On forum: 11/20/2006
Message edited by:
New Story: A Father's Work - Uwasa Waya 11/21|
After the loss of co-op play, the constant pushing back of the release dates and the corruption of the original literary contest I thought I had given up on Stalker:SoC for good. A month or so ago, when I found out the contest had been redesigned and my work was back in the running, I was glad to hear that the team hadn't given up and was interested to see where it would go. Imagine my surprise when I found myself with some free time and writing another short story for stalker. Anyway, here is the fruits of my labor, just a short jot for fun. I appreciate all comments, criticisms and suggestions, as well as people who point out mistakes in spelling or whatnot. I'd also like to apologize for any huge mistakes with the Russian I used... if it's atrocious, I can change it. Enjoy!
- Uwasa Waya
A Father's Work
Antoliy glanced over his shoulder as he approached the small cluster of formerly abandoned buildings that made up 'civilization' as the zone new it. On the horizon, flashes of lightning lighted up the outline of the Dealer’s house. He would give the fat bastard his toy when he was damned good and ready.
It was late, the guard at the decontamination stalls was asleep. The grizzled stalker kicked the door to his booth, shaking him out of his nap and bestowing upon him the foulest of moods. It took nearly fifteen minutes longer to finish decontaminating Antoliy then usual. He kept the package under his arm wrapped up, hidden from prying, angry eyes.
Inside the compound, he made a beeline straight for the pub. It was a dank, run down place, built haphazardly into an abandoned pet shop to give the stalkers who passed through a place to rest their legs. Since then a small town had sprung up around it, mostly consisting of ramshackle houses no better than closets. His eyes took a second to adjust to the dim light provided by the oil lamps that circled the main room of the makeshift bar. The owner, a one-handed former stalker by the name of Vadim, looked up and gave a melancholy smile. Several other stalkers looked up warily, then seeing the familiar face went back to drinking.
"Dobriy vyecher, Tolya. How goes the hunt?" he asked warmly.
Antoliy grinned from ear to ear and pulled the cloth from the container he carried and held it up. "Ahh, Vadim, my old friend, tonight I show that fat bastard who is really on top of things! Tonight I get my due! Ha!" he chuckled triumphantly, looking around the bar. He spotted her sitting alone, quiet as always, watching him enter. He slid into a chair across from the little girl, his smile bright and proud.
"Vadim! Vodka and a juice my friend!" he shouted to the owner enthusiastically. "Vika, devochka moya, look what your father has brought! Salvation for us both!" he announced, setting the container on the table before her. The little girl looked quietly at it for a moment, and then looked back to her father. She kept her hands clasped between her knees. She never spoke.
The bartender came by and set down the glass of vodka and juice before Antoliy, smiling briefly and heading back to the bar. The veteran stalker slid the juice across the table to Viktoriya. "Now we are rich, moya printsessa, and I can take you away from here, like your mother wanted. You could go to school, would you like that?" he rambled. Vika looked at her juice a moment, and then gazed at him some more.
"Of course you would, zaychik moy. No more cold nights for us. No more rain," he stated, still smiling, and threw back the vodka without a grimace.
"I will be back, Vika, in just a moment. I go to get our money. Just wait here a little longer, yes? Vsyo idyot kak nado." he assured as he stood up. He made his way to the bar and dug through his shoulder pouch.
"Tolya, my friend, you know your money is no good here. We have known each other far too long," Vadim said gently. Antoliy smiled and clasped the retired stalker's face in his gloved hands. "Vadim, my old friend, you warm my heart. I will miss you when I am gone," he replied gratefully. Picking up the container from the table, he turned and went out into the night.
It was a few minutes afterward that the bar sat in silence, all eyes following his exit. After a moment, Vadim set down the glass he had been cleaning and made his way to the vacant table where Tolya had sat. He picked up the untouched juice and empty glass and carried them quietly back to the bar.
Another stalker at the bar, a young foreign stalker who was passing through, spoke up in broken Russian. "I wish I could be that excited about an empty jar."
Vadim poured out the juice and began cleaning the mug with a dirty cloth. "You should be more respectful. He has found more hope then any of us here," he replied quietly.
In the end, we will all weep for innocence lost.