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My town has been invaded by monsters from another dimension

My town has been invaded by monsters from another dimension


Estimated reading time — 38 minutes

For the first time in a week I am able to send out a message to the world, telling all who will listen about the plight of my people. Seven days for an entire town to be laid to waste and for most of its population to be slaughtered by enemies we never knew existed, all while our own military has stood by and watched.

No, it’s worse than that. The army haven’t just ignored our plight – they’ve deliberately cut us off and left us to die. In fact, they’ve even gunned down innocent civilians who’ve attempted to break through their barricades. This is how far they’re willing to go to cover up the incident. But we’ve managed to slip through the government’s net and now I’m going to reveal the terrible truth to you all.

My name is Dante and I’m a 40-year-old divorced father of one hailing from a town called Purgatory – a small and unremarkable settlement which you’ve likely never heard of. I have an eight-year-old son who lives with his mother and thankfully is far away from this living hell. I just hope I’ll live long enough to see him again.

Amongst our small group of survivors is my sister Lily and her six-year-old daughter Eve. We’ve fought tooth and nail to save Eve and the other children in our party and I’m not going to give up on them now. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

This nightmare all started in the early hours of last Sunday morning. I was at home in bed when I suddenly got woken up by a heavy din outside of my suburban home. Dragging myself up, I groggily moved over to the window and pulled back the curtains.

I recognised the sound of swirling rotor-blades, looking up into the dark sky to see a group of three helicopters flying in tight formation and illuminated by their search lights. I watched as the trio of choppers flew over our sleepy town and headed west towards the snow peaked mountains on the horizon.

I was puzzled by the sudden appearance of these aircraft but not overly surprised. Hikers and climbers would frequently transverse the mountains and sometimes they would get into trouble up there.

Back in the day there was a substantial coal mining operation in this area. The mines were closed now but there were a lot of discarded shafts which could be treacherous if one didn’t know the lay of the land. Therefore, I wrote off the helicopters as being part of a rescue mission and went back to bed. Little did I know that I’d just witnessed the start of an event which would change my world forever.

I awoke at the normal time and initially had no indication that this would be anything other than a normal Sunday. My first clue that something wasn’t right came when I lifted my phone to go through the normal routine of checking my emails and social media feeds. However, I was unable to connect to the internet or even receive a phone signal.

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This was irritating and rather unusual but not unheard of. We lived in an isolated rural area close to mountains and so cell coverage was often patchy. I made no connection between the loss of phone and internet service and the helicopter flight I’d observed the night before, and so I went about my day as normal – washing, dressing and preparing my morning coffee.

In fact, I was sipping from a hot cup of joe when I made my way over to the front window to look out onto the street, and then I witnessed something extraordinary which I could not explain.

I heard the interloper before I saw it – noting a heavy thumping on the asphalt that shook the whole street. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck as I watched in awe, hardly believing what I was seeing.

The beast which stomped along the tarmac was unlike any animal I’d ever seen before and certainly wasn’t indigenous to these parts. The best way I can describe it would be a cross between a rhinoceros and a Komodo dragon – a huge animal with a horned head, tough grey scales, short stumpy legs, and a long swinging tail.

Its yellow eyes moved back and forth in agitation like it was as surprised to be here as I was to see it. I didn’t know how to react or what to do and so I merely stood there at the window, frozen in awe and fear as I watched the impossible creature stomp its way along my previously quiet suburban street.

I realised I was witnessing a bizarre and dangerous situation evolve, but soon it reached breaking point. I heard the familiar sound of a car engine and looked to the far end of the street in time to see Mr Taylor’s pickup truck rounding the corner.

Mr Taylor was my neighbour and I knew he was returning from his night shift just like he did at this time every morning. I’m guessing he was tired after working hard all night and was looking forward to getting home to bed. The last thing he would have expected was to find his path blocked by an otherworldly beast which had inexplicably invaded his home street.
He slammed on the brakes when he saw the animal but it was already too late. The horned monster was spooked by the vehicle and responded with aggression, charging along the tarmac with a mighty force, the ground shaking as it moved.

Mr Taylor saw the attack coming and tried to put his truck in reverse, but the beast hit him head on, using its horn to lift his vehicle off the road and turn it over. Not yet satisfied, the monster trampled on top of the overturned truck, crushing the vehicle under its immense weight and strength.

I was powerless to intervene, merely watching as the savage animal crushed Mr Taylor’s vehicle underfoot before finally it moved on and left our street behind. Only then did I run to my front door, sprinting out onto the street and quickly making my way over to the wreck.
I cried out my neighbour’s name and lay down upon the tarmac, only to see Mr Taylor’s body crushed beyond recognition – a bloody mess of broken bones and viscera. Sadly, my neighbour was beyond help and there was nothing I could do for him now.

My mind was racing as I tried to control my breathing and avoid succumbing to blind panic. All I could think of in that moment was getting to my sister and niece to make sure they were safe. I didn’t like my chances going by car in case I ran into that monster, and so I decided to proceed on foot. But there was one item I reckoned I would need. Therefore, I darted back into my house and went straight to my gun cabinet, unlocking it and arming myself with my hunting rifle whilst filling my pockets with spare ammunition.

Once I ran back onto the street I heard a cacophony of sounds interrupting what should have been a quiet and peaceful Sunday morning. I heard the din of distant sirens, the screams of terrified citizens, and the ominous roars of unidentified creatures.

A cold chill ran through me as I realised the death of Mr Taylor hadn’t been an isolated incident, and it seemed like most of the town was now under attack. I didn’t have time to think about this however as instead I sprinted the couple of blocks to my sister’s home street.

I was revealed to discover that Lily’s block seemed untouched by the chaos occurring around us, although there was no way of knowing how long this would last. I ignored the manic barking of the neighbour’s German Shepherd as I banged my fist against my sister’s front door.

“What the hell Dante?” she exclaimed as she opened the door to let me inside.

“Don’t you know what’s going on out there?” I asked frantically.

“No.” she replied as her eyes widened in near panic. “I just know what it says on the TV. I tried calling you, but the phones are down.”

I looked to the television set, hearing a buzzing static and seeing a transmitted message which read – ‘This is the Emergency Broadcast System. Please stay inside your homes and await further instructions.’

Without thinking I grabbed hold of the remote and started flicking between the channels, only to find the same emergency message on every station.

“Jesus!” I swore in disbelief.

Whatever the hell was going on it was escalating quickly. I continued to stare at the TV in disbelief until I heard a soft whimpering from behind me.

“Mummy, Uncle Dante. What’s going on?”

I turned around to see my niece Eve, still dressed in her pyjamas and clutching hold of her favourite teddy bear. She didn’t understand what was happening but I could tell she was scared. I stood there looking into my niece’s eyes and not knowing what to say. But luckily her mother took charge, going to her daughter’s side and embracing her in a tight hug.
“Its okay sweetie. There’s no reason to be frightened. Your uncle and I are going to handle this. Just go back to your room and play your video games.”

Eve looked up suspiciously to her mother and then at me. She’s a clever young girl and I think she knew we weren’t telling her the whole truth. Nevertheless, my niece obediently went up the stairs and returned to her bedroom, leaving Lily and I to talk frankly.

“What do you know?” she asked abruptly.

This didn’t surprise me. My sister had always been a practical woman and never avoided getting to the point.

“Not much.” I replied honestly, “But I saw one of my neighbours killed by some kind of animal…”

“What, like a bear or mountain lion?” Lily asked.

“No.” I replied ominously, “It wasn’t like any animal I’ve ever seen before. More like something from a nightmare.”

My sister stared at me in bafflement and I think she thought I’d lost my mind. She was about to ask a follow up question when we were suddenly distracted by a ruckus occurring out on the street.

“Stay here.” I ordered, as I lifted my rifle and headed for the door. I should have known better however, as Lily followed me back outside with a steely determination in her brown eyes. We heard the din of her neighbour’s dog barking as it was whipped up into a frenzy, and we soon discovered why.

A flock of half-a-dozen winged predators descended from the blue skies and launched an unprovoked assault upon the neighbour’s dog, screeching as they dove down towards the guard dog with claws and beaks extended. Again, I couldn’t identify the winged beasts but would describe them as something similar to giant bats, each with a wingspan of close to six feet.

The dog jumped up with his jaws open and fangs exposed as he went to battle with the lead bat, biting deep into its throat. The winged creature screamed in pain as blood poured from a gaping wound in its throat. The guard dog had beaten the first attacker but the poor mutt was heavily outnumbered.

The remaining five bats tore into the dog, slashing and biting into his flesh in a sickening feeding frenzy. In that moment, the dog’s owner charged out of his home, shotgun in hand. He roared in fury, cocking his gun as he screamed – “Get off my dog you bastards!”

He fired, hitting the bat-like creatures with buckshot. Suddenly I remembered the hunting rifle I carried on my shoulder, aiming and firing – hitting one of the hellish bats in its torso. Chaos ensued as the wounded bats fell from the sky and the survivors fled in a blind panic.
I ran forward, meeting my sister’s neighbour on the dead ground as he scrambled to help his wounded dog. But when I looked down at the poor animal and saw it had been badly mauled and had lost a lot of blood. Instinctively I knew that the dog wasn’t going to survive. I guess his owner knew so too, because he gently cradled the dying animal in his arms and cried out in grief.

“My boy! Look what they’ve done to my beautiful boy!”

It was a tragic event to witness, but sadly there would be many more tragedies to come over the next few days and nights.

We didn’t know it back then, but this was only the first wave of the inexplicable invasion which would hit Purgatory and reduce our town to a living hell in one short week. We called wave one ‘The Beasts’, for they were simply animals – dangerous but not organised or co-ordinated. They inflicted damage and caused a mass panic but were nothing compared to those who followed them.

But like I said, we knew next to nothing at this stage. We also took the government’s advice and returned inside Lily’s home, trying to comfort the crying Eve as chaos continued on the streets.

My sister’s neighbour was called Dan. We invited him to join us but he declined. Lily told me how Dan was a recluse who lived alone. His dog Rex had been his sole companion and so the loss of his beloved pet hit him hard.

It was late in the afternoon before the sounds of battle began to subside. Soon after dusk we saw a patrol car pulling up on the street and a deputy jumped out and approached Lily’s front door. I peeked out the window and was relieved to see a friendly face.

The deputy’s name was Carl and he was an old friend who I’d known since middle school. I opened the door and greeted him, noting how his face was drawn and his eyes bloodshot. I guessed that he’d had a long shift.

Lily invited the cop inside and went to make him a cup of coffee while we talked.
“What the hell is going on out there?” I asked incredulously, hoping that I would finally receive some answers.

Unfortunately, I was to be disappointed.

Carl shrugged his shoulders before he answered.

“Damned if I know. It was meant to be my day off and then I got a call from the sheriff saying all hell’s broken loose. We got out on the streets and saw all these damn monsters causing mayhem. I’ve never seen anything like it man! It’s taken us all day to get on top of it. We shot the big one dead on main street. The sheriff had to empty a whole clip into its head before it went down. I’ve lost count of how many crazy critters we’ve had to shoot.”

“Where did they come from?” I asked.

“From the mountains we think. There’s been sightings of them coming down since dawn.”

“Come on Carl!” I interjected, “I’ve lived here my whole life. So have you. There’s nothing like those monsters living in the mountains.”

Carl raised his hands defensively, saying – “Hey man, I’m only reporting what I’ve been told.”

“What about the emergency broadcast?” I enquired next, “And the phones and internet. What are the authorities doing?”

I swore I could see Carl’s face turn paler before he answered. “That’s what really scares me buddy. Communications are completely down. We can’t reach the Feds, the State police…not even the next town over. And that’s not all. They’ve blocked the roads. The bridge and the mountain path.”

“What?” I exclaimed in shock, “Who’s blocked them?”

“The military by the look of things.” Carl confirmed, “They’ve got a lot of scary firepower and are ordering drivers to turn around and go home. The sheriff’s tried to speak with their commander but he’s not returning our calls.”

My heart sank as I considered the terrifying implications of what my friend was telling me. I’ve already told you that our town is out of the way, but perhaps I didn’t emphasise the point strongly enough. Purgatory is situated in a valley with mountains on one side and a wide river on the other. There are only two ways in and out – a road cutting through the mountains and a bridge over the river. But now both were sealed off.

“So, we’re trapped like rats. Literally cut off from the world and left to the mercy of monsters from God knows where.”

I responded to my sister’s voice, looking back to see her standing in the doorway. Clearly, she’d been listening in on our conversation and as always Lily had summarised the bleak situation pretty damn well. An ominous silence fell over the room as none of us could think what to say next. But eventually the silence was broken by a burst of static from Carl’s radio, as an emergency call came in from the Sheriff’s office.

“Duty calls.” Carl said, perhaps relieved to have an excuse to exit this difficult conversation. “Stay safe you guys. Whatever this is, I’m sure it will be over by tomorrow.”

But of course, he was wrong.

We all slept in the front room that night. Lily held Eve in her arms while I cradled my rifle and kept a watchful eye on the door. In truth I barely slept a wink and even when I did drift off, I was plagued by nightmares of terrifying beasts and savage monsters stalking the streets of our once peaceful town.

Nevertheless, we survived to see the next morning. The first wave of the invasion had come and gone. No doubt there were still dangerous beasts of unknown origin roaming through the mountains and woods, but the town itself was relatively secure, or so we thought. We didn’t know it yet, but the second wave of the otherworldly invasion was about to begin.
I awoke to a loud banging on the front door, jumping up from the couch and grabbing my rifle. Lily was up too, her eyes widening as she whispered – “What the hell now?”

It might have been Carl or one of the neighbours at the door but my instincts told me otherwise. Eve was awake too of course, the worry evident on her baby face.

“Go to your room.” her mother ordered, but my niece refused to leave.

I went over to the window and peeked out at the figure on the far side, recoiling in shocked horror at what I saw. The creature knocking on my sister’s door took the appearance of a man but almost certainly wasn’t human. He wore an ill-fitting black suit and tie which gave him the appearance of a salesman or missionary, but his face was an unnatural, ghostly shade of pale.

Meanwhile, his head was totally bald and he had no eyebrows or facial hair. And what’s more, his eyes were too large for his head, appearing as a pair of massive dark ovals which stared back at me. The black-suited being looked like a bizarre parody of a man…like someone who’d never seen a human being had tried to design one from a vague description.
The creature saw me staring at him and looked back through the thin glass with those god-awful eyes. And then he opened his mouth and spoke in a deep, croaky voice, although I was surprised to discover he spoke almost word-perfect English.

“Good morning sir. I am a representative of the Church of God’s Many Kingdoms. May I come inside and speak with you about the pathway to peace and harmony?”

I was left dumbstruck, astonished by the words this creature had just uttered. What was this being and what did it want from us? I was sure its words were a ruse, a means of gaining entry to my sister’s home for whatever malicious intent it really held.

“You need to get off the porch.” I said through clenched teeth.

The creature’s grin widened as he persisted. “Please sir. I appreciate this is a confusing situation. But if you let me inside, I can explain everything.”

I froze for a moment and did briefly consider the creature’s offer. Could this odd being really provide the answers I wanted so badly? I honestly don’t know what would have happened had my sister not intervened.

“Get the hell off my porch, you son-of-a-bitch!” she screamed angrily.

The creature didn’t look happy. His grin disappeared and his eyes narrowed. I swore I could hear a sadness in his voice when he next spoke.

“As you wish ma’am.” he replied before slowly moving on, slinking back to the sidewalk in a most unnatural manner.

Lily and I watched without saying a word as the strange, black-suited being headed to the next house along. But he wasn’t the only one. We saw another four near identical and suited humanoids – two on each side of the street, moving from house to house and knocking on doors as they repeated the same phrase over and over in an attempt to gain entry.

Doors remained firmly locked as Lily’s neighbours sent them on their way. But then one of their number reached Dan’s house. The hermit was still grieving after the death of his beloved pet and I guess he was on edge after the previous day’s attack.

And when the black-suited being attempted to gain entrance to Dan’s house, the homeowner reacted aggressively.

“Excuse me sir. May I speak with you about the pathway to peace and harmony?”

“Get the hell off my property you freak!” Dan shouted.

“Please sir,” the creature answered calmly, “I mean you no harm.”

“This is your final warning!” Dan replied menacingly.

“Sir…”

The creature didn’t get the opportunity to finish his sentence as a second later there was a gunshot from the other side of the door, and the black-suited being was cut down by buckshot – his body being flung backwards as his blood spilled all over the sidewalk.
The creature didn’t move and so I guessed he’d been killed instantly. But then the strangest thing happened. We watched as the other black-suited beings abandoned their door-to-door mission and instead walked calmly over to their fallen brother.

One might have expected the four to seek bloody vengeance upon Dan for killing their comrade. But instead they carefully lifted their brother’s dead body and slowly carried him down the street in a solemn and silent procession. Lily and I watched in astonishment as the party left our street and disappeared around the corner.

And then Eve came to my side, shaking my trouser leg and asking – “Uncle Dante, why did they hurt that man?”

I looked into her sweet and innocent eyes and realised I didn’t have an answer.

I guess one of the other neighbours must have reported the shooting because the cops arrived a few minutes later. Three police officers arrived in two patrol cars – Sheriff Omar, my friend Carl, and a female deputy called Tanya. These three officers represented the entirety of Purgatory’s tiny police force and they’d never faced a situation like this in all their combined years of service.

I was shocked to see the cops drawing their pistols as the sheriff shouted out to the assailant.

“Dan! You need to put down the gun and come out with your hands up!”

“To hell I will!” came Dan’s defiant response. “This is my house, and I’m not leaving!”

“Come on Dan.” the sheriff shouted, “Don’t make it worse for yourself.”

There was a brief pause before the door slowly opened and Dan emerged. I felt relieved for a moment as I thought the siege could be resolved peacefully, but then I saw he was still holding his shotgun and there was a madness in his bloodshot eyes.

“What the hell do you people want from me?” he cried maniacally.

“Drop the gun!” the sheriff screamed.

I don’t know which one of the cops fired first, but a shot rang out and a single round struck Dan in his shoulder. He didn’t fall and instead cocked his shotgun, leading to a barrage of bullets as the officers shot him at least a dozen times.

I looked on in horror as Dan’s lifeless body fell to the tarmac, his blood mixing with that of the creature he’d slain only minutes before.

This tragic incident marked the end of the second wave of the invasion, introducing the faction we would later call ‘The Prophets’. These pale-skinned, black-suited beings proved to be the most passive of all the invaders, merely knocking on people’s doors and attempting to deliver their mysterious message.

Some reacted violently to their appearance but most simply ignored the prophets once they learnt they didn’t pose a threat. But, in time, some of the town’s folk began listening to these strange beings, and what they had to say was astonishing. But I’ll get to that later.
A meeting was called that evening at our town hall. People were becoming increasingly unsettled and were demanding answers. I attended the meeting while Lily stayed home to look after Eve. The hall was packed and I guessed there must have been over two hundred people present.

I had elected to leave my rifle at home but I saw that others were armed, which only added to the tension. It felt like a tinderbox inside of that hall, like a single misspoken word could push the attendees over the edge.

I remained silent during the heated discussions, listening to the paranoid theories espoused by the town’s citizens.

“The government are running an experiment.” claimed one woman, “They’re using us as human guinea pigs. Sending these monsters into our town to see how we’ll react.”

“That’s garbage!” an elderly man shot back, “This is judgement day, pure and simple. The gates of hell have opened, and this is only the beginning.”

It seemed clear that no-one really knew what was going on. All we had was the panicked theories of delusional and frightened people.

Our town’s mayor was Maria Rodriguez – a popular and respected public servant who’d made a good peacetime leader, but I suppose she’d never anticipated facing a situation such as this. The mayor walked up onto the podium, looking haggard and nervous. She was flanked by Sheriff Omar and his deputies, the three cops keeping a close eye upon the armed citizens in the audience.

The mayor began to speak slowly into the microphone, her voice steady but still betraying her fear.

“Good people of Purgatory. Thank you for coming this evening. Let’s not sugarcoat things. We are facing an unprecedented and dangerous situation. Our community has suffered tragic deaths. Our emergency services are stretched to near breaking point. We don’t know what’s coming next or how long this crisis will last. But we must come together as a community during these dark times…”

“What the hell is this?” a heckler shouted, “We came here for answers, not false platitudes. What is happening to our town?”

“We don’t have all the answers just yet,” the mayor replied less confidently, “but we’re working hard to get this information.”

“Why has the military blocked the roads?” another man shouted, “Why won’t they let us evacuate?”

“We haven’t been able to speak with the military yet, but we’re trying…” the mayor wasn’t even allowed to finish her sentence before an angry voice interrupted her.

“This is bullshit! They’re not telling us the truth!”

At this point the meeting descended into near anarchy as a hundred voices cried out all at once and the mayor lost control. I could only watch as the crowd grew increasingly hostile. The cops noticed this too. The three officers stepped forward, placing their hands on their gun holsters.

The ugly situation might well have descended into violence had it not been for a timely interruption.

My head turned as the hall’s door swung open and a loud voice shouted out – “Come quick! Those son-of-bitches are looting the supermarket!”

Old arguments were soon forgotten as the mob piled out the door and onto the street. Sheriff Omar tried to take back control of the situation, ordering the armed citizens to return to their homes and let the police deal with it, but he had no chance. Soon men and women were jumping into their cars to make the short drive over to the town’s only supermarket, located close to the river.

I hopped into my SUV and followed them. I was concerned about what the angry mob would do and naively thought I could act as a calming influence.

We arrived to a scene of chaos, finding the front glass of the market smashed open as a gang of looters piled up everything they could carry in shopping trolleys. There were around a dozen looters in total and it looked like they were led by a guy called Kevin – a small-time thug who’d spent time in the state penitentiary for drug offences.

Sheriff Omar, Carl and Tanya were the first on the scene, drawing their weapons and ordering Kevin and his people to surrender. But several of the looters were also armed, as were members of the angry mob who’d followed from the town hall. I waited for the inevitable din of gunfire, but suddenly a new group entered the fray.

The attackers came in a wave, moving rapidly across the parking lot before descending upon the shattered front of the market. These new creatures looked like a cross between human beings and lizards, their hides covered in thick green scales and their yellow, bug-like eyes appearing like those of a reptile. They were slim and sleek, scurrying rapidly along the tarmac – some on two legs, others on all fours. No-one had time to react before they pounced.

The lizard men didn’t go for the people, not at first anyway. Instead they fought with the looters for possession of the stolen food and water, ripping packages and bottles from the hands of bemused and frightened criminals. Some handed over their stolen goods but others fought back, struggling frantically with the otherworldly creatures and turning the parking lot into a battlefield.

Kevin was particularly reluctant to give up a coveted bottle of single malt whisky which he had stolen. He wrestled with a lizardman for possession of the bottle, but ultimately it fell from his hands, shattering on the tarmac. Kevin was furious, pulling a revolver from his waistband and shooting the lizardman in the head.

The creature’s brains splattered all over the concrete and its body fell. Kevin’s victory was short-lived however, as within seconds the rest of the green-scaled creatures turned on him, attacking with claws and teeth in a mad frenzy. Kevin screamed in agony as the beasts literally tore him to shreds.

A moment later and the sheriff gave the order to open fire. His deputies shot at the lizardmen, as did several of the armed civilians. Numerous creatures fell under the barrage of bullets as did several of the human looters who got caught in the crossfire.

It was a horrifying massacre but ended quickly as the surviving lizardmen fled as quickly as they’d arrived and the remaining looters surrendered to the police. I was sickened by the smell of cordite and the sight of blood and viscera, but sadly it wasn’t over yet.

Suddenly my attention was drawn to the north where the one bridge out of town was located. To my horror I saw a convoy of civilian vehicles speeding across the bridge in a desperate attempt to break through the military blockade. For a brief moment it looked like they might succeed, but then the unthinkable happened.

I heard heavy machinegun fire and saw bright tracer rounds lighting up the darkness. The military on the far side of the bridge had opened fire, pumping rounds of high velocity bullets into the defenceless civilian cars trying to cross. The first vehicle burst into flames and exploded, while the next two were riddled with bullets as their drivers and passengers were cut to shreds.

The drivers further down the line desperately reversed in an attempt to escape the carnage. In the panic which followed, one vehicle inadvertently reversed off the bridge and plunged into the cold waters below. Other cars tried to turn around but didn’t get far as one-by-one their occupants fell to military bullets.

The shock and disgust of the people around me was palpable. Several screamed and at least one vomited behind me. I didn’t know how to react to the massacre, merely shaking my head in disbelief and muttering – “Sweet Jesus.”

I realised right then how much trouble we were in and wondered whether any of us would survive this.

The lizardmen constituted the third wave of the otherworldly invasion. We called them ‘The Thieves’. Their assault upon the supermarket had been less than successful, but dozens of these creatures had invaded our town and the surrounding exclusion zone, and for a time they attacked and looted homes and shops with near impunity.

They mainly went after food – which was already in short supply – but some also stole valuables such as gold and jewellery. Generally speaking, these creatures didn’t deliberately attack people, but they did react violently whenever anyone stood in their way, and this resulted in many injuries and several deaths.

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Before long armed civilians began to take the law into their own hands by hunting down and shooting lizardmen and human looters alike. For a while it seemed like Purgatory would descend into bloody anarchy but thankfully the mayor and sheriff were able to restore some degree of control by appointing the vigilantes as ‘volunteer deputies’ and placing them under the nominal control of the Sheriff’s Department.

But our real problem wasn’t the bizarre invaders, it was the military. I would never have believed that our own army would shoot us down like dogs, but the incident on the bridge had shown they would use lethal force to keep us from escaping the town.

We were trapped, abandoned by our government and unable to communicate with the outside world. And what’s more, we had no idea what would hit us next, and that was truly terrifying. But nevertheless, life went on as much as was possible.

The next 48 hours were relatively quiet. Some beasts and thieves continued to appear, but their numbers were much reduced. And the prophets were deemed harmless and so were largely ignored. The vigilante patrols maintained law and order, and the mayor’s office rationed out our remaining food stocks. Thankfully, although our communications were down, our electricity and water supplies were still on, although no-one could say how long this would last.

After two days of relative peace and quiet I guess you could say we became complacent, because we didn’t see the next attack coming. It was the early hours of Thursday morning. I’d been out on a vigilante patrol that evening and was physically exhausted, but yet I could not sleep, instead lying on the hard mattress in my sister’s guest room and staring at the ceiling.

At about 3am I heard a banging noise coming from my niece’s bedroom, followed by a soft whimpering sound. Instinctively I jumped up, suddenly alert. We’d only just persuaded Eve to sleep in her own bed again and she’d been suffering from night terrors.

I suspected she’d had another nightmare but decided to go investigate just in case. I felt a dark foreboding as I put my hand on the door handle, slowly opening it to reveal a horrific scene.

My niece was being man-handled by a monstrous creature with leathery skin – small but squat, its eyes shining like those of a cat. It hissed when it saw me, spitting venom in my direction as it tightened its grip upon Eve. The bedroom window was wide open and I guessed this is how the vile monster had gained entry. Now it had its right leg balanced on the windowsill as it sought to make good it’s escape.

I ignored the beast however, focussing my intentions upon my young niece whose eyes were wide with an absolute terror.

“Uncle Dante!” she cried, as tears rolled down her cheeks.

I darted forward to reach her, but the creature acted quickly, tossing a metallic device in my direction. I saw what looked like a hand grenade drop on the floor in front of me and I instinctively retreated, the blast throwing me backwards as the light temporarily blinded me.
I was vaguely aware of Lily storming down the corridor, and even through the ringing in my ears I could hear my niece’s screams as she was dragged off into the night.

Luckily for me, the bomb was designed to disorientate rather than kill or maim and so I suffered no serious injuries. This was of little consolation to me at the time however. My sister was in near hysterics as she chased the monster who’d kidnapped her daughter, only to lose him in the darkness.

There were sightings of the creature all over town that night. No-one had gotten a good look at the monster, but it or he was described as small and squat – no more than five foot tall with short and stumpy legs. And yet, the creature was surprisingly quick and stealthy, able to sneak into people’s homes undetected and then navigate the darkness to escape.

On that night he successfully snatched three children, including Eve. All were under the age of ten. The ‘Kidnapper’, as he became known to us town folk, attempted to grab several more children, but their parents had been more alert than I’d been.

We quickly mobilised the vigilante patrols and began a painstaking search of the town and surrounding countryside, but to no avail. We discovered peculiar tracks past the town’s boundaries shortly after dusk and theorised that the kidnapper had made good his escape upon a hooved animal, carrying our children in tow. We followed the tracks for some time, only to lose the trail as it led into the mountains.

The kidnapper alone represented the fourth wave of this hellish invasion which had befallen our sleepy little town. This single, odd-looking monster had wreaked havoc upon our community, inflicting a huge psychological blow that nearly pushed us over the edge.

Its difficult for me to describe what it’s like to lose a child under your care. The emotional devastation, the helplessness, and the fear of what they’re suffering alone. I experienced all of these emotions, but what I felt must have only been a fraction of what my sister was going through.

To her great credit, Lily didn’t descend into hysterics. She was too strong for that. Instead, she led the searches of the mountains as we combed every square foot of territory and sought to find clues. We found evidence of each of the four waves up to that point, establishing without doubt that the invasion originated from the mountains.

But yet, there are many unexplored caves and abandoned mine shafts up there, and so we were unable to find the source of the invasion or point of entry.

Lily and I were returning from a fruitless all-night search, arriving back in town tired, frustrated, and emotional on Friday morning. As we walked down the main street under the rising sun, we noted a ruckus occurring outside of the town hall.

Running closer, I saw a group of our fellow town’s people, all screaming in fury and waving around various weapons as they formed a circle. Sheriff Omar was pushing his way into the centre of the circle, shouting for people to back off, but with little success.

Lily and I shoved a path through and saw the sorry son-of-a-bitch who’d drawn the crowd’s anger. It was a soldier in a ripped uniform, disarmed and being accosted by the mob. I reckoned they meant to lynch him in retaliation for the shooting on the bridge.

I looked to the soldier’s dog tag and noted his name was Sergeant Hamilton, and then I saw his face and recognised him instantly.

“Hey wait! Stop!” I shouted, loud enough to be heard over the baying mob. “That’s Chuck. I went to high school with him. He’s one of us!

My words calmed the mob somewhat as they released Chuck and allowed us to reach him.
“He’s one of the soldiers from the barricade.” Lily stated suspiciously, “The same ones who shot our people.”

“I wasn’t involved in that.” Chuck replied defensively, “As soon as I found out what those bastards were doing, I deserted my unit. I grew up in this town and there’s no way I would kill my own people.”

“You say that, but how do we know you’re telling the truth?” Lily asked, “For all we know you’re a spy sent to infiltrate us.”

There were nods of agreement from many in the crowd, and I felt the need to intervene.
“I told you! I went to school with Chuck. He’s one of the good guys.”

The anger subsided as Chuck was escorted inside of the town hall and the mayor was summoned so she could hear his story.

Ten minutes later and most of the town folk were assembled, all watching and listening intently as our mayor addressed her questions towards the deserter.

“What is happening, and why is the government doing this to us?” she asked sternly.
Chuck met her eye as he answered.

“They don’t tell us grunts much, but I’ve picked up some information over the last few days of the operation…” He paused briefly before almost whispering his next words. “Have you ever heard of the multiverse?”

The mayor looked puzzled but offered an answer nonetheless. “I believe it’s the theory that many alternate universes exist in parallel to our own.”

Chuck nodded his head in the affirmative. “Yeah, that’s what I understand. But its not a theory. The multiverse is the real deal, and our government knows about it.”

“Wait.” the mayor interrupted, “Are you saying these things…these monsters, are from a parallel universe?”

“You got a better explanation?” Chuck shot back.

“But how did they get here?” the mayor asked frantically.

“I’m no scientist.” Chuck replied, “But, the way I understand it, there are walls separating the dimensions, but sometimes these walls break down, and so you get temporary rifts in space and time. The government has the technology to detect these rifts and seeks to contain them, but they keep this a secret from the public to avoid mass panic.”

I’d held my tongue for long enough but couldn’t resist asking a follow up question.
“So, if the government contains these rifts, what the hell happened here?” I asked.
Chuck smiled grimly before answering me. “They screwed up, that’s what happened. The brass sent up a survey team with an armed security detail to secure the site, but something had already come through the rift, and the team was overwhelmed. Command called in the cavalry, but by then it was too late. The hostile entities had already entered the town, so they cut their losses and sealed off the roads.”

“You mean they abandoned us to die!” I shot back angrily.

“Yeah.” Chuck replied, breaking eye contact as a guilt entered his voice. “They’re prepared to sacrifice the whole town to cover up their mess. I’m afraid there’s no way out…”

“That’s not necessarily true.” said a new voice.

We all turned around to see Eddy, an elderly former coal miner who’d been barricaded in his house since the start of the crisis but was recently rescued by a vigilante patrol.

“There’s an old tunnel that leads through the mountains that we used back in the day. It’s been abandoned for decades, but it should still be passable.”

“Seriously, there’s a way out for us?” I exclaimed in surprise, as a glimmer of hope entered my weary heart.

“It doesn’t matter.” Lily said sternly, “I’m not leaving without my daughter. Nor will any of the other parents.”

There were murmurs of agreement from some of the town folk, although others surely felt differently. We were facing a terrible dilemma with no easy answer. Ultimately, I’m not sure what would have happened, had events not intervened once again.

We heard the distant sound of gunshots followed by screaming, and I think everyone present realised that a further attack had begun. We piled out onto the street while Sheriff Omar attempted to radio his deputies, although he was unable to reach them.

The din of battle grew ever closer, with the cries of terror and gunshots interspersed with the predatory roars of a yet unseen enemy. We knew they were headed in our direction and so we hastily set up a defensive barricade using our vehicles and set ourselves up behind them.
Both Lily and I were still armed following our patrol and so we readied our weapons and prepared for battle. My instinct was to send my sister out of harm’s way, but I knew she wouldn’t listen.

A tense moment followed as we surveyed the road and waited, but the assault didn’t come in the manner we’d expected. I caught a glimpse of the enemy out of the corner of my eye, dark shapes scurrying quickly across the flat-top roofs to bypass our barricade.

I cried out a warning but it was already too late. The first beast leapt from the rooftop and instantly went for the sheriff. It was almost as if it knew who to take out first. The sheriff saw his attacker late, screaming as he swung around and tried to fire, but the monster was too fast.

It roared before slashing out with its mighty claws, slicing the sheriff’s throat wide open and almost chopping his head clean off. His blood spilled and the sheriff’s limp body fell.

I swung around and raised my rifle, getting a good look at the creature for the first time. If this monster wasn’t a real life werewolf then it was something very close to one. Half man and half canine, the beast stood at over six foot tall, its claws and dark fur now bloodied, and its hungry eyes searching out its next target.

The werewolf saw me and roared through his fang-filled maw before it charged towards me at immense speed, covering the ground in no time. I wasn’t able to aim and so fired from the hip in a blind panic. Miraculously, my bullet found its mark, hitting the beast in the shoulder and forcing it to yelp in pain and retreat on all fours.

But the attack was far from over. In an instant, another dozen werewolves leapt off the top of buildings from both sides of the street, setting upon the human defenders with a murderous zeal. A bloodbath ensued as the attackers sliced and diced my neighbours in quick succession, slaughtering them with claws and fangs before moving on to their next victims.

The armed vigilantes screamed in terror and fired wildly, but to little effect, as the sheer speed of the enemy’s assault overwhelmed our people.

It was Chuck who took charge of the chaotic situation, grabbing hold of a discarded rifle and laying down a suppressing fire as he barked out orders.

“We can’t hold them! Get back to the hall! Protect the kids and the old folk!”

We didn’t need to be told twice. I fired another shot at an attacking werewolf before grabbing my sister as we fled back towards the town hall. Many had already fallen but those who were still on their feet retreated, Chuck coming last as he took out another werewolf with a well-placed round.

We reached the relative safety of the town hall and prepared to shut the heavy doors and barricade ourselves inside. But Lily and I hesitated at the last moment when we saw a figure darting from her hiding place underneath a parked car.

It was our mayor – Maria Rodriguez. She’d been wounded, sliced across her thigh and limping, but the woman was still alive and moving.

“Please, don’t leave me!” she screamed, a pure terror now evident in her voice.

“Hurry!” Lily shouted back as we held the door open.

Maria ran but she wasn’t fast enough, as a werewolf leapt upon her, tearing at the helpless woman with its sharp claws. We heard her screams and witnessed the bloodbath but could do nothing to help, and Chuck slammed the door shut and locked it behind him.

We successfully defended the town hall for the next 24 hours, but in truth we were lucky to survive. The werewolves were intelligent and co-ordinated. They didn’t launch a full-scale attack during the daylight hours, instead testing our defences and fraying our nerves.

They received reinforcements at dusk – more monsters, fresh from committing bloody massacres in other parts of the town. After dark, they unleashed a near devastating assault, attacking the town hall from all sides as they tried everything to force their way inside.
We fought back fiercely, knowing that our survival depended upon it. Chuck made good use of his military experience to co-ordinate the defence and I don’t think we would have survived without him. Nevertheless, by dawn we were almost out of ammunition and faced with the terrifying prospect of having to fight the monsters hand-to-hand. But thankfully, their attack broke down as many of their number lay dead on the street and the survivors retreated before the sun rose.

After the battle we took stock, tending as best as we could to the wounded and trying to comfort the frightened children. We’d survived the night but were under no illusion as to the seriousness of our situation. The mayor and sheriff were both dead, as were many of our town’s people.

The werewolves were gone for now, but they could come back at any time. They were the fifth wave, who we called ‘The Killers’ – because that’s what they did. The wolfmen slaughtered everyone that they came into contact with, showing no mercy for their victims.
Those who’d made it into the town hall were lucky, but few survived the onslaught upon the rest of Purgatory. We’d been like lambs to the slaughter, literally in this case. Nevertheless, the fifth wave attacks had clarified the situation for those who’d survived. We knew we had to get out of town, otherwise we were all going to die.

“We need to make a decision.” Chuck began, as he spoke to the town hall occupants.

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The military man had saved us all during the desperate battle with the werewolves and had assumed a leadership role now the mayor and sheriff were both dead.

He turned to Eddy, the long-retired coal miner who’d offered us a chance of escape.
“You say you know a tunnel through the mountains. Can you lead our people to it?”

“I reckon so.” Eddy replied confidently.

“I told you! I’m not leaving without my daughter!” Lily interjected angrily.

“I know you’re not.” Chuck replied firmly, “That’s why I’m going to lead a mission to the other side. We’re going to find the kids and bring them home.”

My sister’s eyes lit up for the first time in days as she responded. “Good. And I’m going in with you.”

Chuck looked shocked, turning to me to seek support. But I simply shrugged my shoulders, knowing there was no way of talking my sister out of it. Lily was going to the other side in search of Eve, and I was coming with her.

We rested for a day at Chuck’s insistence before our group split in two. Eddy led the women, children, wounded and elderly up the mountain path to the tunnel which the military had missed. Meanwhile, Chuck, Lily and I formed a scouting party along with the fathers of the other two kidnapped children. The men’s names were Douglas and Juan.

We stocked up on food, water, first aid supplies and ammunition, not knowing what we would find on the far side of the cross-dimensional rift. Chuck had stolen a map showing the rift’s location before he deserted and so he set our course.

We were forced to cross through the ruins of Purgatory on our way to the site and we witnessed the full extent of the killer’s savage assault. I lost count of how many dead bodies we found, most of them mutilated, in some cases beyond recognition.

The town’s medical centre, which had already been overburdened with casualties, had somehow been burnt to the ground during the onslaught, the charred remains of the victims left amongst the smoking ashes.

We found the two deputies – my old friend Carl and Tanya. They’d died fighting side-by-side, shooting down three werewolves before they were eventually overwhelmed and slaughtered.
There were worst sights too, ones I don’t wish to recount or even recall. Entire families had been wiped out, dying in each other’s arms. These were my neighbours and friends and it hurt me deeply to lose them.

We expected to be ambushed at any moment, but thankfully we didn’t encounter any more of those savage wolfmen. We did see several of the lizardmen as they looted the dead bodies for valuables, while bat-like scavengers feasted upon the flesh of the many corpses.
Furious at witnessing this desecration, I fired upon several of the thieves and beasts until Chuck ordered me to stop. He didn’t want me to waste ammunition which we would likely need.

We found a few survivors but curiously those we saw did not want our help. Instead, they turned to the prophets – the odd, black-suited humanoids we’d encountered on day two of the invasion. We were astonished to see groups of bloodied survivors sitting cross-legged across from pale-faced prophets, listening intently to every word the beings spoke. I was baffled to witness this strange development but there was no time to investigate and so we moved on.

Chuck led us through a cave entrance close to the foot of the mountains which we’d missed during our searches. We used flashlights to guide us through the darkness and avoided the debris of equipment and weaponry which had evidently been abandoned by the military survey team during their hasty retreat.

The trans-dimensional rift was located at the rear of the cave and boy, it was something to see. From our side it looked like a vertical wall of perfectly still, transparent liquid, and on the other side was a mirror image of the cave we stood in, except it was located in an entirely different dimension.

The five of us simply stood there in the darkness for a long time, awestruck by the inexplicable portal in front of us and uncertain of what to do next.

“Do we just walk through?” I asked nervously, “Is it safe?”

“Damned if I know.” Chuck replied honestly, “This is my first time too buddy.”

I was reluctant to take the next step, fearing that something awful would occur if I attempted to step through the breach. But my sister held no such fears – or if she did, she quickly conquered them. Taking a deep breath, Lily stepped forward, leaving us men in her wake.

I watched in terrified awe as my sister stepped through the liquid membrane, clearing a path before she emerged on the other side, looking back and motioning for us to follow.

I went through next, feeling bitterly cold and light-headed as the membrane broke to allow me safe passage. And then I was through the rift. It was as simple as that, although we had no idea of what lay ahead in this strange new world.

Once all five of us had passed through, our party regrouped and proceeded out of the cave, soon emerging into the open to observe the astonishing landscape of mist-covered forest which stretched for as far as the eye could see.

There was something almost magical about the untouched wilderness that lay before us, but also a darkness and foreboding danger. The scene reminded me of a fantasy world, and I imagined our party as brave adventurers embarking upon a noble but dangerous quest. My dream-like vision soon faded however, as I consider the grim practicalities of our mission.
“Two questions.” I said, whilst speaking with Chuck, “Firstly, are we sure we can return home safely?

My military friend shrugged his shoulders before answering bluntly. “I don’t know. The brass says these rifts don’t stay open indefinitely. It’s not an exact science as I understand it, but if the portal does close while we’re over here…Well, I guess we’ll become permanent residents.”

A chill ran through my body upon hearing those words. I think deep down we all knew we might not make it back to our world, but this was the risk we had to take for our children.
“Okay.” I responded with a lump in my throat, “Second question. Where the hell do we go from here?”

Chuck paused for a moment, looking out onto the horizon before pointing. “I think that would be a good place to start.”

I looked where he was pointing and saw what appeared to be a stone tower located on a hill a few miles to the north of us. It was the only man-made structure we could see amongst the dense forest. We held a quick vote and were all in agreement that we would head for the mysterious fortification, and soon we entered the woods, preparing to face whatever dangers lay ahead.

The forest vegetation was thick and there were no paths we could find, and so our progress was slow. It was an unnerving experience to walk underneath those dark trees, to transverse a woodlands which seemed familiar in some respects but was subtly different from our home world.

I don’t know about the others, but I had an unpleasant feeling that we were being watched. Perhaps this was paranoia, but during our trek we did see the occasional alien creature hiding in bushes or high up in branches. They scurried away once they heard us approach, but I still held the distinct impression that we were invaders in their territory.

Nevertheless, our trek through the woods was relatively uneventful until we reached the hillside not far from the mysterious structure which was our destination.

The attack came like a bolt from the blue. I heard a deep growl, turning to see a sudden flurry of movement as a beast leapt from the trees to our side. Juan turned to face the threat but wasn’t fast enough. The killer werewolf pounced upon our companion before he had a chance to fire a shot, biting deep into his throat.

Juan screamed in agony as his jugular was ripped open. In an instant, we all opened fire – cutting the werewolves to shreds with our bullets. But a moment later and a second beast attacked through the bushes. In an instant it cut Douglas down with its razor-sharp claws before charging straight at me, tearing across the forest floor at an immense speed.

I aimed and pulled the trigger, only to hear an empty click. My rifle had jammed on me. I cursed as the werewolf roared, its eyes lighting up with a murderous glee as it prepared to pounce upon me. I closed my eyes and prepared for death, only to be brought back to reality by the sharp crack of a gunshot.

When I looked again I saw the werewolf lying dead on the ground and Chuck standing over it with a smoking gun in his hands. The attack was over, but we’d lost two of our party. There was little we could do for Juan and Douglas. We had no means of burying their bodies and so simply held a moment’s silence before moving on. It broke my heart that these two fathers would never see their children again, and I knew we owed it to them to bring their sons home safely.

The round stone tower on the hill must have been close to one hundred foot tall. I had no idea of who built it or for what purpose, but when I looked up to an open window I swore I could see a shadowy figure watching us approach.

The tower was surrounded by a thick wall about twelve foot in height. We had no clue what to expect and feared the castle would be heavily defended. But, as we carefully walked around the defences, we were surprised to see the gate wide open and undefended, allowing us to simply walk inside.

I was so astonished by what we found that I thought my eyes must be deceiving me. Inside of the castle, sitting cross-legged under the shadow of the tower, where Eve and the two young boys who’d been kidnapped. All looked healthy and happy. But what really threw me was the strange beings who sat alongside the children – smiling contently as the kids laughed and played.

They were prophets. Three of them in total, sitting in a circle. They were no longer dressed in the black suits they’d worn on our world. Instead, they wore brown robes like those of a monk, but their skin was still a ghostly shade of pale and their smiles unsettling. But the three children appeared comfortable and unafraid in their presence.

I stood there inside of the gate, unable to comprehend what I was witnessing. But my sister didn’t stand on ceremony.

Lily’s eyes lit up with joy and sheer relief as she called out her daughter’s name.

“Mummy!” Eve cried as she ran across the courtyard, and Chuck and I watched as mother and daughter were reunited, hugging each other in a loving and heart-warming embrace.
We stood back as one of the prophets approached us, smiling amicably as he spoke. “Hello my friends. We are pleased to see you.”

“I don’t understand,” I replied, “Who are you people? And what are you doing with our kids?”

“The being you call the kidnapper is driven by the thrill of the hunt, but he soon loses interest in his victims after he’s captured them. We found your children abandoned here in the castle and have taken care of them over the past few days.”

I looked back to Eve and the smiling boys and realised he must be telling the truth.
“As for my people,” the prophet continued, “our motivations are quite simple. We travel between the dimensions and spread our message of peace and reconciliation. These rifts result in a collision of worlds and often this leads to violence and suffering, but it doesn’t have to be this way.”

“So, you try to bring peace between violent beings from parallel universes hell bent on slaughtering each other?” Chuck summarised sarcastically, “How’s that working out for you?”
The being seemed to understand the cynical tone of my friend’s question but didn’t rise to the bait, instead answering quite calmly.

“Our task is a difficult one, this cannot be denied. Nevertheless, we will continue our mission. Even one mind changed is a victory.”

Chuck was silenced and I felt humbled by this being’s noble cause.

“Well, we are certainly very grateful for what you have done for us.” I said.

“It is our pleasure.” the prophet replied, “But be warned. The kidnapper has little interest in caring for his captives, but that doesn’t mean he’ll take kindly to losing the children. It is likely that he will pursue you. Therefore, I recommend you leave this place immediately and head back to the rift.”

I nodded my head, heeding the being’s warning, and we left the tower soon after.
We retraced our steps through the forest and headed back towards the mountains – three armed adults with three young children in tow. It was not an easy journey.

We expected another attack at any moment and so were constantly on alert, but we had to at least try to stay calm for the sake of the kids. Our situation only became worse as day turned to night and we were faced with the dark and sinister woods, jumping at every shadow or cracking branch.

Nevertheless, we nearly made it back to the cave before he finally caught up with us. We heard the heavy stomping of hooves from our rear as a large animal charged towards us. Spinning around, we shone our flashlights upon our pursuer, seeing the monster head on.
It was the kidnapper – short and squat but with glowing eyes burning with hatred and a hideous mouth curled up in rage. We saw the beast he rode upon – what looked like a giant elk with huge and sharp horns. The mounted monster was coming at us with a frantic fury, and when he opened his lips he spat just a single word in our language – “MINE!”

Chuck and I dropped to our knees and raised our rifles while I shouted back to Lily, saying – “Get the kids out of here!”

I heard the children screaming but focussed upon our attacker. We fired multiple bullets but missed our mark, watching as the kidnapper reached into a sack and withdrew a metallic device, hurling it in our direction.

A second later and one of our bullets struck the elk in its head, bringing the beast down and throwing its rider to the ground. But the grenade he’d thrown had landed at our feet and was primed to explode.

I was frozen in terror, waiting for the end to come. But, in an act of extraordinary bravery, Chuck dived on top of the grenade, covering the bomb with his body. I screamed aloud but it was too late. I heard the muffled sound of the explosion and witnessed my friend’s body being blown apart.

I stood over Chuck’s corpse for a moment, awestruck by the ultimate sacrifice he’d made to save us. But the danger wasn’t over yet. The kidnapper had survived his fall and was up on his feet, hissing in my direction as he reached for his sack of bombs.

I raised my rifle to fire, but Lily beat me to it, firing round after round into the monster’s body until the kidnapper fell and stopped moving.

“That’s what you get for messing with my kid!” Lily spat, the fury still in her eyes as I reached across and took hold of her smoking rifle.

“Come on Lily, let’s go.” I whispered.

And so we did. Miraculously, we calmed the terrified children and made it back to the cave without further incident. We carried the kids through the rift, arriving safely on the other side and returning to our home world. We’d barely crossed over before the portal faded and then disappeared entirely, replaced by the rocky back wall of the cave.

I didn’t understand what had just occurred. Either we’d been extremely lucky and had crossed back just in time, or the presence of the three missing children in the other dimension was an anomaly, and now they were home, the equilibrium had been restored, allowing the trans-dimensional rift to close.

In any event, we didn’t dwell on the mystery, instead leaving the cursed cave and making our way down the mountainside. As planned, we rendezvoused with Eddy and the other survivors, finding the abandoned tunnel which led through the mountains and past the military blockades.

We have escaped the exclusion zone and for the first time in seven days I can communicate with the outside world and tell you our story. I don’t know if we’re safe. The government may still pursue us out of spite, but their big secret is now out of the bag.

Our world is only one of many and the walls between the dimensions are porous. There are many dangers out in the multiverse but there’s also hope. And in the end, we’re all going to have to learn to live together. Peace be with you, my friends.

Credit: Traveller

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