01 Feb I’m a guard stationed at a Secret Government Prison Finale
How the hell did we get here?
At that moment, it was all that I could think about.
“As fun as this has all been, and it certainly has… jeez,” Adrian laughed to himself. “I almost forgot what I came here for. This coke is deadly sometimes-“
“There’s no way in goddamned hell. Don’t even fucking say it.” Sandhu cut him off.
Adrian raised a brow. “Yeah? Is that so? Look, I get this whole guardian protector role you’re trying to play here. Commendable, really. And I’m sure the kid’s been through a lot but…”
His lips curled into a malicious grin.
“I’ve been through a lot as well. And you know what I’ve learned? This kid’s gonna fucking croak if he keeps hanging out with you. He’s strong, sure. But he can get a lot stronger. You guys got lucky against Kentay. It won’t happen every time. You don’t want that, do you?”
“You literally want to send him off to death-fights on some godforsaken planet. What the fuck are you talking about?” I interjected.
Adrian groaned. “Oh, why don’t you shut the fuck up? Just SHUT THE FUCK UP!!”
As much as I hated to admit it, the sound of him raising his voice caused me to go quiet.
There was a powerful aura surrounding him. Like a switch in his demeanor that would flip instantly and aggressively. In all honesty, my will simply wasn’t strong enough to challenge him any further. Out of everybody there… I was certainly the weakest.
“Look,” Ken said, stepping forward. “I have no idea where the hell you crawled out from, but we kinda went through a lot just now trying to protect the kid. We’re not gonna let him go just like that.”
“Tch,” Adrian clicked his tongue. “I don’t like getting my hands dirty but…”
He moved in a flash, rushing towards Sandhu with startling velocity.
However, his strike was intercepted by Kael at the last moment.
“Shit…” Kael muttered, holding Adrian’s fist back. “How is this guy strong as well?”
Adrian struggled for a moment, before breaking Kael’s wrist and slamming a palm into his jaw. He went back at Sandhu, only to be stopped again by a stream of blades from Bella, shredding his right arm as he blocked it.
“FUCK!” he shouted. “Why the hell are you people so hung up over this kid anyway?”
“Are you an idiot? What kinda question is that?” Ken said, stepping forward. With his caked in dry blood, he looked as if he were about to pass out at any moment. Still, he offered the challenge.
“I couldn’t live with myself if I let a freak like you near him,” he said, before opening up another portal. “This guy’s one of my favorites. Glad he’s still around for you.”
A massive skeleton with bits of charred flesh dangling off of its oversized bones emerged from the portal. It revved up an equally oversized chainsaw, before charging at Adrian.
“What the fu-“
He barely got the words out before he was forced to evade certain decapitation. He bobbed and weaved away from the devastating blades, before eventually taking a few nasty cuts.
At the same time, Kael was back on his feet, giving Adrian further trouble on top of it all. Bella soon joined in, forcing his back against the wall.
“FUCK!” He spat, before leaping into the air and obliterating a good portion of the skeleton’s skull with an elbow strike. Not enough. The skeleton grabbed him by the neck and thrashed him onto the floor. As he struggled to pull himself up, Kael swooped in knocked him back down.
“About time to give up, don’t you think?” He grinned.
Adrian spat out a good amount of blood. “You really don’t want that.”
He bolted up, drilling his head into Kael’s chin, before launching himself head-first at the skeleton’s torso.
“I figured it out!” he screamed. “I just need to get rid of your fucking arms!”
He did just that, snapping both of the skeleton’s elbows at the joints, causing it to drop the chainsaw. He was about to go in for the killing blow when a stream of Bella’s shards hit one of his eyes, blinding him in it. .
“FUCKING BITCH!” he shouted.
The skeleton capitalized on the momentary distraction, kicking him into a wall.
Safe to say, things were not going Adrian’s way.
He looked up as Kael, Bella and the skeleton began converging on him all at once, his expression still rife with frenetic, concentrated rage. However… it didn’t linger. Soon enough, he began smiling.
“Ok, alright,” he said, holding up a hand. “Can’t say that this was a fair fight, but you got me. Damn, I thought I was tougher than this.”
He stood up, the grin still plastered across his face.
“Guess it’s time for plan B.”
“What the hell does that mean?” Ken asked.
“Well… I gave you a hint. You are not going to like this.”
From his pocket, he pulled out some kind of clunky switch wrapped in a mess of wires.
“I’m releasing the big boy. The Calamity.”
The hairs on the back of my neck stood up.
Kael began stepping forward, but Adrian held his hand out.
“Are you dumb? You’re nowhere near fast enough to get to me in time.”
He suddenly looked over to Bella, who was visibly itching to spray him with some more blades.
“You too. Don’t even fucking try it.”
“Don’t you know how stupid of an idea this is?” Ken said.
“Ok prof, lecture me some more. I mean, you guys brought this onto yourselves. I had a simple request,” he let out another insane laugh, before abruptly going serious. “Last chance. I mean it.”
Nobody moved. In fact, nobody said anything at all. We were all at a loss for what to do.
“How could you have figured out how to release it?” Ken finally spoke up. “You’re bluffing.”
“Yeah? Well, you’re pretty fucking annoying.”
He flipped the switch before dropping it on the ground.
“I’m a fucking genius,” he said. “I can do anything.”
As Adrian continued to grin with malicious anticipation, the rest of us waited in tense silence for what felt like 5 minutes… but nothing happened.
Ken broke the silence. “You know, when people bluff, they usually don’t go this far.”
Adrian’s face contorted into a confused rage.
”Gimme a fucking break,” he spat out. “All this work for nothing…”
He took a glance over his shoulder.
“Nah… this is bullshit. I’m not an idiot.”
Like a bat out of hell, he took off down the opposing corridor.
“He’s checking the panel.” Ken said.
That’s right, I thought to myself. The panel was the only real way we could confirm whether or not he was really bluffing.
Truth be told, none of us had any idea what the Calamity could’ve been. We all just assumed it was going to be some colossal monstrosity of a creature that was going to be bent on immediate destruction following its release.
But… we didn’t know. Perhaps the danger it posed was more esoteric. Something non-direct.
“We should go see for ourselves,” I spoke up. “At this point, whatever happens is going to happen.”
It didn’t take too much convincing. Ken created another portal, pulling the skeleton back through it. With a fog of demise looming in the air around us, the 6 of us began making our way. The fighting was finally. The only thing left to do was to confirm our fate.
When we got to the panel, we were met with an unfavorable sight.
The light was yellow. Escape in progress.
Not only that… but a trap door had opened up in the floor to the side, with a set of stairs leading down it. Adrian was right there, leering down into it.
“What’d I tell you?” he said. “I’m not an idiot.”
“Well, what the hell are you gonna do now?” Ken asked. “Go down there and then what? Tame it or something?”
“Tame it… die… we’ll see what happens. Not like it matters anymore. Unless you wanna give me the kid.”
Sandhu didn’t budge.
Adrian scoffed. “I’ll be honest… I was planning on releasing this thing regardless. You can’t just keep something like this all locked up, you know?” His remaining eye was wide with excitement as he said it.
He looked back at the trap door.
“The great unknown, huh?” He muttered, before bolting down the stairs.
“Should we have stopped him?” Kael asked, as Adrian disappeared into whatever abyss was waiting for him.
“I… I don’t know,” Ken responded. “Would there have been a point?”
A long period of silence followed. It could’ve been an hour. Maybe close to 2. But regardless of the time… nothing happened. No giant creature bursting out from the floor. No portal sucking us into hell.
Well, one thing did change. The light on the panel turned from yellow to red.
The Calamity had escaped.
But that happened a while ago.
Adrian never even came up. Safe to say, we were at a loss for any kind of explanation.
“So… what now?” Bella asked. “Do we leave or…?”
“Feels weird leaving it like this, doesn’t it?” Kael responded.
“I guess,” Ken added. “Don’t really know where else to go from here, though.”
“There is one other option.” I said. It was an instinctive outburst. Something I was hardly thinking about myself.
“And what is that?”
I gestured towards the open door.
“We could go down and see what happened for ourselves.”
Ken blinked a few times in disbelief.
“Are you fucked in the head?”
Was I? It was a fleeting thought.
“Aren’t you curious?” I asked. “About what they’ve been trying to contain this whole time?”
Ken laughed. “Well, I never wanted to be here in the first place, so it really doesn’t matter to me. But if you wanna go, then make it quick. I’m sure this place won’t be quiet for much longer.”
I stopped myself for a second.
Is this really what I want? I thought to myself. I didn’t really know. Yet… there was some kind of strange impulse driving me forward.
“Maybe there was never a calamity in the first place,” Kael spoke up. “What if it was just a scare tactic?”
That theory could’ve held some weight, but it didn’t answer the question of what the hell had happened to Adrian.
“Oh, it exists for sure.”
A new voice came from behind us. We all turned around, already on edge from everything that had happened before.
But it was Clint, still bloody and beaten from his bout with the Warden.
“Clint?” Ken grinned at him. “Jeez, you’re still alive? Nassar and I made a bet about whether or not you were gonna survive. Can’t really collect now since he’s dead though…”
“Yeah?” Clint smiled back. “How much you put on me?”
“God, I’m offended. Don’t you have any faith in me, buddy? I know you’re a high-roller. At least in Vegas…”
“You know, it’s great that you guys are friends and all,” Kael interrupted. “But what the hell were you saying about the Calamity?”
“I’ll tell you, but first you gotta tell me something. Who the hell opened up the door?”
“Uh… this crazy fucking guy. Don’t think you know him.” I responded.
“And he’s down there. Right now?”
I nodded. Clint’s expression turned dead serious.
“Goddamn it.” He muttered.
He drew a handgun from his belt and began rapidly descending the stairs.
The rest of looked at each other in confusion before quickly following after him. It was a longer journey than I had anticipated. It really begged the question of why such a lengthy set of stairs was constructed in the first place.
Once we got down there, we found ourselves in some kind of laboratory, with dusty monitors and haphazard stacks of documents strewn everywhere. At the very end of the lab was a metal door that was wide-open. We could see Adrian standing inside the room that it led into.
I couldn’t really tell what he was doing at first. It kind of just looked like he was standing still. And then I realized… that’s all that he was doing. He paid no attention to us. He was simply staring ahead.
Although… I couldn’t quite see what he was staring at.
At first, that is.
“Whatever you do, do not look inside the damn room!” Clint shouted at us.
He said it just a little bit too late.
I don’t know how I can describe what I was seeing. On the surface, it’s simple. There was a monitor. Adrian was simply staring at a monitor.
But what was on that monitor was tougher to explain. An amalgamation of incomprehensible shapes and figures, shifting and moving in ways completely alien to human perception.
And then… there were the colors. Colors I’d never seen before in my life. Colors that I’m pretty sure didn’t exist. In that moment, I could feel my mind fading. My sense of self dissolving into the void. I was utterly transfixed on whatever the hell was on that monitor. I could feel some kind of strange pleasure overwhelming my senses. But at the same time… I was trying my absolute hardest to look away. My emotions were utterly conflicted, which only worsened the already-perplexing situation.
I was eventually snapped out of it after some unknown duration. I remember jumping at the sounds of multiple gunshots, before feeling a debilitating migraine and experiencing fleeting moments of blindness. I bent over in pain, before blinking a few times and looking back up to see Clint carrying Adrian’s limp, bullet-ridden body, with the door to the room now shut behind him.
As soon as he was done with that, he pressed his back against the wall, eyes wide and breathing heavy like a child who’d just seen a ghost.
“What the hell was that all about? And what the fuck is wrong with you?” Ken asked him.
I guess nobody else had gotten a glimpse of the monitor, because they wouldn’t have been asking that.
I understood why that thing was far more dangerous than anything in this prison could’ve ever been. It truly was bizarre. The pleasure I felt from watching it was an immediate high. As soon as I was taken away from the stimulus, I was hit with an immediate, jarring low. Not like the come-down that coincides with taking dopamine-releasing drugs. It was like… one moment, it felt like I understood something. As if that thing was letting me in on some kind of forbidden secret.
But for the moments following… it felt as if my comprehension of the world had shattered entirely. As if my brain was trying hard to reject what I’d just learned, putting me in some some state of existential dread.
At least, that’s the best way that I can put it.
“That’s… that was the calamity, wasn’t it?” I said, still mentally reeling from the experience.
Clint looked at me and nodded.
I could barely get the question out, but Clint answered regardless.
“Some things don’t have simple answers. All that I know is that somewhere out there… in the vast expanse above us… there’s something that we were never meant to see. Something that we cannot cross paths with.”
“But… if it’s up there… then we shouldn’t have to worry about it then, right? What’s with all this shit? And why the hell are we monitoring it?” I asked.
Clint sighed. “Here’s the thing… as soon as we found out about its existence… it found out about ours. In a way, we’re linked to it. Every second that a human eye perceives that thing, it reciprocates that attention. If somebody looks at it for too long… then they’re pretty much inviting it right over to us.”
I could hardly respond to this shit.
“I guess I should tell you all this part as well,” he continued. “It’s already coming towards us. Best ETA’s put it at about around 19000 years away. But after today… it’s probably a lot closer now.”
He looked down at Adrian. “This asshole just shortened humanity’s lifespan by a couple thousand years.”
And then he looked up at me. “I saw you looking as well,” he said. “Lucky I snapped you out of it before you went insane. You probably just cost us about 50 years as well.”
“Okay…” Kael spoke up. “Not that I’m following any of this… but how are we stopping this thing from arriving?”
Clint let out a dry laugh. “That’s what they’ve been trying to figure out. Why they built this fucking lab in the first place. It’s funny though. All of their research probably just brought it closer.”
“Huh,” Ken said. “So that’s the deal with the calamity. Wouldn’t have been my first guess.”
“Yeah, pretty wacky shit.” Clint said as he got up. “Well, we better get the hell out of here. This place is about to be swarmed.”
“Sure, but where the hell would we go? The moment we try getting off this island, we’re getting shot at. Maybe it’s better to just take our chances here and explain the situation.” Kael said.
“No fucking way we’re staying here.”
Sandhu, Ken and Bella responded in unison.
“We better figure out something soon,” Bella said. “Getting out of here’s gonna be tough.”
“It won’t be tough. It’s gonna be impossible.”
“The island’s already surrounded, and the cavalry’s ready to pounce on any stragglers. They know about everybody who was supposed to be in here and they’re gonna hunt down the ones who don’t get accounted for.”
He paused for a moment.
“In other words, you guys would be fucked,” and then he grinned. “If I wasn’t here.”
He took out a bizarre-looking cell-phone and dialed a number.
“Hey, I’m done,” he spoke into it. “Come pick me up.”
Before we could ask any questions, a small, blue portal opened up in the ground a few meters away from us.
“So you can do it too, huh?” Ken said.
“Yessir,” Clint responded. “But there’s no monsters coming outta this one.”
Moments later, a well-built man with a heavy mass of a beard who looked to be in his late-20s popped out.”
“What the hell, Clint? Where’s your own fucking transporter?”
“Warden broke it.”
The man laughed. “Oh, right. How was that, by the way?”
“What’d you think, Pete? I Almost died.”
“I’m surprised you made it out at all. That Warden’s a tough bastard. And you brought company, huh?”
He looked over each one of us, before gesturing towards the portal.
“Well don’t be scared. Jump in.”
There were a few more objections, of course. Mostly from Kael and I. Kael was still clinging on to his identity as some reprehensible criminal who belonged in this place, while I was shitting myself at the prospect of jumping into some blue hole in the ground.
However… everybody else was raring to go. I suppose they all had their reasons. The kid looked like as if he was about to pass out, but he really didn’t have a say in the matter. Sandhu was just trying to get him the hell away from this place.
I only ended up jumping in when I heard the sounds of boots on metal from above us.
I’m not quite sure how to describe my journey through the portal. Disorienting, I guess? But at that point, my senses had become pretty dulled anyway.
We were transported to the top of a metal tower overlooking some desert-like expanse. The surface was crawling with ghastly creatures that looked to be some kind of coyote-scorpion hybrid. And they sure as hell were aggressive, constantly attacking, ripping apart and cannibalizing each other.
At the edge of the platform we were on, there was a sniper-rifle mounted with a stool at the bottom. There were also empty boxes of snack cakes and beef jerky packets strewn across the floor.
“Why are you hanging out in this dump?” Clint asked him, looking disgusted at the sight below.
“Target practice,” Pete responded. “Remember the guy we were supposed to kill in Paradise X? Couldn’t hit him for shit, and then I nearly got my dick chopped off-“
“Hold on, are you just not gonna explain where the fuck we are?” Kael interrupted, sounding somewhat exasperated.
“I mean, I thought what just happened was pretty obvious,” Pete responded. We hopped to another dimension. Congrats, you’re a jumper now!”
A jumper. Didn’t Adrian say something about that?
“So, where do you wanna go next?” Clint asked.
“Wait… what’d you mean?” Ken spoke up. “Like… to another dimension?”
“Well, I mean… I thought we were…”
“Jeez Ken, I thought you were a little more adventurous than that.”
Ken sighed. “I don’t know. I make my around Earth pretty well, you know?”
“I’m down.” Bella said, causing Ken to whip his head around.
“Yeah. I mean, what’s left to do on Earth? Might as well see something cool while we’re alive. Besides, if you go back, you’re just gonna get captured again. You really aren’t as slick as you think. And what was that thing you told me all those years ago?”
Ken raised an eyebrow.
”I’ll follow you anywhere.” Bella said mockingly.
Ken chuckled somewhat nervously. “I never said that. Maybe it was similar, but it wasn’t that lame.”
“Whatever,” Bella continued, walking towards Clint and Pete. “I know where I’m going. And it’s not back to Earth.”
Ken hesitated for a few more moments before ultimately relenting.
“Jeez,” he said. “This is fucked up.”
“What about you, vampire?” Clint looked tat Kael.
“I’m not sure,” he responded. “I think a vacation’s more than I deserve.”
“Hmmm…” Clint continued. “So you still think that rotting away in a prison’s gonna do anybody any good? Well I’ll tell you something that might pique your interest.”
“There’s a planet named Gehenna out in an area called ‘The Dark Zone.’ There’s no rules there. No interdimensional government has any jurisdiction over it, and any task force they send gets obliterated. And trust me… there’s some bad shit happening to innocent beings over there. Shit that makes your blood boil just by thinking about it. It can’t be helped, I guess. Nobody coming to take out the bad guys and stop the suffering…
He looked Kael dead in the eye.
“Look, you’re not the strongest, but you’re strong enough to make a difference. Not to mention, you can get even stronger. Don’t waste your life. Go and help those people. There’s a militia of vigilantes called “The Deliverance” pushing back against the gangs and traffickers controlling that place. We can get you over there. And then you can go and find them. Join them. Tell them I sent you.”
It took a moment, but Kael ultimately relented to the proposition. Even though he was acting reluctant, I could tell that he was glad. He had a purpose once again.
“Now…” Clint said, turning to face us. “What do we do with you guys?”
Ajay still looked terrified as he clung onto Sandhu.
“Jeez, Clint,” Pete said, as he fired another sniper bullet down into the mass of creatures. “You’re getting kids caught up in your messes as well?”
Sandhu sighed. “Look, I appreciate you getting us out of there but… we need to go back.”
Clint and I both raised an eyebrow.
“What?” They’ll track you guys down for sure. That’s a terrible idea.”
“Maybe so… but it’s out of my hands. I have one more thing I need to figure out,” he looked at Ajay. “One more thing I need to figure out. For his sake. Trust me.”
Clint sighed. “Fair enough.”
“Well… you want me to come along?” I asked.
Sandhu smiled at me. “Nah. This is something we need to do on our own.”
“Well…” I responded. “It’s been a ride man.”
It felt weird saying bye to him like this.
“Yeah. Sure has. But if things work out, you’ll definitely see me again.”
And just like that, everything had been settled. Sandhu and Ajay were headed back to Earth. Their exact destination? Well, I’d rather not say it on here. Kael was headed to Gehenna in order to join the Deliverance. Pete stayed on the Desert-planet in order to continue his shooting. Once Clint had fixed his transporter, Him, Ken and Bella went off to god knows where.
Well, to be more accurate, I went with them as well, but things got complicated pretty quickly and we got separated.
So where am I now?
That’s a long story for another time. I’m back on Earth right now, but I won’t be able to stay here for long. The Chasm has been rebuilt and they’ve appointed an actual head-warden, who’s been looking for me. I hear he’s a real hard-ass. On top of that, I have piles of unfinished business scattered here and there. If I don’t deal with those then… well, they’ll definitely be coming back to haunt me.
But… I think things will work out in the end. At least, I hope they do.