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Alone

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  14:10:03  22 April 2004
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Chode
Token Weird Guy
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 12/30/2003
Messages: 381
Alone

I'm pretty positive that it's too late too submit this for the contest, but I mailed it off anyway. Hope there's not too much of a Stephen King style to it (just finished reading his novel Desperation)

I never realised it would be so fun to write


Alone
-------

There the sound was, once more.

Still distant, but closer than it had been when he first heard it. Close
enough for the sound to cause his heart to jump, resuming its pace fast
enough to send blood rushing to his head.

[gotta keep going]

He rubbed his eyelids with his free hand until the thudding sensation
reduced to an unpleasent hum. Slowly he opened his eyes and re-evaluated his
surrondings.

Water flowed around his ankles, drenching him up to his knees, but he didn't
notice. It never even occured to him that the water was radioactive, like
everything else in this miserable place. All that he knew was...

[it's following me]

... the horrible sound was closer. The horrible sound was following him. He
couldn't see it, but he could feel that it was bad. In a normal place he
would have thought himself foolish...

[you're been a paranoid fool]

...but Chernobyl was not a normal place. It hadn't been for a very long
time, not since the hand of man made it's final mark on the earth. Chernobyl
was sick of man's mark, man's hatred and destruction. Finally, Chernobyl
showed man it's hate. It was a place of death, of monstrosities. There was
no God in Chernobyl. Or at least he no longer cared.

A splash, about 15 meters up stream. With highly trained reflexes he had his
rifle trained at the spot, fighting the urge to fire instead. He was better
trained than that, and had enough sense to not waste the last of his
bullets.

A small furry shape emerged from the water, four legs paddling in an attempt
to stay afloat....

[just a rat...]

...as the steam washed it away from him.

Damn rats, they were everywhere in this place. Most men had enough sense to
avoid this place...

[only fools come in here]

...but the rats had no knowledge on radiation. All they saw was food, which
was plentiful thanks to all of the STALKER's.

The rats were not smart enough to avoid the radiation, but they did know
that the life expectancy of a STALKER was very short. No-one really knew how
many men had died inside the zone, but the rats made sure there bodies did
not remain for the long. The rats...and other things. The monstrosities.
Mutations.

That sound again.

He snapped out of his daze, realised that the sound was closer. Looked
around fast, there was nothing there. Not even the drowned rat upstream. He
was alone, standing ankle deep in a shallow stream. Just him. Him and that
horrible sound, somewhere distant...somewhere close. Coming closer. Coming
for him.

"Run you fool..." he said aloud.

He was no stranger to good advice, even his own. He wasn't far from MOTH'S
CAVE. The cave would offer shelter, a wall for a back to lean on. Protection
from the radioactive rain. Possible even protection from the noise. If he
was lucky he could reach it in five, maybe ten minutes.

Looking back one last time, he turned around and ran for the shelter of
MOTH'S CAVE.

-------

When he was young, he remembered playing with his friends. How they would
laugh, and imagine how big and strong they were. They would play STALKERs,
stalking through their neighbourhoods with their fingers pointed into a
resemblance of a pistol, keeping their eyes open for any dangers they may
need to take care of or precious artifacts that would make them rich beyond
even a child's dream.

But they were kids. The dangers were mostly imaginary (although often they
would pretend to shoot at passing vehicles, imagining them to be giant
mutants intent on eating them all for breakfast), the artifacts were shiny
washers or dropped money. A kings ransom in a child's eyes.

He grew up playing with Tom and Richard, each bearing their mother's wrath
when some old lady would complain to them about how "Tom, Richard and David
are nothing but a pack of hooligans wandering the street looking for a
fight". But they bore it and later smiled at the thought of them
intimidating someone, even if it was a little old lady.

They grew up, but they kept their nicknames. David was Hawk. Richard was
Boulder. And Tom, they always called him Moth.

But the games of children are quickly forgotten. When he was 16, Richard did
end up in a fight. He was beaten to within an inch of his life, and died a
week later in his bed. David remembered hearing the term "stroke" been used,
but it didn't matter to him. A friend had fallen, and it would never be the
same again.

Not long after Richard's death, Moth left without saying a word. People
talked, and rumours told that he had followed a STALKER, becoming a prodigy
to one of them. People would say the word "STALKER" like they would say
"Leper", or more accurately "Murderer". STALKER's were not decent folk, they
were "criminals who broke the law from greed. Murdering their own friends if
it earned them a profit" is what mothers would say to each other, and tell
their children in hope of scaring them.

David knew that Richard was gone forever, and never expected to see Moth
again. Perhaps it would have been better that way, but Moth did return. Many
years later, when David had a wife and two children. He loved his wife and
children, but could never make enough money for them to live comfortably.
Everytime his children went to bed hungry, it was another stab in his heart.
It hurt him not been able to provide for his family.

Then Moth turned up. He was older than David remembered him, his face worn
and weary, and a tinge of grey in the front of his hair. There was a scar on
him, starting from his cheek and snaking down the side of his neck beneath
his clothes. His eyes were what startled David the most.

It wasn't what colour they were, but the fact that they had lost almost all
colour pigmentation. Once his eyes had been a brilliant blue, but now a pale
white. Though surprisingly the man was not blind, and was not even aware of
his eye colour till David mentioned it. Moth just shrugged it off and
changed the topic to other, even more bizzare topics.

He had asked Moth to come with him, into the zone. To become a STALKER.

David should have said no, but it seemed to him the right thing to do. It
seemed to him the thing that he was intended to do. He could send money back
home to his family, more money than he could ever have hoped to make through
work. He could provide for his family.

Moth was his mentor, he was his prodigy. Moth taught him everything, all
about radiation, about hiding from military patrols, the dangers of a
blowout, the mutants, weapons, the anomalies, the mutants.... Moth had made
a personal catalogue of most of the mutants that he commonly was in contact
with, and showed David everything. It had been like when they were kids
again.

The most important thing that Moth had shown him was a small cave he had
discovered, just outside of Pripyat. It was off all paths, and was difficult
to find...unless you know where it is. Moth used it to escape blowouts, to
hide from patrols, and to sleep. It was safe, with only one entrance which
was easy to defend against invaders. It was Moth's cave.

If Moth had of reached it, then maybe he would be properly buried. Not
strung up like an animal.

6 months ago, he had failed to avoid a miltary patrol. Before he could even
raise his gun he had been killed by the soldiers, bullets hitting him in the
chest. The soldiers didn't leave it at that, they had thrown his body onto
their truck. They had hung his body up by the hands, hanging like a piece of
meat in a butcher shop, outside a checkpoint on the border of the zone. A
bloody warning to other STALKERS.

-------

His line of thought was broken as he topped a hill. There was Moth's cave,
only 50 meters away. He was going to make it.

At first glance, the cave appeared to be a grassy hill. But the trained eye
could see a line through the grass. A knife slit in the hanging moss
perfectly disguising the entrance.

As he reached this slit in the moss, he heard the sound again. Closer now,
the closest it had ever been. In fear, David glanced back over his shoulder
expecting to see nothing as always. But not this time.

It was there, on the hill he had left behind.

Time seemed to stop, allowing David to fully take in what had been hunting
him. It was humanoid, around 6 feet tall. The clothes it wore were torn and
muddy, more resembling rags than the camoflauge colour it once was.
Blood trickled through the cloth in places, bleeding from pale and dead
skin. It's face! A gash of skin was missing from it's cheek, exposing two
lines of bloody teeth.

It was dead, yet it was living. David knew what it was from Moth's stories,
but had never seen one. A Zombie.

He remembered what Moth had said:

"They sometimes may look like they're alive, but trust me they're dead.
There's nothing in their brains anymore. They don't even control their own
actions. If you annoy one of these things, then you're been hunted by a
Controller."

[Keep going....it's coming towards you]

It started down the hill, dragging one leg as it walked. It had seen him,
and it was coming for him. Even as it moved, it was making more noises.
Gibberish mostly, but human nonetheless.

"Pain keeps circles growing in gardens of mortality....circles grow in
broken circles.....pain....growing..."

This was enough for David, he pulled the moss aside and ran into the cave.

It was dark in the cave, but David knew it would be to his advantages. The
small amount of light in the entrance would illuminate the zombie if it
tried to come in. Even though he was low on bullets, there was enough to
shoot this monster in it's head. Enough to destroy what was left of it's
brain.

He did not wait for his eyes to adjust to the dark, he knew the inside of
here. He walked around a crate in the middle of the floor, banging his knee
on it in his rush. Biting down on the pain, he kept moving towards the back
of the cave.

His hand felt the back wall of the cave. Perfect. Gracefully he turned to
face the entrance to the cave, bent over and dropped his left knee to the
ground. Careful to make no more noise, he slowly brough his rifle up into
his shoulder, aiming carefully at the entrance.

Somewhere distant, thunder. The storm would continue for the rest of the
day, probably into the night as well.

His heart began pounding again, sweat trickled down his face, but his aim he
kept steady. Over and over he kept remembering....

[wait till you see the white of it's eyes, wait till you see the white of
it's eyes]

.... the lessons Moth had given him on weapon use. David was going to make
sure that every bullet was on target.

A scraping, just outside the cave. Through the moss a blurry silhouette was
taking form. The zombie had definitely seen him go in here, and was now
trying to make it's way in.

[Damn thing can't even get in here.....]

It tore the moss, ripping it off the cave entrance. Destroying the
camoflauge, leaving the cave open to all. It was in.

[Wait till you see it's eyes]

It pulled itself into the cave, then stopped. It could not see, and was as
blind as David had felt.

Then it turned it's head to the right, knowingly. It moved towards a shelf
carved into the wall....

[what the hell is it doing]

...and it's hands moved clumsily over a dark shape. Suddenly light shone
from between it's hands, illuminating the cave and casting dark shadows from
the Zombie. It moved it's hands away, allowing David to see that it was a
Keresone lantern.

[damn thing knew there was a lantern there....]

It saw David, and started towards him. David forced himself back to the task
at hand. He looked down his weapon, at the approaching monstrosity. At it's
hideously destroyed face. At it's....

[It's EYES]

The weapon fell out of his hand, clattering on the dirt floor. David made no
move to catch it, nor to pick it up. He was mesmerised by the creature's
eyes.

They were pale, really pale. His pupils were a pale shade of white. But not
the white of dead eyes, for there was life in those eyes.

He looked again at it's clothing, green camoflauge once, torn and bloddy
mostly around the chest. Dried blood caked around it's wrists in circles,
marks where rope had once held it.

"Moth....." David said in disbelief.

[A Controller must have found his body]

The creature made no sign of recognition. His friend was gone, was dead.
This thing was just using his body.

It started it gibberish again...some of it David recognised.

"death falls to those whom died.....stalkers die before they're dead"

[Moth said that once, that Stalkers died inside before they were killed]

The creature was only two meters away now. A bloodied hand was reaching out,
reaching for it's prey.

David realised what he had to do. He reached down for his weapon, his hand
groping in the partial darkness for a moment unable to find the rifle.

"crushing flows from head...head flows crushing flow"

His hand closed on the weapon, running along the barrel till he felt the
stock, lifting it.

He stood up and aimed the weapon at the creature that was once Moth. It
paused, as though recognising the weapon.

David looked at it's eyes, the paleness that was not blindness. The life
that glowed behind them, but not the life that had owned them. The life that
had taught him how to be a STALKER, how to be a man here in this
hell.

"Goodbye, Moth" he gasped in the silence, as he squeezed the trigger of the
weapon.

Six loud claps, echoing in the enclosed cave. The creatures face
disappearing as bullets destroyed what was left of it's head.

The creature that was no longer Moth fell to the ground, to never move
again.

A tear rolled down David's cheek.
  16:58:43  22 April 2004
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Naaaaa
Senior Resident
 

 
On forum: 04/07/2004
Messages: 825
Spooky... I like spooky stories but I don't want to see a whole lot of spooky moments in the game, maybe 15 or 20... otherwise it will be a mutant frag-fest like Doom. Great story nontheless. I really felt sorry for Moss...
  07:12:53  23 April 2004
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Amoki
back with a vengeance
(V.I.P.)

 

 
On forum: 07/31/2003
Messages: 1729
This is good! Very good. Short, Sweet, yet very suspenseful. Submit the story! I can't give you any promises, but given my experience in reading all the stories (yes, all! or almost all, I might had missed a few) this story might as would be within the top twenty (in my own list). Not bragging, but... you can stand tall within the list I had listed in "The verdict"

but I have a few suggestion, although very few.
-You can add personality and history to Moss- say, put it as a memory before the zombiw Moss was shot. You can add to chracterization. Example- 'times when david and moss drank together. He is such a good drinker, but... Goodbye Moss." David...
This can add lots to chracterization.

Aside from this, not much. This is a very good story after all. Encore for me.

Note:= had mailed to atem. Asked him to reply at the forum. If this story is unsubmittable... tough luck and too bad.
  08:15:43  23 April 2004
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Chode
Token Weird Guy
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 12/30/2003
Messages: 381

---QUOTATION---
This is good! Very good. Short, Sweet, yet very suspenseful. Submit the story! I can't give you any promises, but given my experience in reading all the stories (yes, all! or almost all, I might had missed a few) this story might as would be within the top twenty (in my own list). Not bragging, but... you can stand tall within the list I had listed in "The verdict"

but I have a few suggestion, although very few.
-You can add personality and history to Moss- say, put it as a memory before the zombiw Moss was shot. You can add to chracterization. Example- 'times when david and moss drank together. He is such a good drinker, but... Goodbye Moss." David...
This can add lots to chracterization.

Aside from this, not much. This is a very good story after all. Encore for me.

Note:= had mailed to atem. Asked him to reply at the forum. If this story is unsubmittable... tough luck and too bad.
---END QUOTATION---



Thanks for the comments.

(the character's name was Moth, btw )

Doesn't matter if it doesn't get accepted, I enjoyed writing this.
  07:41:20  27 April 2004
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Chode
Token Weird Guy
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 12/30/2003
Messages: 381
It got accepted!!!!

Vote for me if you like this: http://www.stalker-game.com/df_community_contest_story_read.php?id=140
  13:14:37  27 April 2004
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Naaaaa
Senior Resident
 

 
On forum: 04/07/2004
Messages: 825
Got a ten from me. "What a way to go" and this are my favorites.
 
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