There were many things Lizzie had learned to expect on business trips like this. What she had not expected was her brother falling into one of Venice’s many canals on their first day there. Wallace couldn’t sit still due to his excitement and almost flipped the gondola. Luckily, their gondolier was able to steady the narrow boat, saving all of their equipment, but Wallace had fallen overboard regardless. Once Wallace had resurfaced, Lizzie pulled their bags off of the boat and onto the narrow sidewalk before gingerly helping her brother out of the polluted water.
“Well, that’s one way to start a vacation, isn’t it?” The man tried to ease the mood by laughing, but nervously trailed off as Lizzie glared at him.
“Okay, first, that was disgusting. You aren’t coming anywhere near me or our bags until you wash off all that canal water. Second, we are not on vacation. We are here for a job, and your little fantasy trip will have to wait until afterwards.” She quickly slung both her and her brother’s backpacks over her shoulders before snatching up their work bag and sauntering off in the direction of their hotel.
Lizzie’s adamancy about their job my seem strange and out of place to some people, but for her it was unmistakably suitable. Elizabeth and Wallace Sideris have a very unique occupation. On paper, they work for the government, but not a specific government. That depends on where they’re working. Officially, no government in the world wants anything to do with them. The only agency that might possibly see them as assets would be S.H.I.E.L.D., if it weren’t fictional. The reason for this is that the Sideris siblings work with the paranormal. By repeating the right phrase to the right person, these two can take over any government operation.
Lizzie is the younger of the two at age twenty four. She has bright emerald green eyes and auburn hair that drapes over her shoulders, but reaches no further down than the bottom of her shoulder blades. Her bangs are short, yet long enough to sweep across the left side of her face. She may have the face of a sweet girl, but her personality screams anything but. Whenever someone approaches her in what she sees as an unfavorable fashion, she isn’t shy about fighting. She’s very athletic and stubborn and always has a pair of shorts on whenever she wears skirts or dresses, which isn’t often.
Wallace is the exact opposite of his sister. At twenty nine, he has green eyes the match Lizzie’s and slightly frizzy, dark brown hair. His bangs are cut straight, but he likes to style them so they sweep across his forehead to the right. Unlike Lizzie, he has a very boisterous personality and is extremely dramatic. He always makes sure to find out everything he can about the situation, whether it be a case or a new series of novels. However intelligent this makes him seem, he has a bad habit of spacing out when people are talking to him, which is what he was doing right after climbing out of the canal. He ran to catch up to Lizzie and almost grabs his backpack off of her shoulder. She quickly spins around and glares.
“I told you that you are not to touch any of our stuff until you shower or something. Who knows what’s growing on your shirt,” Lizzie keeps talking before Wallace can defend himself. “Wallace, the water is so dirty that I couldn’t see you even when you were millimeters from the surface.”
“Ah, good point. It’s a shame that such a beautiful city is so polluted.” The man sighs and follows in silence until they reach the hotel.
The building is a quaint little place on the corner of a block. Its face is inlaid with white brick and has a small, faded sign above the arched doorway. The windows for the lobby are renaissance styled while the smaller windows for the upper floors, most likely the windows for the rooms, are plain and rectangular. Most of these smaller windows have their curtains closed.
The hotel’s interior has the same simple feel as the exterior. There’s two sea blue arm chairs and a matching couch arranged around a glass coffee table. Facing the couch is a stone hearth that only holds glowing embers. A granite counter sits near the wall on the opposite end of the room. After checking in with the receptionist, Lizzie quickly ushers her dripping brother down the hall and up the staircase. As soon as they reach their room, she pushes Wallace into the bathroom. The room is small, but much fancier than American standards. There’s a single armchair in the far corner that matches those in the lobby. Sitting next to the chair is a small round table with a desk lamp on top of it. On the other side of the room are two single beds with baby blue quilts separated by a night stand.
Lizzie drops both backpacks onto the bed on the left and the work back on the bed next to the window. She sheds her coat and scarf, sets them next to the work bag, and starts pulling equipment out of said bag.
“Might as well get started…” The girl mumbles to herself as she works. She pulls out her laptop and plugs it in as Wallace comes to of the bathroom. “There is no way you got rid of all those canal germs in less than five minutes.”
“What can I say? Guys just take faster showers than girls,” Wallace grins as he pulls some clothes out of his backpack while keeping his towel around his waist. He slides between his bed and the wall and sinks to the floor. “Before you say anything, I’m getting dressed down here so we can keep talking. What’s the case this time?”
“That’s the thing,” Lizzie pulls assorted cases from the bag as she speaks. “We don’t have a case yet. Local scientists have been detecting occasional spikes in gamma radiation, but it’s over so fast that no one can determine the source. All we have to go off of is that it’s within a fifty kilometer radius of our hotel.”
Wallace pops up from the floor with his shirt only half on. “And why are we staying so close to the source of these spikes? Gamma rays kill, in case you’ve forgotten what happened last time we dealt with radiation like this.”
“Wallace, it was a wild rabbit. There was nothing we could’ve done.”
“It was a baby!”
“Oh, for God’s sake, Wallace, it was two years ago. Now help me set up the sensors.” Lizzie pops open one case and hands Wallace another. She pulls out a fold up wheeled cart and starts assembling it while Wallace just looks at his case.
“The G64? I kinda thought you would’ve packed a stronger sensor if we’re dealing with radiation spikes.” Despite his inquiry, he helps mount it to the cart anyway.
“If you paid attention to the product descriptions when I order new equipment, you’d know that this is our only gamma detector that can be used in the field.” After setting the final bolt in place, Lizzie plugs the detector into a solar powered generator which is mounted a little lower on the cart. Grabbing her coat again, she switches the detector on and throws her scarf at her brother. “Considering that your coat is ruined, you’ll have to make do with that. Luckily, it seems to have warmed up outside a bit.” Wallace mutters a quick thanks as he wraps the scarf around his neck. He grabs the cart’s handle and follows Lizzie out the door and through the lobby.
“We’re not taking another gondola, are we?”
“Considering what happened last time, no. Besides, it’ll be easier to find the source if we stick to the sidewalks and make our own route.” The girl turns the corner and heads down the path rather quickly. Wallace tries to keep up without tipping the cart.
“Okay, maybe you were right about it being warmer, but it doesn’t mean that I’m not still cold.” He shivers for effect rather than actually being that cold. “And this mist isn’t helping either.”
Lizzie frowns. “Mist?” She slows her pace as she looks around. Sure enough, a small amount of mist had gathered above the canal surface. It wasn’t much, but Lizzie’s certain it wasn’t there before. “Hm. Let’s hurry and see if we can find anything.”
The siblings spent almost an hour just walking around the city. As the sun rose higher, the temperature rose, too, but the mist didn’t dissipate like Lizzie expected. Citizens and tourists alike continuously stared and commented about the two amongst themselves. By the way the citizens did this far more discretely, it’s easy to tell that they often mock tourists. After another half hour of no trace of radiation being detected, Wallace suggests taking a break at a small café. He orders a caffe crema and Lizzie chooses an affogato.
The girl sighs as the waiter heads back to the kitchen. “I knew this wasn’t going to be easy, but I thought we would’ve picked up something by now.”
“Be patient, my dear sister. We—” Wallace glances up with a grin as their waiter brought their drinks. “Ah, grazie. Now, where was I? Oh yes. We should probably head back soon. The mist is starting to thicken and if it rises any higher, it’ll block our solar power.”
“Good point. Let’s finish and go.”
“No, no. I said soon, not immediately. Enjoy the art that is your espresso.” He calmly sips his coffee as he takes in his sister’s I’m-so-done-with-you look. She pours more espresso into her cup and stares at Wallace as she drinks.
“You are such and insufferable little—” She’s cut off by a short series of ticking sounds coming from the detector. Quickly switching her attention from her brother to the detector and back to her brother, the insult dies on her lips as she sets down her mostly empty cup. “Now do you want to hurry?”
“Yep,” Wallace stands, puts down his cup, and pulls a few Euros from his pocket that he leaves on the table by their receipt. As he follows Lizzie, who has taken over the cart pulling, he sighs. “But why is it that every time we try to relax, something pops up?”
“There was that one time in Albania where you got to relax.” Lizzie’s smile can only be described as evil.
Wallace hissed. “I told you, we never speak of what happened in Albania.”
“Fine, fine. I won’t say anything else.” She laughed before the detector started to screech. “This way!” Turning so swiftly that the cart nearly fell over, the girl runs onto one of the bridges crossing a canal and stops in the middle.
The mist has grown so thick by this point that it’s impossible to see the water underneath. Clouds cover the sun, causing the sky to turn dark as the temperature drops at least ten degrees. The detector screeches louder as a thick, green fog rolls over the canal, heading straight for the bridge. It seems to crackle with electricity.
“HOLY—” Wallace clamps his hand over Lizzie’s mouth, sure that her next word is anything but holy. He grabs the cart with his free hand and drops his other hand to grab Lizzie’s wrist. He pulls her off of the bridge and runs down the sidewalk, trying to distance them from the fog. They run around a corner before Wallace slows even slightly.
“Don’t you ever freeze up on me like that again. Do you hear me, Elizabeth?” Wallace takes Lizzie’s shoulders in his hands and looks her dead in the eye. He doesn’t bother masking his fear. “If that fog is the source of the radiation and I hadn’t moved you, I would’ve lost you!”
“I-I’m sorry, Wallace,” The girl looks at the ground. “I just…I’ve never seen anything like that before and…and I panicked.” She takes a deep breath before continuing. “I’ll be fine now. Let’s go do our job, shall we?” She moves to grab the now silent detector when Wallace pulls her into a hug.
“Yeah. Just be careful, okay?” He lets Lizzie go after feeling her not into his shoulder. They turn back around the corner and freeze in awe at the sight in front of them.
Remnants of the green fog mix with the mist and disappear. The bridge they were standing on minutes before has disappeared as well, the only remainders being the supports connected to the sidewalks on either side of the canal. Further down the canal sits a huge cruise ship that barely fits inside the canal.
Lizzie looks at Wallace out of the corner of her eye. “You wanna take field work or fog research?”
“I’ll tackle this. You find out what you can about the fog.” He grins and pats her on the back. “Meet you back at the hotel by six.”
“You better.” Lizzie flashes a smile of her own before wheeling the detector away and heading back to the hotel.
After four hours of research, Lizzie has yet to find any reliable evidence. Wallace comes back to find that his sister is practically pulling her hair out with how tight her hands are wound in it.
“Hey now,” He chuckles as he sits on the edge of her bed. “Forget your frustration. Just tell me what you found.” It’s an old trick Wallace used for Lizzie when they were kids, but it’s proven useful when she hits a dead end in her research.
“There’s nothing to tell, really,” She puts her laptop to sleep and set it on the table next to the lamp, which she’s switched on. “Green fog is only ever found in folklore and stories about supernatural instances, and tends to be electromagnetic.”
“Hence the gamma signature.”
“Exactly. There were a couple stories about ships disappearing into fog like this, but none about ships just randomly appearing. The first one is clearly a hoax, but it’s scary how close it is to what we saw. The story was printed in September 1993 in an issue of Weekly World News. Supposedly, and Italian cruise ship named Cara Mia sailed into a green fog, and when the fog lifted, the ship was gone, too. I looked for any other source and couldn’t find any. There’s never been a shipped named Cara Mia.” Lizzie laces her fingers together and puts her hands over her eyes.”
“What about the other story?”
“Again, there’s not much credibility, but there’s more than the other story had. On October 28th, 1943, the US Navy allegedly conducted something called the Philadelphia Experiment. They were testing equipment that would render any ship invisible to enemy radar systems. The destroyer USS Eldridge was apparently turned invisible and had a green fog appear in its place. After that, none of the sources agree on what happened to the ship. Some say it reappeared like expected, but crew members were in places other than when the experiment began and some had body parts stuck through the hull of the ship. Others say it teleported to a Virginia port. Whatever explanation was given, they all reached the same conclusion. The Navy denies such an experiment existed.” Groaning, Lizzie drops her hands from her face. “Enough about that. What did you find?”
“Besides Interpol trying to keep me offsite?” Wallace crossed his arms. “The ship is the Royal Caribbean cruise ‘Quantum of the Seas’. It was only launched last month, and it left port three days ago. As far as I could tell with what sensors were on site, there was no trace of any form of radiation on that ship, and the only electromagnetic waves came from the passengers’ phones.” The man flops back on the bed and spreads his arms on both sides of his head. “And…everyone on board was dead…”
“Oh my God…That’s…” Lizzies gets out of the chair and sits by Wallace’s head. He moves an arm to make room for her.
“Right now, all we can do is figure out how to stop this from happening again,” He points in the general direction of the chair. “Make sure your laptop’s charged for the morning. We can try and find that cloud again and send in a GPS to see where it leads, or even where that ship went before ending up in that canal.”
“Wallace, we should take a day off instead of diving right back in tomorrow,” Lizzie runs her hand through her brother’s hair, another old habit from their childhood. “I can tell you’re shaken up by this.”
He pushes her hand away and sits up to face her. “Of course I’m shaken up by this. That’s exactly why I want to dive in again. I want to know what happened to those people. I can’t just sit here and do nothing when I can honor their memory by giving their families closure!” Clenching his fists, he stands up and digs around in the night stand drawer. “Why don’t we just get room service and call it a night?”
“That sounds good.” Lizzie crawls inchworm style across the bed to try and read the menu around Wallace’s arm.
The next morning, Lizzie wakes up to the sound of someone knocking on the door. She drags herself out of bed, barely registering that Wallace isn’t there. She opens the door a crack to see her brother on the other side, two to-go cups of coffee in his hand with a paper bag tucked under his arm.
“I got breakfast,” He smirks at Lizzie’s bedhead and she sticks her tongue out at him. “Two cappuccinos and two cornettos.”
“What’s a cornetto?” She steps back to let Wallace in and closes the door as soon as he’s in the room.
“It’s a type of croissant filled with cream, chocolate, or jam. I got the chocolate ones,” He sets the coffees on the table a pulls the bag from under his arm. Lizzie goes to pick up one of the cups when the ticking of the detector makes her jump. “Oh, yeah. I plugged it in before I left. Guess you’d better get dressed, huh?”
“Shut up,” She pulls a random outfit out of her backpack that now sits at the foot of her bed. “I’m not complaining about you getting food, but you woke me up.” Scowling at her brother, she stalks off to the bathroom to get dressed.
“Sorry. Guess I’m not used to you sleeping so late.” Wallace takes a bite of his cornetto and nearly chokes from laughing at Lizzie’s response.
“LATE?!? It’s seven thirty, Wallace!” The girl throws the bathroom door open, throws her pajamas on her bed, and pulls her cornetto from the bag. “I at least sleep until eight…” The two eat quickly and get set up for the day’s task. Wallace unplugs the detector from the wall and plugs it into the solar generator while Lizzie boots up her laptop and synchs the two GPS devices to it over bluetooth. She empties the work bag to make carrying the sleeping laptop and the GPS devices easier. They both grab their coffees and rush out the door.
Heading down the street, the two continue drinking their coffees as the detector screeches louder and louder. They drop their empty cups in a trash bin outside a small shop before turning a corner and seeing the fog only a few feet away. Lizzie crouches down, pulls one of the GPS devices out of the bag along with her laptop, and hands it to Wallace.
“So far, my readings are stable. Try and throw it as close to the center of the fog as you can,” Lizzie’s expression takes on a more serious look as she looks up at her brother. He moves the GPS from his left to his right hand and faces the fog. “Now!” Wallace throws it as hard as he can and it disappears into the fog. Lizzie starts scanning her eyes over the screen as the numbers go haywire.
“What’s wrong with it?” Wallace crouches next to her as he takes in the stability monitor switching from blue to red.
“This always happens when the GPS is in an extremely windy environment. The stability isn’t clear, so the coordinates aren’t perfect, but I’ve never seen numbers changing like this before…” She tries keying a few commands before the numbers disappear and the status switches to offline. “No!”
“Must be pretty windy to be able to switch it off, huh?” Wallace frowns and pulls the other GPS from the bag.
“I could’ve ruled out a few possibilities if it had just stayed on a little longer,” Lizzie doesn’t pull her eyes from the screen. “There has to be some way to keep it on…”
“Hey. Can I borrow your scarf again?”
“Why would you—” Lizzie’s eyes widen as she realizes what Wallace is trying to do. “You aren’t going in there. It’s too risky! Besides, we don’t know how much longer the fog will be there!”
“Elizabeth, I know, but we need this one to stay on. As long as I keep your scarf tied to my wrist and you hold the other end, I’ll be able to find my way out. I’ll just stay in there as long as you need me to and you just pull on the scarf when you want me to come out.” Wallace ties the scarf to his wrist as he speaks. He then stands and starts walking towards the fog.
“Wallace, no! I won’t let you!”
“This is all we’ve got. Trust me, okay?”
“…okay.” Lizzie’s response is barely a mumble. She ties the other end of her long scarf on her wrist, picks up her laptop, and walks down to the edge of the fog with Wallace.
“Be right back.” He kisses her forehead and walks straight into the fog. Sure enough, the numbers go haywire and the stability went red, but the GPS stays on. She studies the screen hurriedly to try and get Wallace out of the fog, but it’s not enough.
The fog disappears with Wallace in it, and she screams as she holds the torn scarf in her hands.