The Trip
By J.R. Smith

John Streck was mad. His dimension traveling machine

was malfunctioning again. This was the fifteenth time in

the last four months. It first was a loose microchip. Then

it was a laser's lens being misaligned. What was it this

time?

Ahh. He found it. A frayed cord. He decided to do a

complete repair check. John was sick and tired of repairing

things one at a time. He decided that if anything had even

the slightest chance of screwing a trip up, he would fix it

before it could do so.

John found five problems that would have been

disastrous-if he had not found them this early. He prepared

for what he thought was his first successful trip to

another dimension. But, alas, John missed a fatal problem.

The laser beam collision point was not centered. This

wouldn't physically hurt him. No. The results were much

worse.

John began the trip sequence, oblivious to the

complete catastrophe he was about to cause. The computer,

ever pessimistic, asked, "What is this, the sixteenth time

you've tried this? It's never going to work." John shot

back, "Oh, just shut up and start the countdown." "Okay,

okay! Geez! 20, 19, 18.," replied the computer.

When it reached 15, John realized his terrible

mistake. He immediately tried to stop the countdown "Stop

the countdown now!" screamed John. The computer's reply was

a laugh in the middle of 8 and 7 and a smile on the plasma

monitor. "You imbecile! The laser beams aren't colliding at

the center! That will cause a dimensional flux!" he yelled.

The plasma monitor's smile was gone in a microsecond.

There were five seconds left. "I'm trying to shut it down,"

declared the computer. ".3, 2, 1, WARP!" droned the

countdown. Having not been in the right bodily position at

warp time, John was knocked out.

When John stirred, he found himself outside. Not

outside the lab. Not outside his home. In the outdoors. The

outdoors of another dimension. He walked around in a daze,

cursing his computer. If he ever got back home, he would

take out the computer's personality chips.

Suddenly, John saw a blur. There was something

watching him. He called after it in every language he knew.

Then he chased after the mysterious smudge. Soon John

realized he would never catch it. Then he asked himself,

"Do I have a jet pack or do I have a jet pack?" John hauled

out his high-tech propulsion system from his "endless"

pocket and resumed the chase.

By now, there was but a few feet between John and what

he had recently realized was a young elf. He now knew the

elf was fooling with him because he had yelled Elvish. He

caught up to the little hooligan, grabbed him by the scruff

of the neck, and screamed, "Where am I?" John realized the

kid didn't have a clue what he just said. He was about to

repeat it in Elvish when he heard an enormous boom and save

a blinding flash of light.

By now, there are things that require explaining.

Well, one thing. What the heck is a dimensional flux? Well,

the thing that results from a flux is uncontrollable

portals uniting and melding dimensions together. This

causes problems. For example, ghosts are just stories,

right? Right! In our dimension. Things like vampires can

terrorize us after this event. The enormous boom and

blinding flash of light was the first dimensional flux

ever. Oh, yes. The way the "endless" pocket works is that

everything in it is reduced to numbers. Namely, ones and

zeros.

John was paralyzed with fear. He had done it. He

caused a dimensional flux. He was screwed.

The elf slipped out of John's grasp and went into a

sprint, screaming profanity in Elvish. John mumbled, "I

agree with ya, kid." He then screamed and followed him with

all the speed the jet pack had.

John followed that little sneak into a forest. This

forest was massive and overgrown. John considered the fact

that the kid was trying to go home. He followed the little

rascal to a glittering, shiny collection of tree dwellings.

The runt climbed up a collection of vines with John close

behind. He went into a dwelling, and John followed.

The kid started screaming, "There was a large

explosion and a man grabbed me!" John discussed what

happened with whom he assumed were the elf's parents. Then,

suddenly, they had this weird glint in their eyes. John

sensed evil. He grabbed the kid and ran. He did not have

fire in his eyes. The parents called after them in evil

voices, "You shall die!" "Fat chance, losers!" replied the

ever-defiant John. However, he realized that he was being

followed by demons. He activated his jet pack and flew to a

safe distance. Leaving, he saw the houses again, deformed

and spouting fire and brimstone. The homes, no longer

glittering and shining, gave of a hellish glow. The forest

began to burn.

The elven child demanded to know what was going on.

John could sense he was a smart kid, so he gave it to him

straight. "I built a machine," John informed the child,

"that can travel between dimensions. I made a terrible

mistake on my laser alignments. This caused the first

dimensional flux ever. That boom and flash of light? It was

the flux. In a flux, the dimensions meld and fuse together.

It believe that your parents, the other elves, and your

homes were corrupted by demons from another dimension. This

would not have happened without a flux. It is my fault.

However, you have to trust me. We're the only ones left."

"Okay, I guess," answered the elf. John asked, "What's

your name?" "Caraborn," replied the elf. "Okay Caraborn.can

you use a bow?" inquired John. "Yes, but I don't have

mine," replied Caraborn. "That's fine," assured John, "are

you any good? If you say you are really good and mean it, I

won't think you're bragging. It's really important." "Yeah.

I'm great!" answered Caraborn. John stated, "Good." John

pulled out a rocket launcher. He added, "This is a rocket

launcher."

"This weapon isn't that much different from a bow.

However, there are some pointers. First, don't shoot

targets less than 3 yards away. That's what this is for,"

John told Caraborn as he pulled out a 50-cal and mounted it

on a post. "Second, you don't pull a string back. You pull

a trigger," added John. "Okay, I'll try it," replied

Caraborn. He pulled the trigger and in a millisecond, a

tree burst into flames. "Nice one!" yelled John. "Okay,

I'll set up a target!" he continued. Then John zoomed two

miles away with his jet pack. He zoomed quickly back.

"Okay, Caraborn. I want you to hit the target I just set

up. Hit the yellow button," commanded John. This caused a

large scope to come up out of the launcher. "Excellent. Now

look into the scope, find the target, and fire," He told

Caraborn, who blew the target into smithereens.

"Congratulations, you have just graduated weapons

training," declared John.

John sent out a probe while Caraborn slept. The probe

examined the various dimensional portals nearby. None of

them went to his lab. He decided to order the probe to go

to what was the elven forest. He switched to live feed. It

was sickening. There was lava, ash, and fumes everywhere.

John scanned for any elven life readings. There were none.

That meant one of four things. One: Caraborn's parents had

escaped and were free from the demon's corruption. Two:

They were dead. Three: They were still corrupted and were

on a reconnaissance mission for the demons. Four: The

corruption was so terrible it turned Caraborn's parents

into demons.

John checked the area for dimension rifts. There was

one. It was located in the center of the demon base. John

hopped against hope that that portal didn't lead to his

lab. If it did, it would be the only one and he would never

get home. However, it was. John's reaction: "Crap!"

For the next eight years, John and Caraborn spent

their time doing one of two things. Either they destroyed

dimensional portals by refluxing them or prepared for the

coming battle against the demons. The way to reflux a

portal? Shoot multiple lasers at it and have them collide

off-center.

Eventually, the pair destroyed almost all of the

dimensional rifts in the dimension. The only one left was

John's ticket home.

In those eight years, John had become a sort of

adoptive father for Caraborn. They enjoyed each other's

company. The kid was now 20 years old and John was 38 years

old. The elf had become almost as much of a "techie" as

John. Caraborn had upgraded John's plasma blaster at least

seven times. John's laptop ran at 3.5 gigs. Not only that,

but Caraborn had gotten better at using weapons also,

having to endure constant demon skirmishes. The problem

was, they kept getting created. The heroes had to destroy

the arch-devil ruler of the fortress and his lava pit to

stop the creation of demons.

"What do you think we should do now?" inquired

Caraborn. "I don't know, kid. I don't know." Replied John.

"I'm out of ideas," he added. "John, this is ridiculous!

You saved my life! You can save your livelihood! You should

probably send out a probe," Caraborn yelled. "You know kid,

you're right. I'll send out a probe on live feed," John

said with a wide grin.

"Let's see now. Oooh. Perfect. You see that gate?"

asked John. "Oh yeah," replied Caraborn. "That's our

entrance. How do you think we should blow it up?" John

asked again. "Well, doesn't the probe have a burrow-and-

self-destruct mechanism?" wondered Caraborn. "Yeah,"

answered John. "We'll use that. We'll get all the base

angles and weaknesses then have the probe burrow," added

Caraborn.

John decided, for the first time in eight years, to

empty his pocket. He had several cans of "Brick-wall-in-a-

Can", a few unmarked test tubes of purple liquid,

dehydrated water (just add water), some miniprobes, and a

bolt-action rifle. He also had samples of all elements,

including man-made ones.

"John, give me the elements samples, I've got an

idea," announced Caraborn. He mixed the uranium and

plutonium, along with a little iron for stability. He then

encased the mixture in a rocket tube.

"Nuclear weapon?" asked John. "What the range on the

rocket launcher?" inquired Caraborn, ignoring his friend.

"Two miles, not enough for a nuke without the launcher

dying," replied John. "We'll have to build a missile,"

decided the elf. And with that, the two took what they had

and began to build the propelling cylinder.

The two friends finished the missile and were loading

the rocket tube when the first demon attack in months

occurred. They ravaged the outpost that John and Caraborn

had painstakingly set up. Then the evil creatures stole the

nuclear bomb!

"Great. Just great. Now we can be turned into a

billion pieces of dust," Caraborn whined several hours

later. "Shut up. I'm thinking," John shot back. "We'll try

making an EMP wave," he added. "You think we can divert the

nuke?" asked his friend. "Yeah, and then we can fight the

demons, leave the nuke there, and detonate it from the

other side of the rift," answered John. "So you think that

we can not only divert it, but retrieve it?" asked Caraborn

incredulously. "Yes. Now let's get working," commanded John

through his teeth.

The pair labored on the electromagnetic pulse gun for

weeks. This took all the materials they had. All that was

left of the "base" was the machine guns and rocket

launchers, without stands. The gun actually misnamed.

Although it had the same effect as an EMP gun, the weapon

John and Caraborn built worked differently. A small nuclear

reaction generated a beam of light and heat, focused by a

glass lens and fired at a pre-selected target. The heat

fried the target's circuits.

John wondered, "How long will it take them to learn-"

"Missile on radar!" interrupted Caraborn. "Don't fire the

pulse yet," commanded John. "Wait for it. Wait for it.

FIRE!"

The photon of light zoomed out of the lens and towards

the thermonuclear weapon. The two friends prayed the pulse

would hit. They both knew they only had one shot at it. It

hit. "We did it!" screamed John and Caraborn in unison. It

wasn't over yet.

"John." said Caraborn in a shaky tone. "What," replied

John, still smiling. "The missile is still coming toward

us," answered Caraborn. "Crap! Run diagnostics on that

missile. Hurry!" demanded John. "Diagnostics scan complete.

Wait! The detonator was damaged. That means." began

Caraborn. "That means the nuke won't go off! However, it

will still explode, just not with a mushroom cloud. Grab

the weapons and run!" yelled John.

The nuke hurtled at Mach 0.6 towards the comrades.

They dashed away as fast as they could, but not quickly

enough. The now non-nuclear, but still lethal, missile

slammed into the ground and sent John and Caraborn flying.

John ended up 100 feet away from the blast, Caraborn some

50 feet farther. John looked up. The kid wasn't moving.

"Caraborn?" he called out. The answer was silence. "Kid?"

he yelled again, desperately. "NOOOOOOO!" John cried in

despair. Caraborn was dead.

John limped towards Caraborn's lifeless body. He was

stunned. The kid was gone. It was so unbelievable that he

half-expected the elf to pop up and say, "Just kidding!

Scared ya, huh?" The man kneeled there for hours, crying

his guts out. John just couldn't believe Caraborn was gone.

"It's my fault! If I hadn't screwed up my trip, I wouldn't

have created any dimensional rifts. If there were no rifts,

there would be no demons to corrupt his parents and kill

him!" John sobbed to himself. "Now I'm ticked. They are

gonna GET IT!" he screamed.

John picked up his weapons that lay scattered in a

500-foot radius of the blast. He figured he wouldn't last

five minutes. Then he remembered that he had "Brick-Wall-

in-a-Can"! John read his label on the aerosol can. It read:

"Makes 3 12x12x1 ft. wall sections." That meant he had

enough for a brick fort with almost 1300 square feet of

space and 12-foot-high and 1-foot-thick walls. He could

throw the mini probes. They were heavy! He also had a bolt-

action rifle. That could come in handy.

However, John couldn't figure out what the purple

substance was. There were no markings on the test tubes He

had decided, "what the heck!! I'll pour out a drop and see

what happens. If I die, who cares?" You can tell he was

still depressed over Caraborn's death. The drop seemed to

take hours to plummet to the ground. Suddenly, there was a

hiss. John jerked his head around. Then he realized it was

the liquid. "Alright! It's acid!" John yelled.

He decided to use one of the miniprobes to map out the

demon's lair. It turns out, the structure had several inner

walls, and in the center was a large keep. Haunting

screamed emanated endlessly from the evil rampart. About

five dozen demons patrolled the top of each wall, three

dozen between each pair of walls, and roughly a hundred

inside the keep. So that meant about five hundred demons,

plus one all-powerful arch-devil. "Well," John said to

himself, "I figure my odds are one in a thousand. Better

than the lottery!"

He picked up all he had, started walking, then stopped

in his tracks. John looked at the nuke sitting on the

ground, then walked over to it. The rocket tube was in

tact. He could put the nuke on a timer (he had a watch).

John began to formulate his plan. He would set up the

brick wall fort, battle till he ran out of weapons, then

would rush the rift. He also had his refluxer. He would

attach the nuke to the refluxer. They would run on the same

watch. John would set the watch to 30 seconds. With five

seconds left, he will have gone through the rift and the

refluxer would start working. Then, with the time up, the

portal will have collapsed and the nuke will eradicate any

signs of his presence or the demons.

John started walking in the direction of the demon

base, the fuel in his jet pack having long been used. He

then promptly turned around. He saw Caraborn's body,

sitting there, and felt obligated to bury it. He couldn't

bury it where it laid. He couldn't bury it in the base of

the monsters.

John, for the third time, started walking. This time,

however, the trip was slower because he had a 180-pound

body slung over his shoulder. He started to wonder, "What

does dying feel like?" This gave him something to distract

himself from the long journey. However, this saddened him.

John began to sob. Crying slowed him down, so he wiped his

eyes, shook his head, and continued walking.

He saw a red glow on the horizon about two hours after

he started his slog. That informed him that he was half-

done. John decided to sit for a few minutes. Staring at the

horizon, he suddenly doubted his ability to get back home.

"What if the machine guns, rocket launcher, and rifle have

no effect? What then?" he asked aloud. Then he picked up

Caraborn's corpse and started again.

Almost two hours later, with the glow dominating the

sky, John was first fired upon. He got a small knick in his

arm, but kept going. A few minutes later, beams, fireballs,

and other weapons were raining indiscriminately on the

surrounding ground. He decided to set up his base right

where he stood.

John set up his weapons and the shower of weapons came

from both sides. The demon's first wall shuddered, then

collapsed. About 30 demons died in the great crash. John

was cracking up when three dozen demons charged his brick

fort. He could feel and hear it rumble. He grabbed all his

weapons and jumped the wall.

As soon as John jumped the wall, he flew into a rage.

He gunned down one demon after another. He began to target

the bases of the walls. This saved him a lot of trouble and

ammo. John began to realize this was completely pointless.

He dashed for the keep while punching random demons. He

negotiated the treacherous stairs to the arch devil's

chamber.

A cruel cackling emanated from the arch devil's mouth

only strengthened John's resolve to escape. However, this

was almost impossible since he was shackled to the wall and

surrounded by demon guards. "You expect to defeat me?" the

devil snarled. "Actually, I did," John shot back. "Well, no

matter. You will soon die!" boomed the devil cruelly.

Little did he know, John had just finished picking the

locks on his shackles and clutched a machine gun he had

hidden in his "endless" pocket.

He burst forward and slaughtered the guard. He held a

50-cal to the devil's throat and retorted, "I don't think

so!" The evil ruler was speechless. "This is for Caraborn!"

John screamed. He then shoved the arch devil into the lava

pit. It began to bubble and hiss as the ground shook. John

said to himself, "I think I'd better run."

John picked up Caraborn's body and ran toward the

portal. He lined up his refluxer/nuke with the fits and ran

wildly as the timer ticked. "Goodbye, dimension," he

announced solemnly, then went to the other side. The rift

collapsed and the nuke went off.

John decided to bury Caraborn in the backyard. He went

there every day. And, true to his word, he removed the

computer's personality chips.

THE END