“And When he gets to heaven,
To Saint Peter he will tell;
One more Soldier reporting, sir.
I’ve served my time in hell.”
- PFC. James A. Donahue, USMC. 1st Marine Division, H Company, 2nd. Battalion, 1st. Regiment
The date was June 6th, 1944. Private Samuel H. Bowden clutched his helmet with one hand, and his rifle with the other. He kept his head low, just like he was taught in basic training. Pure chaos and hell unleashed all around him. The crack of gunfire from machine gun nests on the beach sent bullets whistling overhead.
Private Bowden stole a glance to see how close they were to the beach. His view was obscured by an artillery shell that collided with the ship. The explosion sent him sailing over the side and into the waters below.
Private Bowden struggled against the weight of his equipment. He looked around as bullets hit the water and streaked past him. Other soldiers were fighting to reach the surface, but many either drowned or were struck by a stray bullet.
Despite his attempts to undo the clasps around his uniform, Private Bowden could not hold his breath any longer. Instinct took hold and he opened his mouth to take a breath beneath the waves.
A blinding flash from above blinded his vision as a pair of hands wrapped around his shoulders and pulled him forward.
Private Bowden collapsed onto solid ground as water rushed around him. He coughed and sputtered as the pair of hands pulled him to his feet. Through blurred vision, he saw a group of figures standing around him.
“Judging by his uniform, I’d say World War Two,” one of them said.
“Doesn’t matter what era he’s from, we need all the help we can get,” another said.
“His weapon? Is it magical?” a woman asked.
Private Bowden rubbed the water out of his eyes. One of the figures in front of him was holding a wooden staff with a crystal orb nestled on the top. She tapped the staff on the ground twice and the orb illuminated, bright enough to reveal the people who had saved him.
The room seemed to be an underground bunker with concrete walls and a low ceiling above. The woman in front of him was clothed in thick vines that snaked their way up her legs and wrapped around her torso. A crown of thorns rested on top of her head, adorned with colorful flowers.
Beside her was another woman, a man, and some sort of alien creature. The other woman was dressed in a silver suit that had the sheen of something like leather, but waves of color cascaded down it as the surface shimmered in the light of the staff. She carried two silver pistols in holsters on her waist.
The other man looked to be a soldier like Private Bowden, but his attire and weapons were unlike anything he had ever seen. He wore light colored camouflage and carried a sleek black rifle with an intricate scope.
The alien creature had large black eyes, a smooth head, a lanky body, and deep blue skin. A pair of mandibles on its mouth clicked and chittered like some sort of insect. It tilted its head and regarded private Bowden with a quiet curiosity.
“I don’t understand,” Private Bowden whispered, unable to conjure up any other phrase.
The other soldier spoke first.
“Before you arrived here, where were you?” he asked.
“It was June 6th, 1944. We were storming the beaches of Normandy. Our transport was hit by an artillery shell. I fell in the water. Couldn’t breathe, my gear was weighing me down. I knew I was going to drown, hell I even tried to take a breath, but now I’m here.”
The soldier nodded. “World War Two then. I’m from a future war. I had to defend our home, our freedom, our way of life, but the enemy was ruthless. They killed women, children, and burned entire cities to the ground. They didn’t fight for a cause, they fought for a leader who went mad in his pursuit of power. When he knew he could never win, he unleashed a weapon unlike anything we’d ever seen. All I saw was a flash, and then I was here.”
The women with the staff gazed absentmindedly into the orb. Her face was awash with regret.
“My people were peaceful, quiet folk. We did not intervene with the other kingdoms of D’Veen, but when the Verack Horde returned to avenge their fallen, we had no choice but to join the conflict. Our sacred forests burned to ash. Trees that witnessed the dawn of creation were shattered like glass. Our freedom was taken from us, and I too was consumed by the flames before I arrived here.”
The creature with blue skin and wide black eyes scurried over to Private Bowden. Before he could react, it stood up on its hind legs and placed its hands on the sides of his head.
Private Bowden’s mind was assaulted by visions of a strange world filled with lush, neon plants and hundreds of creatures like the one before him.
His mind was swept across strange alien battlefields, as the blue creatures fought against themselves in some sort of civil war. Along with the images, Private Bowden felt emotions pouring into him from the creature. Pain, regret, sadness, all of it pure and concentrated.
The creature pulled its hands back and stepped away. Private Bowden made eye contact with it for a brief moment, and they understood each other’s pain without the need for words.
The soldier turned his gaze to the woman in the shimmering silver clothes. She was inspecting one of her pistols. The silver weapons held the vague shape of a pistol, but had no moving parts or even a trigger to speak of.
“Since we’re sharing stories, I guess I’ll go next. I’m from a dimension where humanity discovered the true purpose of dark matter. It's an unfinished creation, ‘God’s leftovers’ as some called it. With the right energy, it could be transformed into anything. My suit, my weapons, all of it is made from the stuff. Of course, it’s finite, so it was only a matter of time before people started fighting over it. Turns out we should have left it alone,” she said, sliding the guns back into her holsters.
“So, what happened? How did you get here?” Private Bowden asked.
The woman shook her head. “I didn’t go anywhere, kid. Welcome to my world.”
The other soldier stepped forward.
“Storytime is over. Listen kid, there’s a pair of cosmic titans fighting above us, and when they’re finished there ain’t gonna be nothing left. Our only hope is to reach the Capsule. That’s how we’ll survive the loop. That’s assuming it even exists.”
“The prophecy hasn’t been wrong thus far,” the woman with the staff said.
“Prophecy?” Private Bowden asked.
The woman in the silver suit shook her head as she pulled one of her sleek pistols from the holster around her waist.
“The multiverse is collapsing, all possible timelines, realms, dimensions are converging here for the final conflict. The Titans' fighting is warping and tearing the fabric of the universe, pulling in warriors from across time and space.
Eventually the collapse will trigger a singularity. If we’re not in this Capsule thing by then, we’ll get erased along with the rest of the universe. Is that enough of an explanation for you?”
Private Bowden nodded, though he was still completely in shock.
The woman in silver nodded. “Good, then let’s go.”
Private Bowden clutched his rifle and stood at the back as the other soldier threw open the door to the bunker and charged outside. The woman with the staff followed, then the woman in silver, and finally the strange blue alien.
Private Bowden let his training kick in and survival instincts took hold as he charged into the conflict raging on the surface.
He emerged onto a scarred battlefield where thousands if not millions of warriors clashed far into the horizon. Private Bowden saw the Titans first. They fought in the distance, blotting out the sun with each blow.
They both had a human silhouette, one was black as the night sky, peppered with stars, the other was drenched in a golden light, with strings of solar flares stretching outward from its back like wings.
With each blow they traded, shockwaves sent blasts of air rushing across the battlefield. Private Bowden felt a tug at his leg as he sat paralyzed by the sight. He looked down and saw the blue alien’s round black eyes looking up at him.
It pointed ahead, to a structure jutting out from the ground. It was round and black, shaped like a pill, with a glowing green panel in the center.
Private Bowden followed the creature and met up with the others at the structure. The woman in silver was running her hands along the green panel’s surface, tapping on the strange runes displayed in rows of four.
The other soldier was crouched with his rifle tucked into his soldier. He fired off several shots into the fray surrounding them. Private Bowden spun around and readied his rifle.
From within the droves of fighting, a horned creature covered in black scales broke free and charged toward him. A long thin tail flicked behind it, topped with a single shimmering point that looked like it could cut through anything.
Private Bowden scrambled with his rifle, but the creature was too fast. He frantically fired off several shots wildly into the fray before the creature leapt into the air and soared toward him, the blade on its tail poised to strike.
From his right, Private Bowden saw a mass of vines ensnare the creature in mid air. They wrapped around its limbs and without hesitation tore the creature apart. A shower of oily black blood cascaded over Private Bowden as the creature’s corpse landed at his feet.
He looked over the woman with the staff, who quietly nodded and returned to a fighting stance.
“I got it! It’s opening!”
Private Bowden spun around and saw the woman in the silver suit standing next to the Capsule. The panel slid open revealing a small opening. She didn’t hesitate to climb inside, and the others followed suit.
Private Bowden followed behind, taking one last look at the Titans trading blows on the horizon, and the scores of humans, creatures, and all manner of warriors clashing in the space between.
He climbed into the opening and fell once more onto a strange surface below. It was dark and smooth like glass. As he stood up, Private Bowden marveled at the size of the space inside the structure.
Despite being relatively small on the outside, the interior stretched out before him. Hundreds, if not thousands of people and creatures had managed to climb inside before them.
“How did you get it open?” Private Bowden asked.
The woman in the silver suit holstered her weapon and shrugged.
“No idea. Maybe it’s programmed to let certain people in. I don’t tend to question good things.”
The opening shut behind them and the darkness surrounding them became like a window to the outside world. Private Bowden looked down and saw the battlefield beneath him, and the titans warring in the distance beyond.
“Front row seats for the end of the fucking universe.” the other soldier said.
The collective group watched as the golden Titan turned its gaze toward the sun in the sky. With its hand outstretched, it warped and unraveled the sun like it was a ball of yarn. Flaming whips of molten fire channeled into the Titans hands.
The dark Titan filled with stars reached down and ripped one of the mountains on the horizon from its place, raising it high above its head. The golden Titan shot a pillar of fire towards the other. The dark Titan threw the mountain down to block the blast.
An explosion unlike anything any living being had ever seen emanated from the two Titans, consuming them in a brilliant blue light. The blast expanded, devouring the land, the sky, and reality itself.
The vast space where everyone stood went dark again. After a moment, the small opening let in a shaft of light to Private Bowden’s right. He shielded his eyes and tried to make out what lay beyond.
“What now?” he asked.
The woman covered in vines laid a hand on Private Bowden’s shoulder. He looked over to her as she basked in the warm light coming from outside.
“The loop begins. Rejoice, for the time of strife is over. Creation has been born anew,” she said.
Private Bowden felt a sense of calm wash over him. For years, he had fought on the front lines of hell itself, watching friends and strangers lay down their lives for their country.
He couldn’t explain what had happened to him that day. He wasn’t even sure any of it was real, but all that mattered now was that he had finally found the freedom he fought for.
They say that only the dead will see the end of war. Dead, alive, it didn’t matter to Private Bowden. The fight was over, he could finally rest.
About the Creator
Lover of dogs, gaming, and long walks on the beach. Content Marketing Manager by day, aspiring writer by night. Long time ghostwriter, finally stepping into the light. Alone, we cannot change this world, but we can create better ones.