On forum: 02/15/2013
(This will be updated occasionally)
(feedback is welcome, but keep in mind; I am not an aspiring writer. I just love my hobbies and projects.)
As I moved quickly through the hall, blood curdling noise in close pursuit, I cursed the weight of my bag. Much heavier than I was comfortable with, but I know my timing is right. As I approached a crawlspace waist high in the wall to my left, I sped up and dropped on my back, skidding under the imaginary line of the crawl space overhead. With a flick of my wrist the bolt I had prepared, lazily went in a spinning arc right into the crawl space immediately igniting a jettison of flames hot enough for you to forge with. My skidding comes to a halt as I flip on to my belly aiming my P99 silenced back the way I came. Nothing but me, and the flames it seems.
Without taking my eyes away from the direction of the last known noise, I get to a knee. The flames go out as suddenly as they had come. Left in near darkness besides the flash of an emergency light behind me, I listen for perpetrators of my vicinity. Then allow one of my hands to slip down to the front of my thigh, feeling gingerly around until I found the source of my pain. holding my breath I pull out the object gently as to not cause more harm. I put the object of my pain down slowly as to not make too much noise. A metal corner strip, similar to what I'd seen holding up those pipes on the ceiling.. Aw god damnit.. Tetanus would be a sad way..
I let my guard slip for the sake of bandaging this wound. I was in the middle of tying it when I heard what I'd been listening for. There was no time between me dropping my bandage and firing a shot from my P99 down the hall. The perp fell to the ground with a clatter. A can of what looked like paint... No, not now.. I'm bleeding.. The paint can rolls with more force than what the balance should have shifted. Then lifts into the air.
"Damn!" I get into a dead sprint down the way I was originally going, Remembering a second too late "Ahrgg!" I stumbled right into an electric cloud that only now shows itself with a crazy amount of voltage, that if I weren't already insane, this would have done it. Thrown up back to the left into the wall, I had no stable grasp at such velocity, so the impact turned my body around landing me on my right shoulder. I hardly noticed the paint can whizzing by into the electro cloud almost nailing me near the end of my fall. I roll onto my back, smoke rising from me, there is a loud pop! mixed with noise of electricity, and then paint was everywhere... the old no longer chunky paint was warm from the electricity. I had a splash coating on the bottom half of me.
I lay there brain fizzled, and body smoking for I don't know how long. Couldn't have been that long, as I did come to. At first, I watched the smoke rise without moving my head. Then feeling and registration of said feeling came back. I felt like I had pissed my pants.. Judging by the smell, I think I had loosed more than just that.. "fucking electricity" is what I meant to say. It came out something like "Uhgnin eheclrisity" That flashing emergency light wasn't doing wonders for my head ache. Blinking the colors out of my vision, I start to stretch out my consciousness to feel along my body for all the parts. When satisfied I started the slow process of getting up. I notice the ringing in my ears as it faded to a dull tone in the back of my head. I can hear slamming sounds, from the wall on the right. And finally I slammed into my bearings, the banging sounds metal against metal, must be more flying objects. The crackle of electricity was dying down. How could I have forgotten it's placement? More proof that "grizzled" and "experienced" only means as much as you put into it.
Grabbing my P99 and shouldering my bag, I hug the left side wall moving around the cloud. Can't stop and check for broken equipment here, need to get out.
"Excited ?" the young lad beside me asked.
I didn't have to take even a moment to answer, I knew with full familiarity what I would see if I were to reflect upon my past and present feelings.
"Yes." I decided not to get into it, only appease enough to avoid the topic.
"Same here, man! Jumping into the mosh-pit as they'd say!" the boy says smiling to himself.
I lowered my chin in response, hoping to put an end to the transaction.
"What are your plans while you're here ?" said the persistent bugger.
"Money, life, finding myself, death, take your pick." I said, putting in an annoyed tone as to deter further inquiries.
Only then did I notice he's not interested, he only asked so he may share. Damn the game of communication.
"I'm here for the artifacts, man. I hear people are killing each other over them. Just let 'em try me !"
what he said didn't even make sense to me. "Good for you for always winning in the small segment of time you've had on this plan- "
"Shut up and listen children! We're almost within two kilometers of the entrance point! Get your gear up to snuff because we aren't stopping if you forget your doll!" This being shouted over the sound of the engine so clearly, it could've been the voice of a narrator in this ironic story of my life.
Goddamnit, I can't help it.. Taking the boy by the collar I drag his face inches from mine growling out "This attitude may help you live with yourself, but when others are involved it may just get you killed." please survive long enough to figure this out.. I had made sure that the other passengers wouldn't hear. I didn't wish to end his facade, only critique upon it.
"Get your hands the hell off me!" I had already loosed my grip, this part was just a show for himself.
"What a freak, you got somth-" he bites his tongue as the truck hits a particularly nasty bump. "Grrek!" he says in obvious pain.
I sit back, finally relaxed due to the knowledge that the boy'd not try to continue that monologue at me. Now, where was I? After a few moments of allowing the bumping of the truck settle in to my mind, "Aw yes" I mumbled as I drifted back to the plane I was upon before that boy interrupted.
Foggy, but audible "Clink!" " Shiang!" I break from my reverie focusing on the spittle of light being chewed into the canvas of the truck. "?gunfi-" blood obstructed my words as it's gushing spray from a fellow passenger nailed me in the face. and like a carpet was pulled out from under an elephant, the truck turned too sharply immediately flipping at seventy-two kilometers and hour.
"?! ? ? ? ? ?!"
Huh? I can't- can't see-.
"? ? ? ? ?"
What.. The hell ?
"? ?! ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?."
Everything I hear I can't make out.. Just too muffled.. I fill my lungs as best I can in preparation of a shout. almost enough air for a rasping breath.. "help.." weak, barely audible in fact.
"? ? ?!"
Good, someone heard me.
I feel weight being pulled off me. Little by little.
"HUUUUUU" The whoosh of air feels like god in my lungs. Blinding light rushes in to my crevice of time and space, eye coming into slow focus of the torn canvas waving in the wind above me, attached to rib like bars of dented metal..
"Hey!" a baclava'd face jumped in the way of my sight.. what an insolent intrusion to my new found life..
"Let me enjoy my peace!" is what I meant when I dribbled out a few pathetic gurgles.. Then against all odds, I start laughing. in horrible jerks my body convulses. But my facial expression must have been true, for I could see the baklava'd mans smile through his mouth hole.
"ha! This one yet lives!"
A second fellow whom I don't have time nor focus to make out comes over and "Aghhga!" They wrench me painfully out of my crevice. dragging me over and leaning me against something. I slowly lift my head from my chest and open my eye, eye?! in horror I fumble my right hand searchingly towards the gap of sight that is my right eye. What I felt was pain, sharp and throbbing, with the contours of rendered flesh. Stricken, I sat in silence, staring, yet oblivious to my immediate environ. Holding my white knuckled hand to what once was the right side of my face.
I must live. I Must Live. irrefutable drive clawed my consciousness to the forefront of my mind. Let's examine what we're in-
What I lean upon, what now seems to me as the back of the trucks cabin. the two who had dragged me had walked not far off and started in what appeared a heated discussion held in low voices. In fact I'm still in the back of the truck. it must have settled on its side, the right wall now being my floor. [Flashes of red, twisted bodies!] My focus darts anywhere but the floor! my head rolling back I focus on the sight of the metal ribs with torn canvas..[I was.. I was under all their bodies..] my head churned, then as suddenly as it had started "NO." it stopped.
"Huh? You say somethin'?" The baklava'd man asked turning from his buddy.
"Yeah, Can I get something to drink? I need to wash this piss taste out of my mouth." He threw a flask onto my lap and turned back to his discussion. two more similarly dressed men walked up to the opening of the back of the truck. I took a swig from the flask, the taste of vodka was a surprising, yet pleasent burn allowing my mind to believe it burnt all the blood out of my throat. [Falling! Pressure! Splatter of-!] coughing up a bit vodka I choked upon, audible "Slpach" of the phlegm that followed, I spat. I hardly noticed the blood red quality of it as I looked up at these men, my mind still running numbers.
The original two were continuing their hushed discussion completely enrapt. Baklava'd man had an AK-74u slung over his shoulder, What looked like a belt holster for some side arm I couldn't identify. His brawny buddy, he was speaking with, had what looked like a Mossberg Maverick 88 pump-action shotgun in his meaty paws. baklava'd man was standing just in the way of me being able to make out if Mr. Brawny had any other toys.. I'll get back to that.
Out of the two newcomers, one was bent over the bod-[Torn, ripped, fle-!]
I shake my head. One seemed to be looting near the back of the truck. I couldn't tell from the butt sticking out from behind his shoulder what he was armed with. The other standing outside the opening, watching in the distance, had what looked like an MP5 sub-machine gun at the ready.
It only now registered that these men were filthy all to the same ragtag degree, All wearing the similar apparel of torn and patched up, brown, grey and black clothes. Am finally I in the Exclusion Zone?
These men stood testimony to that fact I suppose.
I Grit my teeth and grin as I pull my weight onto my legs. That caught their attention, the discussion halts in mid-sentence.
"Whoa, whoa buddy. Wouldn't want you to strain nothin' ay?" Sarcasm? Mockery? I don't care. He has a big salesman smile on his face. I have my toothy grin. For a flickering instant he showed a feel of disconcertion before shooting gracefully into "Hey, I got a proposition for you."
I stared at baklava'd man expectantly. After a good moment or two had passed by, I lose patience. "Well?"
The mask that is the baklava'd man's expression jumped to life. "You help us carry this loot back to camp, and I'll throw in a word for you with the boss. Maybe you'll even be able to buy some bandages and antibiotics from Hatter for that face of yours." He seemed to enjoy adding that last part.
Or maybe you get a free carrying mule, and shoot me in the face once I am no longer useful. Thanks for reminding me, my face is bleeding still. I have bandages and antibiotics in my pack. Better to roll with this charade for now. "You got it." Who is Hatter? Better yet "what do I call you?"
Sharpness came to his eyes. "Call me Guillotine, Guill for short." He was obviously proud of his alias. Probably chose it himself in an attempt to compensate for his baklava like skin.
"Alright, Guill. Let's finish this up then." I say, holding out his flask.
"Start with the ones over there," Guill said, indicating a portion of the b- bodies. "We've already covered these."
"How about starting with a bandage for me?"
"You think you're in the position to negotiate?"
"You think I'm going to be as co-operative when this gets infected and I have to amputate my head?"
Guill chews out a few choice words in Ukrainian while digging through his belt pouch. Glancing up at my blank stare he grudgingly tosses a small roll the size of half a soda can at me. Against all my instincts I avoid reproaching his immature behavior. I bent down to pick up the rolled-up bandage; it had landed in a small pool of now thickening blood. With distaste in my expression evident, I lift up the bandage. Strings of congealing blood lifted up with it.. I drop it where it was inwardly sighing. I'll have to find my pack. Mr. Brawny seemed to get a laugh out of my predicament. I can't rely on the patience or sympathy of my captors.
I spent the next half-hour going through other people's things. Dead people, yes, but still.. Finding the small personal touches whose owners are long gone leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I did manage to hide the fact that my pack was mine. I acted as if it was just more loot. My feigned elated discovery at finding a non-bloody bandage (in my own pack..) satisfied my secrecy.
We ended up with three piles; sprawled bodies, usable gear, and useless gear. Any one pile being much more than we can carry. We loaded up with everything we could, and set off.
The Cairn is an encampment found on top of a water filtration facility on the fringe of an expansive marsh. The facility from the surface looked like broken concrete tentacle like limbs of an immense monster struggling to escape the earth. Someone had the bright idea to cut open and empty the few surface water tanks and inhabit them. Due to the great protection from weather, over time the traffic of people coming through the Cairn proved too numerous for the few empty water silos to house. Peoples scrounging, bartering, trading and ghetto-rigging led to the creation of makeshift shelters spreading out from the silos. This was at a time when the Cairn was overlooked by free Stalkers and all were free to feel safe here, guards were far and in-between due to the lack of mutant hordes. It hasn't been long since then, but the changes have been drastic enough, that most people would think it had been that way for as long as it had been an encampment.
The black market had set its sights on the location; Far from military patrol, away from the infinite war between two stalker factions. Yet close enough to pick up on equipment salvaged from the after effects of fighting, quite enticing. They claimed the Cairn through force unquestioned by mere free Stalkers.
But for those who did know the changes took note at the level of improvement. Now the Cairn has makeshift barriers surrounding the perimeter teamed with guards, not for protection from mutants, but for protection from competitors. Balaclava wearing, dirty, torn clothed men utilizing an assortment of weapons walked around on loose patrols, ropes were tied to the tops of the silos so they could be used as lookout posts. An attempt at creating a watchtower on the fringe of the shelters ended up collapsing creating a partial barrier for a section of the perimeter. There is only one entrance and exit now, anyone seen as overstepping their bounds would find their exit blocked. Or anyone that pity should glimpse, instead would find their entry barred for their utter lack of value to the overseers of the Cairn.
Now, the black market made this an establishment where any are welcome, if they have profitable business. But never get directly involved in anything outside of the Cairn. They weren't a player in the war game of sending out squads to obtain certain objectives. Those objects had a way of arriving in their possession. Money is a big motivator out there.
I'm walking along examining the ever-changing angle of the ground, when I come to the conclusion that it isn't the ground tipping this way and that. It's me.. I bandaged my head yesterday, but I've had to change it out three times now. Each time I peel off the prior bandage, grit, sweat and the sheer mugginess of this swamp helps rip the jagged hand sized scab off starting of a flow of fresh blood, and a need for another bandage. Blood loss is-
"WAKE UP FUCKHEAD."
My mind sluggishly opened my eye, spatial awareness so far gone I couldn't tell which of my captors had spoken. At least I know I won't contract an infection, my antibiotics have still gone unnoticed thankfully, though with this weather and environment I worry at its effectiveness. Muted shouts were echoing from deep within my head.. Have I already contracted-
Utter rapture engulfed my left leg from the knee down, instantly pulling my consciousness to the forefront of my mind, and slammed my mind into my senses. My body's set motion came to a rickety halt. I found myself staring down at a small body of murky water, my left leg being submerged from the knee down. With the return of my senses I almost collapse into a fetal position from the return of my screaming aches and pains. No, the voices were getting louder.. Almost as if-
"GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE!"
Almost.. I start turning my head looking for my companions, trying to move my eye as little as possible. I could still feel the other eye trying to revolve when I tried, the feeling being a cross between revolting, eerie and nauseating. Sweat trickled down my head now that I'm displacing the pools of sweat with movement of my head. I shut my eye as a wave of the foreseen nausea encapsulated my being. What was that? The moment before my eye closed I saw something moving in my peripheral. Nausea too strong for me to open my eye again, I focus all my effort on listening.
Kill until you can't, then reload.