On forum: 01/31/2007
Are you ready?|
Heres my contrabution to the cause. Not expecting to win the pulitzer prize for it but I enjoyed writing it. I origionally posted this on Oblivion-lost for those who may have read it.
I gag the instant I enter the shack.
"Have a seat" the stranger says as he shuffles round the other side of a desk. A desk. Two milk crates with a door on top, I chuckle to myself at the thought.
"So you honestly cant remember a thing then?" He asks for the third time since he found me unconsious at the side of the road. I shake my head.
The old man sighs, " Well, I'm Sidorovich and I assume your gonna want to get back in the zone as soon as your tooled up yeah?"
"I suppose so" I reply
"Well your gonna need something to protect yourself." He throws an old pistol into my lap.
"Here" he says as he hands me an extra magazine.
" I can't pay you. I've got no cash"
"There are other ways you can pay me back." He grins showing yellowish stained teeth.
" Such as?"
He moves over to a filing cabinet and pulls out a photograph.
"Nimble. He has something that belongs to me." Throwing the picture on the desk
"So you want him taken out and the item returned yes?" I guess.
"Not exactly, Nimble was on a mission for me retrieving a disk drive from a nearby millitary outpost. Two days ago I got word that he had recovered the drive but was captured by bandits on his return."
"How many bandits?" I ask.
"Not sure, these guys go about in packs, but don't worry. Nimble has a few friends who are quite worried about him. I would suggest you speak to Wolf before venturing out to find him."
"Yeah, he's in charge of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R camp to the north just down the road from here. He'll tell you where Nimble is being held and he may even give you a few friends to play with."
He chuckles with the teeth showing again.
"And I do all this for what?" I ask.
"100 rubles and I'm sure I can find you a decent piece of armour as well."
"Sure, what the hell." Anything to get out of this shack I think. God it stinks.
"Excellent. I'll radio ahead to let Fox know your coming. He's not keen on surprises."
I turn to leave and put my hand on the door,
"Remember!" He says
"In the zone. Be ready."
Yeah sure I say to myself as i exit.
It's midafternoon and although its a cloudless, sunny day, there is a cold wind blowing. I check my compass and head north. Even from here I can see smoke in the distance. I set off pistol tucked into the empty holster I was already wearing. Windowless houses are all thats left here, not even another being in sight. I walk past a small playground, its swings non-existant, and the slide so rusty not even the bravest of kids would use it now.
Yeah. Like any kids would be running around in this place.
No sooner had the thought left my head I cought a glimpseof something in a nearby house. Movement. Through a broken window. Unholstering my weaponI walk over to what is now essentially a bungalowas most of the roof has collapsed. I enter the main door, weapon held out in front of me. All I can hear is silence, then a faint crunching sound. No stairs up, so I take the door on the right. This must have been some family's living room. There is an old sofa covered in dust. Books and toys are strewn all over the floor.
Crunching. Louder this time. Slowly I walk over to the other door. I can smell death on the other side even before I open it.
Stepping into the kitchen there is a body on the floor of which sex I cannot tell due to the large creature with its head in the bodys chest!
I turn the saftey off on my weapon.
The creature whips up it's head and turns to face me. I could only describe it as the strangest looking pig I had ever seen. Jet black fur and piercing eyes which were colourless. Not so much hoofs but rather claws! Its snout and tusks covered in blood, it squeeled an unearthly squeel and started charging towards me. I rasied the barrel and squeezed the trigger softly twice in quick succession. Right between those lifeless eyes. The creature dropped to the side, it's charge halted. Twitching on the ground grunting . I wanted to conserve my ammo, so I remove the knife which was attache to the dead boodys belt and drove it deep into the monsters skull.
Silence. I turned to leave but notice a backpack at the side of the half eaten cadaver. Cautiously, I tipped the contents out not sure what to expect. A loaf of bread so mouldy I doubt a starving bird would eat it and a bottle of clear liquid. Water I presume. I crack it open and have a swig. Aas soon as the liquid enters my mouth, I realise its not water. Its vodka!
"Thanks alot" As I raise the bottle but surprisingly I get no reply.
As I step outside the house I see two men walking towards me. AK47's resting casually in their arms. Instinctivly I reach for my pistol but before I've even got close I can see two red dots appear on my chest.
"Not a wise move my friend" A thick Russian accent shouts. I put my hands in the air.
"Who are you? What are you doing here?" The same man asks, his face is heavily scarred and most of his left ear is missing.
"Sidorovich sent me to meet with Wolf" The two men glance at each other and lower their weapons.
"So your the FNG" scarface says
"FNG?" I ask,
"Fucking new guy!" He laughs while his partner just smiles.
"C'mon we'll take you down to the camp"
We star walking the smoke I saw earlier closer now. Just beyond the next hill.
"You'll have to excuse Dermatov here" he says nodding at the silent man.
"He's not being rude by not talking, he had his tongue ripped out by a bloodsucker. Not many people face them and live to tell the tale. Although, he couldn't tell us after it!" The man laughs again while Dermatov yawns as if he's heard the joke a hundred times before showing the lump where his tongue once was.
"You got a name then?" I ask
"Yeah, I'm Vlad. Got too close to an anomaly before you aske your second question."
I nod as if I know what an anomaly is.
Four men are sitting round a campfire, one is playing a guitar. Badly. Another stands and starts walking towards us. He's clearly in charge as his equipment and armour is a helluva lot better than the other mens.
"I'm Wolf. Sidorovich send you?"
"Yeah he did. Said you had a problem"
"Right. I'll make this quick. Nimble is being held about 2km east of here. I reckon we've got till tonight to get ot him before the push him into an anomaly."
"Ok, so whos coming on this jaunt ot visit your neighbours?"
Wolf points. "You, Vlad, Dermatov and myself."
We head over to a building with a man standing guard at the door. The room is full of tinned meats and bottles of vodka.
"Here" Wolf hands me two tins and a bottle. " Theres no radiation on the way but just in case. I'm sorry we can't equip you with something better than your pistol but were down to the bare bones at the moment."
"No problem, I'll get something better of the bandits." Wolf's laugh boomed.
"I like your attitude! Now lets get moving."
"C'mon, were almost there"
Sure enough, we came to a grove of lifless trees and just beyond them we could see another smoke plume. Using my binoculars I could make out three men crouded round a camp fire. There was a house and a barn but no sign of Nimble.
"Ok. Either he's in the house, the barn, or were too late." Wolf said
I nodded. "There could be more of them as well."
"Vlad tells me there were six of them yesterday but the come and go so often its impossible to tell."
"So whats the plan then?" I ask.
Wolf spits on the ground then with a stick draws a small map of the farmyard.
"O.k these three x's are those guys. The large square on the right is the house, the square on the left is the barn."
Looking confused, Vlad points to a rock on the ground. "Whats that?"
"Thats a rock Vlad." Wolf smirks
"Right. New guy and Vlad, you two go in through the back entrance of the house and check there for Nimble." Vlad looks up and winks.
"Me and Dermatov will go through the back of the barn. Now because our weapons are silenced we'll hopefully be able to get the jump on these bastards. As soon as you hear them returning fire, thats your que to enter the house."
"Ok lets do this." As i double checked my safety was off.
Creaping down towards the house I spotted another two bandits. One was inside the downstairs of the house and the other was standing at the back door smoking a cigarette. I motioned for Vlad to keep his head down while we crept closer. Ducking behind a low wall he asked me, "Have you done this kinda thing before?"
I thought for a second, but before I could answer him the crack of an unsilenced AK47 exploded nearby.
"Lets go!" I stood up quickly pistol drawn, the smoking guard had turned his back and was away to enter the house to support the bandits at the front. Before he had even reached the handle his brains had repainted the door.
"I guess thats a yes!" Vlad said.
Shots were still being fired round the other side, I shouldered the door open and immediatly crouched down while Vlad stood directly behind me and shot the bandit who had taken up position in the window. As the bandit turned and fell he managed to squeeze off a round which hit Vlad square in the chest. Both hit the deck cimultainiously both clearly dead.
No time to mourn I thought as I snatched up Vlads AK. The firing was definatly subsiding outside and the rest of the downstairs was clear.
"Wolf!" A cry came from upstairs. Taking the steps two at a time I scanned the first two rooms. Empty.
"In here!" The shout again. I burst into the final room expecting to find Nimble bound.
Nimble was bound, but he was also gagged! So who shouted? Immediatly I realise I had fallen into a trap. Nimble was shaking his head furiously.
"Say goodnight!" The same voice who had called for help sneered behind me. I closed my eyes.
I spun to see the man staring in disbelief at his weapon.
"Goodnight" I said, and three short bursts came from my new AK. The mans eyes took on a confused look, going from me and back to his own jammed gun before falling to the ground with a loud thud. I turned and untied and ungagged Nimble.
"Who are you?!?" He asked
"Your savior. Sidorovich sent me. I believe you have something for him."
At that Wolf entered the room.
"Nimble!" He came over and the two men embraced each other. "I thought we were too late old friend" Wolf smiled.
" You nearly were till this guy showed up" Pointing at me.
"We should leave incase any more turn up."
It was nearly nightfall when we returned to the camp. Men cheered at the sight of Nimble but were hushed when they say Dermatov turning the corner with Vlad on his shoulder. He carried on past the building and the fire, tears in his eyes unable to say a word.
"They were great friends those two" Wolf, noddingf at Dermatov.
"Here this is what you were after." Nimble handed over a small disk drive.
" I hope it was worth it" I said.
Nimble smiled. "Oh it will be. Come back and see me tommorow and we'll get you some better armour. You're lucky you weren't shot today!" Nimble grinned.
"All but for the jam of a gun" I mused.
"Take this" Wolf said handing me a torch. "Till we meet again." And they turned and left.
I left also as the other men departed to help dig a grave for Vlad and pay their last respects. The journey back to Sidorovich was much quicker than when I had left him earlier that day. It was dark now and I was gratefull of the torch. I saw strange blue flashes in the distance, like lightning except on the ground. Not tonight I thought as I approached the shack.
It was still damp and reeking of rat piss but I was glad to be inside. The old man was sat at the desk cleaning a shotgun.
"Aha! The marked one returns!"
"Here" I handed over the disk drive.
"Excellent, excellent. So? Are you ready for some more work?" He smiled his rotten tooth smile and stood at the filing cabinet.
I just sat down, not knowing who I was or what I had to do next. But I knew, I was ready.