The explosions are maddeningly loud. The unknown soldier gripped his gun tightly, preparing to move.
The sounds are moving towards his direction and he knows that it is only a matter of time before he is cornered.
He had to move.
As soon as he lunged, debris showered the place where he was just seconds ago.
The smell of sulfur is overpowering.
The air is filled with it along with the occasional waft of blood.
He stumbled on an inert body.
His uniform identified him as a comrade but he didn't recognize the face.
No one here was familiar.
Nevertheless, he tapped the fallen (probably dead) soldier lightly on the chest as a salute and moved again.
As far as he knew, there was no one close enough to help him should the enemies catch up so despite being extremely thirsty and hungry, he forced his body to move.
This is the third day that he hadn't eaten a decent meal and the effects are more disorienting than the chaos around him.
He finally got past the last of the trenches. The forest is just ahead.
If he could make it there, he might have a chance.
He sprinted for the nearest tree.
Behind him, beyond his capacity to know but always suspected, a bullet is honing in on him.
The bullet sought his blood and it is getting closer.
Vince caught the ball before it hit the man on the wheelchair.
"Hey kids, be careful," he told the rowdy crowd of teenagers as he handed them back their ball.
"You don't tell us what to do!"
One of the younger ones glared at him, trying to look dangerous.
His friends nudged him to warn him but he did not seem to get the message.
One of the older ones looked at him apologetically.
"It won't happen again, Vince. I promise we'll be careful."
Vince shrugged and waved them away.
"What'd you elbow me for? You knew I was right!" the belligerent one hissed as the others were pulling him away.
"That's Vince. You don't mess with him."
"Yeah, right. Because he is tough? Did you know his record? His 'likes' are the lowest. I bet I can take him."
They were far enough that the rest of the conversation faded conveniently for him.
He sighed and regarded the man on the wheelchair.
"You alright, old timer?"
The old man did not so much as look at him.
His long hair hid most of his face and Vince did not know if he heard him or not or if he was even awake.
He tried to tap the old guy on the shoulder but he flinched violently and gripped the object he held on his lap closer to his chest.
It was wrapped in rags and Vince had no idea what it was but it seemed to be a baseball bat or something similar.
He couldn't really tell with the way it was wrapped like that.
He had never seen him without it. Even when he slept, he kept it with him and absolutely refused if anyone tried to take it away.
"It's cool, man. I'm not gonna take your stuff," he assured him.
The old man peered at him under the unkempt hair but he said nothing.
Vince shook his head and walked away.
The old guy came to the shelter a year ago.
Nobody knows who he is or where he came from.
Someone found him in front of the shelter one morning.
He was dirty and full of small cuts.
His face was heavily bruised and his hair was matted with dried blood and mud.
He never said a word.
The others in the shelter avoided the old guy because he seemed to have had a violent experience.
He growled at anyone who came close and was overprotective of his only possession.
Maybe he really preferred to be left alone.
So no one attempted to talk to him again except when they were giving him his food or water.
Vince wanted to take him to a doctor but they couldn't afford it so they stuck him in a wheelchair and just let him roam around the shelter.
He was able to walk short distances and he is mostly self-reliant so they just watched him at a distance.
When they were certain he was not a danger to anyone or himself, they let him be.
Vince wrapped his fists with tape and proceeded to hit the punch bag.
The sound it made calmed him.
He hit the bag methodically and the sound his fists made drowned out his worries.
For a moment, he forgot about the old guy in the wheelchair.
He forgot that they will soon run out of credits to buy food.
He forgot that the world is run by crazy teenagers who messed up everything.
He forgot that he had been carrying so many burdens for the past few years.
For now, his body is moving on its own, following a routine he trained it to follow.
Every hit recorded the sensation in his muscle fibers and his body learned to adjust its timing and power for maximum efficiency.
Sweat flew all around him and it was exhilarating.
He adjusted his breathing and began hitting the bag faster and more powerful.
As always, his body produced more energy to match the performance he demanded.
The other people in the shelter paid him no mind. Like the old guy in the wheelchair, Vince's training had become part of their daily lives.
However, if one were to look keenly, they will notice that Vince's shadow is a bit peculiar.
For one thing, it didn't match his shape at all.
The shadow looked as if it belonged to a larger man.
Tinaw looked at the battered figure resting underneath the big tree.
The man was in a tattered battle uniform. He just escaped certain death as Tinaw pushed him from behind before the bullet hit him.
He did not know about the bullet.
He did not know about the small, dark man who pushed him.
All he knew was that he was so exhausted that he tripped and fell.
He crawled to a nearby tree.
If he was lucky, no one saw him run to the forest.
He wanted to sleep.
He closed his eyes for a while.
He is back in the city.
John found himself standing near a burger joint.
The sound and smell is completely different from minutes ago.
This is no longer 1899.
This is probably more than a hundred years from the battle he ran away from.
He hoped that General Del Pilar made it out alive as well.
He liked Goyo as he was called by the troops.
He would have given his life for him but he was bound by another fate.
He could not die yet.
John begged the burger stand attendant for a glass of water.
The girl looked at him distrustfully but gave him water on a plastic cup.
The water tasted like heaven.
He drank greedily and coughed when his body was not able to handle the sudden intake after almost two days with no water.
He coughed violently and had to sit on the curb to compose himself.
Maybe asking the attendant for food is pushing his luck.
He contented himself on the water for the moment.
This continuous jumping from different points in time is slowly taking its toll on him.
His mind is still holding on but his body is so weak.
It might give out any second.