Corporal Jason Gray was completely fubar'ed. He tried to think of a time in his life when he'd been more comprehensibly fucked and nothing came close, not even when those bastard lawyers had gleefully picked through the carcass of his failed marriage.
He lost his balance and stumbled forwards onto his knees. His captors giggled and yanked the chain binding his wrists together in front of him. Jason was dragged back to his feet.
He wondered what had happened to the rest of the squad.
Whole fucking world was fubar'ed.
If this was even fucking Earth. Jason had his doubts. He suspected they might have slipped into hell-space or worse - hell-space had slipped into the world around them.
Ahead of him he saw a twisted baroque structure rising up against a roiling purple sky. It sat on top of a hill like a squat predator, waiting to grab any prey unwary enough to come within range of its claws. Fires flickered within its midnight-black walls, burning like hellion eyes. Above it black-winged forms flitted through a storm-ridden sky.
Fubar'ed. Completely and utterly fubar'ed.
They'd been on leave. That was the worst part. They'd been fucking out, on R&R in the next state.
Nowhere near the fucking gate.
Even though it seemed barely credible, somehow Uncle Sam had found an even better meatgrinder to chew up its sons, one that made Iraq and Afghanistan look like prime vacation spots in comparison. H-space would have been the worst place on Earth had it actually been on Earth.
Jason didn't know what it was. The eggheads reckoned they'd opened a doorway into some kind of parallel dimension. Jason reckoned they didn't know shit either. All he knew was he'd been sent there twice on tours of duty and he hadn't liked it one little bit. No sir.
At least he'd been lucky. He'd come back with body - and mind - intact.
The men called it hell-space and they had damn good reason. In Iraq or Afghanistan the hostiles might set your body on fire and leave the charred corpse hanging from the nearest bridge, but they didn't pull men apart with the same ease as plucking tender chicken flesh from a bone. They didn't do the ... other things Jason had heard.
H-space was bad juju. Jason was glad to be the fuck out of there.
Or so he'd thought.
Jason didn't have a fucking clue what had happened. He woke up one morning to find the sun hadn't. Six a.m., Seven a.m., Eight a.m., Nine a.m.; no fucking sun, just sky the colour of an infected bruise.
There was no way to tell if this was happening just here, or everywhere. All the communications were out. No TV, no internet, no radio; he couldn't even get a signal on his mobile.
The people really started freaking out when midday rolled round and the sky was still as dark as if it was evening. Jason watched the panic-stricken streets from their second floor hotel room.
"Shouldn't we be down there, restoring order or something?" he asked Sergeant David Mendonca.
"Fuck that," Mendonca replied. "They don't want order; they want someone to pin the blame on. I ain't planning on being a sacrificial scapegoat to a crazy mob."
"They might be right," Jason said. "To blame us."
Mendonca didn't say anything.
"Fucking scientists. Messin' with stuff they don't understand," Jason muttered.
Matt Theobald burst into the room. "Wilcock's freaking out," he said.
"Fuck. I told them they should have sent that boy all the way home. Two weeks, two months, two years; doesn't matter. No way they're ever going to get him to go back through that gate again," Mendonca said. He headed for the door. "I'll go see if I can calm him down."
Hell-space had totally fucked up Wilcock's head. That kid was several whores short of a brothel in Jason's opinion.
"That sky remind you of anything," Matt said, staring out of the window.
"Yeah," Jason replied.
They'd seen a sky like that before. On the other side of the gate.
The demons came just after nightfall. Jason watched them swoop out of the deepening sky on leathery black wings. Hundreds of them. Thousands of them. The air was filled with their obscene laughter. Jason's guts tied together in a frozen knot as he watched the devils pluck people up off the road and carry them away, screaming, into the darkness.
"Jesus fuck," Matt murmured.
"We gotta do something," Jason said.
"With what," Matt said. "The weapons are all back at the base. We got maybe a couple of small arms at most."
"We get new ones," Mendonca said. He pointed down to a building outside. "There."
The neon fascia advertised hunting supplies.
"The hotel's underground car park takes us to less than a block away," Mendonca continued. "That should give us some cover. Get the men together and round up as many civilians as you can. No heroics. They start playing up with any kind of fuckery then you leave them behind."
They heard a loud bang. A gunshot.
Private Martin Scanlan walked in. The left side of his face was splashed with blood and he wore a shocked expression. "Wilcock ... he..."
They didn't have long to reflect as they heard shattered glass and screams from the room above them.
"Move your asses, soldiers," Mendonca ordered.
Jason bust the leg off a wooden chair to serve as a makeshift club and followed his squad out into the corridor. Civilians were milling around in panic and confusion. Jason bellowed out orders, trying to shepherd them down the stairs. Behind him Matt did the same, trying to funnel the rushing people in a single direction. They heard more sounds of breaking glass as demons crashed through the windows of the rooms upstairs.
Down in the lobby they stared out through the glass entrance windows onto a scene of pandemonium. People were running round and screaming in panic as black-winged devils rained down on them from above. Jason froze, trying to think of the best course of action.
"This way," Mendonca yelled. "The underground car park."
Jason was about to follow when he saw a willowy blonde standing in the corridor beyond the lobby, right next to the restroom doors. She stared at the commotion with wide blue eyes. Jason met her gaze and indicated she should follow with a twist of his head. The girl was too frightened. She backed into the ladies' restroom.
"Leave her," Mendonca warned. "We can't save everyone."
"It'll only take a moment," Jason said. He knew he shouldn't, but the girl reminded him of Valerie, back before their marriage had gone to shit.
Jason dashed across to the toilets and gently pushed the door open. He didn't want to spook the girl more than she already was. The door closed behind him, shutting out most of the noise of the lobby. Quiet now, the room gave the appearance of a calm safe haven, an impression reinforced by the clean white light and pristine white tiles.
All an illusion, Jason thought. There was no safety here.
He heard the girl's sniffling sobs and followed them to the last cubicle. The girl was sitting on the toilet, arms wrapped tightly around her knees.
"You can't stay here, Miss," Jason said. "It's not safe."
The girl didn't hear him. She continued to rock on the toilet seat, sniffling as tears ran down her cheeks.
Jason got down low. He offered his hand in what he hoped was a non-threatening manner.
"Miss," he said softly. "We need to go now."
The girl stopped sniffling and tilted her head to look at Jason. Those wide blue eyes of hers were real heart-melters, Jason thought. The girl noticed his dog tags swinging over his civvie shirt.
"Are you here to save me?" she asked.
"I'll do my best," Jason said with a friendly smile. "I'm Jason, what's your name?"
"Laura Lee," the blonde replied.
"Okay Laura Lee, we really need to leave now. Are you ready?"
Laura Lee nodded. She put her hand in his and didn't resist as he pulled her up off the toilet. He led her out of the restrooms. In the corridor he flattened his body against the wall and lifted up his makeshift club, trying to see if the demons had entered the lobby.
"Right, let's be-"
The girl screamed loudly.
Jason turned. There was a demon standing right next to them in the corridor.
It was maybe an inch taller than Jason and he was just over six foot. Her leathery black wings were folded behind her.
It slipped in; it always did. As much as he wanted to think of them as 'it', he always lapsed into 'her' or 'she'. It couldn't be helped. The human parts of their anatomy were always absolutely stunning and they never made any attempt to cover themselves up. They had no shame. It was like staring at a porn star amazon while she brazenly showed off her breasts and pussy.
That's what did for so many men out in hell-space. They were so busy thinking with their dicks they didn't notice the claws until it was too late.
Alien. Indigenous species.
She had cloven hooves covered in downy red fur. There were pointed black horns jutting out of her forehead. A pointed devil's tale twitched back and forth behind her. And don't forget the wings.
What other evidence did they need?
"Run!" Jason bellowed to Laura Lee. "Follow the others."
.... There is more of this story ...