On forum: 05/09/2006
Message edited by:
A Life Elsewhere|
Sergey couldn't wait to share his good fortune with his family. Three dreadful months in The Zone delivered him enough artefacts and money to breathe easy for a whole year. With the Ukrainian economy in tatters and jobs as scarce as a honest politician, he felt proud for looking after his wife and little girl so well. How envious the neighbours would be if they could see him now.
He sat back and relaxed into the bumpy plane ride, dreaming of all the gifts he was now able to bring his little Nastia . His light in these dark times, his little angel. He could already see the smiles on their faces. Who knows, he might even buy himself a good second-hand Skoda and take them to the Black Sea for a long holiday. After what they've been through with homelessness, depression and heartache, they all deserved a long break.
Smiling and lost in happy thoughts he peeked around at the other Stalkers on the military plane, all flying back to Kiev and then on to various parts of the world. There was little talking but as he understood, it wasn't a particularly successful three months for most Stalkers. He also remember at least 50 Stalkers going in, and now he counted 12 Stalkers flying out.
After the government opened The Zone for 'tourism', traffic has increased tenfold. For $1000, a military plane would take you into the heart of The Zone and return to collect you three months later. Many never made it back to the plane. All poor men down on their luck, hoping for fortunes. Most found death and despair. Sergey himself almost fell victim a few times. A pack of dogs kept him up in a tree for close to three days. Dehydrated and approaching death, a thunderstorm mercifully broke out and lighting cut a tree down close to him. The proceeding fire from the fallen tree scared the dogs away and Sergey was able to get out of the tree and stumble onto a nearby shelter with a running tap. Probably one of the last remaining working taps in The Zone. He gratefully filled up on water and fell into a deep sleep the lasted two days. It would've been more had it not been for The Dreams. The Dreams was something spoken off in The Zone with whispers and frightful reverence, usually not at all as it was considered ill fortune. Terrible deformed animals, screaming and familiar faces of dying family and children in mortal pain. The images differed, but the visuals stayed as terrifying. You know it was a dream, but waking up was difficult. It was as if your mind was being taken over while you had to sat back hopelessly as the scene played itself out before being allowed to wake up. Most Stalkers stayed awake as long as a week before succumbing to sleep, and then only for a few hours. Some Stalkers woke up changed men. Some never woke up ...
Sergey shuddered and pushed the memories out of his mind. Think joyful, he thought to himself. Think family, wealth, a car, a roof over my head and a warm bed . All these good things he would have the moment the plane touched down in Kiev and his wife and little girl back in his arms. He glanced at his watch and squinted to see the time. 22:34. Good, another 2 hours and the descend would commence.
To force lingering memories from his mind, Sergey opened his backpack and took out a photo of his wife and daughter. A drop of dried blood obscured Nastia's face, its colour brownish red, whilst the edges of the photo was blackened and dirty. After his episode with the dogs and making it to shelter, he thought he wouldn't survived the night and wanted to die whilst holding a picture of his family. He survived but the photo almost didn't. Crumbled and bloody, he desperately cleaned it, leaving only a drop of dried blood and dirty edges. He cried with relief. IF he couldn't gaze upon their faces every day, then his work in The Zone was too much to t ..
Fire. Fierce wind. Burning men screaming, dying, a plane spinning out of control, Sergey falling through the air as if in a dream, clutching onto something. Falling and falling whilst burning debris lights up the dark, starless sky around him ...