Portalis Infernus by Bridger Cummings

Name’s Logan. I was a truck driver doing a long haul across Nebraska when the first portals opened. Seemingly random across the entire planet, fiery chasms tore rifts across the land, and demons of all sorts flooded out.

I listened to it all unfolding on the radio in my big rig. I kept thinking it must have been some War of the Worlds broadcast. Not an April Fool’s joke, but some convincing tale. But it was the same “story” on every station. I neared Omaha, and there was heavy traffic going the opposite direction I was. The horizon glowed red in the twilight. Omaha was ablaze.

Portals to some hellish dimension opened up in our world, and hideous, insect-like beasts that ranged from the size of cats to elephants came forth. They had a bone to pick with just about everything in our world.

I pulled the truck into the next pullout and turned around back on I-80 to join the rest of the march into the empty cornfields.

I was between Omaha and Lincoln. A few dozen yards in front of me, as I cruised at the maximum my governor would allow, another portal tore the ground open. A new Grand Canyon in the middle of otherwise featureless Nebraska. I slammed on the brakes. Three other cars were in front of me. And in front of them was the new chasm.

The first two cars flew right over the edge. The third one managed to stop mere feet from the edge. But my truck needed more stopping room than I had. Our bumpers connected with a metallic thwack, and my truck carried both of us into the violet cavity.

I thought I would die. But I’m still kicking. The fall seemed like it took hours, yet when I landed, the damage was minimal. A few tires exploded, and the frame was shot, but it was less than what I envisioned during my descent. I crawled out of my mangled truck to inspect the damage. My truck landed on the car that I pushed in. Pancaked. Sorry, buddy.

The other two cars were empty. What wasn’t empty was the bellies of three beasts that feasted on the passengers’ remains. Gray natural armor over sinewy flesh. Blood soaked their ravenous faces with mouths that opened to reveal rows of teeth-like mandibles. My stomach did a somersault.

Thankfully, the beasts were occupied with their banquet, and I snuck around to the other side of the truck. I couldn’t do anything for them. I reached into my cab, grabbed my Big Gulp of soda (gotta stay hydrated!), and set off.

This world was all wrong. Purple skies reminiscent of leftover wine in a glass. The air itself was briny. It was hard to breathe, and it constantly stung my eyes. The landscape reminded me of the Punaluʻu Beach in Hawaii (where I honeymooned with my fiancé before she left me for my “best friend”) with rolling hills of black sand as far as I could see. My skin was sticky from the humidity while I shivered from the persistent chill. I didn’t even know what I was looking for. I could see tracks in the sand when the two suns were up, and I avoided the beasts.

I stumbled in my deliriously dehydrated stupor. In my wandering, I found another portal. This one blue and seemingly in the sky, elevated about twenty feet off the ground. Back into my world! But I wasn’t the only thing there. The beasts constructed a platform to ascend up to it, where they marched into our world.

On the ground below the portal lay a glowing orange crystal, a star below the void above. I watched for a while, and the stream of monsters slowed to a sporadic trickle and then no more came. It seemed all the beasts in this area had gone through. I slithered forward.

I smashed the crystal, and the portal started shimmering. Like a dream that was already half-forgotten after waking, the view of our world through the portal faded. I sprinted up the platform and jumped through. I finally found an exit back into our world.

The portals only allow travel in one direction, but when one is made in the hell-world, it also opens one in our world in a random location that brings people here. This one took me to the outskirts of Madrid, Spain. The rift winked out behind me, leaving a scar upon the Earth.

I was finally back in our world. Now I needed to find a way to my house in Colorado Springs, where my dog was. News was sparse, but I eventually pieced together that a large offensive in the States by the beasts was happening. Denver and Colorado Springs were nothing more than firestorms.

I wandered the coast of Portugal for a week in a daze. My dog was the only living thing that mattered to me.

Humanity made a stand, mostly by setting up perimeters around rifts and mowing down anything that came through. But it wouldn’t be enough.

I packed up some guns and a machete, and I made for the nearest rift in the ground and jumped through.

Years of hunting white-tailed deer honed my tracking and how to silently hike. Whatever these muscular, carapace-crusted beasts were, they still bled.

Now I live in their world. Their meat is tough and bitter, but it hasn’t killed me yet. I sometimes make runs back into our world, but usually when I destroy a crystal, I just start looking for the next one. Someone needs to close these portals, and it seems to be me.

Bridger Cummings currently resides in Denver, CO, where he works as a writer and editor. He lived in Germany for six years before doing a world trip and returning to the states. He often has his head in the clouds when he isn’t watching the sky with his telescope.

Website: www.bridgersmusings.com