A S.T.A.L.K.E.R story I'm starting to write. Tell me what you think!
Saturday, 17 July, 2018. I remember it like it was yesterday. Me and my wife had a late night then. My daughter woke me up the next morning.
“Want some water or something?” I said groggily, still asleep.
Our bedroom had a large open view over this part of the city, and the bed was looking out through this. On winters morning the sun would be shining in and you would wake up warm and cosy. And let me tell you this: it was beautiful! It was still rather dark outside and I couldn’t see any stars, which I might mention was strange. I rubbed my eyes, trying to get them to work properly. I turned on my side to see the time, but before I could register the 5 digits that would give what I want to know, My daughter asked me something I would never forget.
“Daddy, where did the sun go to?”
My body became a lump bundle of empty memories. I knew what was going on. It all made sense. It started about two years ago, I took 6 months leave from work(all paid too!). I wanted to see the world, but there was one specific place I wanted to go. It was frowned upon and a weird time as our daughter had just turned one and I had been promoted. What few people actually knew, was that this “holiday”, wasn’t really a holiday at all. And everybody ,who knew where I was to be going, kept asking: “You know the kind of place you are going to?”. I wasn’t worried, I was in the army in 2011-2012 when Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland were invaded by the SADF. The action was largely frowned upon by many world nations but the reasons were there, they were just unclear. And nobody knew about hidden agendas and ideals. We just did our job.
It did cause some disruptions in the economy and just about everybody did badly for a few years. Infrastructure development in Zimbabwe and the other two countries were underway while back home nothing more was done. It was a bad time though as we still didn’t have proper medical services and education, policing all that sort of stuff. And then they want to improve our neighbouring countries? That was questioned too. And it was rather sudden the whole thing. Not even we had expected it. They hastily drafted all males under the age of 32 and above 18, 6 weeks of training and straight to war. The military was suddenly sized from about 70 000 personnel to 670 000 in 7 months. And that wasn’t everybody. Most escaped this, you just had to live in the correct place or have the correct job, the right amount of money or the correct reasons. I didn’t have any of them. Nobody knew where all the equipment came from because suddenly producing more than 600 000 rifles is no easy task, it must have been one hell of a secret thing(well planned too). Back to my holiday. I departed for Ukraine to meet up with my people and set off…
We couldn’t see anything in the house. I stepped on something as it cracked.
“Light bulbs, they’re all burst!” I’d seen this before in the Zone. It happens after a specific emission type. Everything goes dark, everything!
We went downstairs to check out the kitchen and what was going on in the street. The wooden stairs were suddenly rather creaky, they looked almost rotten. Strange I thought. They were new. We’d renovated the house just three months ago after we bought it. In the distance the sound of helicopters could be heard, a rhythmical thump-thump-thump. Soon it was joined by more and more different sounds. Police sirens, more helicopters. Some came closer. Somewhere rose up the sound of gunfire, it ended quickly. The BOOM of the old cannon on the mountain sounded up.
“Strange time isn’t it honey?” No reply.
Outside we could hear vehicles coming down the street. Police motorcycles. I ran to the outside stairs to see. I was shocked. Lining the streets below us were military trucks, police cars. And now and then even an Olifant tank. Soldiers were entering the houses and summoning up everyone inside. Here and there people were emerging carrying all kinds of stuff outside and putting it inside the trucks. An Agusta A109 was circling, it hovered above our house. What were they doing?
The Chernobyl Incident was the start. In 1986 a test had gone wrong. The rest most people already know after the second accident in 2006, Pripyat the ghost town and all that. The second incident was the start of the real problem. Everything died. Including humans. It was believed that no-one could survive more than a couple of days in the zone. Teams were sent in to investigate, but never came back. The abandoned vehicles and the occasional body, that had been ripped apart, was found. The problem was that this was never reported as the Search and Rescue teams went missing as well. After 3 months the Ukranian military stopped all expeditions into the zone, and focused largely on keeping it a secure, human free, area.
It didn’t last. Two years later, something strange happened. Some source of energy surted out some ball of just that, energy. It killed a large part of the perimeter guards. It was a shock. The Zone was expanding. The soldiers fled and tried to escape. Most didn’t, strange mutated creatures caught up to them, it was a lost cause. The next year was spent trying to kill all the mutants that had escaped and setting up a new fence. This was also the time in which the Stalker community emerged. Some groups of people snuck into the zone. They wanted to know, they needed to know! The military was rather pissed at this, and soon they started shooting anyone who tried to enter illegally on sight. The zone had stabilized however, and more and more people entered to experience it. All illegally of course. Eventually it was estimated that around 300 or so individuals lived within the zone.
I was standing there. In awe. Everything started to turn red. SHIT! The horizon seemed ablaze. The earth started shaking, windows were breaking. Someone grabbed me from behind and pushed me to the floor.
“Yeah. How’d you?” My sentence was cut off by an excruciatingly loud bang.
“Listen! You have to let everybody know to get indoors, somewhere in a abasement or something” I said hastily, terrified.
“Sir, please” The black soldier started.
“NOW!” I shouted, angry and frustrated now. The soldier turned around to face someone who seemed to be the leader. One of the four soldiers ran down to a truck below our house. Less than a minute later, voices started booming out of speakers and megaphones telling people to get inside the houses.
“You guys too!” I said to the guy, having to shout at the top of my lungs to be heard over the noise. He nodded and talked to someone on the radio. They pulled me inside. I showed them where the entrance to the wine cellar was. Outside, one of the trucks suddenly blew up. The flame ball soared up into the air, lightening the inside of the open plan living area. I looked back again as we started down the stairs, some soldiers and two tank crewmen came running up the stairs. They were carrying a woman who seemed to have burn wounds.
“My wife! Where is my wife!?” I asked the soldiers.
“Where is my wife!?” I shouted angrily. I didn’t ask again as the burnt woman was layed down on the ground, my hurt sunk and skipped a beat. My daughter was being held by one of the soldiers. She was screaming and crying hysterically. But before I could get to her, a shockwave hit the house. I could hear glasses and plates shattering, wood splintering. The fireplace chimney must have come loose during the earthquake as I heard a loud metallic THUNK. I looked at the soldiers, my wife and my daughter. And I saw something I’d never imagined cold happen. Some of them were crying, and some, some were screaming in fear…