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Chernobyl Heart

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  15:07:57  22 September 2010
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On forum: 09/22/2010
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Chernobyl Heart

Hey guys, just posting a story from my blog. I plan to write much larger stories, roughly 50+ pages and unfourtantly my blog cant be found on google. So to get people reading I'm trying to post some links with content that is similar to what I make to draw some users in.

Chernobyl Heart

I waited in silence as the guard turned from me, his eye pieces on his gasmask glinting menacingly.
Stepping slowly towards him, I carefully placed my footsteps to avoid making noise in the puddles.
When I was sure I had a clear shot, I raised my custom silenced P99 and shot him.
He gasped and fell downwards, collapsing down on the paved path.
His companion to the left jerked his head towards the noise and noticed his comrade’s body.
He reached to raise his rifle but was too late, and I put two solid rounds into his chest.
He slumped to the ground and I rushed to ensure he was dead.

With the guards out of the way, I made my way to the base of the metal tower.
Before climbing the stairs I checked the magazine in my pistol.
I had four rounds left, enough to take out the sniper at the top of the guard tower.
I tugged the strap on my pack to ensure it was secure, then tentatively stepped upwards. Holding my pistol ready I crawled onto the wide middle section of the tower.
I was so concentrated on the floor above me that I barely noticed the soldier standing before me.
He hadn’t noticed me, but there was no way to head up without removing him.

Raising my sidearm I took aim and fired two rounds at him.
Big mistake. He stumbled forwards and then turned around, revealing a Kevlar vest.
If he hadn't been confused and stunned I would have been spotted and shot.
I fired again, hitting him plainly on the forehead.
I rushed to grab him before he hit the ground.
His weapon hitting the metal platform would be more than enough to alert the sniper above.
Grimacing I checked the mans body as slowly as I could.
Checking his pockets I found two clips of .45 ammo.
While I was pleased on my discovery of ammo, I was beginning to wonder why the sniper hadn't heard my struggle with the man below.
Regardless of my concerns I head upwards to the top.
As I approached I began to notice a strange smell.
It was obviously strong as it penetrated my gas-mask.
Heading up the last few steps I realized the source of the smell, the sniper was dead.

He must have been dead for a few months at least.
At least I knew why the guard was there, he was replacing the sniper on guard duty and preventing invading attackers from using the tower as an advantage.
He obviously wasn't very good at his job.
What confused me the most was why they'd left the body up here so long?
As I stepped closer I realized why, he was covered in a strange layer of fungi.
He was obviously a biohazard and I grimaced when I realized what I had to do.
Sniper ammunition is hard to come by, and I had hoped that I could scavenge some off his body.
Looking for something to cover my hands I checked my pockets, and found a small plastic bag.
I pulled it over my hand and reached over to the body, carefully removing its backpack. Next I gingerly reached in to rummage through its contents.
Feeling around, I felt a box and triumphant withdrew a box of high caliber ammunition. After continuous scavenging I had found all of the ammo and drew my sniper.
Raising my custom SVU sniper I pressed my eye against the rubber cup of the scope and looked through the lens.

While the night was to dark to efficiently snipe, even for a skilled marksman as myself, I had an advantage.
I flicked a switch on the side of the scope and the lens flared green, the night-vision on. Searching the camp beneath me I searched for a suitable target.
There certainly were high priority targets, but I turned my attention to the building in the centre of the base.
A flicker of movement in the window alerted me to a silhouette.
Adjusting the zoom, I discovered my target.
It was the freedom commander, and an easy shot.
Calming my breath and heart-rate I aimed at his helmet carefully.
Then I fired, squeezing the trigger the resulting of plume of red mist sprayed the wall behind him.
The gunshot echoed across the camp and below the soldiers around the campfire stood up confused.
I quickly turned and centered my scope of the left soldier and fired.
A puff of dirt behind him erupted and the soldiers began to draw their rifles.
I fired precisely and quickly several times reducing the soldiers to limp bodies.

While the campfire area had been cleaned out, several soldiers remained and I had to ensure there was no resistance to meet my goal.
Suddenly a sandbag behind me exploded scattering its brown-yellow contents across the metal platform.
I swore - of course there would be other snipers.
I crouched to avoid a second shot; the opposing marksman had bad aim.
Turning and watching for a third shot, a small flash alerted me to the snipers location.
I raised my rifle and fired two rounds in succession at the area where I had seen him.
To ensure he was dead I waited for another shot.
When no more gunshots rang out I turned my attention back to my task.
On my left a group of soldiers were running across the bridge to try flanking me.
I fired three shots and three dead bodies collapsed.

I turned again facing the barracks and swore as an intelligent soldier raised an RPG7.
I turned and leapt down the stairs wincing as my weight crushed against my ankles.
Not having time to recover I turned again and ran downwards, reaching the platform below.
I ducked and rolled to the side as the top of the tower exploded hurling shrapnel.
Furious and aching I looked for the man seeking vengeance.
Spotting him I raised my rifle and looked for the most excruciating way to kill him.
I grinned when I saw what he was standing next to.
It was a container of flammable fuel.
I fired penetrating the case causing it to pour out.
The soldier turned and glanced in my direction, trying to reload.
I looked at the stream of fuel passing his legs and nearing the fire.
Worried he might fire again, I impatiently shot one of the campfire log scattering cinders. The flame ignited lighting the mans legs on fire, and he yelled.
The fire continued to rise and panicking he fell to the ground, rolling in the burning fuel. I waited until he stopped struggling and looked back towards the headquarters.
It looked reasonably empty and I drew my pistol, holstering my rifle.
Stepping down I heard a rifle being cocked.
A bearded man emerged from the shadows grinning.
I looked carefully at his bulky LR 300 that was going to kill me then grinned.
He frowned and shrugged and pulled the trigger.
The rifle clicked and didn't fire, I didn't even wince.
I quickly raised my pistol and shot him dead before he could fix the problem.
Never forget to turn off the safety, that was a dead mans mistake.
Careful for any more hidden soldiers, I paced forwards.
Not all men would make a rookie mistake like the man did.

Heading into the headquarters I spotted a rusted iron door and peered inside to see my goal.
The man was short, tired faced with bright eyes.
Chirp looked to me eagerly.
"Trigger! You made it man!"
I chuckled and put a finger to my lips indicating silence.
He nodded and I pointed upwards asking about the guards.
He nodded and raised two fingers indicating the amount of men on the floor above me.
I raised my pistol and indicated to him that I'd return.
Crouching and walking up stairs isn't easy, especially with my dud ankle but I made it up in silence.
The shadow of a man in the doorway revealed their presence and I holstered my pistol, pulling out my knife.
I slid my pack of my back as silently as possible and crouched closer, preparing my attack.
The men were arguing about what to do when they noticed the lack of battle noise outside.
The man turned to check and spotted me, raising his rifle partially before I burst towards him slashing his throat.
His partner raised his rifle as I flung myself towards him, knife held barely at the tip.
I threw the knife and it caught him in the right lung.
He grasped grabbing the hilt with both hands before falling onto it, embedding it deeper.

Returning downstairs with the guards taken care of I considered my next step.
I had to release chirp and get him back to bar, alive.
I went back to the cell and found chirp impatiently waiting to go.
"Comon man, I gotta get out!" he whined.
I drew my pistol and shot the lock, it fell clattering to the concrete floor.
He grinned and rushed over to the commanders body and withdrew from his holster what appeared a black kite.
He chuckled and gracefully spun in and placed in his belt.
I raised my brows questioning and he bent over again.
"Always wanted one of these, saw a guy once that took down a boar with one shot."
I nodded "Let's go, we need to get to bar before dawn."
He stuck his thumb up and rolled the commanders body over.
"Man you got him right in the face, fucking nice shot man."
he said while retrieving ammo for his overpowered pistol.

After leaving the base we headed back towards Rostok and the bar.
"Hey man, how d'ya know I was at freedom?" Said Chirp curious.
"Barkeep wanted you for something, dunno what but it was obviously worth a couple thousand Ru."
I explained. "Shit man, I ain't going to barkeep. I owe him money."
I stopped walking. Me and Chirp went way back, I saved his ass from a group of bandits in cordon and he'd stuck with me since.
After a close call we almost came to blows and decided to part ways.
Things had changed since then; I'd taken on more and more contracts until I built my reputation up as a sniper
I wasn't sure about chirp, but from what I know he got sucked in with some ex-mercs and caused some trouble freedom until he got caught.
Taking him in would be disloyal but if I let him go barkeep would have my ass.
Then I had an idea. "How much money do you owe barkeep?" I asked.
"Round twenty grand, plus interest." he said glumly.
“I have a plan." I said and Chirps face lit up.
"I killed a group of bandits a while back. They were robbing tourists and barkeep doesn't like it when his customers get robbed. Anyways, they stashed the loot in some bunker up in Agropom. Not an X-Lab or the catacombs, but an old World War 2 bunker. I didn't want to risk it alone, but with you I might stand a chance."
While I told him chirp had been nodding along and when I finished he bit his lip indecisively.
"Ok, I'm up for it."
I grinned and we set off.

The trip to Agropom was uneventful; obviously I was the only one taking Chirp in.
As we approached the bunker I noticed a change in the air, and suddenly my PDA beeped.
Holding it up an alert was flashing, warning of an oncoming blowout.
I swore and turned to Chirp.
"We gotta get inside, blowout." he nodded quickly and we jogged inside and raised our weapons, looking for any sign of mutants.
When nothing moved I turned and closed the door behind us.
I turned on my headlight to reveal a partially decayed body covered once again in fungi. As I neared him my headlight reflected off some bullet shells drawing my attention.
I called over Chirp who was pulling on his gasmask and he bent over to examine the scene.
"What the hell?" He reached over to touch it and I stopped him.
"I've seen this before, at the sniper tower at the base." he shook his head.
"What do you think it is?" I shrugged.
"I don't know some kind of fungus maybe."
After our ominous discovery we headed onwards.

As we continued we noticed that rather than decrease the shells were increasing.
Looking downwards I said "That's a hell'va lot of shells for no bodies."
Chirp nodded and his flashlight shook, giving me a brief glance at something I hadn't noticed before.
I looked at it and pointed, drawing Chirps gaze.
There was a moving patch of the fungus on the wall.
A bloodstain stuck out from the fungi and I watched in disgust as it rapidly expanded covering it.
"Did that just?-"
"Yea, it's moving."
"Fuck it, I'd rather hand myself to Barkeep that deal with this shit. Let's go."
I shook my head.
"There's a blowout remember?"
it was true; we wouldn't be getting out of this bunker for a couple hours.
"God dammit"
he swore then turned back to the wall.
He froze and I turned to see what was happening with the fungi.
There wasn’t any fungus, and there wasn't any blood.
Instead there was a layer of what appeared to be mucus.
Then I realized what it was.
"Hey, you know blood suckers?"
Chirp nodded without taking his eyes of the wall.
"Well, maybe this fungus is like them. Feeds off bloodstains, and when you get some on you, it sucks your blood and grows."
If this was true and we were stuck in bunker full of blood sucking fungi, we were well and truly screwed.
I turned to look back down into the dark corridor then to Chirp.
"So, we either wait up here for the blowout to clear and I take you to barkeep or we head further and find the stash."
Either way Chirp was screwed so he nodded.

It wasn't much further that we encountered more fungus.
It looked like it was following a blood streak along the ground.
It looked like someone had been dragged backwards further into the darkness.
I looked at Chirp who was had begun to tremor.
"If what I said is true, that body back there might not be more than a day old."
Chirp shivered.
"What do you mean?"
"I only killed half the bandits."
he swore and I grimaced at the implication of my words.
Blood drinking fungus or not we headed deeper into the bunker.
We followed the blood streak until it came to a dead end, leading through a foot tall hole into the darkness below.
We turned to look for a staircase downwards when we heard a thump behind us.
A series of thumps continued until we were about a meter away.
Suddenly the wall that was thumping burst showering plaster and bricks.
A man half covered in fungi burst through hitting the wall opposite.
He collapsed and began wriggling on the ground.
I came out of my stupor and realized he was screaming
"Get it off!" continuously.
I drew my pistol and fired twice into his head.
He stopped moving and the fungus rapidly grew covering him entirely.
His body began to shrink, almost like it was being eaten from the inside.
Chirp began to swear continuously.
I stepped over to him and put my hand on his shoulder.
Then I turned to the hole and saw it led to a partially destroyed staircase.

Heading downwards we stopped two floors below.
The stairs were caved in.
"Hey man, this was a bunker right? Aren't bunkers only one floor?"
Chirp pointed out.
He was right of course, having too much pressure and vertical spaces underground would reduce the bunkers ability to with-take damage.
I shrugged "Who knows? Maybe it's an X-Lab."
he shivered at the idea.
X-labs featured the worst mutants, the strongest anomalies but the best artifacts.
We approached the door way and my suspicions were confirmed.
A large metal blocked our path with the faded letters X-14 painted on it.
I looked at it and noticed it was slightly ajar.
Examining closer, a strange skeletal arm was blocking it from opening it.
Looking closer it looked almost like human arm but it stopped at the elbow and energies with a shiny black claw like spike.
Turning I gestured to the door.
"Come on; help me get this piece of crap open."
Chirp nodded warily and put down his gun.
Grasping the door we pulled, the rusted metal dragging the floor excruciatingly loud. Further in the lab its occupants awoke loudly.
Chirp began shaking uncontrollably and I stopped.
He turned to me.
"I don't want to sound scared but I don't think its safe pulling this thing so exposed.”
I nodded and gestured to the rifle he'd picked up earlier.
He picked it up and peeked through the door.
He nodded to me and I walked over looking for a way to push it further open.

After some exercise and pushing we got the door open enough to get through and slipped in. I stopped - looking in horror at the gruesome scene before us.
Decapitated and de-limbed bodies lay scattered around next to their organs.
I was glad my gas-mask was in place otherwise I'd probably have died from asphyxiation. I bent over the randomly placed bodies and examined a few.
All the wounds dug at least a quarter of a foot deep in and 5 centimeters wide.
The damage looked similar to getting sliced with a very large, very sharp and very thick machete.
I stood back up, and my light reflected off a shattered visor.
I walked - almost wading through the bodies and picked up the shotgun I had seen. Besides the blood on the outside it was in good condition, and judging by the welded components, highly customized.
I leant over to its owner and withdrew a belt holding at least four dozen shells.
Opening some of the satchels I learnt its owner was very proud of the shotgun.
I pulled the belt around my waist and loaded the shotgun.
"They were fucking loaded man. They were fucking packing. And it got them. They're all fucking dead." Chirp said scared.
Lacking an appropriate sentence to reassure him - or myself, I said in a bad accent "If we find it, we kill it."
I cocked the shotgun before the second part.
It was a quote from some famous American movie, Alien or Predator of something.
Chirp still shook nervously and I turned looking around the room.
"Common, let's grab this stash and get the hell out."

Heading further on the darkness began to bug me.
Nothing had attacked us, nothing had leapt out and anything could be hiding in it.
I stopped at an intersection and pulled out my PDA.
It was indicating we head left, but the compass was screwing up because of all the interference.
Indecisively I drew my strangely quiet Geiger counter out and pointed around.
Chirp did likewise with similar results.
"Which way do we go?" I shook my head.
"I dunno." he swore quietly and I flicked my head towards him.
A light flickered in the darkness and I raised my shotgun immediately.
He exhaled suddenly and turned likewise, gun raised.
"What is it?" he asked whispering.
"A light, flickering." he nodded and we carefully neared it.
It was an anomaly, but unlike anything we'd seen before.
It was an orb, a meter across and when focused on it distorted everything inside it. Around the outside the distortion was stronger and in the centre a yellow light strobed.
I indicated he step back and I withdrew a handful of metal bolts from a reclusive pocket on my jacket.
I chucked a larger one in and watched in amazement at what happened.
It flew towards the centre and began disassembling and warping.
Impossible formations were created and the process began to speed up.
I winced in pain, it was mind numbingly.
Suddenly it stopped and the bolt was gone.
I turned to Chirp.
"What the hell was that?" he asked.
"I heard of these things, some nut-job at Bar was going on about something that warped things." Chirp chuckled.
"Hell yea, take a picture it'll be worth shitloads."
I nodded; everything here would be worth something.
I pulled my PDA and took a picture.
Then I took one of the metal bolts again and then bent over and picked up a larger broken tile.
"Watch this" I threw the bolt in and it began warping, but before it could finish I threw the tile in.
The tile immediately flew to the centre and the bolt was released. It was bent like a triangle but there was something else, it was like it had not two ending but three.
It was impossible to describe.
I eased it into my pocket and turned to Chirp.
"It drops the smaller item when a bigger one comes in."
He pointed towards the anomaly.
"The map says it’s this way. Where are we going to find something that ways quarter of a ton?"
I shrugged. "I don't know; let's see if we can find something that way."
Then we headed off into the darkness.

Walking through the gloomy hallway I began to feel dizzy.
I turned to Chirp and saw him take his gasmask off and heave over, out of breath.
I turned to him "You feel weird?"
"Yea dizzy and shit."
After a while I began to hear the wind.
It sounded so calming, and it carried their voices, loved ones, friends, and my father.
I wanted it to never stop.
Then suddenly it went dark and the voices screamed, I turned to Chirp who was clutching his head and shaking.
He seemed blurry some how, like his actions were fast forwarded.
Then it stopped. I turned to Chirp.
"What the hell was-" before I could finish I heard clicking noises.
I turned down the corridor and heard from the way we had came the unmistakable sound of stone on wet concrete, like a horse on rain soaked pavement but lighter.
As the sounds neared us out of the gloom shiny metal pieces at head level bounced back the light of my headlamp.
"What the hell..." I said my voice trailing off.
Chirp turned and I heard him start hyperventilating.
"Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit." I turned and saw as his light illuminated the contents of the corridor in front of us.
A humanoid creature waddled into the beam casting a long ominous shadow behind it.

It must have been five feet tall, and its malnourished frame looked like it could barely support its weight.
On its face I could see its lower jaw had been removed exposing its throat and long sharp teeth.
Above its horrifying mouth lay its flat nostrils and a metal plate covering the top of its nose to above its brow.
It was bolted on at the sides and its pale thin skin on its forehead revealed scars bits of machinery bulging from beneath them.
Below its head lay its thin chest covered in scars and its arms.
They ended abruptly half a foot after the elbow and in its wrists place were two sharp pointed blades.
The light glimmered off the surface of the blades like jet.
Further down its bony body were its legs, leading to feet that looked amputated before the toes.
On the bottom of the strange heels was a scaly dirty white bone like material.
The source of the clicking.
Coming back from my examination from the nightmarish skeleton I came to my senses and raised my gun.
It widened its throat and let out a chilling scream before I splattered its yellow-brown blood across the wall behind it.

Turning from the now dead corpse I saw that the reflection from the metal visors was more of the creatures.
Before I could fire I noticed one unfurling itself from the alcove behind Chirp.
I rotated around behind me to see two more doing likewise.
I yelled in half shock and half anger and fired.
The first’s delicate ribs snapped under the power of my shotgun.
I raised my shotgun and watched for half a second as it raised its claw-like blade then crushed it's skull against the wall.
I turned recharging my shotgun and fired off a wild shot towards the others.
The round missed and struck the roof cascading the floor with plaster and debris.
I growled and fired again without pausing killing one of the creatures.
I turned to Chirp quickly and saw he was handling well then turned back to the creatures. I fired efficiently and without thought, similar to a machine.
They fell like dominoes, single shots striking them down.
I paused to load three more shots then turned back to chirp.
He was trying to reload but his shakiness was slowing him down.
Another creature neared him and I blew its head of without hesitating.
It fell and I turned to look back the way we came.
When nothing moved I turned to look at a quaking chirp.
"What the fuck was that." he said spacing his words.
I choked back a yell then slightly pitched and out of breath said.
"I don't know, I really don't know. A group of experiments maybe? I don't fucking want to know."
Then once I'd calmed down more I found the body in best shape, a spare ball bearing from a shot had pierced its lung, and then I dragged it into the open and took a photo.

After our close call with the strange psychic experiments we headed further past the first one I killed and into a dimly lit room.
Above us a dying fluorescent light flickered weakly.
I turned, shotgun raised taking in our surroundings.
The psychic creatures had managed to hide in plain sight and I didn’t want to turn out like the bodies at the front reception.
The room was boxlike and with the desks, almost claustrophobic.
The desks were covered in documents, most likely abandoned after the second disaster.
I stepped over and picked a few up.
Mostly it was numbers, inventories and employment lists but a small blue document that looked partially rotted caught my attention.
I picked it up and looked through its contents.
It was on the labs original purpose, lists of subjects, important technology developed; the lot.
From what it said, this place was a lot bigger than I had suspected.
If what it said was correct, it connected to a system of caves south of yantar, and it had nearly ten floors.
While I didn’t find much on the below floors something else caught my attention. ‘Subject numbers: 1400.’
If what we had just seen where the ‘subjects’, these weren’t some lucky experiments that were roaming the facility, they were mass produced.
My face drained of blood and I turned to Chirp.
“We gotta go, let’s shift a table and get the stash and leave.”
He frowned.
“Wh-“ “No time, lets do this then get the hell out.”
He nodded and pulled his mask back on.
I slipped the folder into my backpack, with the documents, photos and the strange bolt I could earn a fortune.
We pulled the table out and pushed in back to the anomaly.

The table must have weighed at least a quarter of a ton because after pushing it down to the anomaly I was sweating heavily.
“Tilt it upwards” suggested Chirp.
Sure, easier said that done and by the time we got it upright I was soaked.
I turned to Chirp and he nodded.
If what I suspected was correct about the anomaly, then as long as we weighed less than what was in it, we could pass freely.
I held up three fingers as a count down and readied myself.
Three fingers, two fingers, one finger, fist.
I kicked it and flew forwards, bursting through it.
Chirp was close behind, and when we reached the door way my heart was pumping like a motor.
I turned and looked at the anomaly; it was only a few meters away.
I sighed in relief and exhaustion, we still had a few hundred feet ahead of us and there could be an entire army waiting.
Once I’d caught my breath I turned to Chirp to see if he was ready.
He sighed and lifted himself from the broken wall he had been leaning.
Then I turned to look into the darkness.
It was dark and ominous, as always.
The Zone never changes…

As we went further on into the continuous gloom I noted the walls were widening as well as curving and by the time the door was out of sight, we were standing in a damp cave.
I glanced at Chirp and was surprised to see he had stopped.
I turned to him and saw he had his gun pointed at a stalagmite.
“What is it?”
I shouted and winced, my voice echoed and deep inside the foggy darkness ahead something screeched.
“I thought I saw something.”
I raised my rifle in the same direction.
Chirp had been my spotter before we had our ‘disagreement’, and if he saw something I would have trusted him with my life.
Something scrambled along the ground and I turned to the direction and spotted a rat.
I would have laughed but that was the bit in the movies where something dropped out from behind them and killed the soldiers.
Dropped down.
The line ran through my skull and I turned to the ceiling, the stalactites were crawling with strange round creatures.

They were spherical in nature with four limbs.
The front two had long blades, akin to the ones seen on the creatures we had seen before. They were angled upwards digging into the rock and seemed to be holding them up.
The back ‘legs’ were smaller with almost pads.
The body wasn’t any less frightening as a small tubular mouth hanged from their faces and inside them hung smaller cables with hooks and spines.
Above that were small glassy eyes, akin to the ones on stuffed animals.
In-between each of the limbs and the bodies were flaps of skin, and I could only assume they were for either flying or gliding, either of which didn’t sound comforting.

I gagged and turned to Chirp to find his holding his head and struggling.
I looked upwards and saw that all of the creatures where facing him.
I raised my shotgun and fired at them, breaking their concentration.
Chirp stopped and I grabbed him by the shoulder, leading him away.
Above us the creatures began to drop and I began running, eventually turning away from the hoard of creatures behind us.
As we ran onwards, the clicking of the tiny feet of the hundreds of the creatures behind us died out.
I turned to see the hoard retreating.
It would have been reassuring if I didn’t understand the implications.
There was something up ahead that was more terrifying that a wave of those creatures.

Chirp had recovered after they retreated and I turned to him.
The way he had acted when they were above us was similar to his when the skeleton creatures had attacked us.
“You okay?” he nodded and shivered.
“There were voices, so many, many voices.” I nodded.
There was nothing I could do, just nod and nudge him onwards, always closer to death.
It was vicious, but as another stalker I knew had said: “The closer you are to death, the further away from it you get. You learn to survive, but every time it’s closer and closer, and one day, you reach your limit. Times up and it’s all over, your dead. That’s just how it goes.”
I turned to Chirp.
“Wait here a second.”
I walked backwards to where we’d been attacked by the strange creatures.
Spotting a dead one I flopped it over and it revealed a series of pads on its back, coated in a strange substance that hung in strings from the floor.
I flipped it back over and raised my PDA.
I was going to record everything we found here, they were just too dangerous to not to warn the rest of the zone about. I snapped a photo.
When I returned to Chirp he had stopped shaking.
I patted him on the back.
“We need to go.”
He sighed, picked up his rifle from the spot he had leant it and trudged over to me.
The darkness was starting to piss me off.

A few minutes on from our resting location the dark fog was clearing.
It was like a veil being lifted and before I knew it we stood in a massive hangar, the yellow lights casting a comfortingly bright glow across the large expanse.
Unfortunately in the centre of the room another anomaly glowed.
The problem with this one is that it had to be at least 100 feet across.
Around the walls metal girding that had once been part of walkways and platforms lay in ruins.
On the floor we stood metal vehicles similar to the armies APC’s I saw abandoned from time to time.
The room was going to interesting to navigate without dying.
I picked up a bolt from my pocket once again and hurled it into the anomaly.
This time instead of flying to the centre to be rearranged it merely floated as if I had thrown it into a bowl of floating transparent jelly.
As the sphere slowly rotated I realized that nothing it caught had been transformed.
Metal bolts, papers and dust had been caught in it like insects in tree sap.
Then another creature came into view.

It held one of the roof creatures in its mouth and it looked akin to an owl, but with a bulky body and thick legs.
It had no neck and in its eye sockets were hollow.
On closer examination I concluded it was a descendent of a bat, its eyes being used to catch the sounds it used for echolocation.
I remembered it well from an earlier science lesson.
Bats had extremely poor eyesight, but they could emit sounds that were silent to human ears.
When the sounds bounced they could determine the location of objects and avoid them. This looked like they had given up eye sight all together and the four holes on the bridge of its jaw were what it used to make the noises and its eye sockets caught it.
I took a picture as in floated past.
While the advanced creature posed no risk to us, mutant never came alone.
There would be more, and they would be close by.
Chirp watched as the creature rotated out of view and let off a low whistle.
It was hardly loud enough to hear, but he’d obviously struck a note as a gap in the wall from the end of the hanger erupted with screeches.

They flew above us and screeched.
I called out to chirp.
“Don’t move! Don’t make a noise or they’ll see you!”
He stopped rotating and we watched as the creatures continued to fly and screech.
After a few tense seconds they stopped screeching and flew down and landed a few meters from us.
They rotated towards us slowly, and waited.
Several tense seconds passed then they screeched and flapped their wings, lifting off and flying back in the direction they came.
I turned to chirp and in a bare whisper said “I have an idea, let’s try to get them to fly into the anomaly. I’ll attract their attention then you whistle and draw them towards you. When they near the anomaly I’ll fire at them pushing the towards it again and you run over to me.”
He nodded.
“Ok, let’s do this shit.”
I slowly stepped backwards towards the caves and the darkness and watched in absolute silence.
When he was in position he waved.
We were going to catch us some giant bats.

I clapped as loud as I could and began hollering.
In the distance I could hear the creatures stirring and this time they sounded pissed. Waking them up twice?
I didn’t blame them.
They swooped towards me and I turned to Chirp anxiously.
He started quietly and the creatures took no notice of him.
Then the adrenaline kicked in and he yelled so loud that the entire swarm turned before my eyes.
I raised my shotgun and fired towards the swarm, intentionally missing and they flew past Chirp on a collision course with the anomaly.
He ran to me and as he did the swarm flew into the anomaly one by one.
The anomaly noticeably grew and then it stopped just as he reached me.
Inside the bats were getting torn to pieces, blood flying everywhere before getting sucked back in.
The painstaking process began to slow after a minute and then stopped.
I swore, I had hoped that something more would have happened.
I raised my PDA and snapped a picture.
If we couldn’t get past I could at least try sell all the information we found.
Then suddenly it rumbled and electric bolts began streaking from it, then with a mind numbing clapping noise I watched as several tons of objects spewed from it.
I didn’t stop taking pictures throughout the process and I knew that if I caught the full process on camera we could earn a fortune.
There were several more vehicles and surprisingly, a large amount of the strange fungus. Then all the objects compacted and a small artifact bounced out.
I walked over and picked it up.
It was like a small piece of rubbish, but the more you stared at it, the more impossible it got. It had edges leading everywhere and it shimmered as if someone had taken a black crystal and dipped it into a pool of yellow neon lights.
I grasped it and lifted it gently into my pack.
Then a wave of energy washed through me, and I saw my arms were shimmering.
I touched it and the strange sensation disappeared but reappeared a moment later.
I shrugged, I could probably afford an island with this artifact but something told me it was a bit more sinister than that.
I turned to look at the anomaly and saw that it had returned to its original size, merely a foot and a half across.
I snapped one more picture of it then put my PDA away.
There was work to do.

We passed the exit that the bats had left from and we headed further into the area.
As we went through a small doorway I noted the fungus was back and coating the walls.
I drew Chirps attention to it.
“Fungi. Watch your step.”
He nodded in acknowledgment and we stepped forward into a large chamber.
I turned to the right and noticed an elevator with a yellow and black coating indicating danger, a blood trail led from the shaft to the centre of the room.
We stood in on a metal balcony roughly twenty feet from the floor.
The centre of the room was a hexagon and it extended at a twenty degree angle upwards with larger hexagons.
While the details of the room failed to escape me, the thing in its centre was strange.
It appeared to be a large grouping of fungus, and I could see that it was almost breathing. It had the same coloured fungus surrounding it, with the green fur however as you reached the top it went pink, ending with a brilliant scarlet covering on the top.
I pulled out my PDA, hopefully for the last time and took a photo.
Chirp whimpered, I could see he wasn’t going to take much more to break, this place was just too damn creepy.
We climbed down the ladder and walked carefully past the fungus.
While we knew it was just a plant, it felt alive and as I neared I noticed that it even had veins and organs.
It was complex, much to complex to just be a pile of fungus, and normally that meant that it was dangerous.
We passed the centre, which I decided to call the “heart” and into a much smaller room where the stash was supposedly hidden.

I entered the room after Chirp, while I was all fine and dandy leading, I thought it would be better if I was the one that covered his back from the horrifying mutants for a change. When we entered the room we found it was empty besides a desk.
On the desk was a bag and I stepped behind Chirp as he opened it up.
A glow was emitted from it and I saw that it contained an artifact similar to the one I had picked up earlier as well as several other artifacts and items we had not seen before.
A PDA caught my attention and I leant over Chirp as he examined his finds and gingerly picked it up.
A bloody fingerprint caked the screen and I rubbed it off with my gloved fingers.
It switched it on and opened the most recent messages.
I found one that was called “warnong” it was obvious the author was scared out of their wits and not bent of correct spelling.
The message read as such:
“The green stuff, the green stuff is sentient, the big pile is its body, it chased us, it soaked up all our bullets.
We have nothing to shoot with and our knifes wont help.
Its coming, it soaked up all the fuel and we cant escaped.
Its coming, we foung this place during a blowout and went deeper and collected the loot. But it was pointless as we are going to die.
If you are reading this you have either killed it or are unaware of the danger behind you. Run.”
I exited and turned backwards.
The fungus was dangerous, I knew that much, but thinking?
As long as we were in here we should be fine, but I noted that the bandits hadn’t been - so maybe not.
I looked up and saw the pack also had several documents.
Maybe bandits weren’t as dumb as they looked.
At least with the documents I could have a full report on the occupants of this lab.
The sweet irony of this place however was that we hadn’t seen a single mutant besides the new types, not a single anomaly or artifact. It was all new.
That either meant that this place was so remote that nothing could get down here – but the bandit and mercenary bodies said otherwise – or that the creatures here were a lot more dangerous that what lived above here.
Who knows what lurks in the other labs?
They could be worse than these!
I turned and slipped the PDA into a pocket hidden behind my back and turned to the exit and stopped.
The fungus was coating the door, where none had been before.
I tapped Chirp and he looked over his shoulder then back at the loot.
He zipped it up and looked at me.
“Yea I know, its fungus.”
I whimpered as I told him.
“Yea, but look how fast it’s moving towards us.”
He slumped.
“Shit, not again.”

I looked at the fungus and then looked back at Chirp.
“Ready?” He nodded.
We burst out of the room and I started firing at the heart.
Chunks blew off but they quickly reformed and I decided that bullets weren’t the answer. We climbed up the ladder and the fungus was too, merely a few feet below us and rising as steadily as the mercury in a thermometer.
We bounded down the corridor we had passed through into the room and I paused as I saw the fungus move revealing a pipe for transferring fuel.
I turned and shot at it.
It burst and fuel began to soak the ground.
We kept running until we hit the big hanger and we avoided the anomaly as we passed. We kept running and I could begin to feel myself faltering.
I slowed and began checking the pockets in my coat.
I felt an old lighter I had been given at my sixteenth birthday party, but I felt no need to discard it unless fully necessary.
I swore again at my luck.
I had sown several dozen pockets onto my jackets for everything from antiseptic Band-Aids to zit cream.
Unfortunately the objects I needed – easy strike matches, were nowhere to be found.
The fuel soaked fungus tendrils began to get closer, passing the anomaly and I continued to fiddle with my coat.
As it progressively grew closer I became more and more desperate.
Then I fumbled with a nearly hidden pocket below a bright orange pouch one and found my matches.
I struck one on my shotguns and watched the tendrils grow closer.
Just before they reached my boots I dropped it and watched the fungus take light.
It burned a glorious pink and it continued like a fuse across the room until it was out of sight and only the blackened burnt remains were left behind.
I turned to Chirp who was panting a dozen feet behind me.
I peeled off my mask to reveal my sweat soaked face beneath and grinned at him.
He put down the duffel bag and leant on his rifle.
Then he went to peel of his mask likewise.
“We – We… did it. Holy shit, the fungus, the bats, the spider crab things, the skeletons – we fucking did it all.”
I just nodded.
To bad I didn’t see what was behind him before it was to late.

A gloved fist burst through his chest, spraying blood towards my horrified face.
The fist lead to a man in an exoskeleton, the servo motors whining and producing various mechanical noises.
The man in the suit, who ever he was, stayed completely silent as he killed my longtime friend.
His armor was painted blue, and it was chipped and coated in some placed with dried blood.
He carelessly withdrew his fist from the thick cavity in chirp’s chest and then pushed him aside.
Chirp fell sideways with a finalizing thud and I was brought back to reality.
I saw two more men in exoskeletons behind the bloody fisted one in front of me.
I raised my shotgun and fired at him.
The first round hit him squarely in his left shoulder, he flinched backwards but righted himself.
The next shot hit him on the right side of his face.
He stumbled backwards but remained standing.
I realized that I lacked the firepower to gun down these possessed mechanical killers and I leapt forward grabbing the duffel bag and Chirps rifle.
Running past I saw that they had the crab like creatures attached to their backs.
It's claws dug into the backsides at the base of the neck, and its mouth was attached to the top of his back and the small wire-like tentacles dug into his spine.
Behind me the exoskeleton soldiers began sprinting towards me, their suits slowed them considerably.
I could hear them behind me and I was hoping I would reach my destination before they caught up.
I sped up through the cave and eventually the room became more and more rectangular and I slipped through the bunker door and flattened myself to the left wall.
They charged past, carried by the momentum of their suits.
They slammed into the anomaly and I sprinted pastas they were torn apart.
Then I saw one step past the anomaly unscathed.
"Oh shit."
I turned and saw more of the skeleton creatures.
It was a whole freakin mutant party.
I sprinted past and sprayed with the G36 single-handedly, something screeched.
I looked and saw the final exoskeleton charge through the group knocking them out of the way.
I reeled around the corner and nearly slammed into the wall through sheer momentum.
I sprinted to the lab door and began pushing it shut, but it got it's hands in and was pushing outwards.
Well aware I wasn't going to win a strength contest with a mutant controlled man in an exoskeleton.
I pushed the G36 through the crack and let rip with my final clip.
It yelled and lost it's grip and I slammed the door shut and turned the handle, sealing the lab and it's contents away from the zone.
I sunk to my knees and breathed deeply.
I had made it, I had been to the heart of the zone and I had made it.
I would of cried, but people in the zone die every day.
The exoskeleton wasn't done with me however and it slammed against the door, awaking me from my mourning.
I stood up and ran out of this hell hole as fast as I could.

I emerged from the bunker, duffel bag at my side.
I discarded the g36, it had nearly bent in half when I closed the door.
Then suddenly I heard someone chamber a round into their gun behind me.
I turned and saw a bandit, he must have been sixteen at most and I couldn't help myself. That'd be how I die, I went to hell for this bag and then the moment I stepped into the world someone robbed me.
I laughed, I laughed so hard I nearly collapsed.
The bandit was distraught, a blood covered man was getting robbed and laughing.
I looked at the bandit.
"You know what I've gone through to get this? If you stick around here for a while you'll get to see."
He whimpered and ran off.
He wasn't going to mess with the crazy man covered in blood.
I turned and breathed in the air of the zone.
It wasn't fresh, but compared to down there it was like a forest glade.
I walked calmly down the hill and pulled myself over the fence.
It was almost peaceful but then anything was peaceful compared to what was behind me.
I wandered back towards the bar.

Arriving at the bar I went directly to barkeep.
As I entered the room he raised his brow.
"Where’s Chirp?" I told him.
Then I said “ I’ve also got something you might want to see."
He laughed and a bit of his spittle caught on my clothes.
"You idiot. Fucking typical, you try to earn some easy cash and get yourself killed. But… if you got the money for the debt we can call it even. Let's see what you got then ."
I put down the bag and pulled out the money Chirp owed.
"Here. I’d also like to sell you some information."
I showed him the pictures, the documents and the artifacts.
He grinned and looked at me.
"That's some pretty valuable stuff, how does a 1, 200, 000 Ru sound?"
I looked at him skeptically.
"It's 40 grand US kid, take it or leave it."
I sighed and handed him the bag and all of the items.
Then I emailed him the pictures.
As I left the bar I grinned to myself.
I had recorded all the documents and artifacts, and I could sell it to the scientists.
I turned towards the wilderness.
It just never stops.

That's the thing with the zone, we left humanity behind to forge our own future.
We get shot, eaten and brainwashed, we could end up bleeding out on the pavement surrounded by people that could help but won't.
And yet even after going through all that and selling it away, I felt no regrets.
Not one.
I could get shot and robbed, burnt or eaten but if I had to choose between death and struggle in the zone or a mediocre life outside of it, I'd always choose the zone.
Its like it had a hold on us, the ever growing call of the zone.
And we answered the call, and we'd answer it again and again until the end of the world.
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