The Traveller Series
By now you’ve no doubt read the accounts written by my predecessors, that is the three individuals who took on the ‘Traveller’ alias before me. Three men, all of whom worked for the project but ultimately broke with their former employers, turning whistle-blower to alert the public to the terrible dangers our world now faces, thanks in large part to the reckless actions of the federal government and their corporate partners.
I am the fourth and final person who will take on the Traveller mantle (and it will become obvious why I’m the last once you read my sorrowful tale). I am somewhat different from my predecessors however, for two reasons. Firstly, because I am a woman, while the three that came before me were all male, and secondly because I was not a mere employee of this sinister cabal, I was a part of it.
Let me start at the beginning. I come from a privileged background, that is undeniable. My father is a tech billionaire and I wanted for nothing, attending the best schools and a top Ivy-league college, travelling the world and enjoying five-star luxury all the way. I’ll admit to living life to the full and making full use of Daddy’s credit card, but at some point I developed a social conscience and decided there must be something more to my life.
The truth is, I was never going to be one of those Insta girls or someone who takes a cushy job in Daddy’s company. I wanted to get an education and make a difference, forging my own path independent from my family’s fortune. So, you can probably imagine how I reacted when I first heard about the ‘project’. Honestly, I can’t say I was even surprised to learn that there was a secret experiment in place which involved opening trans-dimensional portals to alternate universes. I know some of the shit these people have pulled over the years and – believe me – the conspiracy theories aren’t too far off the mark.
It sickened me to think of the billions of dollars siphoned off into funding this project, all in secret and behind closed doors. Worse still was the revelation that this was all part of the one percenter’s exit strategy, as they desperately sought an alternate world to colonise, leaving our fucked-up Earth behind. Nevertheless, I’ll admit to being fascinated by the practical side of the project, about the idea of travelling to and exploring new worlds. Obviously, it was only later that I discovered the truth about the disasters and bloodbaths resulting from several of the botched recon missions.
When my father asked me to be a part of the seed colony, I truly believed we could build a new world that was both sustainable and fair, removing the prejudices and greed that have plagued humanity for so long. I know it sounds naïve but that’s genuinely how I felt going in. I’m sure it’s no surprise to learn that things didn’t work out how I thought they would.
The world our leaders chose for our first colony was designated as Earth 101. This was one of the early alternate versions of Earth that we explored and deemed suitable for human habitation. 101 was unique in that there were no indigenous human beings living there until our people arrived. Homo sapiens had existed on 101 at some point in its pre-history but had lost the evolutionary battle, becoming extinct soon after the last ice age. Instead, the dominant species had evolved from homo neanderthalensis. Their descendants ultimately spread to all continents, and they developed a number of civilisations, sophisticated but not as technologically advanced as our own.
Their global population is estimated at about half a billion and their society is pre-industrial and thus sparsely populated. There are relatively developed kingdoms and states located on the European and Asian continents, roughly equivalent to medieval societies in our own history. The project’s leaders decided not to locate our colony anywhere close to these civilizations, instead choosing the North American continent, where the indigenous population is sparse, and the local tribes are either hunter-gatherers or involved in low-level subsistence agriculture.
The theory was that our presence should have a limited impact on the world, but of course it didn’t work out that way. The first colony was already pretty much established by the time I arrived – a small but stable settlement of twenty houses and home to just over 100 people.
The settlers themselves might not have been the most competent or qualified persons to colonise a new world, given that they were mostly the privileged children of the wealthy and elite – a group more used to five-star luxury than roughing it in the wilds. Still, there were those amongst us who wanted to see the project succeed and had the determination and at least some of the skills required.
And it’s not as if we were under-equipped. The colony was state of the art, powered by renewable energy and protected by a fifteen-foot wall manned by automated mini-guns. Security was certainly a priority for the colony’s designers, although initially we feared attacks by rival trans-dimensional travellers rather than anything living on Earth 101.
The territory outside of the colony walls consisted of a vast and ancient coniferous forest, stretching for as far as the eye could see. Although we wished to limit our impact on the environment, it was nevertheless necessary to clear land to grow the crops needed to feed the colonists. Our aim was to be self-sufficient, but few of our number had any knowledge of farming, construction, forestry or any of the other key skills required for colony building. But we did have various experts and advisors on hand to help with such matters, and many of our processes were automated.
We had access to the most advanced technology and gadgets known to humanity, and money was no object. And of course, we weren’t totally cut off from the home world. The portal back to the facility was opened like clockwork once a week, and essential supplies and equipment were delivered by a relief team. To my annoyance, several of my fellow colonists would also receive various luxury items from back home – expensive clothes, alcohol, and devices designed for entertainment purposes, to name but a few. I swear some of those spoilt brats would have been regularly updating their social media accounts if it was physically possible. Looking back, it was like we were all lambs for the slaughter, but I’m getting ahead of myself…
I remember my first night inside the colony walls. I was tired, still recovering from the stresses of portal travel and a long hike through the surrounding forest. I had enjoyed that afternoon, as I took in the majestic beauty of our natural surroundings – savouring the clean air and unspoilt nature. We returned to the colony before dusk however, as colonists were prohibited from being outside the walls after dark. There were many dangers out in the woods. In addition to the neanderthal hunting parties, some of which were known to be hostile, this continent was also home to megafauna species long extinct on our world – cave bears, giant deer, sabre tooth tigers, woolly mammoths and god knows what else that we were yet to discover.
On that night I walked the walls with Jerry, the 21-year-old son of a wealthy investment banker and my best friend inside of the project. Jerry was handsome, smart and shared many of my political ideals. We’d dated briefly during our time in college but it hadn’t stuck, so we mutually agreed to stay friends. Jerry had been living in the colony for two months already and so had volunteered to show me around on my first day.
I remember the foreboding feeling as we walked. On one side of the wall was our sanctuary, the tidy little dome-shaped domiciles and neat floodlit alleyways. But on the far side was the primeval forest, shrouded in darkness and hiding who knew what. I shuddered as I stared out into the black abyss, and the shivers I felt were little to do with the cold wind. And then I saw the machinegun turrets, standing stationary until their sensors detected something in the treeline, when they momentarily burst to life, scanning the perimeter before settling back into standby mode.
“Infra-red sensors.” Jerry explained, “They’re programmed to detect specific threats and take the appropriate action.”
“Appropriate action.” I repeated, “I don’t know how to feel about that…Is this all really necessary?”
Jerry shrugged. “The project leaders seem to think so. Security is their priority…Maybe they’ve got a point. Remember what happened to the survey teams?”
I nodded my head solemnly. Like all of my fellow colonists, I had sat through the briefings of the failed missions on Earths 217, 312 and 537. The official versions were of course heavily sanitised, but Jerry and I had discovered the terrible truth, learning of the huge casualties and the dangerous civilisations that existed on the other side of those portals. Assuming our enemies can develop their own TDP technology, it would make sense that they would establish their own colonies…and attack ours.
“Still,” I added thoughtfully. “they don’t make it easy to connect with this world.”
I looked up at the stars above us, noting the same constellations I knew from back home, except on this world the view was free from air pollution and so I could see them all. It was beautiful and I felt in awe of this new Earth. But I feared what we would do to this virgin world, that we would fuck it up just like the old one. Jerry might have shared my fears, but he stayed silent, leaving me to my thoughts. Unfortunately, we were soon interrupted by a most unwelcome third wheel.
“What’s up dingbats!” came the cry, “How’s it hanging?”
I looked up in time to see a young man approaching along the metal walkway, his face illuminated by the floodlights. He grinned inanely as he swaggered towards us, showing off his pearly white teeth and slick blond hair. The boy’s name was Randy, and I’d had the misfortune to have met him earlier that afternoon. Randy was the smug and arrogant youngest son of an oil tycoon, privileged and entitled – the kind of asshole who thought he could take whatever he wanted from life. You might think my judgement of Randy was harsh, given that I’d only met him once, but I’m a big believer in first impressions and I knew his type.
Within moments of our first meeting, I could see Randy looking me over like I was a piece of meat, making several inappropriate comments about my appearance and asking me out for a date, an offer that I politely but firmly rejected. Jerry had warned me about him afterwards, saying how Randy was a notorious womaniser and wouldn’t stop hassling me. And sure enough, here he was, interrupting our private moment.
“And how’s my new favourite lady?” he crudely asked.
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes and barely managed to suppress my disgust.
“I’m okay.” I answered coolly.
“We were just talking about the security arrangements.” Jerry added, nodding towards one of the machinegun turrets.
“Oh yeah,” Randy replied, his eyes lighting up with excitement, “My Daddy’s a major shareholder in the company that builds these beauties. State of the art killing machines!”
He shot me a smile and a wink before continuing. “But don’t you worry darling, even if the robots fail, I’ll be here to protect you!” he nodded to a pistol he carried in his holster. “And I’ve got a lot bigger guns than this, let me tell you!”
He paused, looking thoughtful for a moment. “In fact, I’m going on a hunt tomorrow morning. You should come with. Could be fun.”
I shook my head dismissively, barely containing my anger. “I don’t agree with hunting.” I said firmly.
“Oh yeah?” he mocked, “where do you think your meat comes from?”
“Actually, I’m vegan.” I shot back, perhaps a bit too smugly.
This time he laughed in open mockery. “Jesus H Christ!” he exclaimed, “Are you serious? You damn bleeding hearts! You guys wouldn’t last five minutes out in the wild! Whatever man…I’m out of here!”
With that, he turned and walked away, still laughing as he went.
“Asshole!” I swore.
“Yeah.” Jerry confirmed, “You don’t know the half of it…”
“What the hell?” I asked, “The colony committee let him hunt?”
“Oh yeah,” Jerry confirmed, “his Daddy’s put so much money into this venture that Randy can pretty much do whatever he likes. He takes a party out about once a week, going after giant elk and the like. They use neanderthals as guides.”
I reacted with shock to this revelation. “You mean they use the indigenous people on their hunts?” I asked.
“Yes,” Jerry confirmed, “but not just that. We employ them to work in the fields.”
“What?” I exclaimed, “They work in the fields? Like slaves?”
“No!” Jerry replied defensively, “They’re not slaves! Nothing like that. We take care of them. Pay them with food and give them medicine. Besides, it’s only a temporary arrangement. They know how to farm the land much better than us, and automation can only do so much. It’s really not so bad. They’re happy. I’ll take you out tomorrow, show you the lay of the land. What do you say?”
I nodded my head and reluctantly agreed, but I already had considerable reservations over what I’d heard, and I wondered how safe we really were in this place.
I didn’t sleep well that first night, tossing and turning in my bunk as I imagined the terrors which lay beyond those walls. I hated myself for feeling this way but couldn’t supress my anxieties. There was something deeply disconcerting about being on a new world – one that was similar to ours but yet so different. I was exhausted by the time the sun rose but pulled myself up, washed and dressed before joining Jerry in the canteen for breakfast. He greeted me with a smile, although it faltered ever so slightly whenever he noticed how tired I looked.
“You okay?” he asked, with concern in his voice.
“Sure, just tired.” I replied.
“You up for a walk in the park?” he enquired.
I nodded my head and muttered – “Sure.”
Jerry tried to reassure me with small talk as we walked through the colony and towards the heavy steel shutter which separated us from the outside. I looked on with a cold sense of foreboding as the door slowly retracted, but the reality wasn’t as bad as I’d feared. Instead of a dark haunted forest I saw fields of neatly planted crops.
“We grow maize, potatoes, soya…” Jerry explained, “If all goes to schedule, we’ll be self-sufficient in food production by next harvest. And, by limiting the use of chemicals and artificial fertilizers we’re protecting the environment as much as possible.”
“Awesome.” I replied.
I was genuinely impressed by the work that had been done and was beginning to feel more confident about the colony’s future. But then I met the indigenous workers.
A group of six emerged from behind a shed, laying down their tools as they walked towards us. Jerry greeted them with a wave, which they all ignored. I don’t know whether they even understood the gesture. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I was shocked by their physical appearance. To see a people that looked so similar to us but were in fact an entirely different species. The half dozen wore heavy animal hides. I believed they were all male, although I subsequently discovered it was difficult to distinguish between genders.
They were relatively short – about 5 foot tall on average – but were physically imposing, broad shouldered and muscular. Their faces were squat and weathered while their hair-covered jawlines appeared strong and chiselled. They all stared at me as they passed and – if I’m honest – I’d have to say that their hard glares brought a chill up my spine. Their eyes showed intelligence but also betrayed a barely supressed hostility.
The six passed us by without uttering a word and continued across the fields before disappearing into the treeline beyond.
“They’re usually a lot more friendly!” Jerry quipped, with a coy smile.
I laughed nervously but didn’t comment. The whole encounter had left me feeling very uneasy. The way the indigenous people had looked at me was in no way friendly. The sense I had was one of hostility. I felt like a ‘stranger in a strange land’ – an invader who had no right to be here. They didn’t want us on their land and certainly didn’t wish to work for us, this seemed clear to me. Nevertheless, I put these fears to the back of my mind as we continued our inspection of the crops.
I was starting to relax in Jerry’s company until once again we were interrupted by the obnoxious Randy as he returned from his hunt. He emerged into the clearing, driving a quad bike and pulling an animal carcass behind it. To my disgust I saw the body was a large elk or deer which had been shot through the head.
He whooped in triumph as he drove his trophy up to the colony’s walls. I noted the two natives who marched solemnly behind him, warrior-like neanderthals armed with bows and arrows. They didn’t seem to share Randy’s elation at the successful kill.
Randy shouted out when he saw me, his tone being one of open mockery and contempt. “Hey, vegan girl!” he shouted, “What do you think of my little friend? Don’t worry darling, I was very humane. The poor creature didn’t feel a thing!”
I was about to give him hell before Jerry put a hand on my shoulder and whispered in my ear. “Don’t let the asshole get a rise out of you.”
I listened to my friend and tried to control my anger. Meanwhile, Randy dismounted his bike and walked towards his native huntsmen, speaking a few words before dismissing them. He looked back over to me as they left.
“Ugly motherfuckers, but they know how to track. Next time, we’re going after the big one – a sabre tooth tiger! I can’t fucking wait!”
I shook my head in disgust and bit my tongue. Randy was the last person this colony needed, but it looked like we were stuck with him. I vowed to avoid him as much as possible going forward, but of course it didn’t work out that way.
A few days passed without major incident. I spent my time working alongside Jerry and the other colonists, learning the ropes and assisting with the administration and work as much as my skill set would allow. I managed to avoid Randy for the most part although we inevitably bumped into each other from time to time. Luckily, a couple of new girls had arrived in the colony, and both seemed more amenable to Randy’s ‘charms’, so they received most of his attention.
I began eating and sleeping a bit better and was beginning to feel at home in my new environment, although I could never shake the feeling that something terrible was going to happen. I wrote this off as paranoia but should have trusted my instincts.
The day it all went to hell started like any other. We’d had a hard day’s work and were completing our final task of the afternoon, which was checking the irrigation system which drew water from the stream to the west of the colony’s borders. It was nearly dusk when Jerry and I were close to finishing up. We both jumped when we heard the sudden ruckus from the forest to the north.
There were shouts, closely followed by an animalistic roar and a burst of gunfire. I didn’t know what was happening but somehow guessed Randy was involved. A moment later I heard screaming and instinctively started running in that direction. I don’t know what I was thinking but reckoned I needed to help, even if it was that asshole Randy. Jerry ran after me, calling my name and telling me to stop. I should’ve listened.
I entered the woods, struggling to find my way in the fading light, so instead I followed the din of conflict and mayhem. I was running as fast as I could but then suddenly I wasn’t. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck as my sixth sense spiked, and I found myself frozen to the spot. My fearful eyes scanned the darkened treeline in front of me. There was a tense silence before I noticed a rustling in the bushes, and in an instant all hell broke loose.
I don’t remember much about that moment – it all happened so fast. The beast that charged was huge – a massive blur of matted fur, muscles, and teeth. It roared as it charged and I was so terrified I couldn’t move an inch. Closing my eyes, I prepared for death, but suddenly there was a heavy push from my left-side, pushing me down to the dirt.
To my immense relief, Jerry had risked his life to save me, protecting me with his body. I was sure the beast would maul us both but instead it kept running, tearing through the forest as it made good it’s escape.
I was shaking like a leaf as Jerry continued to hold me so tight, squeezing me to the point I could hardly breathe. I had to ask him to let go as we regained our senses and stood up on our still shaking legs.
“Sabre tooth tiger.” Jerry confirmed through quaking lips. “I guess Randy’s hunt didn’t go as planned.”
“That stupid asshole!” I shouted angrily.
I was sure Randy had been killed, but a moment later he emerged into the clearing, his eyes wild with panic and fear and his shirt drenched in blood. He was still armed and waved his rifle around in an erratic manner. As soon as I saw him, I feared Randy would do something crazy. But he wasn’t alone – the two aboriginal trackers followed in his wake, their eyes devoid of emotion and their weapons drawn.
Randy began ranting and raving, blaming everyone else for his own failings.
“God damn it! Did you see that! The fucker got around us…” He motioned back to the two trackers, waving his rifle aggressively in their direction. “Those dumb assholes were meant to be on top of this! They put us all at risk!”
“What the hell are you talking about?” I exclaimed in disbelief.
He didn’t listen, instead spouting abuse and threats towards the duo of neanderthals. The situation became increasingly tense, and I had a terrible feeling that violence would ensue. Suddenly, one of the tracker’s faces screwed up in anger as something was triggered inside of him. He drew his bow and made to fire, but Randy acted first, raising his rifle and shooting.
Jerry and I could only watch on in abject horror as the bullet tore through the neanderthal’s skull, scattering his brains all over the forest floor. Events moved fast as the second hunter lunged forwards, removing a dagger from his belt as he charged towards Randy, seeking bloody vengeance for the death of his comrade.
Randy reacted but too slowly, as the neanderthal knocked the rifle out of his hands and jumped on top of him. I was sure the hunter would kill him, but Randy managed to block his assailant’s attack whilst simultaneously drawing his pistol and firing upwards. Blood poured from the neanderthal’s mouth as his body went limp.
Still in a frenzy, Randy pushed the dead body off him and got to his feet, firing more bullets into the corpse until his gun was empty.
“Shit! Shit! Shit!” he swore repeatedly, as he continued to pull the trigger, although the gun emitted nothing but an empty click.
Eventually he regained some level of composure, lowering his weapon and uttering just one word – “Wow!”
“What the fuck!” I screamed in fury, “You’ve just murdered two people, you sick bastard!”
“People?” Randy replied with a wild laugh, “Those assholes aren’t people. They’re savages! No better than animals!”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and temporarily found myself speechless.
Jerry spoke next, although his rebuke was less than convincing. “You can’t just shoot them.” he said.
To which Randy emitted a cruel smile. “Sure I can buddy…Don’t you get it? This is our world. We can do whatever the hell we want. No rules, no consequences!”
In that moment I wanted to kill Randy, to rip him to shreds with my bare hands. Once again, Jerry grabbed me, holding me back as I spouted obscenities and threats at my nemesis. Randy looked unnerved or perhaps scared, but he responded with spite, telling Jerry to ‘keep his bitch under control’.
And with that, he ran off, leaving the bodies in his wake as he hurriedly made his way back to the safety of the colony walls.
Jerry waited until Randy was out of sight before he released me from his grasp. I was angry with my friend although had to remind myself that Jerry had saved my life only moments before.
“We should go too,” he suggested, “It will be dark soon.”
I nodded my head in agreement, not wanting to stay in this place any longer. I looked down at the bloody corpses and knew that Randy was wrong…there would be consequences. We would pay the price for the crime he’d committed today.
Predictably, I wasn’t able to sleep that night. I just knew something bad was going to happen, and so it was no surprise when all hell broke loose. The first thing I heard was the banging – the ominous sound of a single drum beat in the night, growing ever louder as the mystery drummer grew closer. BOOM…BOOM…BOOM.
My blood froze as I listened to that terrible din. For a moment I considered hiding in my bunk and ignoring it, but there was no getting away from this. I quickly jumped out of bed, threw on some clothes, and sprinted out of the door. I discovered that virtually the entire colony had also been awoken by the drumbeat, and there were dozens of half-dressed rich kids standing along the neat alleyways, all looking confused and scared.
I quickly picked out Jerry from the crowd, running over to speak with him.
“What the hell’s going on?” I asked in a panic.
“Don’t know,” he replied, “but it’s coming from the outside. We need to get up on the wall.”
We ascended the staircase to the top and met up with Luke, the 18-year-old son of a US senator who happened to be on night watch this evening.
“Look!” he screamed, whilst pointing out to the darkened forest beyond. Except it wasn’t dark anymore, as the night was illuminated by several hundred torches as an army marched forward to the beat of the drum.
“Who the fuck are they?” Jerry cried.
The answer was obvious to me. “It’s the neanderthal tribesmen. They’re here for revenge. Because of what Randy did…”
“Don’t worry.” Jerry replied, in an attempt to reassure me. “The security system will protect us.”
“No, it won’t!” Luke shot back. “The whole system is down! I don’t know whether it’s a malfunction or sabotage, but either way we’re fucked!”
I glanced over at the nearest turret gun, noting how it was stationary and non-responsive. We’d put all our faith in this technology and now it had failed us.
“Don’t panic.” Jerry said, although I heard his voice faltering. He grabbed Luke by the shoulders and looked him firmly in the eye. “Here’s what we’re going to do…”
But he never got a chance to convey his instructions to the kid, because in that moment a single arrow flew through the night air, striking Luke in the throat. I could only watch on in horror as Jerry caught Luke’s body as he fell, holding him as his mouth filled with blood and he choked.
Jerry seemed to be paralysed and so I had to grab him and pull his body down, just as a fresh batch of arrows flew narrowly over our heads.
“We need to move.” I screamed, and a second later we were descending the staircase and running back into the colony, warning the others that a full-scale assault was imminent.
What followed was a blind panic as inexperienced colonists fled like headless chickens, trying in vain to find somewhere to hide.
The attackers were well-prepared, scaling the walls with grappling hooks and purpose-build ladders. If we’d been better organised we could have attempted to mount a defence on top of the wall, but none of us had anticipated this scenario. I looked up in time to see the dark figures reaching the top of the wall and taking up positions.
They unleashed a terrifying war cry before firing down into the colony with wave after wave of arrows. The ground level was illuminated by floodlights and most of the colonists were still out in the open, and so it soon became a turkey shoot, with one after one being cut down by their arrows.
In a panic I scanned the hellish scene before me, looking over my screaming fellow colonists while I desperately tried to find an escape, but the native warriors had us surrounded. Jerry grabbed me by the hand and tried to speak over the chaotic din, but suddenly he was struck in the back, his body falling into my arms.
I cried out his name and looked into his pained eyes, but he only mouthed one word in response – “RUN!”
I’m ashamed to say that I did just that, leaving my good friend to bleed out in the dirt as I ran for cover. I found a temporary hiding place behind a water tank and watched in horror as the battle played out. Somehow the neanderthals managed to open the steel shutter gate, allowing a second wave of warriors to break through. This group were armed with spears, axes and daggers, and they quickly went to work, brutally butchering any survivors of the first attack.
One of their victims was Jerry, who was still alive with an arrow in his back. I could do nothing as the brutish killer grabbed his hair and used its knife to cut his throat. I’ll never forget that horrific image as long as I live. Jerry was a good guy and my friend. He deserved so much better. But there was no time to grieve in that moment as the violence escalated.
Suddenly I saw Randy emerge from his shelter, screaming wildly as he fired in full automatic. He took out three warriors before they overwhelmed him, knocking him down while kicking and stabbing his vulnerable body – but they didn’t kill him, not yet.
A few other colonists had firearms and attempted to resist the assault, but none of them lasted long, all being cut down by axes or arrows as the battle soon turned into a massacre.
How did I survive, you might ask? Well, quite simply, I played dead, climbing under a pile of dead bodies, struggling not to retch at the stench of death and not to breathe as the killers continued to roam the colony. I heard the agonised moans of my wounded friends. Their pleas for mercy fell on deaf ears as the warriors killed them one-by-one. All except for Randy.
Clearly, they knew who he was and had marked him out for special treatment. To my horror I saw them nail Randy to a wooden post and slice his belly open, exposing his intestines. He screamed for as long as he could, then moaned for the rest of the night before eventually losing consciousness. I was disgusted at witnessing Randy’s horrific fate. As bad as he was, nobody deserves to die like that.
I spent the long night shivering under the pile of bloody corpses and was sure the killers would eventually find me. I knew I only had one chance for escape. At 9 in the morning, the portal from Earth 1 would be opened to allow the resupply team to cross over. Those poor people had no idea what they were walking into and I had no way of warning them, but the portal would remain open for two minutes, and this was my only chance at making it home.
That hellish night seemed to last forever. I felt some relief when the morning sun rose on the eastern horizon, but I could still hear the warriors celebrating their victory and looting the colony for whatever they could carry. Staring at my watch, I counted down the seconds and prayed the portal would open without a hitch.
I recall the surge of adrenaline I experienced when seeing the burst of light and energy just yards from where I hid. The neanderthals seemed taken aback by the portal’s sudden appearance, shrieking in panic as they backed up and made their weapons ready. A moment later, the six-strong supply team crossed over with their equipment and containers. I saw the looks of shock and horror on their faces as they witnessed the scene of bloody carnage before them.
The neanderthals soon recovered from their surprise and bombarded the newcomers with a barrage of arrows and spears, cutting them down in mere seconds. I didn’t wait on ceremony and was already on my feet, sprinting for all my worth and entirely focussing on reaching the portal entrance, ignoring everything else.
I was just feet away when I experienced a searing pain in my right thigh, forcing me to scream out in agony. But I did not stop, instead using the last of my strength to dive through the portal. Suddenly I was thrown into the void, the air being sucked from my lungs as the darkness took me. And then I hit the heavy metal gangway as the pain overwhelmed me, and I passed out.
And so, this is my story. I am the sole survivor of the doomed Earth 101 colony. I didn’t exactly emerge unscathed. They had to remove an arrow from my leg, and I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD, having needed to attend extensive therapy in the months since. But I was the only surviving eyewitness of the massacre and knew I needed to tell my story.
Unsurprisingly, 101 was a game-changer for the powers-that-be back home. In fact, the massacre resulted in the entire project being shut down. The billionaires and senior government officials who ran the project were always content to sacrifice other people’s lives for the ‘greater good’, but losing their own children proved a step too far even for them.
What’s more, myself and others have pressurised our parents to focus on fixing our own world rather than wasting billions of dollars on a hair-brained escape plan. If our experiences have taught us one thing, it’s that we don’t belong on these alternate worlds, and we shouldn’t seek to visit them.
So, it’s all over, right? It would be naïve to think so. Pandora’s box is open and the technology exists, so it seems like only a matter of time before another immoral regime takes advantage for their own unscrupulous means. What can we do, one might ask? I wish I had the answers.
The only advice I can give is to remain vigilant and try to do the right thing. Stay safe friends, and don’t believe what you’re told. There are worlds out there that you can’t even imagine.
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