his way to the shower. A few minutes hot water, however, usually managed to revive him enough to face breakfast.
He would make it to the kitchen and boil water for tea, place bread in the toaster and pour two bowls of cornflakes, all while his wife would be downstairs putting yesterday's dirty clothes in the washing machine. When she came back up the tea was usually made and they would sit down together before he left for work.
Both children had long since left home and he was only three years away from mandatory retirement at the Office. He usually made his way there on his bicycle. Five days a week you could see him pedalling down the street to work, unless it was far too hot (which happened sometimes) or - more likely - it was raining heavily when his wife would drop him in the little Toyota.
Of an evening he could be seen riding back to a prepared meal, television and the occasional good book. It was a comfortable life which had developed over years of habits and he liked his life. It was quiet and safe and here, in his late fifties, quiet and safe was a lot. There was money enough to retire on when it happened and plans to visit the children and grandchildren on occasion. A good life. Calm and serene.
His wife called him away from the breakfast table, her voice floating up from downstairs.
"Come and have a look at this, dear"
He rose, placed the newspaper carefully on the table, took a piece of buttered toast and went out to the back door. Looking down the stairs from the landing he saw his wife bending over and staring at the wall, just near where the stairs met the ground.
"What is it?" He asked
Julie straightened up with difficulty. Her back had never quite recovered from a fall taken several years previously while camping with the boys some years before. She brushed aside a loose strand of hair.
"There's a crack in the bricks, Trevor"
He walked down and looked. Sure enough. Between two bricks there was a line where the cement had disappeared. It wasn't very wide. Just a crack, like Julie had said. He picked a pen out of his shirt pocket and pushed it into the gap. A little powdery cement came away and he straightened up.
"I'll pick up something to fix it at lunchtime and do it tonight" He said. His wife nodded and he went back upstairs to finish his breakfast. A few minutes before eight he had washed the dishes and heard his wife coming up the stairs. She had a pale look about her, today, he thought.
"How's the back?" He asked, concerned.
"Sore. I think some rain might be coming" The only side benefit of a bad back, Julie had said on several occasions, was the ability to predict the weather with any accuracy.
"Take care, today, then." He said gently, "Have a lie down if it gets bad"
"I will, dear" She pecked his cheek. After thirty years of marriage there was still affection and they smiled at each other. He went downstairs, past the crack, and put his lunch into the saddlebag of the bicycle. He wheeled away into the day and Julie sat down for a while, reading the newspaper.
The split in the air became noticeable not long after the world woke to the new day. Unlike usual, when the sky was steel blue and the heat was blistering, a cool wind blew through the split and chilled the plants around it. Animals used to the intense power of the primary star shied away from the split in the air as the artic chill began to kill the ground. People began to ask what the leadership was going to do about it.
Nine O'clock and Julie had cleaned the house. Her back still hurt but not as bad. She went downstairs, past the tiny crack, and noticed a few cobwebs on the window. A whisk with a broom and they were gone. She changed into a slightly better dress and walked up the street to the small supermarket.
The dog at number ten barked at her but couldn't get out past the high fence. It had once, and had menaced the postman, so she was never too sure of it, but a quick look convinced her that all was well and the dog was locked up.
It did look like rain was coming so she bought the few things she needed and quickly hiked back home. Climbing the back stairs past the crack she heard the first splattering of rain on the roof and windows and got through the door just in time.
The leadership, of course, was most upset with the split in the air but the Old One knew of such things happening before. But not for Millennia. She counselled that the area around the split should be evacuated. Hopefully the split would heal itself and the evil airs from the other place would dissipate before terminal damage was done.
Although there was some grumbling at this, especially among the younger ones, it was done with efficiency and speed. The ground around the split in the air had turned white and scientific researchers in heavy clothing had determined that every living thing within a twelve square that had not left had died.
The people grew more angry.
Julie made a cup of tea and decided to watch a little television but it was a choice between a children's show and a soap opera she had never been able to get into, so she went and lay down on the spare bed. It had been Mark and Johnny's room, but since they had married and moved away it was spare, but she still felt like her boys were there at times. It gave her a comfortable feeling like the presence of an old friend. She nodded gently off.
The rain pattered down for several hours and filled the little dips in the ground. The crack in the bricks watched the day go by until Gisborne came home again. He dropped the bike against the wall in the garage and shook out his hair. Even at his age he still had a thick mop of unruly hair, the despair of his wife and subject to no comb or brush. He took off his soaking shirt and threw it on top of the washing machine. Then he went upstairs.
Now water in it's liquid form, not usually seen in nature, was pouring in through the split in the air and the people began to talk of armed rebellion. The leadership sent special shock troops in to quell a dangerous mob and moved the rest of the population back another fifteen squares.
Stopping for a moment Trevor looked at the crack. It was definitely wider. He had left the small bag of ready mix cement downstairs in the saddle bag, so he turned around and went down past the crack and collected it.
He took an old, dull knife in one hand and scissors in the other. With the scissors he cut open the bag and with the knife he stirred the mixture, adding a little water from the tap.
The Old One was talking about a punitive expedition, clothed in full leather armour and with protective clothing going through the split to stop the devils of the other world from destroying them, but this was howled down in council as no one knew if the air of the other world could even be breathed. The population started to panic and the ground around the split began to turn to mud and slime as the water seeped into it and poisoned the environment.
Going back up to the crack Trevor cleaned out the old dust, trowelled the new cement into it and smoothed it over with a deft, methodical touch. Satisfied with his work he cleaned up and put everything away neatly into it's place. He went upstairs, past where the crack used to be and through to the lounge where the television was showing the news. And never knew any better.
His wife came through behind him and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. “Finished?” She asked. He nodded and she leaned over and kissed him on the top of his head.
“My hero” she smiled.
The split in the air vanished as mysteriously as it had appeared and the people rejoiced. The area around it was cordoned off and it was determined in council to let it lie fallow forever, even if it should, at some time in the future, regain it's normal composure.
"For" As the Old One said in a speech to the assembled population, "We have no way of knowing what the purpose of the attack was. But we will remain vigilant against other incursions into our world."