The Rift sits, mostly inactive, in a small field in rural Pennsylvania. It appeared sometime in the afternoon of January 18, 2032 and initially didn't do a whole lot. It was roughly circular in shape, with some irregularities that scientists insisted were significant, although couldn't show why. The edges shifted between a silvery-grey and a deep blood red, and if you looked through it, all you could see was a purple-blue haze.
The field it appeared in was instantly sealed off from public access; the farmer who owned it claimed it was taken, rather than bought, but in all the excitement of whatever this thing was, he was mostly ignored.
After nearly a week of people gradually getting closer to both study it and determine whether or not it was a threat, the first real incident happened. It was around midday on the 24th when the tendril slithered over the edge of The Rift and onto the field below. No one really knew how to react to this, which allowed the tendril to grow to a substantial length before it was cut. As it flopped around on the ground, it oozed a thick black liquid which caused the grass to catch on fire and burn with a foul stench.
It was almost an entire month later when the next incident occurred. In the meantime, because of the fire tentacle, as it was being called in the media, a dozen or so soldiers had been stationed nearby, just in case.
Although the tentacle was still in the news, as what remained of it had been transported to a secret place for testing and new information was being revealed at a startling pace, most people assumed that it was the worst The Rift had to offer. But toward the end of February, they were proven wrong. In the small hours of the 27th, a thin bubbling liquid started to pour over the edge of The Rift onto the field. As it hit the ground, it let off a slight sizzling noise, and while it didn't start a fire like the tentacle ooze, it did have a similar smell to it, which is what alerted the nearby security guard to the incident.
Floodlights were switched on and within a few minutes, the site was a hive of activity, mostly centering around the question of “what the hell is this?”
Samples were taken from the increasing flow of liquid coming out of The Rift and tubs were found to catch the rest of it. Soil samples were taken from the field and sent away with the liquid as well.
For the next two weeks, The Rift spilled this liquid over into our side of it. Since this had all happened in the small hours of the day, and since it had been dealt with reasonably quickly, the official story was that water had started to flow at a slow rate out of the hole. Of course, a few people disbelieved that story and some years later, they were proven to be right when a new incidence of cancer was tracked back to the small amount of the liquid that had fallen into the soil before the alarm had been raised.
March was spent mostly discussing the liquid and what exactly it meant. Scientists believed it was the equivalent of water, and that the leaking into our side of The Rift was something akin to a tidal force.
There were two major reactions to this idea. Number one was that if this was a tidal force, then it was going to happen regularly. If that was the case, what should the local residents do if something equivalent to a king tide happened?
The second was if this was a tide, then whatever was on the other side of The Rift was a sea, which meant a planet. Did that mean we should go and explore it? Run the risk of whatever creature or plant life that had grown the tentacle was still nearby and see what else was out there?
Conversations like this lasted weeks, both in public and private and when the liquid receded and the immediate danger was over again, the potential positive returns of a hypothetical journey through The Rift dominated news coverage the world over.
The truth was that an expedition into whatever was on the other side had been the plan since the hole was discovered, but the tentacle with the incendiary blood and the tidal force which killed the grass had pushed those plans down the queue while suitable precautions could be readied for whoever made the probably one way trip.
Nothing really happened for the rest of the year. The tidal force was mapped out over the remaining months and was found to cycle through on a roughly eight week pattern, with four weeks at low tide and four weeks high. This left astronomers and physicists scratching their heads at the arrangement of the orbiting bodies which would allow for that cycle, and added their items for research for whoever went through.
Christmas came and went, and early in the new year three massive trucks rolled up to the site and unloaded a gigantic structure which was constructed around The Rift and would allow an unmanned vehicle to be sent through, and on January 14 2033 that's what happened.
The craft was equipped with all sorts of sensors and recording equipment and sent through live feeds from its cameras and audio gear. What they saw amazed and terrified everyone.
The boat sat on a large sea under an almost pitch black sky. Behind the craft, on the other side of The Rift, a large orange ball of gas lit up the horizon. It was a star, but like nothing anyone had ever seen before. It was ripping itself apart and long tendrils of light and gas spun out from it like a spider’s legs.
There were no other stars in the sky, and from its vantage point, the cameras on the boat couldn't see any moons. On the opposite horizon to the disintegrating star was the tell tale smudge of land. The controller of the boat, back on Earth, got the ok from his superior and started to sail towards it.