The year is 2158. Humanity has finally achieved something that it had fancified about for millennia- time travel. Well, to be more accurate, they had discovered that the Mayans had, along with warning us, discovered time travel. We are now using their machine, which we recently found. Although, to be more accurate again, the NSA had discovered it in the nineties, but it took them two hundred years to finish up the paperwork. But all that aside, time travel is finally being revealed to the public. People bulge out of the massive, coliseum sized stadium built just for this occasion in the middle of Washington, D.C.The first test of the ancient, stone contraption is simple. A trained pilot moves the machine one year into the future. At that time, hundreds of people will once again flood the stadium to see the machine’s return. The name of the machine’s pilot is Toney P. Azus- a direct descendant of the immortalized American hero Carl Azus- and this was his destiny. He could feel it in his bones as he grabbed hold of the crank, and turned it a fraction of a millimeter- any farther and he would’ve traveled at least a century. But he was ready- he’d been training for this all his life; he had been bred specifically for this task.
As the ancient stone crank moved, Toney felt a strange sense of… power? No, that would entail that it was something he could control. It was something far more raw, open, lethal. Energy. Yes, that’s it. A wave of shear energy surged through Toney; it was as if the entire universe formed inside him at that moment, and then burst him open into a billion tiny shards. His consciousness was overwhelmed- he was one billion separate, independent beings, but each one was, in itself, anyway, incomplete. He was literally being torn apart- but he wasn’t. He realized he was still one, whole entity, but he was being pulled in one billion different directions at once. He saw glimpses through trillions of different eyes, but all at the same time. He wondered if he even still existed in any plane of reality. Suddenly, all of the different visions in his mind culminated into one, panoramic culmination of all of space and time that humanity had experienced and will experience. He suddenly felt like his brain would rip in two- one half overflowing with everything that he saw, and the other desperately grabbing for more, feeling empty. It was like staring at only one of an infinity of the nanoscopic smithereen of all that was, is and will be. Then he saw a flurry of narrow, green eyes appear everywhere- but suddenly, it stopped. Toney fought to retain the feeling, to explore it for longer, but soon he was ripped out of it like a chunk of flesh being torn from its respective creature by a googleplex of serrated, jagged, razor-sharp teeth, and swallowed into the belly of the beast that is reality.
Toney Azus was, once again, whole and real. He had the strangest sensation that he had been here before- but where was here? Then it all came back to him. The machine, the time travel- and the strangest feeling of something more; a dream, perhaps? He put the thought away for a moment, in order to focus on the present question- where the heck was he? He looked about, and saw metallic walls around him. Automated arms performed tasks on nondescript objects, and placed them on conveyor belts. He appeared to have ended up in some sort of futuristic assembly line. As this couldn’t have been built in a year, he reasoned, he must’ve accidently moved too far forward into the future. He got out of the stone device, and went toward the door at the end of the hall. As Tony stepped through the door, a cloud of noxious air took siege within his lungs. He stumbled forward, hacking and coughing. As he looked around, what he saw shocked him- where he could once see the White house, he now saw a massive, black castle. It appeared to be made out of some sort of stone, but had chrome metal plating and red and purple neon lights covering a considerable portion of it. He noticed a majestic condor flying across the sky. He then saw its lead filled corps fall to the ground, about three feet away from him. It had been shot down by what appeared to be automated machine gun turrets. He had just enough time to see the dead bird before the turret started moving toward him. Tony began to run back toward the machine, but this was no easy task. With venomous air flooding his lungs, he collapsed into a motionless heap. The last thing he saw before passing out was a group of men with machine guns coming towards him. Then it all went black.
Toney Azus awakened, and saw what he had seen when he had time traveled once again- but something was different. He could still see all of past, present, and future, but it was being shrouded and apparently devoured by a shadow. As Toney Azus wondered what was happening, he saw a thousand narrow green eyes open, and heard a voice say- “It is ending.” “Did… did you just read my thoughts?” stammered Toney. “Yes.” the voice said again. It’s tone was deep and ominous, yet light and airy at the same time. “Who… are… you?” Toney asked. “Some call us Fate. Others, Destiny. But we are The End.” The voice sent shivers down Toney’s spine. It was like quintillion tiny Madagascan hissing cockroaches crawling into his ears, and flooding his entire body. “Well then, uh, end,” he stumbled over his words, “what are they- you doing? “We are ending. Our time has come- the time to erase all. You awakened us from our eons of dreamless slumber, and now our duty shall be fulfilled.” “But w-why are you… erasing everything?” Questioned Toney. But unfortunately, before his question could be answered, he was once again ripped back into reality. Toney awakened to see a face hovering over him. As he waited for his vision to adjust to the dim light, he felt the strangest sense of something he was trying to remember, but he couldn’t quite grasp it. The face was in better focus now. He could see a pale man with a stained lab coat and dark hair, though there were quite a few white streaks snaking through it as well. The man had a monocul, and appeared to have stitches all about his face. He could sense that he was deep underground. “Are you awake now, boy?” Said the man. His voice sounded as if he was gargling marbles, and his lips didn’t seem to match his words. “Uh… yeah. I guess I am. Where am I?” “You’re in the kingdom, of course.” “So I guess my time machine was a teleporter to.” Said Toney. But as soon as the words escaped his lips, he regretted them. While the monocled man’s face didn’t change (and something about his way his face seemed to hang limp was odd) his eyes reflected a sort of insane rage. “Arghhhh!” Screamed the monocled man, as he proceeded to smash his head repeatedly into the floor. “Not ANOTHER crazy! First it’s the cultists, and now- now a ‘time traveler’! Why must I endure such torment?!” Toney could tell that this was not going well. He started to slowly rise from the gurney he was on, but then the monocled man turned towards him again. “No!” he bellowed. “You shan’t leave this place, and spread your lies throughout the land! As the doctor of this kingdom, I must treat you!”
ap The doctor reached into an old, greasy medicine cabinet, and came out with a bloody syringe long and sharp enough to pierce one’s skull, and that appeared to be what he planned to do with it.Thankfully, though, his aim was poor. He started pounding the needle into anything near Toney that moved, giving mr. Azus a chance to escape. He burst through The barred door of the chamber, and ran down the dank, dark hallway of wherever he was, with the doctor trailing after him. The way was twisted and seemed to lead to nowhere in particular. But he finally found a case of winding stairs that lead him another level up. This floor was different- while in the lower one he felt like he was in a cave, this level felt more like a prison, he thought. A few moments of running later and he found out just how right he was. A course of sickening, blood-curdling shrieks filled the air.He looked to his sides as ran, and saw things that he knew could never be erased from his mind. The cells were filled with nightmarish man-beast hybrids who appeared to live only to terrify others. Toney passed this hall as quickly as he could, and as he crested to next staircase, he stopped to catch his breath. When he did, he noticed that he could no longer see or hear the doctor behind him. After a few moments of heavy breathing- the air down here, while not being as bad a what he breathed when he got out of the machine, was still pungent and unpleasant- Toney started running again. The change of scenery he noticed was extremely drastic- gone were the dripping, smelly trappings of the lower levels, replaced now by stark white, futuristic walls. He slowed his pace down a bit. Finally, after hours of walking down the seemingly endless hallway, he saw a door. He couldn’t explain it, but he somehow knew that it was the right door. He pushed it open and was greeted once again with thick, toxic air. He saw the rusty, metal building that he had appeared in earlier- apparently it wasn’t a teleporter after all. He raced towards it. Unfortunately, though, when Toney tried the handle, it appeared that his luck of unlocked doors had run out. He was about to go try to find someone to help him, but inexplicably-
“Hello boy! Remember me?” The doctor was behind him. He had his syringe in one hand, and a rusty, sawed off shotgun in the other. With no other place to go, Tony Azus went in the only available direction- up. As he scrambled up the stark, metal building, he glanced down to see the doctor stuffing the syringe into the shotgun, and aiming it at him. He climbed all the faster, and managed to get on the roof. But when he looked down, he watched the doctor pull the trigger. The needle of the syringe flew dangerously close to his face, missing it by an inch, but that wasn’t the greatest danger. Tiny shards of glass and metal flew through the air as he turned and started running again. None of the shrapnel hit his face, but he felt hundreds of tiny cuts in his back. Unfortunately though, the needle had been full. Fizzing, bubbling acid and chemicals splattered on his back, seeping into the cuts. He felt as if magma was flowing through his veins, seeping through his body, and turning his innards to soup. He fell to his knees, but then, as he was staring at the top of the roof he was on, he noticed that the roof was one giant solar panel. But then something feral, something instinctual took over, and he reached up his fist, and slammed it down on the roof. His eyes widened with surprise- yes, his fist was bleeding, but where he’d punched was now cracked! Tony proceeded to pound the solar panel his hands were limp, bloody pulp, but eventually, the panel broke. Toney lowered himself into the jagged opening, not being able to feel hundreds of knives of glass and metal slicing through his flesh in his adrenaline fueled state. When he hit the ground after a seven foot fall, he managed to crawl his way over to the time machine. But then he heard the door open, and saw the doctor run in holding the key.
“I have made you a god! Now pay to me your dues!” Screeched the doctor. Toney was just getting into the machine (no easy task with two broken hands and acidic mutagen in your circulatory system) when the doctor started to pull of his face. Toney stared in horror as the stitches tore out, revealing the true face underneath. It was a hideous sight- his face appeared to be deformed, with an upturned nose and huge, gaping eye sockets, through which he could not only see the the doctor’s eyes, but also exposed muscle, veins and bone. His entire face seemed to small for his skull, as you could see it through the tightly pulled, near transparent skin. And then the scars- they were everywhere on his head, and his neck was practically torn off. As the doctor started walking towards him, a horrific smile spread across what would have been his lips, if there had been enough skin to call them that. His teeth were yellow and rotten, and filed into points.
“Yes, yes, your face should fit nicely over mine.” said the doctor as he pulled a steak knife out of his lab coat. “Oh, but don’t worry, you won’t bleed out. The mutagen shall quickly create a new layer of skin. Of course, it won’t exactly appear ‘human’, but what does these days?” The doctor started to laugh maniacally as he raised his blade. Toney finally got situated in the time device’s seat, and turned the dial just as the serrated tip of the knife hit his flesh, tearing a cut around his temple. But then the energy surged through him, and the last thing he saw before slipping back into time was the doctor crumpling to the floor, and a heavily armed being standing behind him, with the gun that had just ridden the world of a monster.
Tony was back again, seeing that the the projection of all that was, is, or will be was even more engulfed by the End. He felt his face where the knife had cut him, and instead of feeling his skin, he felt a layer of feathery, scaly skin, and a sickening realization came to him that this must have been the same fate that the beings in the prison had met. Then the chorus of green, slit-like eyes opened once again, and stared at him. “Soon, our purpose shall be fulfilled. Time shall be no more.” Said End.
Toney could tell that this was bad.
“Why are you… destroying time?”
“So humanity cannot do it for us. A machine such as this can only be trusted to the Om’onor. You know them as Mayans. As we are the End, they were the beginning. They came to your plain of reality to enlighten you, and they were met with death and fear. They designed the machine you are in to return to here, but your kind slaughtered them all before they could. Now it is time for the vengeance of the End.” Suddenly, it all disappeared, and Toney was back in reality.
Toney got out of the machine, and his eyes were immediately drawn to what appeared to be a man covered from head to toe with camo. He had twelve different types of bullet chains wrapped across his chest, ten knives strapped to his boots and lower legs, and holsters all over his body, each containing a deadly weapon. Right now, he was holding an assault rifle to the head of a man in an expensive looking suit. They were in a public square, surrounded by thousands of people chanting and screaming “Anarchy! Anarchy! Anarchy!” “Please!” screamed the man the suit “Stop! You don’t know what you’re doing!” “We know exactly what we’re doing. We’re picking up where the founding fathers left off- we’re becoming free!” The crowed screamed all the more at this. “Alright, Mr. President.” Spoke the Militant once again. “Any last words before I blow your ever-loving brains out?” “Yes.” The President now had a mask of resignation on his face. “Fire.” Suddenly, a shot rang through the blood red sky- but it didn’t come from the Militant’s rifle. It screamed through the air and planted it’s burning, led self into the Militant’s baray-wearing skull. Toney whirled his head around to the bullet’s apparent origin, and caught just the slightest glimpse of a shadowy figure stepping out of view behind a crumbling brick chimney atop an abandoned mannequin factory. Meanwhile, the crowd was becoming increasingly confused. It was just now that Mr. Azus noticed that, at this time (whatever time that might’ve been), the white house still stood. Granted, the flag had three extra stars, it had yellow rather than red stripes, and the stars were set in the lower corner with the yellow stripes reaching out like sunbeams, but it was clearly the the ol’ star spangled banner. That was where the president was bolting toward at that very moment, with the crowd following not far behind. He managed to make it into the building safely, but the hoard of anarchists started to pool around it like the structure was bleeding masses of humanity. When they started pounding on the doors and walls, the sound was like a jackhammer giving birth to Godzilla- very loudly. Toney decided to seek shelter, and began heading toward the mannequin factory, the only near by building standing (besides the white house). He stepped gingerly through the door, which was barely hanging on by one hinge, and entered what looked like human meat-freezer. The plastic men hung on hooks extending from the floor to the ceiling, with scores of cat-walks running in between them like a cold, black spider’s web. He slumped to the floor, and leaned against the wall, taking a precious moment to catch his breath. He stared down at his hands, seeing that they were once again healed- but they were coated in patches of feathers and scales. The bones beneath his hands were longer as well- they stretched his skin to the point of translucence, and came to sharp points at his fingertips. Suddenly, a mutant rat scuttled by on five and a half legs, and Toney’s new hands reached out to grab it. He was about to bite the poor, mutilated creature’s head off when he stopped, reviled by what he had been so ready to do seconds prire. He realized that while the ‘healing’ serum was making his physique more animal, it was doing the same to his mind as well, giving him an instinct to kill. He looked down on the hapless beast still caged between his claw-like fingers. It had jagged teeth, and festering sores and boils all across it’s body. It’s fur was virtually non-existent, save the whiskers on the front of his misshapen face. There was another, not fully formed set of jaws protruding from the back of its bulging skull. It’s third eye seemed to be crammed into an undersized socket along with it’s second one, held in by a thin, yellowish membrane. Toney set the monster down, and watched as it scurried from the building to the hellish landscape outside. It was then that he realized he was in an America that was post-nuclear apocalypse. Toney needed time to process this, and as he did, he drifted of to sleep. But as he slept, he dreamed a dream…
©Benjamin Joseph Huether 2016