back with a vengeance
On forum: 07/31/2003
The last winter winds blew against the heartless stalker’s face. The morning lay dark in his eyes; the birds began their journey back to the zone in vee formations. The heartless stalker was dopey from just 3 hours of sleep. There were still stars that pierced in the sky, and the first days of spring were just beginning to come about. The crickets chirped and still sang their early dawn symphony. The zone just began to wake up. The heartless stalker peered back, the dark outline of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant marked the horizon, kilometers away. As the gravel grind under his boots, he continued on the path of the old train tracks leading into the residential town of Pripyat.
The world felt new and empty.
Train tracks, they were once used to deliver passengers and cargo back and forth from Kiev and other surrounding cities. This town once prospered under the trade from the railroads. Back when Mikhail Gorbachev was the leader of Russia. Ukraine was still under Communist control, and this little town of Pripyat, next to the jewel of technology, the Chernobyl plant, was considered to be a very modern place to live, and had one of the highest standards of living in the Eastern satellite nations.
The heartless stalker fished a sample packet of chili sauce from his jacket pocket and dashed a bit on his finger, and spread it under the bags of his eyes. This remedy helped somewhat, but the stalker is still hoping to get some healthy natural sleep someday. The years have not been generous to him in the zone, and he shows some battle weary scars, both all over his body and in his mind. The stalker and his faction is only focused and motivated by killing and getting rich quickly. His faction is considered to be one of the worst and most vile stalker clans in the zone. They have killed countless dozens and have been in many rival faction wars across the zone. Even in a land of lawlessness, they are considered to be one of the worst. The heartless stalker has agreed to a mission from his faction to travel to the tall apartments of Pripyat, and find the many rumored valuables in it.
The town used to be home to about 2,000 inhabitants before it was evacuated in the first few hours after the first meltdown of the Chernobyl plant in 1986. Many died of the resulting extreme radiation exposure afterwards. It was rumored that from the rooftops of the tall Pripyat buildings, the lost forest and the trees emitted a faint red glow that night. Of course, of all those in the town who were evacuated, there were always the brave and the determined that choose to stay behind and died first, and today, less than about a hundred of them are left, still drinking water from the wells and eating the potatoes they grew in the garden that they claim was safe.
The stalker noted as he altered direction and headed down the broken and lonely road the huge Russian letters across the tall apartment buildings, “The Party of Lenin will lead us to the triumph of Communism”. Communism is a long forgotten word outside of Pripyat, as many Russians and Ukrainians headed towards their credit cards and shopping malls instead of reading on their history books about Communism. The stalker was told to not head near the park and the cemetery in Pripyat, as some of those places still held very concentrated pockets of intense radiation and some of those places were rumored to still glow a slight faint at night.
The town guard’s shack was still left standing; in fact the entire town was still left standing, only the people were gone. Tricycles were still left on the street and the rusty car shells still had their silent engines on. The stalker noticed a café down the street from the guard shack. The etched coffee cup symbol still lingered to the broken glass window. The crippled chairs and broken pieces of glass were shattered all over the floor. A suitcase corroded to almost the point of disintegration was still parched next to a bus stop sign, the man waited for his ride to work almost thirty years ago. Somebody’s clothes were still hung to dry on a cloths line as the stalker walked cautiously down the street. The windows weren’t boarded up, there was no time when the meltdown and the evacuation occurred, and most of them were left open.
Foliage had gotten a hold of all of the buildings, green vines and skinny trees climbed against the buildings. As the stalker headed towards the entrance of the tallest apartment in the town, the howling of the wind against the buildings blew open one of the windows, the stalker shook, and then cursed. The heartless stalker drew his pistol and continued up the first flight of stairs. Piles of papers and broken glass filled the hallway, the apartment rooms windows were still open, and the place was as bright as day. He began scouring the rooms for valuables with a dash of excitement and anticipation, going through big, swollen oak desks, flimsy beds of spring and pieces of mattress, and vintage pictures of families and friends. He found more corroded suitcases, worthless collections of china, and always those pictures.
One of the rooms in particular had nothing valuable, but there was a picture of a man kneeling over some dead game. He must have been a great hunter, the stalker thought. There were many pictures of his kills, and on a wooden cabinet lies a swelled up box of shotgun shells, they probably wouldn’t work in a shotgun today. One room had pictures of a wedding, a fat, stumpy man with an ugly skinny hag as his wife. You can learn many things about people just by looking at their pictures.
“Must be the worst wedding ever.” The stalker muttered to himself.
The stalker found a dismembered doll, encrusted in filth and missing one eye. The heartless stalker picked it up and starred at it. Memories of his childhood popped up, as he tore the cloths apart a doll with evil intentions. The stalker chuckled menacingly as he began to tear the cloths off the old doll.
The stalker felt a sharp, agonizing, and sudden pain in his knuckles. The blood gushed out in a spurt as the stalker dove for cover under the window and held on to his fresh wound. He had heard no sudden crack of a shot or seen the report of any muzzle flashes. The stalker involuntarily slung the scoped Russian rifle off his back. The pain had gone to its effect, numbing his hand; the stalker tore off a piece of the mattress cover and tied it around his hand. The SVD Dragonov was clicked off safe. The stalker inched towards the wall of the room as his hand hit the bed. A pain shot up his hand. He turned the knob and the shades were flushed down, darkening the room. The light outside peered through the lines between the shades, creating a pattern of light across the stalker’s now alert face. The long Dragonov barrel was stuck through the shade as the stalker slowly inched the gun outside to get a clear view.
Through the center chevron of the scope, the stalker slowly scanned the tall building parallel from his apartment. It looked of normal, more broken windows, cloths lines hung more forgotten cloths across the rooftops, the dark void of every room in the tall apartment parallel to his not clear. The sun was facing his direction, which probably gave the sly sniper some advantage as the sniper could see him as clear as day and he could not.
“Where the fuck?”
It looked all normal from his scope, and the stalker had not known where the mysterious shot had come from.
“Shit!” The stalker pulled his rifle back and reset his sights on the window again, this time, frustrated. The stalker peered out through his sights again in disgust; he couldn’t immediately find the sniper who had shot him.
“This guy must have some skill.” The stalker thought to himself.
“I am going to find you, I am going to fucking find you, and when I do…”
The stalker scanned the roofs parallel to his position for hours trying to look for the shooter.
As the duel proceeded to night fall, the sky grew weary and soon, it became dark. The stalker soon realized that this wasn’t going to be no weekend retreat and he had to get revenge on this sniper. He realized that he would have to stay overnight. The stalker rested his rifle on a bed in one of the apartment rooms, he craved the liveliness of a fire but the stalker knew that would be a dead give-away to his position. The stalker cursed as he lay on the cold, hard floor to sleep. He sat up, took off his jacket, and laid it under him as support. Next to him, is his Russian Makarov pistol that could be drawn to a moment’s notice. The heartless stalker had a long night.
The Russian sun fluttered in the heartless stalker’s weary eyes. The delicate breeze animated the window curtains in a fluid fashion. The stalker shot up and drew his pistol. The birds chirped flippantly outside. A slight pain shot up through the stalker’s spine as he tried to get up and remember where he is. The 17th floor of the tallest residential building in all of Pripyat. The cool morning breezes felt ecstatic as it washed across his morning face. The stalker got up completely and ached as he approached the sniper rifle on the bed. He peered outside the window towards the horizon; the enemy’s building is just located in the window of the apartment behind him. A jet blue sky greeted the fine day, as the stalker took a pack of lights from his jacket. He held a cigarette towards his lips and lighted the cigarette. The first morning draft of the morning tobacco is heaven to him. As he smoked, the chemicals in the cigarette reacted with his addicted body and comforted him.
The heartless stalker decided to relocate his position to somewhere more advantageous higher up in the building. He discarded the cigarette and proceeded up through the hallway and up the long apartment stairs. The stalker proceeded down the corridor of the 22nd floor and looked for a good sniper spot. He found a room with a grate towards the end of the room, near the door, and a bed that has been turned upside down. He didn’t want to be anywhere near the window. The stalker remembered his sharp shooting lessons from the Special Forces group he was in when he was serving with the Spets Naz. Stay away directly from the window, and don’t smoke at night. They said it would be no different than if we just hang neon signs on their heads that says “Dumb grunts over here”.
The heartless stalker setup his rifle on the overturned bed and braced his shoulders on the butt of the rifle. He rubbed his eyes and took a deep breath. The lens illuminating an orb of concentrated light over his right eye. The stalker scanned the rooftops and the countless balconies at the parallel building again. It was the same as yesterday, but today the buildings had an eerie quiet to them that they were missing yesterday. As the stalker continued to patiently scan the buildings with his telescopic sights, his hand brushed up against a cabinet and he noticed a collection of picture frames along the surface. The heartless stalker peered away from the scope and towards the picture frames, the rifle’s barrel aiming harmlessly towards the balconies. He spotted a picture of what seems to be a gathering of people hovering over a table smiling as their picture was taken.
The stalker had recognized one of the persons on the picture. He took the picture frame off the cabinet and studied at it close up. The little boy was bending over the table with the rest of the family and friends over a table filled with plates of food. He had remembered this boy in his childhood. He reminisced the old tree where they use to play together. As the delicate memories sparked in his mind, he had begun to look for more pictures. His hand left the sniper rifle.
As he stood up and scoured the cabinets and tables for more of the pictures. A swift shadow flowed through one of the windows in the corner of his eye. Instinctively, the stalker jumped prone to the hard floor and peered quickly to the location of the movement. A black velvet cloth flowed gracefully in the wind on a cloths line. The stalker let out a sigh of relief, but this kept him alert for the rest of the day. As the afternoon sun baked the stalker’s back, he reached for his canteen and took a sip.
Hours passed and soon, the canteen was empty, and a bucket which the stalker found was filled with urine. The stalker tried to hopelessly nurse his thirst throughout the unusually hot day, he tried to collect saliva in his mouth and swallow it in a gulp but he knew that it didn’t help him at all.
Towards the end of the evening, when the sun emitted a bright orange-crimson glow across the land, the stalker decided to radio in backup through his transmitter radio. As the batteries were snapped into place occurring to their polarity, the stalker tuned to the frequency of his faction’s signal and placed on the headset.
“This is Mashino two five, this is Mashino two five, are you guys receiving my call?”
There was a thunderous electronic squeal as the stalker threw the headset to the ground in pain. The radio set let out a loud crackle and the radio was completely destroyed through a smoking hole. The stalker fell to the ground immediately.
The radio was destroyed by the sniper, whom had deadly accuracy from this range. The stalker realized that now he was alone, he couldn’t receive any help. This had become a personal with the sniper, and now as night settles in, the stalker would have to plan how to kill the troublesome sniper, and more importantly, how to survive.
“This has become our little world; we won’t leave until one of us is left standing…” The stalker thought.
The heartless stalker felt a bead of water drop onto his head, 2 drops, 3 drops, and the stalker awoken to a rainy morning. The mellifluous sound of the raindrops. He habitually reached for the pack of cigarettes and a lighter. The stalker caught a cigarette from the carton with his lips and started to light it. The lighter fruitlessly tried to click on, but the lighter had given up its life the night before.
Outside, visibility is almost none. The rain has created an invisible pause in the situation. As neither the sniper nor the stalker could get an accurate shot off. The stalker decides to move up onto the rooftop to get a clear view of the entire building, under the cover of the rain. The stalker slung his rifle onto his shoulder, gathered up all his necessary processions and equipment, and proceeded to climb the long stairs up the roof. As the stalker approached the top floor, the doorway to the roof was locked by a large old iron lock. The stalker gave the lock a swift kick from his boots, and the rusty lock was thrown off effortlessly. The stalker proceeded to the rooftop door and drew his rifle. He quietly opened the door and rifle drawn, slowly crept on the roof.
On top of the tallest apartment in Pripyat, he saw a faint view of the Chernobyl power plant, the lost forest, and the entire view of this ghost town against the backdrop of the blowing wind and rain. The dark clouds poured rain down on the roof and the stalker was soaked in less than a minute. Here, he had the entire view of the parallel apartment where the enemy sniper was. He scanned the building with his scope, the beads of rain gathering on his scope. The stalker wiped the drops off and glared into the scope, carefully surveying the potentially deadly balconies and the opposing roof top. The lightning illuminated the entire building for a short second and the stalker had thought he had seen a figure. But at this range, and in this weather, it could be having been nothing and his weary eyes could be playing tricks on him.
In the distance, the stalker could make out the mysterious smoke bellowing from the huge chimneys of the Chernobyl power plant. The dark smoke blackened all of the buildings in Pripyat, and the surrounding places. Howls were heard in the distance, and the thunder roared throughout the sky. The stalker felt a pain in his stomach, the all universal hunger pain. Now he just has realized that he hasn’t eaten in days. He heard the growls in his tormented stomach and the acid sloshing around looking for something to burn. The stalker fished a ration can from his messenger bag and operated the can opener. The pouring beads of rain showed no sign of stopping. The can was opened and the stalker wolfed down the ration of canned beef.
After he ate, the stalker threw the empty tin can at the direction of the sniper.
“Here is one for ya!”
The tin can fell short and the sound of it landing on the street is drowned out by the pouring rain. The stalker tore off a piece of rag from an old flag. He recalls the survival manual from the military about the water catcher. He tied the rag to a pole and there the rag collected water as he placed his empty canteen under it.
The rest of the day seemed quiet and there was no noted activity from the enemy sniper.
The rain halted as night came; the puddles were formed over the rooftop. The stalker grew fatigued and struggled hard to keep his eyes open. His finger left the trigger and his eyes fell off the sights.
“Huh! No!” the stalker shot up and slapped his own face.
The stalker tried hard to concentrate into his scope. Fatigue came over and his eyelids became increasingly heavy. When he had nearly dozed off, he thought he heard the sounds of a violin. The stalker shot up again and poured water from the canteen over his face. He thought he had heard the sound again.
It was hauntingly beautiful.
The stalker stood up baffled, and scoped the balconies again. The mysterious music filled his ears.
“Beethoven’s Romance?” the stalker recognized.
The sound of the music was evocative.
“I have to stop dreaming…”
The stalker tried to shake it off, but the sound of the music was still lingering.
“It can’t be…”
On the fourth day, the stalker grew edgy and decided to go out into the street and into the other building to kill the sniper at close range with his pistol. He raced down the stairs with only his rifle and pistol and back towards the entrance of the Pripyat apartment. Outside, as the stalker prepared to dash towards the sniper’s building, he noticed that everything had been the same as it been since the moment he stepped into the streets of Pripyat. The tricycles haven’t been moved and the suitcase is still there. Time in Pripyat never moves. The town will always be in 1986, forever. The town still seemed to stand vibrantly, and the stalker imagined the young children playing in the streets and the citizens going to work.
The taste was bitter in his mouth as the adrenaline and the anticipation of possible death drew closer. He knew he could be shot as he ran across the buildings, but this was his one chance he had to take. He promised that he would find the sniper and kill him at all costs, this was all personal. As the wild Lilacs flowed vibrantly in the wind and the wind whisked the grasses along the field, only the sound of the breeze blowing the trees was heard. The stalker needed to leave behind all his equipment so he would gain speed on the hundred meter dash towards the other building. The stalker braced his legs, took a deep breath and dashed.
The stalker’s breathing was heavy; he tried to look up as he ran across to the building. He was prepared to get hit by the eventual bullet. His view bobbed left and right rhythmically, he gasped for breath as he dashed the longest race in his life. His race for life. The Hundred meters to the building seemed to take an eternity.
The stalker suddenly felt as if a red hot knife has been stabbed through his shoulder. The crack of a distance rifle was heard. The stalker held on to his throbbing arm and continued the sprint. A second shot was heard and the stalker felt as if another hot poker has been stabbed into his leg.
“Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!” The stalker gave a cry to fill his blood with adrenaline.
The stalker had made his way to the entrance to the building, but not without exposing himself to be hit two times. He collapsed to the foot of the building and immediately tore off a piece of his shirt to act as a tourniquet to stop the blood spurting. He tied the tourniquet with a sudden hard pull and an intense pain shot up through his leg. The wallet in his mouth muffled the cry.
“You’re fucking dead!! You hear me? You’re fucking dead!!!” the stalker cried the threat ominously.
The stalker shot up in anger and cocked his pistol; he charged up the stairs to find the sniper. As the stairs grow increasingly long, the stalker’s adrenaline that was pumping so freely was exhausted and his legs grew tired and pains shot up his leg again. He quickly became back into his senses and his rifle was drawn cautiously. As he proceeded up the fire escape stairs he had spotted an empty ration can. The stalker took and examined it. He gave it a sniff.
“Still fresh.” The stalker smiled menacingly.
The placard noted the 16th floor. The heartless stalker slid opens the door inaudibly and directed his rifle down the long corridor. Another silver tin can reflected the luminous sunlight into the stalker’s eyes. The stalker followed the can and into a dark room. There was a large black towel drawn away from the window, with hints of sunlight poring through the visible spots. There was a box of rifle cartilages on the wooden table; an assault rifle was stumped against a chair. There were countless frames of pictures on the shelves.
The sniper had everything setup for unsuspected victims here, he would never been spotted with that black towel absorbing the light from the outside, this was a sniper’s paradise, a voyeur’s wet dream. There was a pair of high-powered binoculars on the window sill. The heartless stalker took a peek out the window to his last location with the binoculars. There was a perfect view of him all the time here. If the sniper had wanted to, he would have shot him at anytime. What the stalker couldn’t figure out was why didn’t he.
The stalker glanced at the frames of pictures on the shelf. There was always in every picture, of a tall, slender, and attractive young girl. There was a picture of the girl with a violin in her hands, with an older man and woman at her shoulders with a big smile. There was a picture of the teenage girl with a group of young children; they were all smiling at the camera. The stalker found a picture of the girl, the only picture taken by herself, the beautiful young Ukrainian girl held a violin in her hands, the picture was signed gracefully, Geneva Pavlov.
The odd thought of connecting the girl to the deadly sniper that shot him three times and could have killed him in each shot was an absolutely eccentric idea. The stalker continued to study the pictures, trying channel out the thought of identifying the sniper with the girl. There was the pictures of the girl with her parents in a protest against the Soviet led invasion of Afghanistan. The girl had become part of a blood-drive group. Most of all, there were pictures of the girl and countless children. A picture is worth a thousand words as they say; the stalker realized that he has learned more about people here in the Pripyat apartments than anywhere else.
The stalker realized the reason that the sniper didn’t kill him when he had the chance. She was not a killer, like he was. The rest of the day, as he looked at the pictures over and over again, he began to question his ethics and the decision to kill the sniper.
“When you pit a bull against a moth, who would win?”
There were those stories, of the people who stayed behind after the meltdown and evacuation; they had refused to leave their homes, even in such dangerous times. They had chosen to live in the zone after the evacuation by themselves. Their homes couldn’t be separated from them, entire families died together because of this, but not all of them. There are less than a hundred of them left behind today, and they live normally somewhere in the zone. The sniper was trying to defend her home from intruders; she was one of those left behind who never left their homes.
The stalker sat on the chair all night, thinking this over and over to himself. The violin, the pictures, and the signature. Could this just be coincidence?
The birds chirped beguilingly outside, and the crimson dawn sky has begun to be overshadowed by the morning sun. It was finally spring, the chance to start anew again. The scent of pallid lilacs filled the spring air. The stalker lay motionless on the chair with his head stumped down. The scent of the flowers filled his nose.
A noisy metallic racket reverb throughout the apartment corridor. The stalker shot up, dazed. The noise sounded again and the heartless stalker jumped to his feet and rushed down to the stairs towards the noise. He involuntarily cocked his sniper rifle and ran towards the victim. He stopped at the stairs, the noise sounded once more and he rushed to the next floor and kicked the door open. He rushes in and spots a woman bending over at the end of the hallway. She was trying to setup a noise trap for the stalker but she mistakenly kicked over one of the tin cans. The stalker was stunned, he had found the sniper. The woman noticed the stalker and she drew and directed her sniper rifle at him in a lightning pace. The stalker followed suit and returned the favor.
The stalker stood and peered through the sights, he hesitated as he saw the compellingly attractive woman direct her rifle towards him. Her long brown hair swaying in the wind, her piercingly beautiful eyes drilled into the stalker’s mind, her slender figure and shapely body. The stalker lost a breath as the two stood, frozen with fear. The stalker thought of the pictures of Geneva Pavlov, she had not aged a bit from the pictures, he thought of her parents, her violin, Beethoven’s romance, and the hauntingly beautiful sound. He knew all about this person more than anyone in his lifetime, but she didn’t.
But then, for no particular reason at all, the heartless stalker thought of the dead children killed under the command of their faction, the rival stalkers that were executed with a shot behind the head. He had thought of the Black Ops training, his Spet Naz rules, Kill or be killed, the death of her parents through the hands of Stalin’s secret police. A thousand souls of torment and suffering, sickening thoughts of death. The terrible thoughts conflicted in his mind, but only one can prosper.
The heartless stalker channeled out all the thoughts in his mind. He closed his eyes…
The stalker bends over to pick up the classic sniper’s duel prize, the opponent’s rifle. Geneva Pavlov looks just as beautiful in her death as when she was alive. She lay there motionless, as if in her sleep. The long lasting sleep which Geneva would never wake up from. The bullet had pierced through her heart, and she died without a feeling. The stalker bends over again and kissed her on her lips. He walks out of the building, exhausted.
The heartless stalker walked out into the spring afternoon sun. As he walked with two rifles under his arm back to the base, the stalker had a tear in his eye.
Great, independant Iraq War journalism: http://michaelyon.blogspot.com/
From the halls of Montezuma To the shores of Tripoli'
We fight our countrys battles In the air', on land, and sea.
First to fight for right and freedom , And to keep our honor clean,
We are proud to claim the title Of United States Marines.
Our flags unfurl'd to every breeze From dawn to setting sun';
We have fought in every clime and place Where we could take a gun.
In the snow of far-off northern lands And in sunny tropic scenes,
You will find us always on the job - The United States Marines.
Here's health to you and to our Corps Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we've fought for life And never lost our nerve.
If the Army and the Navy Ever gaze on Heaven's scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded By United States Marines. - US Marines Hymn