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I’ve travelled to parallel universes. The worlds I’ve seen are terrifying – Part 2

I’ve travelled to parallel universes. The worlds I’ve seen are terrifying - Part 2


Estimated reading time — 24 minutes

Read part one here

Hello friends and fellow seekers of truth. I’m pleased to report that I am still alive and at large, for the time being at least. For those of you who haven’t read my initial account, I suggest you catch up here before reading any further. To recap, I am a whistle-blower working within a top-secret government project jointly funded by the DOD and billionaire one-percenters. Our goal? To open trans-dimensional portals and visit parallel universes.
Needless to say, the US government doesn’t want the public knowing about this highly classified project and so I’m taking a huge risk by revealing the details of these secret missions, but I believe people need to know the truth of what these people are doing and the huge dangers they’re exposing us to.

My first mission – the visit to Earth 217 – is a case in point. Nazis and werewolves…that’s some crazy shit, right? I wouldn’t have believed it was possible had I not seen the monsters with my own two eyes. I’ll never forget the predatory gaze of that bastard Steiner, the Aryan hunter-killer who wiped out half of our team. And he saw the portal…he knows that we crossed over from an alternate version of Earth. Given their level of technology, I see no reason why those Nazi fucks can’t build their own TDP, and this fear keeps me up at night.
I survived Earth 217 by the skin of my teeth, but that wasn’t the end of my career of trans-dimensional exploration – far from it. But, before I continue my tale of woe, I think its worth letting you know my current status. At the time I wrote my account of the botched Earth 217 visit I was officially on suspension from my post pending a psychological examination.
To be fair, I hadn’t been in the best state of mind, and I wasn’t really thinking straight when I published my account. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t regret telling my story to the world, but I wanted to preserve my anonymity and failed to do so. True, I didn’t reveal my name or exact role in the project, but I let slip too many details of the operation, and so it wouldn’t have been too difficult for my employees to identify me.

I knew I’d fucked up as soon as I posted my account. Now, I’m officially on the run. I can’t reveal my current location. All I can say is that I’m no longer in the US, and I don’t stay in the same place for long. The CIA and NSA are surely looking for me and these people have eyes everywhere. And, if the American don’t get me, the Russians or Chinese probably will. Several foreign governments are racing to build their own TDPs, and no doubt they want access to the information I have in my head. So simply put, my time is almost up, but I want to stay free long enough to finish my story.

When I look back, I realise I should have run for the hills after the disastrous and bloody mission to Earth 217. There are a few reasons why I didn’t do so, which I’ll try my best to explain. As you’d expect, our employees and benefactors weren’t happy about the cluster fuck over in ‘Nazi world’, as it became known within the project. What followed was a temporary suspension of all missions while a thorough debriefing and investigation was undertaken.

I lost count of how many hours I spent in windowless briefing rooms, grilled by hard-nosed military officers and anonymous government officials, while impatient tech billionaires watched on through unsubtle two-way mirrors. All the surviving members of the team were subjected to the same interrogation, made to recount the horrific events of Earth 217 over and over again.

Eventually it became clear that they wanted a scapegoat for the bloody failure of our mission, and they found one. Our deceased commander ‘Custer’ (not his real name) took the blame for the deaths on 217. After all, he had ordered the disastrous recon mission into the seemingly abandoned ghost town, leading our team straight into a deadly ambush. Perhaps he was acting on orders from higher up, but Custer wasn’t around to defend himself, and so he made a convenient scapegoat.

Our benefactors wanted the TDP missions to continue. They’d invested too much time and money to shut it down. Therefore, a few token changes were made to the command structure and our operational protocols, and after a couple of weeks we were given the go ahead to start up again, business as usual.

There were some personnel changes after the 217 disaster. One of survivors – a tech called Juan – had quit soon after our return. He’d seen his best friend cut to pieces by machinegun bullets, and that was enough for him. Several others also quit the project, even though they’d never set foot on 217. The stories of what happened on Nazi world scared them shitless. Did I consider leaving? Certainly. The horrors I’d witnessed over there almost broke me. As you’ve probably guessed, I’m not a military man and I’d never witnessed combat or bloodshed before. I’d received training of course, but nothing could prepare you for seeing a genetically modified werewolf tearing human beings to shreds.

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So, why did I stay? Well, part of it was down to stubbornness and a determination not to be beaten, but for the most part it was due to loyalty…loyalty to the two strong women in my life.

The first was Kaz. If you’ve read my account of the 217 bloodbath you’ll know Kaz saved my life on multiple occasions, literally pulling me from near certain death and dragging me home. Kaz was just about the only person to come out well from the 217 debacle, and the powers-that-be gave her a well-deserved promotion, making Kaz a team leader for future missions.

I reckon Kaz is one of strongest people I’ve ever known and I respected her a lot. If she was leading missions I wanted to be by her side. Maybe I’d get the opportunity to repay the debt.

The other woman in my life was Helen, the geologist from the 217 mission who’d played only a small role in the botched operation. There was always a chemistry between Helen and me. We’d been close during training and had nearly hooked up a few times. We’d resisted because there was a strict ban on romantic relationships between team members, and the penalty for breaking this rule was instant expulsion from the project. But things changed after 217.

Helen found me late one night in our barrack’s canteen. I’d been drinking and was in a state of distress, struggling to cope with the trauma of what I’d witnessed. Helen took a glass and comforted me. Emotions were running high, and we ended up in bed together. I suppose it was a mistake, but it certainly didn’t feel like one. We agreed to keep seeing each other in secret, keeping our relationship hidden from our bosses.

We talked about leaving the project and starting a new life together. But in truth, I knew this wasn’t what Helen wanted. She hadn’t seen the full horrors of Earth 217 and still held an idealistic yearning for adventure. She wanted to discover new worlds and considered her work on the project as the opportunity of a lifetime. There seemed no way she would walk away from this.

The other survivor of 217 was the Doc, our medical attendant who’d failed to save Custer’s life after the werewolf attack. The Doc had been oddly unaffected by the horrors on 217. He continued to act in a bizarre manner and didn’t engage much with the other team members. Nevertheless, the medical man clearly had no intention of leaving the project.

Believe it or not, the first few missions conducted after the 217 disaster all went without a hitch. We visited alternate worlds not too dissimilar to our own, took our samples, and carried out our research. We kept our heads low and returned home without any losses, reporting the findings to our superiors. So far so good. But all these cake walks started making people complacent.

And our benefactors were relentless. They kept on ordering new missions in their search for a Goldilocks’ world, an untapped alternate Earth suitable for colonisation. They’d invested too much money on this project to not see it through to its conclusion. And we went along with their insane plan.

I suppose its like any dangerous activity one might undertake – whether its swimming with sharks or free-diving off the side of a cliff. You might be fine nine times out of ten, but on the tenth occasion you’ll end up losing a limb or cracking your skull open. We got lucky for a time, but then we visited Earth 312, and it all went to hell.

I’d like to say I felt the same dread in the moments before we crossed over to 312, but I didn’t. I’d been on six missions by this point, and the previous five had gone without a hitch. Kaz was leading the team and she exerted a quiet confidence. Kaz, Helen, the Doc and I had achieved something of a legendary status within the project. The newer team members all looked up to us, knowing we’d survived the disaster on 217.

Our team had been strengthened to ten men and women, half of which were security personnel. We also had to access to heavier weapons such as portable Stinger missiles. I was certain we wouldn’t fall into the same trap as before.

The crossing over was routine. I recall standing in line, equipment at the ready as the spectrometer came to life and power surged through the conductors. It was always terrifying for me when the bunker lit up and the portal was opened, creating an impossible entryway to another dimension. But when I looked into Helen’s eyes I saw her excitement – the thrill she experienced at the prospect of discovering a new world. This is what she lived for.

Kaz wasn’t one for big speeches. Her goal was to ensure all our personnel and equipment got through within the tight two-minute window. This task was achieved with typical military efficiency, as men and women pushed bikes and steel containers down the purposefully built rails and towards the gateway, while Kaz screamed encouragement.

I took a deep breath before it was my turn to cross, pausing briefly as I experienced a moment of hesitation, before I mustered the courage to walk through the fluid membrane. There followed the usual period of intense panic. I couldn’t breathe as my brain reacted to the fact that I technically didn’t exist in any universe in that moment. But, as always, this hellish state of limbo only lasted the briefest of flashes, as seconds later my body spilled out on the other side, and I landed heavily in the dirt.

I gasped for breath as I struggled to recompose myself. Thankfully, I didn’t vomit on this occasion. It wouldn’t have looked good if I puked in front of the new recruits. Helen was there for me as always, helping me to my feet and greeting me with a coy smile.

Helen wasn’t affected by the experience as severely as I was, and it was always a relief to see her face on the other side.

“You okay?” she asked softly.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” I answered, trying to sound manly as I got up on my two feet.

I observed the security team setting up a defensive perimeter and the technicians activating our equipment, preparing to begin their analysis. I looked across the landscape and across at the rising sun; seeing rolling hills, trees and bushes – nothing I would consider abnormal. But of course, appearances can be deceptive.

Helen gently touched me on my shoulder, whispering in my ear.
“Well honey, I guess we better get back to work.”

I nodded my head, glancing longingly at Helen and staring into her deep green eyes for a brief moment before I caught myself. I wanted more than anything to embrace and kiss her right then and there but knew I couldn’t.

She smiled at me before breaking eye contact and marching off towards her work. I did the same, preparing for the coming hours where it would be my task to watch and analyse the intercepted broadcasts and drone footage. And what I saw sickened me to my very soul.

We reconvened that afternoon to share the results of our analysis, sitting cross-legged in the middle of our base camp as Kaz carefully listened to what we had to say. The briefings from Helen and the others proved unremarkable. There was nothing in the atmosphere or the soil which would cause concern and – on the surface – Earth 312 looked not much different from our own world.

I sat and listened in silence, my stomach churning as the horrifying images I’d seen permeated my sub-conscious. When it was finally my turn to speak, I could hardly open my quaking lips. Eventually, Kaz had to prompt me.

“Well, what have you got for us? Judging by the look on your face, it’s not good news…”
Man was she right, I thought but didn’t say.

“The television broadcasts we intercepted are…disturbing. Every channel seems to focus on extreme pornography and violence…”

“Not much different from back home then!” quipped Jackson, one of our team’s technicians.
A sharp look from Kaz was enough to shut him up, and I reluctantly continued.

“The images I’ve seen are well in excess of anything I’ve witnessed before, and they certainly have no artistic merit that I can see. The violence is graphic, but also ritualistic in nature…”

“What, you mean like human sacrifices?” Kaz blurted.

“Exactly.” I confirmed, with a lump in my throat. “I’m no expert on cinematography, but I have some experience of violence. Based on what I’ve seen, I believe these people are filming and broadcasting real assaults and murders.”

“And who are these people?” Kaz interjected. “What do we know about the society on this world?”

She held my gaze while waiting for my answer. The rest of the team were also listening intently. There were no more jokes. In fact, the tension was almost unbearable and the fear palpable. No doubt everyone was thinking of the bloodbath on 217 and fearing a repeat. In reality, I hadn’t told them the half of it. The vile images I’d seen – brutal rapes, torture sessions, cannibalism…It almost defied belief.

“The society here is vastly different from our own.” I continued, basically stating the obvious. “The population has a twisted moral compass. Indeed, its difficult to see any sense of morality or compassion whatsoever. They have a religion of sorts, but it appears to be steeped in dark rituals and cruelty. Based on what I’ve seen, I believe the entire basis of their society is violence and sadism. But, in spite of all this, the civilisation on this world is technologically advanced and, in my opinion, extremely dangerous.”

You could have heard a pin drop in that moment. I looked around the faces of my team members and noted their collective look of shock and horror. I caught Helen’s eye for a moment, sharing her gaze. She smiled in an attempt to reassure me, but I could sense something was off with her.

Kaz didn’t show any outward signs of emotion however, as her hardened gaze cut right through me. She spoke up to make herself heard over the panicked mutters of her team.
“What about the drone footage? What did the UAV pick up?” she demanded.

I broke eye contact, shaking my head.

“The local area is more heavily populated than on our world, and the nearby town appears to be something of a hub.”

This obviously wasn’t good. The success of our mission depended on our team getting in and out without drawing attention, and obviously this was less likely if there were more people around. But this wasn’t even the half of it.

“Did you see any potential threats?” Kaz asked carefully, bringing the conversation back to business.

I actually didn’t have the words to answer this question. Instead, I opened a new window on my laptop, playing a recording of the video footage taken by the drone as it flew over the nearby town. Kaz and the team huddled around, all watching closely as the scene played out.

The drone hovered over what at first glance appeared to be a typical small town in Middle America. Unlike the long-abandoned ghost town we’d found on Earth 217, this version was a thriving settlement, with well-maintained streets, well-stocked stores, and modern automobiles driven by seemingly normal people.

The central hub of the town was a large building which looked like some sort of temple, complete with a steeple and adorned with unfamiliar symbols. This was unusual but nothing of great concern – that was until the camera zoomed in on a scene of utter horror.
What we saw were three human bodies – all naked, one woman and two men. All three had been impaled. I mean literally fucking impaled, with steel pikes driven through them from anus to mouth, their lifeless pale faces staring up into the sky while their limp bodies hung like sides of beef, slowly decomposing in the cool autumn air. It was truly horrific.

“Fuck!” someone swore.

“Jesus Christ!” exclaimed another.

I heard someone retching in the background.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have shown them these awful images without warning, but I couldn’t think of any other way to alert them to the seriousness of our situation. Things might have descended into anarchy in that moment, but luckily Kaz took control and restored order.

“Listen up people!” she shouted, “This is not the time to panic. We’ve been in this situation before and learnt from our mistakes. I have no intention of leading our team down there. We stay here, secure the perimeter, and sit tight until they reopen the portal.” She paused to look at her watch. “Extraction is in 18 hours. If we keep our heads down, no-one will notice we’re here, and we’ll all get home in one piece. Now, you all know your jobs. Remember your training and get to it!”

Her pep talk seemed to do the job, as my team members nodded their heads in acknowledgement and moved out. I wished I could share their confidence. Sure, Kaz was a good leader, and she wouldn’t fuck things up like Custer had. But still, 18 hours was a long time to be stuck in a hostile environment, and I had a terrible feeling that history was repeating itself.

The next few hours passed by in relative peace. There was a downpour of rain during the afternoon which left us soaked and did little to improve our already low morale. The atmosphere was tense but didn’t descend into panic. We all had our jobs to do, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t watching the clock the whole time.

I was thankful to get some alone time with Helen, as we crouched down together, hidden behind a stack of steel containers. We shared a passionate kiss, before speaking in hushed tones to avoid being overheard.

“I know you’re worried.” Helen said sympathetically, as she held me tight and looked deep into my eyes. “But its going to be okay. This isn’t 217. Kaz knows what she’s doing, and she’ll get us home safe. We’ll never have to visit this hell world again.”

“I suppose.” I replied, without much confidence.

“I just can’t understand why people do these things. How can they treat their fellow human beings with such cruelty? It’s sick.”

The light in Helen’s eyes faded as she broke my gaze and shook her head in disgust.
“I know,” she replied, “It’s evil, pure and simple…I don’t think I fully understood until now. Seeing those bodies with spikes driven through them, put out on display like fucking Christmas trees! Sick doesn’t even cover it…”

She paused briefly, and when she raised her head, I saw tears forming in her beautiful eyes.
“You know, I always thought of these missions as adventures. I loved the idea of discovering and exploring new worlds, and I guess I was blind to the risks. Even when I saw that poor guy getting killed on 217, I still didn’t get it. I didn’t get where you were coming from…”
I listened intently, wondering where she was going with this.

“The horror, the dangers…its too much.” Helen continued, “I think this mission should be our last. I want to leave the project so we can be together, so we can start a life together…”
In that moment I felt total elation.

“Are you sure?” I blurted out, hardly believing what I was hearing.

She nodded her head in the affirmative, and I hugged her in a tight embrace, as tears ran down my cheeks.
“Thank you.” I whispered.

“Dry these tears big boy.” she replied, “We need to get back to our posts before we’re missed.”

I nodded my head, composing myself before I kissed Helen with all the passion I could muster. Then we emerged from our hiding place, returning to our work with a renewed sense of hope. But of course, I was complacent, because we were still a long way from home and by no means safe.

It wasn’t long before the peace was broken, as our tech team alerted Kaz to a situation.
“Watch this.” Jackson said firmly, as the rest of the team huddled around his laptop screen.
What we saw was live footage from the aerial drone, which was conducting a security sweep of the vicinity. It hovered over a small road which led up the hillside, close to our base camp. I was horrified to see a small convoy of SUVs speeding along the narrow road, loaded up with armed men and women, all carrying what looked like hunting rifles.

“Fuck.” Kaz swore.

A moment later, a gunman riding in the rear of the lead SUV spotted our drone. He quickly raised his rifle and opened fire, hitting the drone and ending the feed. And we all just stood there, dumbstruck and staring at the now blank screen. I felt a cold chill running down my spine as I realised my worst fear had come to pass. The sick fucks knew we were here, and they were coming for us.

Once again, the camp might have descended into blind manic, but Kaz took charge.

“Okay people! This is bad, but we always knew it was a possibility, and we’ve planned for this scenario. I’ll lead a team and draw the hostiles away from this location. If necessary, we’ll engage and neutralise the enemy. The rest of the team will stay here and secure the camp. Once we’re done, we’ll meet you back here and complete the evac. Is everybody clear?”

We all nodded and answered in the affirmative. It was a risky plan, but we had no other choice.

Kaz took three of her security people with her, as they descended down the hillside armed to the teeth. She left one man behind to defend the base – a twitchy military veteran named Carter. The rest of us were civilians with little to no combat experience.

In addition to Helen and myself, there was the Doc (our medical attendant and fellow 217 survivor), and our two technicians – a middle-aged man named Jackson and a younger woman called Rachel. The light was fading by this point, the sun slowly disappearing on the far horizon. The onset of darkness brought a new level of fear to an already tense situation. The only one unaffected was the Doc, who seemed disconnected from reality as he stared out into the abyss.

We warily looked out upon the foliage which surrounded our base camp, jumping at every gust of wind or snapped twig. Carter kept in radio contact with Kaz and her team, who were closing in on the armed convoy. The prospect of a gun battle only added to our anxiety.
The only thing which kept me going was Helen, as I stayed by her side and dreamt of the future we’d have together – if we got out of this hellscape. Suddenly, Carter abandoned his radio call and focussed his attentions on the darkened perimeter.

“What the fuck was that?” he exclaimed, dropping down onto one knee and aiming his M-4 towards the treeline. I couldn’t see a thing, but obviously he had done, and his military instincts were kicking in.

“Get behind me.” he whispered, whilst preparing his rifle to fire. But he never got the chance.

A second later, a single shot rang out, and Carter fell to the dirt like a lifeless rag doll. I gasped in horror as I looked down upon our guardian’s corpse and saw the bullet had torn through his right eye, apparently killing him instantly.

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“Jesus Christ!” I swore in dismay.

Helen screamed when she saw the body, while Jackson and Rachel ran to Carter’s side. But then, two further shots rang out – except they sounded different this time, more a soft popping sound rather than the harsh crack of a rifle. I saw our two technicians fall in quick succession, looking to their bodies and seeing what I thought were tranquiliser darts protruding from their chests.

“Shit!” I swore, as I almost succumbed to blind panic. Instead, I grabbed Helen’s hand and screamed in her ear. “We’ve got to get out of here!”.

But it was already too late. There was another soft pop, and a third dart struck Helen in her rib cage. She let out a surprised gasp as she fell. I caught her body in my arms, crying her name as I watched her eyes roll up into her head, and a moment later she lost consciousness.

I gently laid my lover down on the grass, the anger swelling up inside me as I stood, determined to face our attackers no matter what the risk. I saw a figure emerge from the treeline, wearing furs and a mask fashioned from an animal skull. He carried some kind of rifle which was aimed directly at me. I guessed this was the tranquiliser gun he’d used to shoot the others.

I stood up to the hunter, my heart full of rage and defiance. He placed his finger on the trigger and called out in open mockery.

“Do you surrender?” came the booming voice.

“Go fuck yourself!” I shot back.

He laughed cruelly before firing a single shot. The dart struck me in the chest, only an inch from my heart. I felt a stab of pain as the air was sucked from my lungs, and all the strength left my body. Before I knew it, I was falling, my limp body crashing heavily to the ground. A moment later, my eyes shut, and darkness overcame me.

I awoke to screaming, my brain alerting me to the danger, even though my body was still to recover from the shock. I fought through the pain as I struggled to open my eyes. I also couldn’t move and soon discovered why, as they’d bound me to a chair and secured my neck using a leather collar. I was completely helpless and at the mercy of my captors.

I groggily opened my eyes and tried to make sense of my surroundings. They were holding me hostage inside a building which I can only describe as a cross between a church and a torture chamber, with the foul stench of an abattoir and only a dim light emanating from candles and lanterns.

Rows of pews were set up throughout the hall, all facing towards an altar adorned with what looked like satanic symbols and tapestries depicting images of extreme violence and bloodshed. But this wasn’t the worst of it – not by a long shot.

I saw Helen in front of the altar, bound to what looked like a medical gurney. Her clothes had been removed, and they’d dressed her in a white gown which barely covered her naked flesh. In a panic I called out her name and fought against my binds, but to no avail. It’s the worst feeling in the world – to see someone you love in such danger and being unable to help them.

Thankfully, Helen was still unconscious at this point. I could see her chest rising and so knew she was breathing, but otherwise she was completely oblivious. So, where was the screaming coming from? Who was emitting the cries of agony ringing in my ears? I soon got my answer as I looked up above the altar. What I saw both sickened and terrified me.

It was Jackson, our first technician. They’d literally crucified him, nailing him to a cross with spikes forced through his wrists and ankles. Clearly, he was in immense pain, as he screamed and begged for mercy.

“Please…Please get me down from here! It fucking hurts so bad! Please!”

As I glanced around the hall I saw four figures standing guard, all dressed in the same manner as the hunter who’d captured me – figures adorned in animal furs and masks fashioned from skulls, and with either tranquiliser guns or hunting rifles slung over their shoulders. They looked on dispassionately, ignoring Jackson’s pleas for mercy as they maintained their ghoulish vigil.

A moment later, a new figure entered the room – a woman with blood red hair and wearing robes to match. She glided down the aisle with the upmost confidence, and all the assembled hunters moved to make way for her. She looked down upon me like I was nothing, her dark eyes full of malice. This woman was beautiful for sure, but I could tell she was very dangerous.

The mood darkened when she entered, and I noted the array of sharp daggers she carried in a belt fastened around her red robes.

“Fresh meat for our sacrifice.” she said, whilst looking over me with total contempt. “And to think, I was worried we’d have a slow day.”

Somehow, I managed to open my mouth and speak through quaking lips.
“You can’t do this!” I exclaimed.

“Oh, can’t I?” the woman replied in open mockery, “And who’s going to stop me? You?”

“You don’t understand!” I continued frantically, “We’re not from your world. We’re not a part of this…”

“Oh, I’m afraid they know all too well who you are and where you come from.”

A newcomer spoke these words, and to my shock I recognised the voice. I turned my head as far as my restrictive collar would allow and came face-to-face with the Doc, our team’s medical man who I’d forgotten all about during the chaos of our capture.

To my astonishment, the Doc wasn’t bound like the rest of us. In fact, he walked freely by the side of the red priestess, acting like her ally rather than her prisoner.

“Doc? What the hell are you doing?” I exclaimed in confusion.

“I’m sorry old friend,” he replied calmly, “I’ve told them everything. They know all about the project and the TDP technology, and I’ve committed to working alongside them going forward.”

I shook my head in disbelief. I’d always known there was something off with the Doc but had never imagined he’d do something like this. A dozen questions were racing through my head in that moment, but I asked the most obvious – “Why?”

The Doc nodded his head before answering. “This society may seem brutish to us, but have you considered the possibilities? Here, we have a people unconstrained by conventional morality. Imagine the potential for scientific advancement. Think what we can discover about the human mind and body when we push a man to the very limits of physical and psychological endurance. Theirs is an offer I simply cannot refuse…”

The rage welled up inside me. The Doc’s betrayal was unforgiveable.
“You fucking traitor!” I screamed.

“Okay.” interrupted the red woman. “That’s enough talk. Silence him.”

She motioned to one of the masked hunters, and he advanced upon me, roughly jamming a ball gag into my mouth and securing it firmly. I tried to cry out in protest but my voice was muffled by the gag, and I was entirely helpless to resist.

“Bring out the next tribute!” the woman ordered.

A moment later, two of the hunters dragged out our second technician Rachel, force marching her towards the waiting altar. She kicked and screamed the entire way, somehow breaking free from their grasp and kicking one of the hunters hard in the testicles. She tried to flee down the aisle, but the red priestess reacted in an instant, pulling a knife from her belt and throwing it through the air.

The blade struck Rachel between her shoulder blades, and she fell to the floor, letting out a pained cry before she stopped moving.

“Damn it!” screamed the red woman, as she directed her anger towards the two masked hunters. “If you idiots fuck up again, I’ll cut you open and let the worms feed on your innards!”

The men lowered their heads in shame and fear. Clearly, they knew this was no idle threat.
“Now,” she continued, “let’s begin the ritual before anything else goes wrong.”

I could only watch on in abject horror as she withdrew another dagger from her belt and advanced towards the altar. She turned, glaring directly at me while she spoke her chilling words.

“Glory to the Dark Lord!” she boomed menacingly, “We offer these tributes as a sign of our fealty. May their fear and pain bring you renewed strength!”

At that moment, she was interrupted by a fresh chorus of screams from Jackson, the poor bastard literally nailed to a cross.

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“Please! Dear God, please! Help me!”

“Shut the fuck up worm!” the priestess cried in fury. A second later, she stabbed him repeatedly in his chest and stomach, brutally ending his life in a savage attack.

To my dismay, Helen chose that moment to regain consciousness, remaining woozy as she opened her eyes and struggled against her binds.

“Where am I?” she called out fearfully, “What’s happening?”

I desperately tried to call out to her, but the gag muffled my cries. The red woman saw me struggling frantically against my binds and surely guessed the reason why.

“So,” she said, with a twisted smile on her lips, “this pretty little thing means something to you? She’s someone special to you, that’s obvious!”

Tears streamed down my cheeks as I shook my head vigorously.

“Well.” she continued, with a wicked glint in her eye. “I’m going to do you a favour. I’ll grant your little girlfriend the mercy of a quick death.”

I watched on helplessly, my whole body shaking as I watched that evil bitch approaching my lover, knife in hand. Helen was now alert enough to recognise the danger. I could see the terror in her eyes and hear the fear in her voice.

“What are you doing?” Helen screamed. “Don’t do this! Get the fuck away from me!”

The red woman’s sadistic grin widened as she raised her dagger, holding it above the bound Helen as she cried out in terror. I made one last desperate attempt to escape from my binds, mustering all my strength. I managed to break the screws which had secured my chair to the ground, but only succeeded in collapsing to the floor, my wrists still bound to the chair arms.

I emitted one last muffled cry as I looked up in time to see the dagger stabbing downwards, plunged deep through Helen’s chest and into her heart. I closed my eyes, experiencing an indescribable pain as I wished the ground would swallow me up.

“Get him up!” screamed the priestess.

A moment later, I was being pulled up by two of the masked hunters. I reluctantly opened my eyes and was devastated to see Helen’s lifeless body lying on the gurney. The red woman calmly wiped the blood from her dagger before advancing upon me.

“I showed her mercy,” she said while approaching with knife in hand, “But you won’t be so lucky. I’m going to peel your skin off piece by piece. Keep you alive for as long as I can. Your agony brings glory to the Lord of Darkness…”

My body shook as I focussed on her twisted smile, predatory eyes, and the dagger she brandished so deftly. The hunters held me down as the cold steel touched my skin, and she began to cut.

BOOM. There was a mighty blast which rocked the room, and then all hell broke loose, with men screaming and bullets flying. I turned my head in time to see Kaz and her security team burst into the hall, laying down supressing fire with their M-4 carbines. One after one, the hunters fell under a hail of gunfire, ruthlessly and efficiently eliminated by Kaz and her men.

The priestess initially seemed taken aback by the sudden assault, but she soon recovered, acting out of pure rage.

“How dare you interrupt this sacred ritual!” she screamed,

A split second later, she threw her dagger, sticking one of the security troops right through his eye, killing him instantly.

Kaz responded at once, screaming – “Go to hell bitch!”

She fired a single round from her M-4, blowing the red woman’s head clean off.
I watched with grim satisfaction as her body hit the floor.

The battle was over almost as quickly as it had begun, the hellish temple now strewn with dead bodies.

“Cut him loose.” Kaz ordered, and a moment later my gag was removed and binds cut.
Once free, my first move was to run to Helen’s side. I still held a slim hope that she’d survived, but when I saw her cold body and face drained of blood, I realised there was no hope. My lover was dead, and I’d failed to save her. I cried uncontrollably as I touched her soft skin, still not wanting to believe I’d really lost her.

Kaz grabbed me by the shoulder, pulling me away from Helen’s body.
“We’ve got to go!” she shouted.

I shook my head vigorously. “I can’t leave her!” I replied emotionally.

Kaz pulled me closer, forcing me to look her in the eye. “She’s gone! We need to get out of here, otherwise we’re dead too!”

I didn’t want to listen but knew she was right.

Just then, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked over Kaz’s shoulder and saw a figure emerging from behind the altar. It was a face I recognised – the Doc. Once again, I’d forgotten about him during all the chaos, but evidently he’d survived the gun battle. Worse still, I saw he’d armed himself with one of the discarded hunting rifles, and he was aiming directly at Kaz’s back.

“Look out!” I screamed, as I shoved my team leader out of the line of fire.

BANG! A shot rang out. I felt a searing pain in my shoulder like I’d been stabbed with a red-hot poker. And suddenly I was falling, collapsing down to the floor with a bullet inside of me. I heard shouting and more gunfire before once again I blacked out.

What happened next is something of a blur in my memory, as I dropped in and out of consciousness. I recall being dragged out of the blood-soaked temple and piled into a commandeered vehicle. There was some further gunfire as we made a frantic escape out of the town and sped up the hillside back to the extraction point.

I must have blacked out again at this point, because I remember nothing about our return to Earth 1. My next memory was waking up in the medical bay after emergency surgery to my shoulder. The doctors told me how lucky I was to still be alive, but I sure as hell didn’t feel lucky.

And so that’s it, my tragic love story – one of pain, loss and guilt. I just keep thinking back to our last conversation together, to our last kiss and embrace. We were so close to being free from all this, only a few short hours and we would have been safe. Now I can’t sleep at night, because when I close my eyes all I see is that dagger plunging into Helen’s heart.

In addition to my personal loss, the Earth 312 mission had been a total disaster, even more so than the 217 debacle. We’d lost more than half of our team and once again had left behind our dead and almost all of our equipment. And what’s worse, that treacherous bastard had escaped during the chaos. The Doc was still alive, and no doubt he would share his entire knowledge of the project with those sick, sadistic fucks who rule Earth 312.

After two disastrous missions and multiple casualties, you’d think the powers-that-be would have pulled the plug on the whole project. But of course, they didn’t. Those assholes only care about money and results, not about human lives. They’ll just keep going and going until they get what they want.

It may surprise you, but I decided to stay on the project, even after losing Helen on 312. In fact, I went straight back to work as soon as my gunshot wound had healed. But why, you may ask?

It’s hard to explain. I suppose I had a death wish after Helen died. I didn’t care whether I lived or died, as my heart was filled with rage and a lust for revenge. I wanted to seek out monsters like Steiner and the red priestess and end them. In my warped mind, I thought I could stop atrocities and save people by stopping these evil fucks. But of course, it was futile. What difference can one man make in a multiverse full of horrors?

I must go now. It’s time to move on from this place. Assuming I avoid the grasp of the various government agencies hunting me down, I intend to tell you one last story – an account of an Earth ruled by monsters from another planet. Until next time my friends. Stay safe.

Credit: Traveller

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