Hello everyone. It's been awhile since I've been around here, and even longer since I've made a post here. Awhile ago, I wrote some stories and people seemed to enjoy them a bit. But the thread (and sometimes threads) they were in were filled with a lot of, well, unnecessary drama on my part. So, I think I'd like to make another thread free from the drama 2019-2020 Turnip had. I'll be posting the stories I wrote here so that people who cared for them can read them, ask questions about them, etc. I wrote all of these in a single sitting (as in, say, the first part of Colored Lines was written in one two hour session) with just a (embarrassingly) rough outline so apologies if there are any mistakes or other issues with it. If anybody has any questions about them from the lore, to the characters, to what on Earth these are, feel free to ask. I got rid of pretty much all of my lore writings, outlines, and other Colored Lines stuff during a particularly difficult time but I can do my best from memory if you'd like. Either way, thank you for reading, any criticism is welcome, and I hope you enjoy them.
St. Petersburg Metro Map (English)-https://imgur.com/a/9yXdgIA
Balalaika- A Russian string instrument with a triangular body and three strings (often called a "Russian guitar")
Ushanka- Russian fur hat with flaps to cover the ears; literally translates as "ear flap hat"
Babushka- Common Russian term for old lady or grandmother
DShK- A World War 2/Cold War era heavy machine gun that is still used by many nations today (stands for Degtyaryova-Shpagina Krupnokaliberny)
Kalash- Russian slang for the Avtomat Kalashnikova (AK) line of rifles
Chuvak- Russian slang word that is a mix between calling somebody "dude" and "pal" Usually reserved for close friends
Slava- Russian word meaning "Glory" in the context presented in this story
Part 1: Pushkinskaya Station
Darkness surrounds me. Cold, oppressive, unending darkness. I cannot scream. I cannot move. But I can hear. I can hear their voices whisper in my ear. Their horrible, terrifying voices. But soon the whispering stops, replaced by a voice reverberating throughout the void.
“Why? Why do you hide from us? We wish to understand you. We wish to help you. Let us understand. Let us help.”
A sharp pain permeates through my head. It’s as though my very brain is being torn out of my skull. Memories flash before me in an instant. Some memories mundane, some life changing. The pain continues to increase as the memories are torn from my mind until I can no longer take it. I pray to whoever might listen to make it stop. And it does. But the voice remains.
“We wish to understand you. We wish to help you.”
Suddenly my eyes burst open. I sit up quickly and look around. Stone walls covered with pictures and drawings. A small desk with a few books sitting atop it. A scratched balalaika sitting in the corner with a rifle lying next to it. An old army jacket and helmet hanging on a makeshift coat rack. Back in my room. Well, my utility closet I guess. I sigh with relief as I look at the familiar room, despite it’s cramped interior. Space in Pushkinskaya station was always at a premium. And while its white arched ceilings may be fading, its beautiful stone floors cracking, and its once spacious halls filled with makeshift buildings and tents, it’s our home. For over a century the station has been our refuge from the horrors above. Whatever those horrors might be. The rustling of keys takes me out of my thoughts. My door opens slowly as a figure peers inside. Once they see me they open the door fully and flip the light switch, the lone lightbulb brightening up the room substantially. I quickly wince and close my eyes.
“Dimitri? Are you alright? I tried knocking but I didn’t hear an answer. Oh, you look terrible…”
I slowly open my eyes. I look over at the voice and see a girl about three years my younger staring at me with concern plastered on her freckled face. A deep scar runs down the side of her face, partially hidden by messy red hair and an old wool cap. A light knitted sweater hugs her slender frame and faded camouflage pants about two sizes too large are tucked into a pair of tattered work boots. Samara Fedorov, my best friend and partner. She begins to shift self consciously at my inspection so I bring my attention back to her eyes.
“You’re here early, Samara. We don’t head out for a few more hours. What’s wrong?”
“Actually, I was headed to the market and was wondering if you wanted to tag along. My parents need me to pick up a few supplies, you know how it goes. And you didn’t answer my question. Are you alright?”
“I’m fine. I just didn’t get much sleep.”
“Something like that. Forget about it. Let’s head to the market before it gets too crowded. It’ll be good to get moving.”
“Okay, but take it slow alright? You aren’t looking so great.”
I smile at her and slowly stand up, Samara’s eyes watching me closely. Satisfied that I’m not about to drop dead she gives a quick nod and starts to walk outside with me right behind her. The bright lights in the hallway sting my eyes for a moment, but they soon adjust. The stone walls and floors have become cracked with age, but still shine in the light. Courtesy of the stations “Labor Battalion”, which is just a fancy title for supervised prisoners who weren’t bad enough to get the noose. As we walk towards the market, the walls become more and more cluttered with posters. The stations leadership calls them “reminders” but I know propaganda when I see it. A picture of the station’s surface gate partially open with black tendrils creeping in, the words “Constant vigilance keeps The Surface out!” in bold letters at the bottom. A station militiamen holding a torch up to the darkness with the words, “Keep the darkness at bay, join the militia today!” along the sides. And the newest poster, a horribly disfigured man with a red star painted on his forehead gnawing on a dead infant, the words “Keep the mutant Reds away from our children!” emblazoned on the top and “Join the White Army now!” on the bottom. I stare at that last poster for a bit longer before continuing the walk to the marketplace. A few station guards nod at Samara and I as we walk up to the markets entrance, waving us inside without a second glance.
The market was brightly lit and filled with stalls, shelves, boxes, all packed with various goods and trinkets. The area it is located in was a large and rectangular room, well maintained if a bit cluttered. Despite the general clutter, the market was separated into sections. Clothes, furniture and food were located along the western wall. Tools, electronics and survival gear along the east. Livestock pens were set up on the northern end. And finally, the middle contained stalls filled with trinkets, toys, and other miscellaneous items. Armed guards occupy strategic positions around the marketplace, deterring any would-be troublemakers. Despite the early hour there are already a few people perusing the various stalls and shops. Samara begins walking towards a shop on the western wall, a small store with a painted sign reading “Babushka’s Pantry”. The old lady at the counter smiles as the two of us approach.
“Samara, dear, it’s wonderful to see you. And you must be that boy Samara’s always talking about. Dimitri is it?”
“Yes ma’am. It’s a pleasure to meet you, miss…” I say, smiling at Samara’s increasingly reddening face.
“Oh my, so polite. Please, just call me Babushka. Everyone does. You hold on to this one Samara. Now, I’m sure you young folks have things to do. I wrapped up what you asked for and I have it right here. Tell your parents I said hello, dear. And Dimitri, it was a pleasure to meet you finally.” Babushka says, placing a box of food on the counter.
“Wait, what about payment?” Samara asks, her brow furrowed in confusion.
“Don’t worry about that, sweetheart. Just come back when you have some free time and you can help me with a few small chores. These old bones aren’t what they used to be.” She says with a chuckle.
“Thank you. God be with you.”
“Thank you dear. You as well.”
I pick up the box of food and am caught of guard by its weight. I shoot a quick glance towards Babushka who merely smiles at me sweetly. She’s stronger than she lets on. With the supplies in hand we begin walking towards the exit, only for Samara to stop dead in her tracks. I look around and eventually catch sight of what she is staring at. Viktor Chernov, a member of the Labor Battalion and all around pain in the ass. When he notices us, his face turns into a predatory grin and he begins to walk towards us.
“Well, well, fancy seeing you here Scarface.” He says, causing Samara to visibly wince and look towards the ground.
“What do you want Chernov?” I ask through clenched teeth.
“Well, what I really want is for Scarface to show me what her tits look like without that ratty ass sweater on. But I guess I’ll settle with that box you're carrying.”
“You really want to try that? Even if you could take it from me, thieves are given a slow hanging. They’ll find you, they’ll beat you, and they’ll hang you slowly. Hell, one word to the guards and they might hang you just for suggesting it.”
“Woah, woah, we’re all just joking around. No need for that kind of talk.”
Out of the corner of my eye I see two guards running over. Chernov turns towards them just as one guard slams the butt of his rifle into his stomach. Chernov falls to his knees as the second guard restrains his hands. The first guard looks at the two of us and says, “Sorry about this, citizens. This worker is supposed to be stationed in the agricultural sector. We’ll make sure he gets to where he needs to go.” Samara and I quickly nod as Chernov is dragged away by the two guards.
“What do you think will happen to him?” Samara asks quietly.
“I’m guessing the hangman’s noose. The Labor Battalion was his last chance. I’d say he just blew it.” I say with a small shrug.
“Then I’ll pray for his soul. May God grant him more mercy than Pushkinskaya did.”
The walk back to Samara’s parents is turning out to be much less eventful than the marketplace. Foot traffic in the halls has increased, the sound of our footsteps are drowned out by dozens of voices all talking at once. As we turn a corner we notice a small crowd forming around an old man standing on a bench. He wears a long jacket with a raised hood, appearing reminiscent of the Orthodox monks of old. We approach the old man and listen to him speak.
“The corrupt leaders of this station have been lying! Lying to us all! They tell us to fear the surface. To treat it not as our ancestral home but as a malevolent entity! They speak of the horrors that lie up above! The great evils of the world above! But I have been to the world above! I have been to the surface! And let me tell you, dear friends, there was no horror! I saw blue skies! Green grass! I smelled flowers and felt the warmth of the sun on my skin! And then, they spoke to me! The angels! They told me that they wished to help us! To understand us!”
“Okay, that’s enough. Lets go before we get arrested with this nut job.” I say and begin to walk away.
“You there, young man!” I stop dead in my tracks. “You have heard the angels! I can tell! Please, tell the people of their message! How they wish to help and understand!”
As I open my mouth I hear footsteps running down the hall. I turn my head and see a squad of heavily armed guards running towards the group. They grab the old man and throw him to the ground and slam the butt of their rifle into his skull. The sergeant steps towards the crowd and shouts, “Disperse immediately! Loiterers will be detained! Disperse!” Samara and I run down the hall without looking back.
We reach Samara’s home without further incident. It is a decent sized home by station standards, located in an old office. As Samara opens the door we are immediately set upon by her mother. It’s clear even from a glance that Samara and her are related. They share nearly identical features, from hair color to height. I wouldn’t be surprised if in 15 years Samara looks just like her mother does now. Her father on the other hand shares little resemblance with his daughter. A stern faced man with a square jaw and hair that is beginning to gray. An old soldier through and through. He listens to Samara’s recollection of the days event’s with a steady expression, nodding at certain points and frowning at others. When she’s finished speaking he excuses himself and walks out of the door, nodding to me as he passes. Her mother on the other hand has a fit. After about 15 minutes of assuring her we are alright we go back to Samara’s room. It is about the size of my home, albeit a bit more decorated and bright. I look at my watch. Only 45 minutes until we head out. I look up from my watch to see Samara staring at me.
“What’s up? Something wrong?”
She slowly walks up and wraps her arms around me. I tense up at first, unsure of what to do. I tentatively reach my arms around her and hug her back. It is an unfamiliar experience, but not an unwelcome one. We stand like that for a few minutes until the beeping of my watch signals that it’s time to get moving. Samara looks at me with a small smile and red cheeks.
“Thank you for that. And for, well, everything. I’m so happy that you’re my friend.”
“I don't know what to say. We've always been a team, and we always will. No matter what. You and me.”
Samara's face reddens as she grabs the rest of her gear and follows me back to my house. I grab my backpack, throw on my jacket and ushanka, and pick up my rifle. With all of our gear together we begin walking along the eastern tracks towards the barricade that leads to the tunnels. When we finally arrive a sense of uneasiness washes over me. The bright lights of the station are replaced by fire barrels and lanterns. The marble walls and stone floors are now concrete walls and dirt flooring. The barricade itself, however, is an impressive structure. Metal walls stretch from floor to ceiling with firing ports cut at regular intervals. A large metal gate stands in the middle of the barricade and is currently closed and locked down. On the other side scrap metal spikes and fortified emplacements deter those foolish enough to attack Pushkinskaya.
We reach the captain of the militia stationed at the barricade, a grizzly looking man named Ivan. He looks the two of us over for a minute before taking a long drag on his cigarette. He slowly exhales the smoke as the alarm on both of our watches goes off.
“Good, you’re here. Cutting it a bit close this time aren’t we?”
“We were a bit busy. It won’t happen again.”
“Relax kid. I’m just busting your balls. Command tell you what’s going on? What am I talking about, of course they didn’t. Okay, here’s the situation. A few days ago we lost contact with Vladimirskaya Station to the east. Last we heard there were some Reds poking around.”
“This far west?” Samara asks, concerned.
“That’s what we heard. Anyways, Vladimirskaya is a critical junction between the red and orange lines. If this really is those fucking mutants then they need to be cleared out. But the militia can handle that. You just need to find out why our guys stopped calling back. It should be a pretty straight line from here to Vladimirskaya, but be prepared for anything. Our reports say there are some weird sounds in those tunnels. Alright, I’m opening the gates. Good luck out there.”
As the militia begin to open the gates I feel a sharp pain in the back of my head.
“We wish to understand you. To help you. Why do you hide from us?
I look over at Samara, her eyes shut and hands clasped in silent prayer. When she finishes she looks to me with a smile and the pain seems to dull, the voice fading. We turn on our headlamps and step into the darkness together as we have so many times before
Part 2: Stepping Into Darkness
The heavy metal gates slam closed behind us with a loud bang. Ivan shouts a muffled “Good luck” from the other side of the barricade. As my eyes begin to adjust to the darkness, I scan the area around me. And what I see makes me grow more concerned by the second. The tunnels are darker than usual, the lanterns lining the walls sit unlit. Only a few emergency lights and the spotlight from the barricades DShK prevent the tunnel from falling into complete darkness. It also becomes immediately clear that the barricade is much less fortified than it should be. There are no guards posted out here. Fortifications lie unoccupied, but still hold the occasional bottle or cigarette butt. No ammo boxes or supplies remain. It’s as though the militia decided to just abandon the tunnel. A light tap on my shoulder brings me out of my thoughts. I look over at Samara who gives me a small smile.
“Trying to solve life’s big mysteries?”
“More like trying to figure out where the hell everyone is.”
“Well, dad said a lot of militia got moved elsewhere after Vladimirskaya joined with us. He said the tunnel between our stations was safer than ever. He also said they recently moved some guys to the southern barricade. Something about Zvenigorodskaya having problems. I think. Maybe that’s where everyones gone?”
“Maybe. But I doubt we’ll get any answers standing around. Let’s get this over with.”
“Right behind you.”
We begin our walk through the tunnels, our footsteps echoing through the corridors. The humming of the emergency lights and dripping of the pipes are almost a comforting sound at this point. The occasional rats scurry by, disappearing into cracks in the walls. Samara hums softly as she cradles her submachine gun in her arms, occasionally going silent as pipes creak and moan, only to start right up again once they’ve stopped. I keep my rifle low and at the ready, scanning the darkness for any sign of trouble. After around ten minutes of walking the two of us come across something that makes us stop dead in our tracks. An old train car sits derailed by the side of the tracks, its hull covered in rust and dirt. As we approach the car, I feel a light throbbing in the back of my head. I feel an unexplained urge to enter this relic of the past. I need to. I sling my rifle onto my shoulder and grab the handle to the door. Just before I pull it open a firm hand grasps my shoulder. I turn towards it and see Samara looking at me with confusion.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m going to take a look around. What’s the problem?”
“Maybe we should leave it alone.”
“There’s something…wrong about it. I just really think we should leave it alone.”
“If there is something wrong with it then it's our job to find out what.”
“I won’t stop you from going in. Just…please be careful. Please.”
I nod and grab the door handle with both hands as Samara raises her submachine gun towards the door. With a swift motion I slide the door open and raise my rifle. My light shines inside as I hear Samara gasp in horror. Skeletons litter the train car. But not just any skeletons. Little skeletons. Judging by the tattered scraps of clothing that have yet to decay, these kids must have been soldiers. At least, their clothes resembled rather impractical uniforms. Slowly I look over at Samara who leans against the wall mouthing a prayer with tears forming in her eyes. As I begin to step over to her a sound from the train car catches my ear. It sounds like children giggling. I quickly glance at Samara who doesn’t seem to notice the noise before making my way up to the door, the throbbing in my head increasing with every step. The sound grows louder as I approach, stopping just as I reach the door. After a quick look inside I begin to turn around, only to hear children screaming inside the train car. I quickly hoist myself inside and begin running deeper, the screams and throbbing intensifying with every step. The pain becomes too much and I fall to my knees, eyes clenched shut in a pained grimace. Suddenly the screams stop, the pain dulled to a light throbbing. I slowly open my eyes and find myself surrounded by children. The train car, once old and rusted appears new and shiny. I slowly stand up, looking at the children who seem not to notice me. They giggle and smile, straightening their odd uniforms while looking out the windows. The tunnels look bright and…moving. I continue to look outside the window, marveling at the beauty outside when a voice speaks out. A horrible, terrifying voice.
“We do not understand. The little ones, they were innocent. Pure. Why were they killed? What did they do wrong?”
I turn towards the voice, backing up in horror as the train car transforms around me. The bright lights grow dim. The children, once playful and loud, sit silently. Their faces appear gaunt, their eyes all trained on me. And at the far end of the train car a silhouette stands unmoving in the darkness. Its limbs are long and gangly, humanoid in appearance. Despite having no discernible eyes, I can feel the silhouette looking at me. Fear grips my body as I look at the creature in front of me. I open my mouth only to find no words come out. What do you want? I think, Why can’t you leave me alone? To my surprise, the children begin to speak in unison, all bearing the silhouettes voice.
“We wish to understand you. We wish to help you. You hear us. You understand us. You can help us, and we can help you. Help us understand.”
The silhouette slowly points its arm towards the children, the lighting from the window showing a clawed hand with tar black skin that seems to reflect the light. The children’s gaunt faces become increasingly skeletal until there is nothing left but bones in tattered rags.
“The little ones. Why were they killed? What did they do wrong?”
I don’t know! I think, looking in horror as the children’s skeletons continue to stare at me, They must have been killed during the apocalypse!
“We…do not understand. What apocalypse?”
A sharp pain enters my head, forcing me to close my eyes. When I open them, relief floods my body. Samara looks down at me, my head lying cradled in her lap. When she sees me looking up at her she wipes the tears from her eyes with a gloved hand and smiles comfortingly at me.
“What happened?” I ask, raising my head slightly to look around. The train car lies a few yards away, its door still open. The tunnel lies empty with only the dripping pipes and our breathing making noise.
“You went inside that train car. You looked…distressed. I went after you as soon as I saw you heading inside. When I got to you you were lying on the floor. You were shaking, and you looked like you were in pain. I thought you might be having a seizure or something. I dragged you out of the car but you wouldn’t stop shaking. You didn’t wake up. I didn’t know what to do, so I just held you and prayed. It seemed to work I think. You stopped shaking. Are you okay?”
“You didn’t hear the voices? You didn’t see the creature?”
“Dimitri, there weren’t any voices. No creatures. Just bones and rust. I’m worried about you. First you get these awful nightmares and now this.”
“I’m fine Samara.”
“No you aren’t!” Samara shouts, catching me off guard. “You never get any sleep. You think I don’t see how tired you look? And now, now you’re hearing things. Seeing things. Every morning and every night I pray for you. Praying that the nightmares won’t come back. Praying that you are okay. And every day you just look worse. I…I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to help you.”
Tears now fall from Samara’s eyes, landing on my face. I slowly begin to sit up, positioning myself next to her. Placing my arm over her shoulder I pull her close to me. We sit like that for a few minutes, the sound of her crying dying down to the occasional sniffle. Seeing her like this is heartbreaking. The two of us have always looked out for one another. I think about what I would do if the roles were reversed. If I was helpless to stop her suffering. And I just don’t know what else I could do but be there for her. She wipes her nose with a small washcloth, her makeshift handkerchief, before looking into my eyes.
“Thank you. I…um, didn’t mean to yell at you. So, should we head back to Pushkinskaya?”
“Not yet. We still have a job to do, remember?”
“I know you’re worried. But I really do feel alright. It’s only a short walk to Vladimirskaya from here. We’ll get there, take a look around, then head back.”
“Fine, but no more running into derelict train cars.”
The two of us stand up and grab our gear. The walk through the tunnel is once again largely quiet and uneventful, with Samara occasionally looking over at me. No doubt ensuring my well being. After a couple minutes of walking in silence we come across an unexpected sight. A hastily erected barricade blocks the way to Vladimirskaya. It seems to have been hastily erected out of scrap wood and various bits of debris. It wouldn’t be too difficult to clear out with the right equipment, but the implications of its existence is what's truly worrying.
“Do you think they’re trying to keep us out?” Samara asks, scratching her chin.
“This isn’t much of a barricade. If they are trying to keep something out, it isn’t us.”
“Well, what else is out here?” Asks Samara, her grip tightening on her submachine gun.
“I don’t know. I guess we can ask them when we get over there. Come on, I saw a maintenance tunnel a few meters back with the door open. Maybe we can use it to get past this.”
Samara nods as the two of us walk to the maintenance tunnel. The door lies open a few inches. I place my hand on the door and look over at Samara who raises her weapon and gives me a quick nod. I push and the door opens the rest of the way with a loud creak. I hear a scurrying sound from inside the tunnel. Rats no doubt. With my rifle raised I step inside the peer into the tunnel, looking to the left. The lighting in the tunnel has long since died leaving the passage ahead shrouded in darkness. A torch hangs on the wall unlit so I grab it and quickly light it up, surrounding the two of us in an orange glow. The occasional noise can be heard from deeper in the tunnel. Almost like a scurrying sound. I signal for Samara to stay right behind me and begin walking through the tunnel. There isn’t much room to maneuver in here. Nothing like to open tunnels outside. As we walk it feels like something is watching us. The occasional noise, almost a hissing, seems to come out of the cracks in the wall. I turn to look at the walls when suddenly something sticky bumps into my face. I stumble backwards, raising my light and my rifle at whatever it was. A shape around the size of my foot lies wrapped in webs, suspended in the air from a thin tendril of webs. I take out my knife and cut away some of the webbing, uncovering a large rat. Fear grips me. I turn to Samara who looks at me wide eyed and say, “We have to move. Now!”
The two of us begin jogging down the tunnels as the hissing noises grow louder. Bones cover the floor the deeper we go in. Most from rats, some from larger prey. The occasional sound of scurrying can be heard behind us but quickly retreats when one of our headlamps catches a glimpse of it. Spindly legs, the flash of fangs, multiple white eyes. Then they crawl back into the walls. The webbing seems to increase in volume as we go further into the tunnel. The creatures also begin to increase in their attacks, becoming more bold. Soon it becomes clear why. An old office sits to the right, likely a security room or break room. Now it is a nest. Fleshy mounds of eggs lie pulsating along the floors. Webbing hangs from the ceiling which contains wrapped prey of various sizes. Some are too large to be rats. And inside the middle of this all lies a disgusting sight. A spider nearly five feet in length lies on the floor. Its body is a sickening grey, pale under the light of my headlamp. Its long arms are splayed across the floor and are feeling at the numerous egg clutches that lie around it. And its eyes have a milky white coloration to them. When the light from my headlamp reaches the spiders eyes it begins to hiss furiously, its long legs flailing in an attempt to back away. The cacophony of spiders seems to grow even louder at this and Samara and I begin to sprint as the sound of scurrying increases in volume. Seeing the end of the tunnel up ahead I yell to Samara.
“The door is up ahead! Keep them off of me!”
“How am I supposed to do that?!”
“Shine your light on them and shoot them!”
We reach the end of the tunnels with the spiders not far behind. Just as I had expected there was a door back into the tunnels from here. I toss my torch in front of Samara causing a few spiders to back away. These spiders are all much smaller than the one in the nest. Maybe two feet or so in length. I focus back on the door as Samara fires off a few rounds from her submachine gun. The door was an old lock wheel type door. I begin to turn the rusty wheel and am met with a loud squeaking sound as it begins to move. Samara continues to fire off shots as the wheel slowly turns. The fire from the torch begins to fade and the sound of gunshots is increasing in intensity. With a final pull, and an audible groan, I manage to turn the wheel enough to open the door, pushing it open with haste. I grab Samara’s backpack and all but toss her out of that tunnel before pushing the door shut. I close my eyes with a sigh only to hear Samara panicking.
“Get it off! Get it off!”
I turn around and look at Samara and see her pushing back against a large spider sprawled across her chest. I run over and grab the spiders abdomen and pull it off of her. I toss the spider a few feet away and watch as it backs up and raises its front arms in a warning. I unsling my rifle from my shoulder and prepare to fire at it only to see Samara walking past me with a knife in hand. She shines her light directly into the spiders eyes, forcing it to cower in pain and proceeds to stab it through with the knife. The spider stops moving instantly. Samara proceeds to put her foot onto the spiders abdomen and use it as leverage to pull her knife out of its head. I look at her quizzically and she simply looks back at the dead spider.
“All creatures on this Earth are God’s creations. They should be loved and cherished as befits any creation of the Lord’s. But now we lie beneath the Earth. And that thing? That is the Devils work.”
With a final look at the broken creature the two of begin to walk towards Vladimirskaya station, hopeful that the worst has past us and the rest of the mission will be easy. I shake my head at my own fleeting naivety.
It’s never easy.
Part 3: The Devil’s Work
The ground beneath our feet crunches lightly as we walk towards Vladimirskaya. The tunnel is fairly well lit. Lanterns line the walls, flickering softly and casting long shadows against the walls. I glance over at Samara who walks beside me in silence. Webs from the spiders lair stick to her hair and clothes, although she seems not to notice. She looks into the tunnels ahead with a distant look in her eyes. She turns her head towards me and looks a bit startled at my gaze before giving a small smile and moving closer to me.
“So, any guesses as to what we’ll find at the station?” Samara asks, half-whispering.
“I don’t know. Hopefully it’s just a communications issue. Phone lines are down or something.”
“And if it’s not?”
“Ivan said the Reds were poking around. Maybe the station got hit.”
“What if those spiders did something?” Samara asks, turning to look behind her.
“I don’t think so. The barricade was probably meant to stop them. They were probably coming out of that open door. The one we entered through.”
“Couldn’t they have just closed the door?”
“Maybe they didn’t know they were coming from there. We certainly didn’t.”
Sounds from up ahead cut our conversation short. Samara and I slowly make our way against the wall with our weapons raised. Three distinct voices make their way down the tunnel. Two men and one woman. Laughter from the men echo throughout the tunnel, almost drowning out the pained sobs of the woman. I signal for Samara to stay put as I take off my backpack and place it against the wall. I pull out an old rifle scope and begin crawling forwards. Once I manage to get a clear line of sight I put the scope up to my eye and survey the scene.
The rounded walls of the tunnel soon make way to open platforms. It seems to be the loading area for Vladimirskaya station. The power appears to have been turned off to this part of the station, despite its importance. Or maybe because of it. Fire barrels and lanterns manage to keep the area relatively well lit however, giving a good view of the platform. The security station seems to be empty. The rail cars that ferry supplies and people between Vladimirskaya and Pushkinskaya sit abandoned on the tracks. I move the scope back up to the platform towards the voices. Two men are on the platform. They wear civilian clothes and have rifles slung over their shoulders. Both men have a strip of red fabric tied around their right bicep. Reds. Fucking Reds. One of the men is smoking a cigarette while the other appears to be on his knees, his hips thrusting quickly. I shift my position slightly and manage to catch a glimpse of a woman in a torn militia uniform on her hands and knees. My blood begins to boil and I slowly begin to make my way back to Samara. She looks at me with concern upon my return.
“Loading dock up ahead. Two Reds on the platform. They have one of ours. We need to take them out.” I say through clenched teeth.
“Reds? But…shouldn’t we go back to Pushkinskaya and get help?” Samara says, fear on her face.
“How? The tunnel has a barricade we can’t get through, and the only way around that is through a spider nest. We need to get to a radio. And that means we have to go into the station. Which means we have to go through those fucking Reds.”
A load groan and a pained scream echo down the tunnel. I look over at Samara’s worried face.
“We go. Now.”
With a quick nod the two of us slowly make our along the tracks. Once we reach the platform I begin to climb onto it, instructing Samara to continue making her way along the tracks. I look through my scope at the people up ahead. The two Reds are now laughing and sharing a bottle of alcohol. The militia woman lies curled up on the ground and is sobbing. As I creep closer, their voices become clear.
“Ah, that was good. You want another go at ‘er?” The first one asks, buckling his belt.
“Nah, I’d say this whore’s all used up. Besides, I ain’t fuckin’ something after you fucked it.” The second one says, taking another drag from his cigarette.
“Pussy. But I think yer right. Sorry pretty lady, but like he said, yer all used up.”
The second one takes a small knife out of his boot and grabs the militia woman by the hair. A weak “Please…” escapes her lips before the man slits her throat. He lets go of her hair and her head drops to the platform with a thud. With this, I begin rushing forward with my own knife in hand. I spare a quick glance to the side and notice Samara climbing onto the platform as well. I quickly close in on the closest Red who manages to let out a quick “Oh fuck!” before being stabbed in the throat with my knife. The second Red begins fumbling with his rifle as Samara makes her way behind him. She covers his mouth with her hand and stabs him in the back, his eyes wide from pain and surprise. He falls to his knees and I quickly walk over and stab him in the chest, twisting my knife as the light fades from his eyes. He drops to the floor with a thud. I quickly glance at the dead Reds then make my way over to the militia woman. Her clothes have been torn or cut open and she’s bruised in numerous places. Stains cover her tattered uniform and a look of fear is etched on her lifeless face. I look away from the body and make my way over to the dead Reds. I begin to unload their weapons, taking the ammunition for myself. I empty their pockets, taking what little money and valuables they carried. I look over at Samara who is kneeling over the dead militia woman in prayer. She stands up and makes the sign of the cross before walking over to me. She spares a quick glance at the two dead men before quickly making the sign of the cross and walking past them to the station entrance, with me right behind her.
Vladimirskaya station is smaller than home. Its corridors are crowded with makeshift buildings and narrow corridors. Like on the loading platform, the power seems to have been cut to most of the area. Emergency lights and assorted lanterns bathe the area in a hellish red. The empty buildings and occasional scream only add to the sense of being in Hell. Somewhere a record player is playing, the last few seconds of an unfamiliar song play before skipping and playing those last seconds over again. Bodies occasionally lie on the floor or against a building with bullet holes dotting them. Some are militia. Some are Reds. And some were caught in the crossfire. I brush aside some brass casings and scan the empty buildings for any signs of life. I sweep the left side and then the right. My eyes stop on a market stall to my right. A black silhouette is kneeling behind the stall, looking at something. A sharp pain enters my head as the silhouette stands up and turn’s towards me.
“The red ones. They killed so many. Innocents. Little ones. Why? Why must you fight? Why must you kill? We don’t understand.”
I quickly turn my light on and shine it at the stall. Nothing. I make my way forward and look behind the stall. A mother is holding her child, a bullet hole through them both. I quickly look away and walk back to Samara who give me a puzzled look.
“I…thought I saw something.” I say, giving a quick glance back at the stall. I turn back to Samara only to hear an unfamiliar voice and the distinct sound of a guns charging handle being pulled back.
“You have three seconds to drop your weapons or I drop you. And I count quickly.”
I look over at Samara and quickly drop my rifle. She does the same with her submachine gun. Suddenly, heavily armed men begin coming out of the buildings. I give a small sigh when I see the militia uniforms they wear. The men surround us and quickly grab our weapons before retreating a few steps away. A middle aged man with a slight limp begins to walk towards us. He has a fairly impressive collection of scars and the other men seem to look to him for their orders. He must be the one in charge. He looks at me from head to toe before doing the same for Samara. He takes a step back and crosses his arms.
“Too well equipped to be Reds. Too poorly equipped to be militia. You clearly aren’t civilians. So who the hell are you?”
“I’m Dimitri Koslov. That’s my partner, Samara Fedorov. Pushkinskaya station sent us to see why you ceased contact.”
“You’re stalkers?” the man asks, and I quickly nod. “Well, I’m guessing you can tell why we haven’t been answering your stations calls.”
“The Reds.” I say quietly.
“Yeah,” a gunshot rings out in the distance, “Lets head somewhere quieter and we can talk.”
Part 3: The Devil's Work (b)
Samara and I follow the man through the narrow passages of the station. We manage to avoid the patrolling Reds, eventually making it to a large fortified building. Militiamen are posted outside in makeshift fortifications. A few heavy machine guns are set up in abandoned buildings nearby and are trained on the path we just came from. A large sign with the words “ARMORY” hang over the door. The guards out front salute to our guide and eye us with suspicion as we walk inside. The sign outside didn’t lie. The majority of the building is filled with various crates and boxes. Ammunition and armor lie scattered around and numerous firearms sit on top of tables or in racks. There are even a few boxes labeled “GRENADES” with several warning signs. I look over at our guide who simply shrugs.
“It’s an armory, kid. What did you expect?”
“This is the frontier kid. Never know when this stuff could come in handy.”
“Exactly. I don’t think I ever introduced myself. I’m Kuzmich, Quartermaster for the militia.”
“Quartermaster?” I ask shaking his outstretched hand, “What happened to the Commander? Or the Guard Captains?”
“Killed in the early hours of the “revolution”. I’m the highest ranking militia member left.”
“What happened here?” Samara asks, with a concerned expression.
Kuzmich sighs and takes a quick swig from his flask.
“Lingovsky Prospekt fell to the Reds about a month back. The refugees started coming soon after. Men, women, children. All of them went flocking to Dostoevskaya. A lot of them found work there. Helping with the renovations and other tasks. The children and some of the women were brought to Vladimirskaya. We found them jobs and made some shelters for them to stay. But then things started going on. We would get reports about worker strikes. Some Red propaganda showing up in the marketplace. We made a few arrests but that seemed too have just made things worse. People began protesting in the markets. Lot’s of people. Women started going off about “The Holy Lenin” or some shit. People were getting angry. They started demanding we open the prison and let the “oppressed proletariats” out. I don’t know what the hell a proletariat is, but I do know half the bastards locked up were slated for execution. Hardcore offenders. Anyways the Commander went down to try to disperse them. The protesters killed him and his men then busted open the holding cells. People started fighting each other in the street. We lost contact with the barricade between here and Dostoevskaya. Now we have criminals running through the streets, Reds controlling our means of communication, and the only people from the Commonwealth that have showed up are two kids.”
Kuzmich takes a deep swig from his flask and lets out a deep sigh.
“So kid, that’s what happened here. If you have any ideas on how fix this shitstorm I’m all ears.”
“We need to contact Pushkinskaya station.”
“No shit kid. How do you propose we do that? Walk back the way you came? The Reds will be crawling all over the route to Pushkinskaya. Besides, we already tried that. Sent a scout this morning. Clearly she didn’t make it if you’re all they sent.”
“That was your scout at the loading platform?”
“Yeah, Katya. Wait you saw her? What happened? Where is she?” Kuzmich asks, concerned.
“She didn’t make it. Reds got to her.” I say, looking over at Samara who in turn looks down at the table.
“Goddamn it. Fucking Reds.” Kuzmich says, taking another swig from his flask.
“Look, we need to get to a radio, or something similar. Something to contact Pushkinskaya. If we can contact them, they can send help.”
“The communications post. Thats the only place I know that still has a working radio. Reds busted the rest. But the Reds have that building locked down tight. No way we can break through.”
“What about a diversion?” Samara asks thoughtfully.
“Yeah, we draw them to the armory, then when the bulk of their forces are fighting here a small team goes in. We call for help and the militia relieves us.” I say excitedly.
“It could work.” Kuzmich muses, “But if the strike team fails, then that’s it for Vladimirskaya. You sure we should take the risk?”
“Better than waiting here to die.” I say, looking at Samara who slowly nods.
“Alright then. Gear up. You two are joining the strike team. Feel free to grab what you need from the armory. Not like there’s any requisition forms anymore. I’ll go tell the men to dig in for an attack.”
I nod to Kuzmich and stand up. I walk over to the numerous boxes and weapons, a certain giddiness overcoming me despite the fear of impending battle. I look over at Samara and see a slight smile on her face as she gently rifles through the gear. I turn my attention towards an armored vest and pick it up. It’s made of metal plates sown between two thick pieces of leather with belts to tighten it. Holes in the leather from previous gunshot damage show that the metal was dented upon impact, but not penetrated. I take off my ushanka and pull the vest over my head. It’s heavy, but not prohibitively so. I tighten the belts on the vest and pick up a helmet. A metal visor is attached to it to provide protection to the face, sacrificing visibility for protection. I put it on and flip the visor up and down to ensure it works. I put on some knee pads and grab a pair of old military issue boots that look about my size. After gearing up I walk over to the weapon racks and pick out an old rifle. It was simple but well made, with scratched wood furnishings and a strong metal barrel and reciever. Clearly not from the metro. Its receiver had numbers stamped into it. Some were scratched off from use but four numbers were clear: “1984”. I pulled the charging handle back a few times and hear Kuzmich snicker, having recently come back inside.
“That’s a kalash, kid. You’ve probably seen them in the old posters. Maybe even in the hands of some troops heading to the frontlines. If you’re worried about her working, don’t be. Going to take a lot more than sitting in the metro for a hundred years to break her.”
I nod my head and shoulder the rifle, grabbing a few curved magazines from a box in the corner. I look over at Samara and see she has finished gearing up. She now wears a thick padded jacket over her sweater along with knee and elbow pads and a helmet over her wool hat. A bandolier with full ammunition pouches lies across her chest and a new submachine gun lies in her hands. Clearly made in the metro, but well made. Kuzmich looks over at the weapon and nods.
“Good choice. Just got a shipment of those before things went to shit. The boys call them “Peacekeepers” because we gave them out to guard patrols. Rugged and accurate for a submachine gun.”
I give a quick nod to Samara who nods back. After indicating that the two of us are ready we make our way outside. The troops outside have fortified their positions even further and are busy checking their weapons and armor. A few salute Kuzmich as he passes before going back to their work. We make our way towards a group of three heavily armored men. Two carry rather nasty looking shotguns while the third carries a machine gun that looks like a larger version of my kalash. Kuzmich introduces them as the rest of the strike team that will be helping us take the communications post. Movement catches my eye as I see a man in civilian clothes running up to us. Red fabric on his arm identifies him as an enemy and I begin to take out my pistol when Kuzmich stops me.
“He’s one of ours. Report.”
“I gave them the armory’s location like you asked sir. They're sending pretty much everything they have.” The man says after catching his breath.
“Good. Get geared up and get to cover. Strike team, we move now.”
The six of us begin moving through the station towards the communications post. The Reds are crawling through the streets like rats. Concern washes over me as we avoid another group. They are all heading towards the armory. Towards our allies. Samara must have been thinking the same thing because she glances at me with a concerned look. Before I can say anything Kuzmich whispers, “Communications post dead ahead.” We hold up behind some makeshift buildings. I peek my head around the corner and look ahead, see a flight of stairs leading to another section of the station. I’d guess it’s where most of the administrative offices were held. The open are before the stairs is covered half eaten meals and makeshift bedding. Hastily built fortifications lie empty. Clearly the area was emptied in a hurry. They really did send pretty much everything. Two men stand at the bottom of the stairs, looking around nervously. I look to Kuzmich who lays out the plan.
“The communications post is up those stairs, second door on the right. The rest of the rooms are mostly just bureaucrat nests. Offices and the like. But there could still be Reds inside. After we kill the guards down here one of my men will hold the stairs, killing any rat that tries to run. The other two will clear the rooms and then head to the stairs as well. Us three will head straight for the comms. We call Pushkinskaya then head back to the armory. Understand?”
Everyone nods. Kuzmich gives a slight nod, takes a swig from his flask, then says, “Go!”. Two of the men turn the corners and fire their shotguns nearly in unison, blowing holes in the surprised Reds chests. The men advance up to the makeshift fortifications as the third militiamen begins walking forward with his machine gun raised. A few reds come down the stairs with their rifles in hand and are promptly cut down by the machine guns heavy fire. Kuzmich begins running forward, and Samara and I follow. The two shotgun wielding militiamen are already making their way up the stairs. We give a quick nod to the third militiamen who has taken position at the bottom of the stairs before heading after the others. Gunshots and screaming can be heard as we climb the stairs. The shotgunners are walking down opposite ends of the hall, kicking in the doors and firing at the people inside. A few Reds lie dead on the floor already.
The three of us make our way to the communications post, its door having been left untouched by the militiamen. Must not want to damage the radio. We stop outside the door and Kuzmich kicks it in swiftly. I step inside the room with my rifle raised and notice two figures inside. Both have their hands raised and look to be no older than 16. One of them looks at me with tears in his eyes and says, “Please! Don’t kill us! We surrender!” I start pulling the trigger, feeling nothing but hatred towards them. But something causes me to hesitate. I look these kids in the eyes and I just can’t do it. I begin to lower my rifle when I hear two gunshots ring out, and watch as the two kids drop to the ground. I look over towards Kuzmich who simply shrugs and says, “They’re Reds.” before walking towards the radio. Samara makes her way over to me, looking at the two dead Reds with me. She grabs my hand and gives it a light squeeze before making the sign of the cross and giving a quick prayer. I feel many emotions in quick succession. Anger, sadness, confusion. Then numbness. Kuzmich’s voice brings me out of my thoughts.
“I’ve got a Commander Fedorov on the line.” Kuzmich says, turning towards us. Samara looks surprised for a moment then makes her way over to the radio and takes the headset, and begins talking to her father.
“Yes, Reds. A lot. As many as you can send. Okay, there’s a barricade in the tunnel but its pretty weak. No! Don’t go through there! Because it’s a spiders nest! Yes. Okay. I understand. Thank you.”
Samara puts down the headset and tells us that the militia is on the way. I give a nod and look over at Kuzmich who gives a brief smile before frowning and beginning to walk out the door. I give Samara a puzzled glance and follow him outside. Kuzmich calls the rest of the strike team to our position before speaking.
“Okay men, the boys from Pushkinskaya are on the way. But it isn’t over yet. We have to head back to the armory and assist them in any way we can. Let’s go!”
The six of us begin to make our way back to the armory. Sounds of gunfire get louder as we get closer. When we finally arrive the scene is chaos. Dead bodies litter the area. Most of them are Reds, but a few militia lie fallen as well. Screams and commands echo throughout the area and the rattle of machine gun fire is almost deafening. We make our way over to a militiaman who seems to have taken charge in Kuzmich’s absence. The two of them talk as Samara and I take positions behind cover and begin to fire on the Reds. Their attacks were mostly disorganized, taking a few shots then retreating. But they were clearly wearing the militia down. We couldn’t keep this up for much longer. I look towards Samara during a short break in the fighting. The Reds were probably regrouping for a final assault. And by the looks of things, the militia wouldn’t hold. We wouldn’t hold. I hold out my hand and she does the same. Our fingers intertwine and I smile sadly at her. There are worse ways to die than dying beside your best friend. I look at her and open my mouth to say something. Anything. But a sound cuts through the air. A whistle from the Red positions. I quickly let go of Samara’s hand and raise my rifle, waiting for the Reds to push forward. But nobody comes. We wait for what seems like hours. And still nobody comes. The militiamen begin to murmur amongst themselves and Kuzmich looks completely confused. I look at Samara who simply shrugs slightly. Suddenly a voice calls out from the path ahead. “Friendlies! Don’t shoot!” A man in a militia uniform and a white armband comes out from behind a building with his hands up. And the whole armory begins to erupt in cheers.
It seems the troops from Pushkinskaya had showed up just in time. The whistle had been a call for retreat from the Reds. Samara and I have been asked to make our way back to the loading dock and were given a militia escort, with Kuzmich coming along to send us off. The trip was rather uneventful. Militiamen were making their way through the streets in patrols, clearing out any Reds they found. When we got back to the loading dock we saw the bodies had been cleaned up, although the bloodstains still remained. I fell a pang of hatred as I look at the spot where those animals died. Hatred and…remorse. Remorse for not being quicker. For not saving Katya. I shake my head and walk towards the edge of the platform. A rail car sits on the tracks with a young militiamen sitting inside. He tips his hat and yells, “All aboard!”, earning quite a few annoyed glances from surrounding militiamen. I begin to step onto the rail car when I feel a tap on my shoulder. I turn around to see Kuzmich holding out his hand to us. I firmly grasp and shake it, earning a smile from him.
“You guys did a fine job. Damn fine. Keep the gear, you more than earned it. And if you’re ever back in Vladimirskaya, the first rounds on me.”
“Thanks Kuzmich. If you ever need anything, just let us know.”
“Will do, stalker. Will do.”
Kuzmich gives the two of us a crisp salute as we begin climbing in the rail car. The trip back home wouldn’t take long. But for the first time in what seemed like years, we were safe. I close my eyes and sit back. The rail car begins to move, and I begin to feel a slight breeze on my face. I smile slightly and open my eyes. I look over at the militiamen who smiles brightly.
“Next stop, Pushkinskaya Station!”
Part 4: Next Stop, Pushkinskaya Station
The wheels of the railcar clatter and squeak as we make our way back home. The tunnel, a dark and quiet place just a few hours ago, is nearly unrecognizable. The lanterns are now lit, bathing the tunnel in a bright orange glow. Squads of militiamen march in formation towards Vladimirskaya while singing of battles I had never heard of. Members of the Labor Battalion scurry about under constant surveillance. They hang posters and banners along the tunnel walls and carry supplies to the troops. A few of the militiamen salute the railcar as it passes and I return an informal salute back to them. An acrid smell assaults me and I turn around to find the culprit. The door leading to the spiders nest lies open ahead, an orange glow emanating from inside. The rail car slows down slightly as I watch a militiamen armed with a respirator and flamethrower give a thumbs up to another soldier and steps inside. The other militiaman quickly closes the door and takes position close by, giving the railcar a quick nod.
“Looks like we’ll be having roast spider for dinner”, our driver says to the man with a smile, “Hopefully you guys roast enough for seconds!”
Samara looks over at me and I simply shrug. I look back at the tunnels as Samara starts talking to our driver, who seems more than happy to talk to us.
“So, um, I don’t think I ever caught your name” Samara says to the young driver.
“Ah, sorry about that. My name’s Pavel…er Private Pavel Volya, sir! I mean ma’am!”
“Relax Pavel. No need to be so formal. I’m Samara and that quiet guy over there is Dimitri. I don’t think I’ve seen you around Pushkinskaya. Are you from another station?”
“Yes actually! Narvskaya, a fair bit down the line.”
“What’s it like there?”
“Oh it’s a pretty station. Whoever built it sure like hammers and, ah what’s the word, scythles? Cycles?”
“Sickles?” I ask, watching as Labor Battalion members scavenge the material from the now destroyed barricade that blocked us before. The door to the service tunnel lies closed with a soot covered militiaman leaning against it and drinking from a canteen.
“Yeah that’s the one! Anyways those things are all over the place. Lots of fancy stuff on the walls too. I heard some guys from Tekhnologichesky Institut came by when we joined the Commonwealth and took a bunch of old papers and some of the plaques out of there. Something about “Red propaganda”. Didn’t think the Reds were ever at Narvskaya. Anyway, it isn’t a Home Station like Pushkinskaya either, so a lot of people wind up trying to join the Militia there. “Citizenship through service” and all that. Mom said I’d make a better comedian than soldier, but hey, beats shoveling shit or mushroom farming. And pushing the lever on a railcar beats getting thrown at the Reds haha!”
I turn back towards the tunnel. The derailed train car sits beside the tracks. I feel a slight pain in the back of my head. Looking towards the train car I notice little faces looking at me from the windows. A black silhouette sits atop the car, watching the people scrambling around the tunnel. As we pass by the car the silhouette looks at me and I feel a sharp pain at the back of my skull. I close my eyes for a moment, and when I open them both the silhouette and the faces are gone.
“Hey, you all right chuvak? Man, there’s some bad mojo in that place” Pavel says, eyeing the train car.
“Tell me about it” I say quietly.
We arrive at the barricade quickly. It appears much different than when we were here last. The once abandoned fortifications now stand occupied, with members of both the Labor Battalion and Militia bringing supplies and weaponry to them. Militiamen patrol the length of the tunnel and engineers are looking at the barricade and talking amongst themselves. A sharp whistle from up ahead catches my attention and I see Ivan waving from up ahead. He walks back through the gates and steps onto the platform ahead, with us close behind.
“Ladies and gentleman we have arrived at our destination. Please keep your hands and feet inside of the railcar until it comes to a full stop, and make sure to remove all guns and armor from the railcar upon departure. And thank you for being such wonderful passengers on the Pavel Express!”
Samara and I say goodbye to Pavel as we grab our gear and step onto the platform. Ivan looks over at Pavel briefly before turning towards us.
“I’ve been ordered to bring you to Commander Fedorov. He’s pissed.”
“Why?” Samara asks, confused.
“Don’t know. Guessing he’s not happy about your firefight with the Reds. I’ll have some men deliver your gear to your homes. He want’s to see you now.”
“Alright. Best to get it over with.” I say with a sigh.
Pavel gives us a quick tip of his hat and a sympathetic look as we walk away. Samara gives him a wave and I give an informal salute as militiamen grab our gear and he begins traveling back towards Vladimirskaya. The familiar halls of Pushkinskaya are comforting after the veritable hellscape that was Vladimirskaya. We make our way through the bustling hallways towards the Militia HQ. Located in a large room in the Government Sector of the station, the HQ was often times a hectic and busy area. Maps of the metro covered the walls, both hand drawn and pre-apocalypse. Radios are set up to communicate with the rest of the stations in the Commonwealth. Secretaries and staff are constantly analyzing and filling out reports, detailing troop movements, and updating the largest map on the wall with information. Ivan leads us through the scurrying Militia members towards a door in the back of the room. The name “Commander Alexei Fedorov” is painted on the door in red letters. Ivan knocks on the door. A voice from inside calls us in.
The room was fairly spacious. Filing cabinets sat along the wall to the left, some of the drawers missing or askew. Some boxes were sitting on the right side wall as well as an old cooler. A tattered rug with faded patterns lay on the floor in the center of the room. The back wall had a large flag on it. Three bars going horizontally down the flag. The top white, center blue, and bottom red. A black symbol lies in the top left corner. What looks like an x with lines jutting out an the right sides of the lines, slightly below the end. Around it lie a black thin circle. The flag of the Commonwealth. And large desk sit near the back of the room littered with papers and pencils. Two chairs sat in front of it. And an angry man sat behind it. Commander Fedorov
“Sir, Guard Captain Ivan Petrov reporting! Dimitri Koslov and Samara Fedorova have been brought to you as ordered” Ivan says with a crisp salute.
“You are dismissed captain” Commander Fedorov says, his eyes never leaving ours. “You two. Sit.”
Ivan turns and leaves the room, shutting the door behind him. Samara and I take a seat in the chairs and look at Commander Fedorov. His brown eyes look back at us and his face betrays no emotion. Samara begins to squirm in her seat a bit, clearly uncomfortable. After a few minutes Commander Fedorov breaks eye contact and looks down at his desk. He taps a piece of paper a few times before looking back at us.
“I had a very interesting conversation with Vladimirskaya’s quartermaster. A man named Kuzmich. But I suppose I don’t need to tell you that” he says with a steady voice. He picks up the paper and looks down at it. “Lets see here. ‘We found the two of them in a residential area near the loading dock.’ Hmm what else? Ah, here we are. ‘Eliminated Reds at the loading dock.’ This ones my favorite. ‘Took part in a strike team operation to take back the listening post from Red forces.’ Oh and ‘Assisted in holding off an overwhelming amount of Red soldiers at the armory until help arrived.’”
He slowly puts the paper down on his desk and taps in a few more times before looking back at us furiously.
“Would either of you kindly tell me what the fuck you were thinking?! Your orders were to scout the station and find out what the problem was! The moment you saw the Reds on that platform you should have gone back the way you came and reported back to Captain Petrov! Not go running around fighting Reds like you’re goddamn Spetsnaz operatives! Well?! Speak up!”
Samara jumps in her seat, a mix of surprise and fear on her face. I instinctively tense up, my back straightening and my hands clenching tightly. I look into Commander Fedorov’s eyes and he turns his gaze squarely on me.
“Do you have something to say about this Koslov? If so do tell.”
“We didn’t have a choice” I say quietly.
“Speak up Koslov!”
“I said we didn’t have a choice” I nearly shout, “The way we came was a service tunnel infested with spiders. A barricade blocked the tunnel. We couldn’t have gone back even if we wanted too. And the Reds on the platform were raping one of our soldiers. We couldn’t just sit there and watch. We couldn’t go back and we couldn’t sit around. So we had to go into the station. All of it was necessary.”
Samara nodded her head to my response vigorously. Commander Fedorov looked over at his daughter and she froze in place.
“You agree with him?” he asked, tilting his head towards me. “You think taking part in a strike team operation and siege defense was necessary? I expect that kind of stupidity and recklessness from Dimitri, but my own daughter?”
Samara tensed up at that last sentence, her brow slightly furrowing and biting her lower lip hard. After a moment she spoke.
“Y-yes I agree with him” she said in a voice that was both angry and frightened. “What were we supposed to do? They needed our help and we couldn’t get back home! Don’t just blame him for this! I agreed to go too. And if we just sat around or tried to head back like I suggested we would have died. Dimitri wasn’t stupid. He was brave. And he’s why I’m even alive right now.”
I look over with her with wide eyes and an open mouth. I’d never heard her talk back to her father, let alone yell at her. From the Commander’s face it would seem he was equally surprised. Samara continued to look at her father with anger etched on her face. After a moment Commander Fedorov spoke, much more subdued than before.
“It was dangerous. You could have been killed. Both of you could have been killed” he says in a much quieter voice than before. Samara keeps looking at her father, her face softening but with anger still showing.
“Everything down here is dangerous. You don’t need to be fighting Reds to get hurt. I know that plenty well” Samara says, brushing her hair aside and showing the scar on her face. Commander Fedorov looks down at this, slowly raising his eyes but still not meeting hers. “This is my job dad. This is our job. It’s dangerous, yes. But so is everything. And he’s always there to watch over me. Every day. You can’t keep treating the two of us like children.”
Commander Fedorov looks over the both of us for a few moments before lowering his eyes. He sighs quietly, his face looking resigned and tired. Only now do I see the bags under his eyes. He was worried. Probably hadn’t rested since we left. Probably before that. He looks back up at us and speaks softly.
“Kuzmich told me about the spiders nest and the barricade when we spoke the first time. I know you couldn’t come back. And you couldn’t have stayed. I still don’t believe you should have taken part in that strike team mission and defense. But I understand why you did. Samara, you’re my daughter. I never want to see you put in danger. And Dimitri, you’re like a son to me. I don’t want you to get hurt either. Every time I send the two of you back I wonder if I’ll ever see you again. And this assignment could have taken you from me. But I understand that this is your job. And I doubt either of you would stop even if I asked. So the best I can hope for is that the two of you promise me you’ll be careful. Please.”
The two of use look at him with surprise. The anger on Samara’s face is completely gone. “I promise” I say to him, the two of us looking each other in the eye. “I promise too” Samara says, wiping away tears from the corners of her eyes. Commander Fedorov nods slightly at us and straightens the papers on his desk.
“In that case, you’ll probably be assigned a new mission in a few days. Something safer than the last one. Away from Red territory. But for know, you are dismissed. Samara, head to your mother straight away. She’s been worried sick about you. Dimitri, hold back for a second.”
Samara stands up and walks towards the door. She gives the two of us another glance before stepping out and slowly closing the door behind her. I turn back to Commander Fedorov and he looks into my eyes.
“Dimitri, I want you to make me a promise. That you’ll do everything you can to keep Samara safe. It’s a dangerous metro. We both know that. And Samara knows that too. You’re a team out there. You help one another to survive. And to stay sane out there. This mission was dangerous. Risky. But necessary. Rely on one another. I know she’ll do everything she can to get you back home. So you make sure she comes back home.”
“Yes sir. I’ll do everything I can” I say with a nod. I’ll do whatever it takes.
“Good. Thank you. Now, you’re dismissed. No doubt we’ll see one another soon. I’m sure Sonya will want to have you over for dinner before you head out again. Head on home. I’m sure Samara will be over later. Oh, and there’s going to be an event in the market tonight. Can’t tell you what it is but be prepared. I’m sure the Guard will have you and Samara go. Dismissed.”
Part 4: Next Stop, Pushkinskaya Station (b)
I nod and head towards the door, walking back into the Militia Headquarters. Everyone is as busy as ever. I make my way towards the door quickly hoping to escape the sound of machines buzzing and people talking. Once outside I lean against the wall and put my head against it. Getting chewed out and having a heart to heart. What a combination. I wind through the narrow passages, dodging the crowds of people and Labor Battalion workers along the way. Pushkinskaya seems livelier than normal. People talk loudly and with either excitement or fear. The Guardsmen look slightly on edge, looking around frequently or fiddling with their gear. One of them catches my gaze and motions me to move along. I nod and make my way towards my home.
When I finally reach my door a wave of relief flows over me. I take out my keys and open the door. Home sweet closet. I flip on the light switch and the single hanging bulb lights up the room. The drawings and posters still hang on the wall. An old calendar hangs at the foot of my bed, with the current month having a faded picture of some place called Leningrad. A large bolded “November 1984” sits on bottom half of the calendar, above a bunch of boxes with other numbers in them. I look at my bed and see my gear placed neatly on my bed. A note sits on top of the armored vest. I pick it up and read it, smiling slightly at its contents.
“Hope the Commander didn’t bust your balls too hard kid. He’s got a way with words. You’re gear is all here, as well as a few other odds and ends your friend from Vladimirskaya had the boys put in the railcar for you. Also, hope Pavel didn’t talk your ear off. Damn comedian likes to run his mouth. Anyway, enjoy the gear and goods.
I sit on the bed and begin sorting through my gear. I pick up my old rifle and pull the bolt back making sure it’s clear. I then hang it on a long nail protruding out of the wall. Finally getting some use out of that thing. I then place my old helmet under my bed and place my backpack and armor against the wall. I hang my jacket on my makeshift coat rack and put my new helmet on top. The kalash is placed against wall right next to my bed, loaded but with the safety on. Excess magazines are tossed into the box of ammunition lying next to my desk. With that out of the way I turn my attention to a good size wooden crate sitting next to my bed. A note is nailed to it:
“From Vladimirskaya with love!”
I smile at the note and put to on my desk, planning to hang it on the wall later. I open the crate and look inside of it and am caught off guard by the contents. Ammunition, food, water, some money and even a pistol. A neatly folded Militia jacket sits neatly folded inside with a white armband sitting on top. But by far the most curious item was a potted plant. I carefully took it out and examined its green leaves stems. Little white flower buds sit on the stems. I carefully pick it up and clear a corner of my desk before gently placing it back down. Never had one of these plants before. Not really sure what to do for it. Or what it wants from me. I carefully rotate the plant, examining it carefully but not getting too close. Hesitantly, I poke one of the leaves and quickly draw back my hand. No pain or numbness occurs in my finger. Well, not poisonous at least. I turn my attention to the other contents of the crate, putting the items in their new areas and sometimes finding new items I hadn’t seen the first time. Like two grenades wrapped in cloth. Good thing they didn’t throw this crate around too much. After everything was finally put away I take a seat at my desk and open the drawer. I take out a small picture of a women in her mid 20’s with flowing brown hair and kind eyes. Her lips are curled in a smile as she looks at the camera.
“Hey mom. I hope you’re doing well. Wherever you are. We had a close call on our last assignment. Even fought some Reds and saved a station. But I don’t know. I don’t know if this would make you proud. Or if you’re proud of me at all. The headaches are getting worse. So are the visions. I almost couldn’t take it on this last mission. It was too much. But Samara saved me. Maybe you remember her. I don’t know if you do. Anyway, her father gave us an earful when we got back to the station. But it ended up being okay. I guess that’s all really. I wish I could hear how your day was. Or just hear you. But I hope your world is better than mine. Wherever that world is. Bye mom.”
I put the picture back in the drawer and put my head on my desk. I look over at the plant and stare at it. “So, what do you want? Water? Something else? Talk to me. Somebody here talk to me. Why are you all so quiet? Why is it the only fucking voice I hear in my head the one that hurts me? Talk to me, anybody! Please, just talk to me.” Tears begin to form in my eyes and drop down on to the desk.
I hear a scraping sound on the door and a rattling of keys outside my door. The lock turns and the door opens quickly. I don’t even lift my head up. Not like it could be anyone but her. I lift my eyes up for a second and see Samara in the doorway. I put my eyes back towards the plant as she begins to talk.
“Whats wrong? I heard yelling. Are you hurt? Why’s your head down? Are you upset? Can I help you? How can I help you?” She asks each question in quick succession while making her way next to me. She lightly grips my shoulder and starts looking on me for signs of injury. Apparently satisfied that I’m not at immediate risk of dying she takes a spot next to me. “Can we move to the bed please. Is that alright?” she asks softly. I pick my head up and make my way to the bed with her right behind me. I sit down on my makeshift bed and place my head against the wall. Samara takes a seat right next to me and touches my back, looking at me for any signs she’s overstepped her bounds. When none is shown she begins to rub it slowly, her body slightly turned towards me. I feel a sense of calm wash over me. Warmth. Something else I can’t put my finger on. I reach my hand over and touch hers and she quickly holds onto it.
“Can you tell me whats wrong? Please?” Samara asks softly. I sit there for a second, not sure what to say. Finally I open my mouth.
“I feel like in a station full of people I’m alone. I walk down the halls and nobody spares a greeting or a glance. I sit here in this room and there’s nothing. Monotonous activities and monotonous nights. I barely sleep anymore. Every time I sleep it talks to me. Every shadow looks like it. Every time I close my eyes I feel like they might never open again. And I don’t want them to open again. And the only one who seems to truly care is you. It’s all to much.”
Samara rests her head on my shoulder and wraps me into a hug. We rock back and forth and she closes her eyes. “It sounds like too much. You’re tired and these voices and visions are hurting you. I don’t know what to do about them. I pray but they still happen. I don’t know what’s causing them. Lack of sleep hasn’t caused them, they caused your lack of sleep. But you are right. I do care about you. So much. I…care about you” She says the last part quieter than the rest with a barely noticeable pause. “And you aren’t alone because I’m here. And I’ll be here as long as you need me to be. Even if you, you know, want me to stay over here or something.” I look down at her and notice the blush on her face. I place my head back against the wall. “That would be nice” I say quietly and feel myself starting to drift to sleep.
Banging on my door makes us both sit up quickly. “Pushkinskaya Guard. Open the door.” I look over at Samara for a moment then make my way over to the door. I unlock it and open the door a crack, seeing a familiar Guardsman standing outside. I step back and open the door the rest of the way and the Guardsman steps forward. “Hey Dimitri, everyone not working is to report to the market.” He looks behind me and sees Samara sitting on the bed. “Sorry man, didn’t mean to get you two out of bed. But I have my orders. Both of you report to the market. You can pick up where you left off when it’s finished.” He tips his hat and walks away. I look over at Samara and see her furiously blushing and looking down. “Guess we should get to the market” I say. She nods and makes her way out the door behind me.
There is a good amount of traffic heading towards the market. And just as many leaving it. Shoppers, Labor Battalion, stall workers, and children all stream out of the market as we head in. The market isn’t as crowded as it would seem with most of the working people having left the market. What is odd is the platform sitting in the center of the market. About three feet tall and with a metal beam about five feet tall and ten feet long protruding from it. Two Commonwealth flags sit on the platform, one on the left end and one on the right. Two guardsman carry a small stair set and put it on the right side of the platform. The majority of the crowd gives confused murmurs while a few older people are stone faced. A man in a Guard Captains uniform makes his way up the small set of stairs and walks to the center of the platform. He raises his hand and the crowed slowly quiets down. I look at Samara next to me and she moves a bit closer to me. “What’s going on?” she whispers. “I don’t know but I think we’re about to find out” I whisper back.
“Ladies and gentleman, good citizens of the Commonwealth. As you all know, we are in a time of strife. War between the mutant Reds and our brave soldiers rages in the eastern stations. Vladimirskaya was almost lost to the mutants. Only the bravery of their soldiers and the work of two of our stations fine Pathfinders managed to hold off the mutants until our men could arrive. But this was but a battle in the bigger war. The Reds still control many stations. All of the Commonwealth must be united if we are to defeat this enemy. We cannot tolerate dissidents and subversive elements! We will stand united and crush the Reds like the parasites they are! Slava!”
“Slava! Slava! Slava!” the crowd roars in unison, outstretching their arms from their chest during every cry. Instinctively Samara and I do the same, holding our clenched fists over our hearts before straightening our arms at an angle and holding our hands out straight.
“Yes, the good citizens of Pushkinskaya will always be loyal to our great Commonwealth, for we formed it with our blood and sweat. But there are those who wish to destroy our nation, both with weapons and words. Four of them are here today. Bring them to the stage!”
Samara and I look to the right as four people are brought towards the platform with bound hands and at gunpoint. Cloth gags are in there mouths, likely to keep them from speaking. They slowly walk to the stage and line up underneath the metal bar. Samara tugs at my hand and points to the stage. “Look, its that preacher guy. And Chernov. What are they doing here?” she whispers to me. I simply shrug and look back at the stage. Two other people stand up there with them. One looks odd, with thin eyes and darker skin than the rest of us. The other couldn’t be older than 12. Tears stream down his face and a piece of red cloth is wrapped around his arm. The Captain looks at them briefly and turns back to us.
“These four individuals have attempted to harm our great nation either through physical or subversive means. They are parasites, the lot of them.” He walks to the monk first. “This one has attempted to spread lies and subversive information in our great stations halls and markets. His ramblings are those of an unrepentant madman. Any who may have been influenced by his lies are worse off for it. This man is a parasite.” He walks up to Chernov next. “This one has attempted to harm citizens of this great station through assault and petty theft. Our governments mercy game him another chance in the Labor Battalion. And despite being granted this mercy he once again assaulted two citizens of this great station. This man is a parasite.” He moves on to the odd looking man. “This one attempted to enter our great station illegally. His inferior genetics and primitive culture threaten to sully our women and pass on inferior genetics to the next generation of citizens. The safety and purity of our women and children are the highest concern. We can not allow primitives to taint them as this one no doubt planned to do. This man is a parasite.” Finally he walks to the child at the end. “This one is a Red. He was caught trying to escape Vladimirskaya with other Reds. He was the only one who surrendered. Not only is this individual an enemy of the state, a danger to our great nation, a subversive element, and a mutant. He is also a coward, unbefitting of either pity or mercy. This boy is a parasite.”
Samara grabs my hand and squeezes it tightly as four Guardsmen step onto the stage carrying ropes. They toss the ropes over the bar, giving a clear view of the noose at the end. Another four Guardsman then place the noose around each mans neck before taking their place next to the one holding the rope. Tears run down the faces of the child and odd looking one. Chernov eyes the crowd with utter hatred. And the preacher looks almost serene. The Captain looks back at the prisoners for a moment before returning his gaze to the crowd.
“These four individuals are nothing more than parasites eating away at our great nation. And like all parasites, they can’t change their nature. They lack the ability to help or improve our station and our nation as a whole. There is only one cure for a parasite. So we can only do one thing. Kill the parasite.”
Part 4: Next Stop, Pushkinskaya Station (c)
With that he turns towards the Guardsmen and gives them a nod. The Guardsman pull the ropes slowly until the men hang about two feet off the ground. They then tie the bottom of the rope to a loop at the back of the platform and step back. Samara looks away, tightening her grip on my hand even harder. I continue to stare at the bodies dangling from the ropes emotionlessly. Members of the crowd scream and jeer at the hanging men. Others are giving a salute, shouting “Slava” as they watch them hang. The guards in front of the crowed stand unmoving and expressionless, facing the crowd with little emotion. The hanging men writhe in the air with bulging eyes and a panicked expression. Tears stream down some of their faces and a few of them empty their bladders and bowels judging by the smell. After some time the writhing stops and their eyes roll back. They gently sway back and forth, their limbs dangling loosely in the air. The Captain makes his way back to the center of the platform and raises his hand, the noise from the crowd dying down quickly.
“These parasites could not help what they are. But Pushkinskaya, and indeed the entire Commonwealth, will not tolerate their existence in our stations and nation. All of us must play our part in combating these. As long as Pushkinskaya remains united, we will never fall victim to these parasites” he says the last part while pointing at the hanging men, “We will not fall. We will not falter. We will be victorious. Glory to Pushinskaya, and glory to our great Commonwealth! Slava!”
The crowd once again salutes in unison, shouting “Slava” towards the platform. I spare a glance at Samara and see her saluting. But the vigor is gone from it, her eyes looking towards the ground. Once the saluting was finished the two of us make our way out of the market. Samara continues to look at her feet during the walk, the two of us staying silent. Once we got back to my home I unlocked the door quickly and opened it wide. I open my mouth to ask Samara if she wants to come in but she walks into my home before I could speak. She makes her way over to the bed and sits down, still looking down at her feet. I close the door slowly and lock it. After a moment looking at her I begin to slowly move towards the bed. I carefully sit down about a foot away from her, unsure of what I should do. I start clenching and unclenching my hands and look down too while occasionally taking a quick glance at her. We sat silently for a few minutes before she starts to speak.
“They hung those people. And everyone cheered. They watched a child have the life slowly drained from him. And they cheered” she says, sadness dripping from each word.
“Yeah” I say quietly, unsure how to respond.
“I just stood there. I didn’t say a thing. I just stood by as people died. People we knew. What’s happened to us? All of us down here? Is this truly what we are now? Murderers, rapists, thieves. Where does it end?” she says while still looking down at her feet.
I don’t know what to say. Maybe there’s nothing I can say. I slide next to her and tentatively put my hand on her back, remembering what she did for me. I begin to rub her back awkwardly but she doesn’t seem to mind. She closes her eyes and puts her head on my shoulder, sliding a bit closer to me until we’re touching. I freeze for a moment before starting to awkwardly rubbing her back again. We sit like that for what feels like hours. Not talking but just sitting together. I feel her breathing begin to slow and her eyes begin to open. She looks at me for a few moments, her blue eyes looking into mine with an expression I can’t discern. She’s given the look to me a few times though.
“Thank you,” she says quietly with a slight smile on her lips, “Sometimes I feel like we’re the only sane people here” she states with a short and joyless laugh. I look at her a bit surprised. She thinks I’m sane? The guy who hallucinates and hears voices in his head? And who begs a plant to talk to him? I shake the thought away and look at her. I find comfort in seeing the smile on her face, however small it might be. After a moment she breaks eye contact, a slight pink color on her cheeks.
“So, did you name him?” she asks while looking at my desk.
“Name who?” I ask confused.
“Your plant. Every plant needs a good name. So what are you going to name him?”
“I don’t know,” I say with a slight shrug. “Plant I guess.”
“That is the saddest name for a plant I’ve ever heard. Okay, I’ll help. What about Paul. Like the apostle? He was probably the second most important person in the church’s history.”
“Seems a bit plain don’t you think? Paul the plant. Doesn’t really sound right.”
“Well, what about Alexander? Like Saint Alexander Nevsky. He was a Russian hero.”
“We’ll keep that in the ‘maybe’ pile.”
She sighs slightly. “Okay, Lazarus. Like Lazarus of Bethany. He rose from the dead four days after his death due to a miracle being performed.”
My eyes go wide at this. “Hold on. There was somebody named Lazarus? And he rose from the dead? Like, dead dead?”
Samara gives me a small smile, seeming happy with my excitement. “Yes there was. Do you like that name?”
“Yeah I like it! Lazarus already sounds great. But naming it after a guy who did that? That’s awesome.”
“Well I guess his name is Lazarus then. Maybe we can borrow something to write his name on the pot.”
I look at the plant and give a slight nod. Samara begins to stand up and I do the same. She looks at me and wraps her arms around my neck and pulls me into a tight hug. I instinctively tense up, my body still not sure how to respond despite the fact that getting hugs from her and her mother is a fairly regular occurrence. After a moment she breaks away from the hug and gives me a small smile.
“So, um, do you still want me to stay over tonight? I have this old cot at home that I can bring over. We don’t ever use it anyway. If we move your desk a bit it could probably fit right next to your bed. You could even keep it here if you want. That way you won’t fall out of your bed if you roll over. But I guess if you don’t want me to stay then all that talking was kind of pointless. Or not. I can still bring the cot over I guess. So, um, yeah. It’s up to you. I’ll do anything you want. With the sleeping over here or not I mean. So, um, please answer before I ramble more.”
I’m taken a bit aback by the speed of the words coming out of her mouth. After a moment to process everything I slowly begin to speak. “I’d like you to stay tonight if you’d be so kind. I think we both need some time where we aren’t alone. I’ll get everything in order here while you go get your cot and stuff. Or I can help you if you want. It’s up to you.”
Her eyes seem to light up while also looking a bit surprised. After a moment she smiles. “No, that’s okay. I’ll get the stuff and be right back. I’ll have to tell mom where I’m going too. I don’t think she’ll mind. So, okay. I’ll be back soon.”
“And I’ll be here” I say with a small smile. Damnit. Her smile is infectious or something. Have to get vaccinated. She smiles and unlocks the door with her keys and heads out. I begin to move the desk a foot or two to the right, being careful not to knock Lazarus on his side. I move the kalash next to my coat rack. I place the box of ammunition underneath my desk and shuffle a few boxes around to make the room a bit more presentable. Finally, I take my jeans and shirt off, replacing them with a fairly large long sleeved shirt and a pair of faded and slightly worn out pajama bottoms. I sit down on my bed, absentmindedly looking at the various decorations on the walls. A light knock on the door brings me back into focus. I make my way over to the door quickly and open it. I’m greeted with a cot standing up vertically speaking in Samara’s voice.
“Hey Dimitri. I brought the cot. It was kind of hard to walk around with it. So, do you think you can give me a hand with this?”
The cot slowly moves backwards and I step out of the doorway. Samara is standing behind the cot with a small smile and shakes the cot a bit side to side.
“So, how are we going to get this inside?” Samara asks, looking like a person trying to solve a particularly complex puzzle.
“We’ll figure it out” I say slowly, eyeing up the cot as well.
After a fair bit of maneuvering, and a good amount of frustration, we managed to set the cot up next to my bed. It was a tight fit, but it fit nonetheless. Samara scratched her forehead a bit and said she’d be right back. I got out a few bits of food and put it on the desk next to the cot. I then took a seat on the cot, testing its strength and seeing how it felt. It was sturdy despite it’s age. Well made. It was a bit lacking in comfort though. At least compared to the padded bench I slept on. But it was nice nonetheless. There’s a slight knock on the door and the handle turns and opens. Samara is standing there with a large blanket and a pattern covered pillow I recognize as being from her bed. She puts the blanket and the pillow down on the cot and takes a seat.
“So, what should we do first? It will be a bit before we should go to sleep. So we can do some fun stuff until then. Like when we used to have sleepovers when we were kids. Remember those?”
“I remember your bed being bigger than mine is” I say with a smile, earning a slight roll of the eyes from Samara. “How about we eat a bit. I already have some stuff on the desk.”
“That sounds great” Samara says.
The two of us went on to eat the little bits of food I had on the desk. We talked to one another, from good memories like our sleepovers when we were young, to bad memories like past assignments that went wrong. I played my balalaika and she sat crosslegged, watching my hands intently. I gave her the instrument and let her play a bit. It produced some…interesting noises. Finally, the two of us started to yawn and decided to go to bed for the night.
“Are you sure you wouldn’t rather sleep in my bed?” I ask Samara for about the third time.
“Yes I’m sure. Now lay down and put your blanket on.”
“What blanket?” I asked while lying down causing Samara’s eyes go wide.
“Wait, you don’t have a blanket?” she asks seemingly appalled at my lack of adequate bed coverings. I simply shake my head. “I mean, I never saw you use one. But I always just assumed you put it away somewhere.” she says with genuine worry in her voice. “Where would I put it away in here? Not a whole lot of room for me to hide it from you” I say with a shrug. But Samara doesn’t seem to hear it. “No, this won’t do. What if you get sick? And there’s no way that would be comfortable” she seems to be saying more to herself then to me. “Okay, we’re sharing the blanket tonight. It’ll be big enough for us both. Then tomorrow morning we’re going to the market and buying you a blanket. A nice one.” She nods to herself, seemingly deciding for the both of us that this will happen. I sigh and don’t try to protest or argue. She always ends up winning them.
Samara picks up the blanket and drapes it over me, looking at me to no doubt ensure I don’t try to take it off. She gives an approving nod before making her way to the light switch and turning it off. The room is plunged into complete darkness. I listen to Samara’s feet slowly make their way over to the cot before lying down in it. She adjusts her pillow and places the blanket over her body. I hear her say a quick prayer and then lies on her side facing me.
“Good night Dimitri” Samara whispers next to me.
“Good night Samara” I whisper back.
I feel her shift a bit closer to me. I listen to her breathing, finding it to be surprisingly soothing. For once I feel comfortable on this bed. Happy almost. I close my eyes and drift into darkness with a smile on my face.
Mythical Birds and Foreign Traditions (Thanksgiving Special)
The soft humming of the light and the distant sounds of music fill my ears. Cloth runs against smooth wood and cold metal, and a faint smell of oil fills my nostrils. I pull the the charging handle back once, twice, three times before releasing it and listening to it slide back into place with a satisfying snap. I put the Kalash to the side and pick up a few magazines as well as a bucket of ammunition, absentmindedly reloading them and placing them into a neat stack. A light knock at the door brings me back into reality. I slowly stand up running my hand over the handle of the blade on my waist and make my way to the door. Another knock, this time slightly louder, comes from the door just as I open it. The person jumps slightly with their hand still raised.
“Oh, Dimitri! I wasn’t sure you were home. I’m so happy you are though. I have something exciting to show you! Can I come in?”
Samara Federov. Who else would it be? I take my hand off of my knife and step aside, allowing her to walk into my small home. Well, more like a small room with minor furnishings. Stone walls with a few scattered posters and drawings. A desk with books and papers strewn about with a potted plant sitting on in it. An old bench seat scavenged from one of the derelict train cars serving as a bed. And several small boxes and bags filled with various odds and ends. A lone lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. Home sweet home.
“You know, we really need to get this place decorated for Christmas. It’s only a little over a month away you know”, Samara says while looking around. “Put some colored lights up along the walls, maybe hang some decorations from the ceiling. Oh, maybe we can even put some ornaments on Lazarus!”
I look over at the potted plant on my desk and try to imagine it with ornaments. I shake my head slightly and look at Samara, unwilling or unable to curb her enthusiasm.
“Maybe later,” I say carefully, “But didn’t you say you wanted to show me something?”
“Huh? Oh right! Sorry, Christmas time is just so exciting. Okay, have you ever heard of the holiday Thanksgiving?”
“No.” I say after a bit of thought.
“I didn’t think so. Nobody else has. But I found this book, see,” she says, taking out a book. The cover has two groups of oddly dressed people eating some strange food on it. “It talks about a holiday they celebrated in America. These two groups on the front were apparently the ones who started it. And families would all come together and eat a ton of food like potatoes that were hit with a hammer, brown sauce…stuff, gelatinous red stuff made from something called a cranberry, and turkey.”
“What’s a turkey?” I ask with interest.
“It’s apparently some kind of big bird that walked on the ground.”
“Like a bat? They have big, walking land bats on the surface? No wonder we aren’t allowed up there.”
“Well, apparently they would kill them and then…um…stuff their backsides with food before cooking it.”
“That sounds barbaric!” I say, slightly taken aback.
“Well, apparently it was tasty. Anyways, Thanksgiving is apparently celebrated on the last Thursday of November. Which means we missed it! But only by a week. So I was thinking that we could celebrate Thanksgiving today. You, me, and mom. Wouldn’t that be fun?”
I look at Samara’s smiling face and I sigh. Arguing would be pointless. She’s already made up her mind. After telling her it sounded like a wonderful idea we agreed to go to the market to try to find some food for our Thanksgiving feast. I stood up and grabbed my old army jacket and ushanka. After putting them on Samara and I walked out of the door and began making our way to the market.
The Labor Battalion was busy scurrying around the hallways under supervision of a few guardsman. They were carrying boxes filled with decorations and ornamentation as well as various posters and banners. They were stacking them along the side of the hallway before heading off to the storage rooms to get more. I look inside one of the boxes against the wall and see coiled strands of Christmas lights and garland. Two guardsman are talking among themselves at the entrance to the market.
“Did you hear? The boss says they’ve gone all out this year for the holidays. They’re even going to set up a big tree in the market. Light it all up nice,” the first guard says.
“Where the hell are they going to get a tree?”
“Oleg said they were making it. Out of wood and metal. Then they’ll paint it green.”
“Ah, what the hell does Oleg know? I just hope we finally get the day off this year. Damn war has us stretched thin. I’d like to spend the day with my wife.”
“Yeah, so would I.”
The two guardsman laugh as we pass by. The market is as bust as ever, with stalls and stands pack to the brim with all number of goods. Shops selling trinkets and toys are much busier than usual, while the shops selling food are sparsely occupied. People are buying gifts for their families, and the market seems a bit happier than usual. I look over at Samara who appears to be eyeing the various food stalls, squinting her eyes in concentration. I clear my throat slightly and she jumps.
“So, what’s the first thing on the list?” I ask.
“Well, I’m guessing potatoes would be the easiest to find. They usually have some at Babushka’s Pantry.”
We make our way over to Babushka’s Pantry. Assorted jars, boxes, and cans filled with produce sit on the counter of the shop. A sign sit’s above it with “Babushka’s Pantry” painted on it in simple lettering. A kindly looking old lady, Babushka, sits behind the counter on an old wooden chair. When Babushka see’s us she smiles warmly and stands up.
“Samara my dear, how good to see you. And Dimitri too, my, what a pleasant surprise. What can I help you two with today?”
“We were hoping you had some potatoes ma’am.” I say politely, garnering an amused smile from Babushka.
“Always so polite. Why yes, some potatoes actually just got here from Tekhnologichesky Institut today. I’d be more than happy to sell you some.”
“Thank you very much. We’ll take three please.” Samara says with a smile.
“Ah of course. And because you’ve been such polite young folks, you can have a fourth one on me. What do you say?”
“Thank you so much. God bless you.” Samara says shocked.
“And you as well dear. Now run along, I know how busy you young people are.”
The two of us take the potatoes and make our way to a fairly calm area of the market.
“Okay, we need to get the next item. Hmm, I don’t think they’ll have any turkeys down here. But we can get some pork. It’s probably just as good. I think we can get some from there, “The Scullery”.” Samara says.
We make our way over to a small store a bit away from the last one. Fresh and dried meats are displayed on the counter. A sign hangs above the counter with the words “The Scullery” painted elegantly on it. Another smaller sign sits next to it, reserving the right to refuse service to customers for any reason. I look behind the counter and see an elegant looking red haired woman looking at the crowd with a bored expression on her face. When she see’s us walk up to the counter she raises an eyebrow before standing up straight and forcing a smile.
“Welcome to “The Scullery”. Is there something I can help you with? Since my employees are apparently worthless and can’t be bothered to do even show up to work, let alone do what I ask?”
Samara and I are both taken aback a bit. The woman maintains her smile, but her eyes seem to be daring us to say something wrong. Samara is the first one to speak.
“U-um, we were hoping to get some pork, if that’s okay with you.”
The woman eyes soften and she seems to relax a bit.
“Sure, I’ll get right on it. How much do you need?”
“I guess about two pounds? Please.”
The woman nods her head and after giving her the money, begins skillfully cutting the meat with a large knife. Seeing this woman brandishing a knife sends chills down my spine. I really don’t want to get on her bad side. After chopping up the meat she wraps it up and hands it to us. Samara and I both thank her as a begins yelling outside of her store. The woman sighs and begins walking out back towards the child and the two of us leave quickly before things escalate.
The two of us make our way back to Samara’s home. It used to be an old office and if fairly large by station standards. Homemade Christmas decorations already hang outside of the house. A guardsman is stationed nearby, nodding to Samara and staring at me as we make our way to the door. Samara knocks on the door lightly, and a woman’s voice can be heard saying “Coming!” from inside. I hear the door unlocking and soon afterwards it swings open and a woman in her mid 30’s stands in the doorway.
Sonya Federov, Samara’s mother. The two look strikingly similar, down to the red hair, freckles, and even the same height. She makes a noise that sounds somewhere between a gasp and a squeal when she see’s me, quickly pulling me into a tight hug. I instantly tense up, becoming rigid as Mrs. Federov slightly sways from side to side while hugging me.
“Dimitri, it’s so good to see you! Ah, I’m so happy you’re here!” She slowly releases me with a beaming smile. “Please find a seat! Oh, look at this mess. I can’t imagine what you must think about us, haha. We’ve been trying to get all the Christmas decorations set up, but between you and Samara doing errands and my husband busy all the time it’s been slow going. But, enough about me, what about you? Samara said you were getting the supplies for this holiday thing?”
“She already told you?” I ask, somewhat surprised.
“Oh yes, I’m rather excited actually. I’ve done my best to make what Samara was asking for. I’ve made the brown sauce with meat drippings and I wasn’t sure how to make the red cranberry sauce without cranberries so I just did what I could with mushrooms. Now that you guys are back I can begin cooking the pork and potatoes.”
I nod to her as I feel my stomach growling at the thought of a good meal. I look around briefly as Sonya starts preparing the potatoes and meat under Samara’s supervision. Contrary to what she had said, the house was hardly a mess. A few boxes were scattered about, filled with decorations and the like, but both the floors and walls were very clean. To the left of the doorway was a small living area. I walk over there and take a look around. There is a small and worn couch with a table next to it. A small record player sits on the table, quietly playing an upbeat Christmas song. Some framed posters sit on the wall, along with a tricolor flag. White, blue, and red stripes going horizontally. A small kitchen area sits on the opposite side of the living area. Sonya and Samara are happily chatting while cooking over there. A small eating area sits near to the kitchen with four chairs and a simple table for eating. Parallel to the doorway is a new addition. Wooden walls split the one large room into three, with doorways leading to Samara and her parents rooms.
I decide to make my way over to Samara and her mother, offering to help out however I can. Sonya asks me to set the table, directing me to some silverware, well, tin eating utensils, and plates. I place them down around the table and make my way back to the kitchen. The food smells wonderful, and the rumbling in my stomach is a reminder that I haven’t eaten yet today. I begin taking the food to the table with Samara, putting some on the plates and then bringing the dish back to the kitchen to save room. Finally all the food is on the plates and the three of us sit at the table together.
“So, I guess I’ll say grace.” Samara says, looking around at us. Samara and Sonya close their eyes and clasp their hands together, reciting the prayer I’ve heard so many times during meals with Samara. While I don’t take part, I sit patiently for them to finish, watching as Samara finishes the prayer and makes the sign of the cross. I pick up my utensils, ready to eat, when I hear Samara softly clear her throat. I look up and see both her and Sonya looking at me and I begin to feel extremely self conscious.
“What?” I ask with genuine confusion.
“It’s Thanksgiving. We have to all say what we are thankful for before we eat.” Samara says as Sonya nods slowly. I put my utensils down and they both nod.
“Well I am thankful that you two are both here with me. That you are both alive and well. And I’m thankful for the metro, and all it does to protect us from the surface. And I’m even thankful for my husband, as busy and stubborn as he is.” Sonya says before gesturing towards Samara.
“I’m thankful for my family. And I’m thankful for Dimitri too. I’m thankful that no matter how bad it might get, I have my best friend looking out for me. And I’m thankful for God and all of his gifts.” Samara says with a smile before nodding towards me.
I think for a moment. “I’m thankful that there are those who think of me as somebody who matters. I’m thankful that there are those who care whether I live or die. And I’m thankful for all that you have done for me. You’ve done more than I think you truly know.”
Samara’s cheeks turn a slight shade of red and Sonya’s eyes begin to tear up. “That was beautiful,” Sonya says quietly. I shrug slightly and pick up my utensils and begin to eat.
Everything was wonderful. The pork and potatoes were fantastic and the mushrooms were cooked just right. The brown sauce that Sonya made was delicious, and she was extremely excited to hear it. Samara looked like she could hardly lift her fork and Sonya looked the same. I, on the other hand, felt good. Like I had just eaten a proper meal for the first time in weeks. That might actually be the case, I thought to myself.
After cleaning up the table and enduring another round of hugs from Samara’s mother I went to make my leave. Samara made her way over to me and stopped me at the door. She seemed to stare at me for a few seconds before giving me a light hug.
“Thank you for helping me with this. It means a lot.” She said softly before releasing me.
“Yeah, it was a lot of fun. I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t get to eat a land bat, but that’s alright. We should do it again next year.”
“Haha, that sounds great. And I’ll be at your place bright and early tomorrow. We need to get that place, and you, into the Christmas spirit!”
I let out an audible groan, garnering a laugh from Samara and her mother. I make my way out the door and begin the walk back to my home.
Stories of mythical birds and foreign traditions. What a day.
(This was just a short Colored Lines combat scene I wrote then wound up deleting from the forum. No fancy name for it, I'm afraid.)
My vision goes blurry and I can’t hear a thing. Something heavy lies on my chest, unmoving and sharp. I push upwards against the object lying atop me and finally manage to push the heavy weight to the side. My vision begins to clear and a light above me becomes the focus of my attention. It sways back and forth gently, glowing a soft orange that flickers in my view. A lantern soon comes into focus, moving back and forth from a long piece of wire tied to the ceiling.
I slowly sit up and look at my hands. My gloves are torn and covered with burns and dirt. Blood covers the front of my jacket, staining the camouflage a dark red. I look to my right, towards what lay on my chest moments ago, and identify the cause of the weight. A body lies to my right with a pool of blood slowly growing beneath it. It wears a camouflage jacket like I do albeit horribly torn and bloody. The white armband on it’s bicep is stained red with blood. As my vision clears further I notice the nails. Dozens of nails, long and short, stick out of the body. Like a grotesque pincushion it lies there, mangled and bloody, flesh torn, and face unrecognizable. I look down the body and see shredded meat where it’s right leg should be. Hands gripping my shoulders shakes me out of my inspection of the corpse beside me and I feel myself being dragged further into the tunnel.
I look up and see a young woman in a Militia uniform staring down the tunnel while her mouth moves in silent speech. She looks down at me briefly and I notice the white cross on her helmet, paint chipped and dirtied with use. Suddenly we stop and I look around me. Other men and women sit along the tunnel walls. Many have bloody rags tied around parts of their bodies while others sit unmoving with their heads and arms hanging limply. And others have their mouths open and eyes closed as nails and metal are pulled from their bodies. The young medic kneels down and looks at my face. My jacket is ripped open and she feels across my chest and down my arms and legs. She looks to the side and shouts something that sounds muffled and unintelligible to a man standing off to the side. He makes his way quickly over to us and grabs my jacket by the shoulders and lifts me up against the wall. A helmet is placed on my head and he smacks the side of it twice. He then takes the rifle off of his shoulder and places it in my hands, shouting something that almost sounds like he’s speaking through a thick wall. He turns me towards the tunnel and gives me a push.
I stumble briefly, almost losing my balance and my grip on the rifle. After regaining my footing I begin to walk forward slowly down the tunnel. Sounds reach my ears, growing in intensity and clearness. Cracking sounds of various intensity and length reverberate through the tunnels. Yelling and pained screams are occasionally drowned out by a large banging noise, only to begin again shortly after. As I continue my slow march forward, each step becoming straighter and quicker, I pass by many bodies. Some lie still and limp, others writhe on the ground, and a few more are attempting to crawl towards me or down the tunnel. The sounds in my ears have grown much louder, and I can hear and understand the words being shouted up ahead of me. A barricade, the barricade I was defending, the barricade where I was blown away from, lies a few yards ahead of me. One of the men notices me and begins to motion me forward. I begin to jog towards the barricade, DShK fire pounding against my eardrums. As I climb up the stairs to the upper level of the barricade I take a moment to look through the small gaps in the metal at what lies beyond.
Bodies lie strewn on the ground wearing different uniforms. Some wear simple clothing while others wear uniforms and armor. A few even wear full suits of scrap metal armor. But all wear a red band around their bicep. More bodies, moving this time, dart from piles of rubble and makeshift defenses. Flashes of light come from their positions as do loud cracks and bangs. A pang against the metal makes me jump and I stick my rifle through the opening and fire a quick shot at nobody in particular. Still, I see a man drop although I’m not sure whether that was my work or the work of the numerous other men on the barricade. I continue to make my way towards the one who gestured to me. One of the men stands up and fires over the side of the barricade. Suddenly, the firing stops as a long nail embeds itself through his eye and his body goes limp, falling from the barricade walls. I finally make my way to the man who gestured towards me and see him smile.
“Hey man,” he says, quickly standing up to fire a round over the barricade. As he kneels back down I begin to stand up to do the same. “glad you’re o-“
(I was and still am plagued by very...interesting nightmares. This was one I decided to write down.)
I feel a throbbing in the back of my skull. Constant and rhythmic, like the ticking of a clock. It causes me no pain or discomfort. No, such a feeling is familiar. Something to ground me. A constant in this world. I reach my hand towards the back of my skull, feeling the familiar bulge underneath my skin squirm and writhe. After giving a final prod I look at my hands. Bloody and flayed, wrapped in tattered rags. Little insects gnaw at them, crawling in and out of the open wounds. My body is no different. Flesh held in place by scraps of patterned cloth. Dried blood cakes my pale skin, pus and insects emerge from open sores, and my bare feet are black with filth.
The world around me is ever changing. But some things are always the same. The sky remains a sickly orange with dark clouds moving at unnatural speeds. The sun always stays in the same place. I look around at my current surroundings. Red sand covers the ground and is blown around in the wind. Tall spires of black rock are peppered across the landscape. They twist and turn in unnatural formations before ending in a flat surface. Shadowy figures sit atop the spires huddled around tiny fires and letting out animalistic cries. A tall tree sits in the distance, its branches pale and white like sun bleached bones. Bodies wrapped in cloth hang from its limbs as birds perch on their shoulders and peck at their heads. They twist and writhe in panic, unable to free themselves from their torment.
As I watch the bodies a scurrying sound comes from behind me. Before I have a chance to turn around something large jumps on my back. Landing on my stomach with a thud I feel a pair of hands pin my wrists to the ground. I begin to panic, listening to the clicks and buzzing coming from my unknown assailant. I look at the hands pinning me to the ground. Long fingers ending in long yellow nails grip my wrist. The skin on the creatures arm was black, almost charred in appearance, with skin bulging and shifting as though something was moving underneath. I felt another pair of hands begin feeling my head, tugging and parting my hair. The creature froze as it felt the back of my skull. The source of the rhythmic throbbing. Both of us were still for a moment as the creature sat atop me. Then, after a few clicks, it began clawing at the back of my head.
Panic flowed through me as the throbbing in the back of my head began picking up speed. I began to struggle and writhe as blood began to flow from my skull down the sides of my head. I could feel the creatures fingers clawing at my skull as I struggled to get loose. The creature began to pound at the back of my skull relentlessly. My face was forced into the sand and I closed my eyes as the throbbing in my head reached a fever pitch. Suddenly, a sound reverberated trough the area. A long and droning sound, reminiscent of an air raid siren. The creature on top of me ceased its assault and clicked few times. It released me and began to scurry away. I looked up as it ran away, seeing its slender form crawling on four arms. Its elongated head covered in dozens of eyes. It ran to the base of one of the spires and began crawling up the side of it. Once it reached the top of the spire guttural screams rang out, nearly overtaking that of the siren.
I reached down and removed a piece of cloth that was covering my arm. A few maggots fell out of one of my open wounds, landing on the ground and crawling away. Picked up some skin off of the ground and placed it on the back of my skull. After wrapping the cloth tightly around my head I began to look around once again. The visibility had reduced greatly. A sandstorm was beginning to rage. I tried to look for the tree but couldn’t find it. Everything seems to have disappeared. Even the spires seemed to have vanished. I started to walk forward, without any sense of direction. Despite the blowing sands the only noise I could hear was the siren. I continued to walk, watching as the sand around me seemed to shift and move like the wake caused by a creature swimming through the water. Dark silhouettes seemed to move in the distance, gargantuan in size. I look ahead and notice a shape moving towards me. Humanoid in appearance and roughly my size. I began backing away, panic spreading over me. The shape continued moving towards me, slowly, and deliberately. No matter how fast I moved the shape was always there. Never getting farther away, and never stopping. I closed my eyes and focused on the throbbing in my head. Counted the throbs. Focused on the constant feeling, and the one thing that never changed. The air raid siren grows louder and louder. I try to clench my teeth but my mouth is gone.
I open my eyes with a jolt. I’m in a familiar looking room, sitting in a familiar chair. A string of Christmas lights hang on the walls, about a quarter of the bulbs burnt out. A white fan blows in the corner. I look down at my arms and hands. Scarred in some places, cut in others, but largely intact. I let out a sigh and look at my watch. 9:03 PM. I slowly stand up, put on an old sweatshirt about a size too big and walk over to the computer. I open up a new document and start typing.
‘I feel a throbbing in the back of my skull.’
Thank you. You're far too kind. I hope you enjoy it if you do.
(I found this in some forgotten corner of my computer and figured I'd put it here. This was from when there was some thread about who you would want from CYS in a vault with you during the apocalypse and someone was asking for stories about it. I don't remember a whole lot about it. It was back when I was still pretty new a few years ago now. It isn't very good and definitely could be better edited, but I don't really care to do that for this.)
Bang Bang Bang
A loud pounding reverberated through the bunker. Corgi, angry to be woken from their nap, began barking wildly at the new sound. “Sounds like someone is at the door,” says the cloaked figure in the corner, “I wonder if these ones are fucktards or faggots.” Briar, who had been looking at the surveillance screen with great fascination, turns to the cloaked figure. “Looks like they’re some CoGites! ^_^” “So both fucktards AND faggots. Let Mizal deal with it. Turnip, you’re the noob, go get Mizal and tell her we have company.”
I slowly walk through the long corridor leading to the mess hall and come across a gruesome sight. A poor jackfruit has been carved up and deseeded, its innards lying in a bowl and covered with raw onions. It’s seeds, once strong and firm, are being boiled alive in pots. And its rind, once protection for the mighty fruit, is now being used as cauldrons for the killer which stands before me. I almost vomit, but manage to keep my composure and utter a weak, “Excuse me, Mizal?” “Oh Turnip, I didn’t notice you. We’re going to have a good dinner tonight. Ever had a jackfruit?” “Um…no…” “Well you're in for a treat. Its like a pineapple mixed with a mango. You’ll love it. So whats up?” “The Dark One sent me. There’s some CoGites at the door and they aren’t leaving.” The smile from her face drops as she hears this. “Alright, lets go. I swear if this is one of Cricket’s tricks I’m going to squash that little bug…” A faint chirping, almost sounding like a laugh, emanates from somewhere in the room.
As we reach the entrance it is clear that the situation has escalated. The banging has grown louder and more frantic, and Corgi seems to have run into the wall in a hyperactive fit, knocking themselves out. Mizal steps over the dog and up to the microphone to talk to the CoGites outside. Briar, who had been talking to the CoGites in an attempt to compromise, hands the mic over with a simple, “I thought they might be good ones :P” Mizal presses the red button on the microphone and speaks.
“You approach the mighty CYStian bunker, property of the Kingdom of CYStia! For what reason do you disturb our mighty kingdom?”
Their leader, a whiny and craven being in a plague doctors outfit, introduces himself. “My name is Exeldgamer! I lead these brave souls of the CoG Resistance to your bunker in an attempt to seek refuge. Our former leader, Jason the Cuck, banished us for making a joke about trans people and now we have nowhere to go. We have no food and no water, and the zombies from the IntFiction vault are roaming around. You have to help us! Please!”
Mizal stands silent for a moment. Finally, she speaks. “If you can write me a 1000 word short story we’ll let you into the bunker.”
Exeldgamer was taken aback. “Are you crazy? 1000 words just to get into a dumb bunker? That’s completely unreasonable. There is no way anybody could write 1000 words. I’m not doing it.”
“Then I guess you’ll stay out there in HELL.” Mizal calmly stated. She muted the screen and began her walk back to the kitchen. After all, those jackfruits wouldn’t be preparing themselves. I watch the screen, horrified as the dreaded IntFiction zombies devour the CoGite’s one by one. As I watch, I feel some sympathy for them. After all, I was like them once. Blinded by the CoGite lies until I was cast aside like garbage. And as I watch the last CoGite be devoured, I hear the cloaked figure utter three wise words.
“Lol, what faggots.”