On forum: 01/19/2004
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My Short Story "Voices of Oblivion"|
Here is my short story that I sent into GSC, but it may be awhile before its posted on the stalker website, so I'm gonna post it here to so I can get some opinions on it before hand. I took the ending I was writing for a sci-fi novel because (I thought) it was cool. It may be too fast paced for some in terms of storyline. Anyway, I put a lot of effort into this, so if you don't like it, please give it constructive criticism, thanks. Its kinda long (about 9 pages single spaced).
Voices of Oblivion
Kiev Bostogov stared resignedly at the dismal landscape rolling past him, his bent back already aching from the bumpy ride the corporate Hummer offered. He had just begun his work at GI Industries as the assistant director of all activities his corporation conducted within The Zone, and he was already tiring of the duty.
He was being escorted by several armed men; most of which he knew quite well, to an extent anyway. The closest relationship he had formed among the men surrounding him was with a man named Chen Lee, a demolitions expert who’s history he kept purposely vague. A man in his middle forties, Lee was a man of quiet serenity, his coal-black eyes meditatively traveling the tumbling ruins of Chernobyl that came and went as the hummer slowly made its way to their destination, an abandoned research facility, supposedly.
Then there was Harvey Kramer also a man of unnatural calmness, though he talked a great deal more than Lee, his words were often intemperate and brash. Most of the time he sat staring at his AK-47 tracing its metallic curves with silent relish. Though he appeared surreal and imperceptive on the outside, Kiev knew he was capable of far more. Kiev supposed he was in his early thirties, the man’s stern features covered by a light stubble; his calm demeanor seemingly reinforced by sedated brown eyes.
His least favorite of the group was also the youngest, a man named Derek Jones. An attractive boy no older than eighteen years of age, one who preferred to be called by his nickname “the squasher”, a reference derived by a few lucky encounters with inexperienced stalkers, and other inhabitants of the zone. The typical blonde hair and blue eyed loudmouth, Derek had no place in a situation as dangerous as this, Kiev reasoned as he lifted his silver flask to his mouth then back down again, cradling it protectively in his lap.
Kiev felt Lee’s gaze on him, something that was filled with a kind of detached comprehension. He turned to face him, smiling at him weakly. Lee nodded, then raised one grayish-brown eyebrow apprehensively before returning his gaze to the ruined landscape set out before him. Kiev eventually did the same, noting the rows upon rows of destroyed, half-gutted buildings stretching infinitely against the stark, fog-imbued horizon.
He sometimes peered into the gaping, metallic holes of those ruined buildings, pretending each one was its own partially veiled abyss, harboring such horrid secrets and chronicles of the people that once filled them that only the most courageous of men would dare to uncover them. The silence only seemed to deepen as they penetrated further into the ruined city of Chernobyl.
The ride became turbulent as the hummer passed over the remains of several mangled vehicles littering a wide, uneven street. Most appeared to be corporate owned, the army itself was to smart to venture into this part of the zone. But the corporations couldn’t resist the temptation to explore uncharted territories in hoping to augment their already infinite wealth. As the vehicle traversed the expansive avenue, it encountered a large crater, taking a detour down a narrow alleyway that exited upon a tapered gravel road that seemingly lead nowhere except deeper into the dense fog.
As the hummer picked up speed, the ruined city faded into the distance. After a few minutes had passed, Kiev looked back, realizing that the derelict precincts of Chernobyl were no longer visible under the dark silvery veil that surrounded them. Suddenly Harvey reached over from his position beside Kiev and tapped him lightly on the knee with the butt of his AK-47. “So, what’s the deal with this operation?. What are we going in for anyway?”, he asked evenly. “The CEO wouldn’t elaborate much on our overall mission except that we are to salvage any research documents that we find within the compound. This looks to be nothing more than a training operation for the new recruits”, here he gestured towards Derek a few feet away, who looked up and fixed him with a cool stare.
Kiev looked away after a moment, returning his attention to Harvey. “However, I think there will prove to be many....distractions along the way to keep us occupied.” “I hope so”, Harvey replied solemly, his lips compressing. Kiev glanced down at his hands, which seemed to grip the AK-47 even tighter. Lee suddenly turned his attention to Kiev. “From what I have gathered, the army hasn’t ventured here yet, and the corporate soldiers that have merely perished a short while ago. This seems to be uncharted territory, who knows what we’ll face”, he finished with such a sense of foreboding that a dismal hush fell over the group of men.
They took the rest of the ride to the facility in weary silence. The only sound that interrupted the sometimes eerie quiet was the impatient knocking of Derek’s gun on the floor of the vehicle. When the hummer suddenly came to a full stop, all of them looked up. Kiev stood up and stretched his cramped legs. “We should set up camp inside the confines of the lab before night falls, to avoid casualties”, he ordered. “What you’re not afraid of the dark are you?”, Derek shouted loudly. Harvey stepped close to him and said “What an immature asshole, maybe we should let him camp outside tonight if he really wants to”, he grinned.
“I agree, let that annoying pest risk his life if that is his choice”, Lee jumped in, taking his duffle bag and leaping to the ground gracefully. He strode off ahead of them, slowly traversing the imposing entrance gates, and entering the wide outer courtyard. The rest of them followed soon after. That night, they ate their meager rations in a companionable silence inside one of the former spacious office complexes. Then they retired into their thick wool sleeping bags, which were arranged into a loose semi-circle around a large, wooden desk.
Kiev dosed uneasily for several hours, and when he awoke it was still dark, the only light came from the dim lamp that had been set in the center of the large room, which was spreading tiny slivers of light across the faces of his sleeping comrades and the few items they had brought into the room with them. Laying back down, he found he could not sleep. Rising wearily, he went over and picked up the light, shining it briefly over the sleeping men. Harvey’s sleeping bag lay empty, crumbled haphazardly in one dark corner. Shrugging, Kiev quietly opened the door, half-closing it behind him so that the clicking sound of the door slamming shut wouldn’t wake the rest.
Shining the dim light ahead of him, Kiev walked slowly forward unaware of his intended destination. As he proceeded down the hallway, however, he noticed a sliver of light emanating from one partially closed door. Opening the rotting wooden door carefully, Kiev noticed Harvey slumped over next to a brick wall, whose brownish-white paint was visibly crumbling. He could see a small leather-bound book in his left hand, and a half-empty bottle of scotch in the other. Cautiously moving his way over to him, Kiev was startled when Harvey began to stir, whipping one limp hand over his face and turning over on his side. The book fell onto the floor next to him.
Kiev gave a sigh of relief, he was merely sleeping. Going over to him, Kiev bent down cautiously and picked up the book. Turning it over, he began to read. It appeared to be a journal of sorts, the latest entry was dated March 18th, 2017, the current date. Setting the lamp at his feet, Kiev began to read. It was dated 04/06/91.
“I still can’t believe it. They are gone. Those damn scientists claim it was an environmental anomaly, but it doesn’t matter, not anymore. They are gone forever, nothing I can do will bring them back. My wife and son wait for me, but my death could not come soon enough. I think I will have to wait for what will seem like an eternity before I see them again. But I will not waste my life in vain. I have joined the ranks of GI Industries armed forces, led by those that are determined to get to the core of the Zone’s origin, and no doubt, to become infinitely wealthy. As long as I can find out what killed my wife and son, I will rest in piece.
Kiev bit his lower lip in anguish, his friend was obviously in great distress over the deaths of his wife and son, even after all this time. Setting the book carefully next to Harvey’s right hand, Kiev slowly got up. He returned blankly to the large office where his men were sleeping he crawled into his sleeping bag and pulled the thick wool cover over his head tight.
The next morning, Kiev was woken by a light shaking of his shoulders. Slowly sitting upwards, he rubbed his eyes to find the stern features of his demolitions expert staring expressionlessly back. “Kiev, I am sorry but what we have discovered requires your immediate attention.” “Bullshit!,” Derek exclaimed suddenly from the sleeping bag next to Kiev’s. “It could have waited another hour.” He brushed his thick main of golden blonde hair back behind his ears and yawned, stretching his muscular arms behind his back. “Alright, lets get this going”, Kiev responded, still drowsy from his dreamless sleep. “Good, meet me in the mess hall, what I need to show you is in there. Harvey is already waiting for us.” Lee turned his back, and walked quickly out of the office.
Kiev nodded and stood up. Nearly a half-hour had passed when Kiev and a still petulant Derek walked into the spacious interior of the mess hall. All of the tables had been pushed against the left wall. In the room’s center lay several pieces of machinery, which were placed in a jumbled pile, some of them were resting atop one another indiscriminately. Lee’s back remained turned to them, who was obviously absorbed in his work. It was Harvey who approached them. “Kiev, sorry about all of this, Lee discovered part of the old computer systems network a few hours ago. It took all that time just to move these few things up here. He has almost finished reconnecting them, and he wouldn’t tell me what all of this is for, I guess we’ll find out soon enough.” As Harvey turned away, Kiev caught a glimpse of something in his eyes, something dark and disturbing but he could not place it.
After a few minutes, Lee stood, brushing the dirt off of his legs. “There, it is done, everything is ready now”, he said satisfactorily, a light smile suddenly creasing his usually withdrawn features as he turned to Kiev. “Ah, Kiev, I have been waiting for you. I have found some interesting pieces of machinery down in the labs we explored this morning, I think you will agree with me.” “I don’t think anything is interesting enough to wake us up this early” Derek grumbled more to himself than anyone else. As Lee pushed a button on one of the larger portions of equipment, a faint beep sounded. Lee quickly motioned with his hands for Kiev and the others to come closer. Kiev could tell he was excited by what he had discovered.
The small screen on top of the machinery pile suddenly came to life with the words “Consciousness Uplink Program, Version 2.5”. Hitting a few other buttons on the keyboard under the monitor swiftly recreated a scene within the laboratory though it remained quite blurry. Then a man’s face appeared on the screen, nothing more than a blurred mesh of gluttonous facial features drawn back in astonishment. There were a few more beeping sounds before the screen changed again with a text message that read “Uplink Protocol Interrupted, Transfer Incomplete”. Lee drew back from the screen then, sighing. “I have been trying all morning to fix this error, to work around it and get to the core of the program, but it has been a useless battle so far. I think this is what GI Industries is truly after.”
“Well then, lets piece together this pile of crap and move on. There’s been no action in this place since we got here.”, Derek declared loudly, deliberately drawing the attention of the others. Harvey suddenly came forward. “We’re heading down to the old labs to see if we can find the missing link for this machine. It’ll be at least until night before we’re finished searching, there’s a ton of rooms down there”. “Lets get going then!, Derek said tersely, obviously annoyed. He turned his back on them, then stalked down the darkened corridor that led back to the main office complex. Harvey merely shook his head and did the same. Lee then turned to Kiev. “I suspect they will find what we are looking for. In the meantime, would you mind assisting me further with this.” Kiev bent down beside one of the pieces of equipment for an answer.
They had tinkered all day with the device with no further luck on hacking into the main system. Lee was openly becoming frustrated. This was something that was becoming very important to him. Several hours later Derek and Harvey returned from their arduous search. Harvey came up to them, gracing them with a light smile. “I think we found what you were referring to Lee, we discovered it beyond the underground railroad tracks that were built away from the main portion of the research labs, I think the researchers were trying to keep this under wraps.” Lee stepped forward eagerly. “Perfect, we should get going then”.
Harvey simply turned around and stalked back down the corridor. He was right, the researchers had burrowed these secret labs-the core of their research-from the main R&D development chambers. They had walked for nearly a mile down the cavernous railroad tunnels until they came to an immense opening that revealed a seemingly endless room with countless stacks of machinery and sophisticated equipment that stretched beyond their view. “Don’t worry, I think we singled out the equipment that will be most important to us.”, Harvey commented, walking for what seemed like an eternity until he came to the far wall, which was lined by what appeared to be a supercomputer mainframe.
Lee stepped up to the panel that stretched from one end of the wall to the other. “Yes, yes, this is what we are after!”, he murmured excitedly. He began fiddling with the equipment, completely ignoring the other three that were present. Derek sighed impatiently. “We might as well set up camp here, it looks like we won’t be going anywhere for awhile”, he rolled his eyes in Lee’s direction.
The night passed uneventfully, but Lee’s somber tone continuously flowed over them as the night passed. Eventually, they retired to their sleeping bags, all except Lee who continued to experiment with the mainframe. It was morning when Kiev sluggishly returned to consciousness, Lee was again standing over him again, a worried expression on his face. “What is it?”, Kiev asked impatiently, still half-asleep. “We have run into some opposition. The cameras I set up around the perimeter of the facility show unidentified life forms surrounding the building.” Derek was already wide awake, pacing back and forth, he also seemed worried of the present situation.
Harvey was nowhere to be found. “I have sent for reinforcements using our frequency transmitters. They should be arriving shortly, you and Mr. Jones should head to the surface to assess the situation for yourselves. I have to wait down here and round up the equipment in case of a hasty retreat, we can’t forget our true objective”, Lee ordered before turning his back to them. Derek turned to Kiev saying “Let’s get outta here, we’ll use the elevator access we found last night to get to the surface. As Derek picked up the pace, Kiev spoke “Where is Harvey?”. Between rapid breaths Derek replied “He went to the mess hall to take the computers back down to Lee so that he could finish whatever the hell he is working on”. Kiev’s eyebrows drew together in confusion, shouldn’t their main objective be to survive?, and why was Harvey so worried about salvaging the equipment?.
Kiev didn’t have time to debate these questions, his feverish thoughts running to the battle that was drawing nearer. They were running down a narrow ramp, that seemed to only stretch deeper into darkness, only the majestic arches were visible by the solar lamp Derek held high. After what seemed like an eternity, running through claustrophobic tunnels and slime-slick corridors, they came to the elevator access doors. Surprisingly, it was quite spacious and was illuminated by white florescent lights on its ceiling. Kiev supposed it was used to haul equipment up to the surface. Derek wasted no time and sprinted into the elevator, with Kiev close to follow. Derek pushed one of the buttons, and at once the elevator began to move upwards. “I hope those reinforcements arrive soon”, Derek commented shakily, all bombast lost. Kiev swallowed audibly “I hope so too”. After a minute, the elevator came to a sudden halt, and the two stainless steel doors swung open silently, replacing their view with a barren desert randomly dotted with worn concrete walls that towered above them like some abomination of their feverish thoughts.
The sky was bleeding a deep crimson as the sun began to set overhead. Nothing disturbed the eerie silence that followed, except Derek’s rapid, shuddering breaths. Kiev cautiously stepped out, taking the AK-47 from its place strapped on his left shoulder, and gripped it firmly in both hands. Derek, obviously in a state of delirium did the same, fumbling with the strap. The sound of a jet engine from above alerted them, but they quickly realized it was from their corporate forces and continued to walk slowly to the wide open courtyard.
Suddenly a gunshot from behind made Kiev duck behind a wooden crate while Derek anxiously sought cover behind a rusted barrel. Derek immediately began to fire his weapon, making Kiev unconsciously wince. But he too began to unload his clip at the dark figures stalking towards them, obviously rival corporate soldiers from the looks of their custom-tailored uniforms. The loud rumbling of jet fighters above them created a constant clamor as they simply fought to stay alive.
When Kiev surmised it was safe to move from his perch behind the large wooden crate, he skirted the courtyard in favor of the shadowy exterior of the entrance to what seemed to be a storage facility. Turning, he hurriedly motioned for Derek to follow, but he merely slumped over on his backside, revealing a smooth, minute hole in the middle of his forehead. A sniper had wasted no time in taking out his enemy. Kiev knew he would never forget the shocked expression now frozen forever on his dead friend’s face. He hid in that warehouse for an unknown period of time, but eventually he boldly strode out into the now silent courtyard. Someone in clad all in black approached him, and he raised his weapon automatically in defense. The soldier suddenly ceased his approach and waved his arms, flashing the insignia on his forearms that all GI soldiers wore, a coiled asp poised to strike. Kiev dropped his weapon, and motioned him forward.
“Mr. Bostogov, my superior commanded me to tell you that we have taken the base, all rival soldiers have been killed. There is not much of the base left after the initial battle ensued. The combat jets have destroyed almost all the building’s infrastructure, what is left is a pile of rubble. The commander said that he has diso.” Kiev nodded dumbly, following the soldier back across the bloodied, open courtyard, and back into the bowels of the research facility. He returned the way he had come, eventually re-entering the immense experimentations room with a sense of foreboding.
“Mr. Bostogov, I think you had better come with me”, the guard said gravely. Kiev nodded, swallowing the lump in his throat, and followed him down a short set of narrow stairs that opened up into a huge dome-like structure with a glass ceiling. Thick metal pipes intertwined with hundreds of wires lined the walls, and the floor itself was nothing more than smoothed cement. Several GI guards clustered near a shadowy corner talking quietly, their backs turned towards a massive dilapidated hulk of machinery. “Over there”, the guard pointed to where the others where standing. Kiev moved forward boldly, not knowing what to expect. As he shouldered his way through the guards, his foot splashed into a puddle of something moist. “Careful”, one of them said “There’s blood all over down there. Here, this should make things easier”, the same soldier who had cautioned him held out a flashlight. Kiev took it from him, and turned it on, pointing the beam of light in front of him. He squinted into the unrelenting darkness for a moment before the guard’s voice rang out again. “Lower”, he said.
Kiev pointed the flashlight towards the ground, slowly penetrating the darkness that surrounded him. The dim light revealed nothing more than a blood soaked cement floor and scoured bits of old machinery, but finally the trace of light stumbled over a large crater in the ground, near the eastern wall. Kiev raised his eyebrows in peeked interest. He moved forward slowly. Once reaching the perimeter of the hole, Kiev crouched beside it. He scanned its depths for what seemed like a very long time, until he noticed a limb sticking out haphazardly from one of the many piles of debris that filled the crater. Venturing into the crater itself, Kiev began brushing the dirt from the limb, which was twisted in a macabre position, the arm jutting to the extreme right. Kiev winced.
A face became slowly visible as he continued to brush the debris away from what he thought was the upper portion of the body, and Kiev instantly recognized the solemn features of his friend, even now set in the grim calmness that never betrayed him, even in his post-mortem. But there seemed to be a note of serenity that still left a sparkle in his half-closed, coal-black eyes. Then he noticed a withered piece of paper clutched in Lee’s left arm, he slowly withdrew it. He unrolled it, reading its contents anxiously.
My friend, we have known each other for quite some time. And it is with great sadness that I betrayed you, it was I who notified the forces of Omega corporation to our position here at the facility. I needed the distraction to complete my research, the ascension of human life itself--without interference. I was not only employed by GI Industries, but also the Omega corporation, but I gave my loyalties to neither, but instead to the endless search to fulfill my destiny. Harvey easily gave himself up to this obligation, yet he readily died to make it so. The consciousness uplink program was unstable to start with, but now I am positive it will allow safe passage into the unknown for myself. Do not worry, we both were willing to make such a sacrifice on behalf of mankind. Farewell.
Kiev could only assume that Harvey’s corpse lay buried beneath the endless piles of debris that now chocked the immense testing room and its antechambers. Perhaps he is at peace now, Kiev thought numbly. Who knows, maybe this was the Russian government’s response to something that the world was not ready for. Even if it meant sabotaging their own nuclear facilities and ruthlessly ending millions of lives. Kiev gave the matter no more thought, it was useless to speculate, the heads of GI Industries wouldn’t care in the least, as long as they accomplished their goals. Noticing an additional item on Lee’s body, Kiev bent down and picked it up. It appeared to be an old access keycard, obviously used to access the more restricted entrances and exits of the lab. He gave an elongated sigh, then turned and began to walk beyond the large, cavernous room that held most of the lab’s equipment, then to the mess hall where they had first saw the technology that seemingly ended countless lives.
Finally, he came to a secluded exit door, just beyond the large office room where the men had slept, not knowing what fate awaited them. Suddenly, an image of Derek flashed in his head, trying in vain to ensure his own survival. Even though Derek’s brash nature was a constant annoyance, it was he who remained loyal to him, oblivious to Lee’s sadistic plans. Then his thoughts shifted to Lee, a man who’s silent conjectures fooled them all in an attempt to establish the greater good, or at least to discover it.
“Until we meet again, my friend”, Kiev said quietly, his voice just above a whisper. A soft rumble from the refinery vats below seemed to offer him an assent to his formality. For the first time since he had begun his work in GI Industries, he felt a quiver of fear shake him. It was not an insensible thing, not some pseudo-comprehension aimed at a primitive anxiety towards the obscurity that lurked beneath him, but something far more apprehensive. He knew its source, that if a man was willing to dwell within the anonymity of darkness for however long it took to fulfill his own sadistic purposes, he had a right to be feared. For a long time Kiev gazed pensively at the metallic tunnels swarming inanimately just under the platform on which he was standing, there was no spark of life, everything appeared to be dead, but Kiev knew better. All at once he wanted to run, but he forced himself to calmly remove the shiny keycard he had procured from Lee’s corpse from his pocket, and walked to the imposing doors of the bases’ side entrance.
Sliding the card into the confirmation slot to the right of the doors, Kiev waited for them to open. A great puff of exhaust whooshed from them as they slid outward. As Kiev took a step out into the bright sunlight, suddenly oblivious to the mental horror he had just faced, an emotionless voice spoke from behind. “Farewell to you also, Kiev”. Kiev merely shook his head, and walked down the coal black road leading to the helicopter pad he had ordered to go unmolested for the time being so that he and his men could leave quickly and efficiently. Passing the nearly mangled barbed wire fences that marked the entrance to the research facility and also of tyranny, he then came to the wide pavement where the helicopter would soon land and whisk him away from that artificial spawn of terror itself.
Kiev stood some distance away from the pad as the helicopter began its descent to the ground. Stealing a glance behind him, he noticed vague, metallic shapes poking up from the charred peaces of earth just within and between the rows of barbed wire fences. Cryogenic Pods, he thought to himself. The scientists that were willing to perform the consciousness uplink experiment on themselves, used those pods to preserve their frail bodies, and more importantly, their brilliant minds.
Finally the helicopter landed, and he turned away, pulling his trench coat tighter around his lithe body. The door of the chopper opened, and a soldier gestured him forward. Kiev walked briskly towards it, and ducked his head as he entered. Settling himself down on one of the leather seats, he reached for his cell phone. He gazed out the window resignedly, speed dialing his superior and placing the receiver to his ear as he did so. The desert that surrounded the immense laboratories was a flat, barren realm interspersed with the sleek steel design of the downed Fighter Jets jutting up from the ground that the unknown rival corporation had managed to defeat during the immense firefight that had ensued merely hours before. As the voicemail came on, Kiev sighed. He did not want to think about Lee or his diabolical schemes anymore. It was finished, all of it, for the time being at least. As the beeping sound resonated in his ears, he came to himself and began to speak, his words disjointed and faint as he continued to stare down at the mute and motionless carnage below.