This story, In The Face of an Angry Night, was written by dBeast13 and acquired from the Resistance 2 forum at myresistance.net. "Angry Night" is told from the point of view of a Russian surviver, years after the Chimeran invasion. He is recalling moments from his childhood during the invasion.
We stayed in our basement as the gunshots and growls of creatures that were barely human roared above us. I was only 16 at the time, but I remember it perfectly. You don’t forget near death experiences like this. It was around the time they had built the Red Curtain. I was a Russian living in Moscow, the largest city and capital in Russia. They built the Curtain to initiate a blackout from the rest of the world. It was along the European border. My father had been on the building staff. It’s kind of hard to explain what happened after being isolated. Everything just sort of happened. I know the government had something to do with it. They had said the curtain was to stop an anticipated invasion by Europeans. At the time we didn’t even have any clue of the villages destroyed overnight. We actually had no clue until what happened at Kashin. It’s fairly close to Moscow so when we heard of its destruction being the cause of an earthquake, we had a feeling it wasn’t true. We should have felt it right? We were all begging for it not to have been an earthquake, but looking back, oh how I wish it was.
But anyway, we were in the basement that night. Father had built it. He started building it before leaving to work on the Curtain. He said if the worst should happen, I should take mother, Lilia, and grandmother into it and lock the door. We went down the second we heard the civil defense sirens go off. Father said he would come back. He said he’d come back and protect us. He never came. We stayed in the basement for weeks. We stayed silent most of the time. Lily cried silently. Mother tried to have her hold her breath. If they heard us…we didn’t even know what would happen. Grandmother stayed motionless most of the time. We constantly had to make sure she was still breathing. It was nerve wrecking being down there. I was especially scared. Father had left me in charge of the family. I was the only man left. Grandfather had died long ago, and father was no where to be seen. It was my responsibility. I’ll always regret the things that happened, things that I should have stopped but couldn’t. It was my responsibility, I should have been there. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Anyway, father had also kept a ham radio down there. One of the things he told me was a message I should play over it if we needed help. I told him I wouldn’t forget it. I remember it now, but only because I will never forget it after what happened from forgetting it. At the time in the basement, I forgot it.
The basement was a cold, dark, damp cellar. It had concrete walls, a concrete floor, and no windows. It had a metal door separating the basement from the outside world. On the outside, the door was covered with grass so it was unnoticeable, and thank god for that. It was almost as if father knew this would happen, like he foresaw the whole thing. We had one hot plate and a small light bulb that swung from a single piece of string from the ceiling. We tried to limit the use of it; we didn’t know how long it would last. We never all slept at once, because if no one knew the Chimera were in that basement, well we were all gone. Grandmother never stayed up. She was old and frail, and we knew she couldn’t handle it. Lily stayed up rarely, only when mother and I needed our sleep. It always worried me when she was awake. She must have been scared, terrified. I was dying and I was 7 years older than her. I’m sure mother stayed up with her sometimes. I stayed up the most out of all of us. We had a fair supply of water; it was food we lacked in. I tried to convince mother to let me go out and look for something, but she wouldn’t allow it. So, as you can imagine, those weeks spent down there were torture.
I think we had stayed in there for 6 weeks before we decided we had waited long enough. There was no sign that the creatures were still outside. The world had remained silent for days. I don’t remember the exact reason we decided to leave, but I think it was when grandmother started coughing. She had gotten very sick. We tried to make sure she got most of the food, she needed it the most. Now she was dying. We knew we would never survive down here, we would all die. And she needed medical attention. We had to go up and see if there was anything we could do to help her. I decided to go out first. I slowly opened the door and peeked outside. I couldn’t recognize Moscow anymore.
It was during the time I first left the basement when I saw my very first Hybrid. When I had left the basement I noticed that Moscow was immersed under 2 feet of snow. There were large buildings and towers in all directions, I couldn’t make out what material they were made of, but they gleamed with an ominous aura that put the very thought in my mind: I won’t make it back. I should have listened to my first instinct and turned back, it would have prevented many unforeseen events that unfolded as a result.
I had been walking in the direction that I thought would lead to the Hospital, it was hard to tell with the extreme change of scenery. The hospital was most likely abandoned, and long abandoned. It was quiet. I only heard the wind whistle through the deserted city and my feet crunching in the snow. Suddenly I heard a sound. It was hard to distinguish what exactly it was, but I knew I wasn’t alone. I turned around quickly to catch a glimpse of a Hybrid as it ran into an alleyway. I nearly screamed. If I had, I surely would have been done. At the time I didn’t know what they were capable of, but I would find out soon enough.
I reasoned that there would be more along my way, so I had to move carefully, quickly, and cover my tracks. It was snowing, so my footprints would be filled soon anyway, but I was so terrified I couldn’t wait for that. I ducked down next to an overturned car. At least I thought it was a car. It, too, was covered in snow. I made my way around it hearing nothing but the crushing of the snow. Crush, crush, crush, ccllaannkk. The sound nearly made me jump. I had stepped on something, and it wasn’t snow. I looked down at my feet and wiped some snow off of the gun I had stepped on. Though it wasn’t a real gun, at least not real from our world. It had a large barrel with a static discharge jumping inside it. The electricity was red. I had never seen anything quite like it. It was a Chimeran weapon, of course, but I didn’t know that. I felt it could come in handy so I brought it with me.
I had been trudging for maybe 7 minutes before the hospital, or what was left of it, was within view. But as I started to walk towards it, a pungent odor filled my nostrils. I had never smelled anything quite like this before, and to be frank I’m glad I hadn’t. But in the weeks to come, I would smell it more and more. It was the smell of rotting carcass and decaying bodies. The smell of dried blood and shriveled up organs. It was a smell I will never forget, and always regret, as some of those dead bodies I encountered over the next few weeks were my fault. Two, to be exact.
Most of the hospital had been burned down. The red cross on the sign was now black from soot and ash. What was once one of the tallest building in Moscow now lay in a rubble heap. I just needed the right medicine to help grandmother. She used to take pills once a day. I tried to remember the name of them. In the distance there was a sound like heavy machinery. I heard it moving closer so I jumped into a pile of debris and hid. I had never seen anything quite as large as this before. This goliath towered overhead, probably taller than the hospital that once stood. I hadn’t learned its name until I left Russia: Goliath. It was worthy of such a name. It suddenly stopped as it passed the hospital. It slowly turned so it was facing west, facing me. The beast lowered itself very easily as two rocket-like objects shot out the top of this piece of scrap metal. I couldn’t see the rockets up close, but I saw that they were holding something. Little did I know that these “rockets” would land in two highly populated European cities: Paris, France, and Berlin, Germany. Little did I also know that these weren’t rockets, and that these two cities would face a fate like Moscow itself.
Long after the beast had moved along and I was sure it was safe to come out, I came out. I had had enough excitement for one day. I terribly missed mother, and I knew if I stayed outside the basement much longer I would die. I grabbed the first package of pills I could find and made my way back to the basement. Mother wasn’t exactly happy I brought back a gun.
Two weeks later grandmother died. We never found out if it was from her taking the wrong type of pills or if the pills had nothing to do with it. But weeks after her death, I woke to the same pungent smell I smelled at the hospital. Rotting carcass. My own grandmother’s. Lilia cried every time she awoke and saw grandmother lying there, lifeless. We knew we would end up like her if we stayed there much longer. It was time to leave the basement for good. A part of me believed that we would all be ok, that we would survive as we escaped our doomed city, but a larger part, the part that haunted me daily, believed that we wouldn’t end up happy. We would end up dead, or worse. And wouldn’t you know, that’s exactly what happened.
In retrospect we probably could have gone on a few more days in that basement. And though it would pain me so, we could live off our late grandmother. Cannibalism, something that I would never resort to no matter what the circumstances are. But it was probably the best thing we could have done. The whole rest of the journey had a lot of stupid mistakes. Probably the stupidest was when we saw that the new shiny structure was the safest place to go to.
I later learned they were called “Conversion Centers” and it’s a **bleep** good thing we weren’t caught in it. Though we almost did, I thank the heavens Lilia’s still small and can hide behind small objects. God knows what would have happened if those things saw her. But I’m getting ahead of myself. We had trudged in the snow for maybe 5 minutes before she was quaking with fear. She started to cry. She tried her best to hold her tongue and make as little noise as possible. I looked at mother. She had lost weight. Her face was all skin and bones now. And dirt, we were all dirty. But two lines of water that ran down from my mother’s eyes down to her chin cleaned up a good portion of that dirt. It kind of hurt me to see my mother crying. I knew that I had to do my best to keep them both safe and bring them somewhere far away. Maybe London, or even New York. I had always wanted to go to America. Father promised he’d take me some day. That promise was beginning to look more and more like it wouldn’t be kept.
Mother was carrying the ham radio from the cellar and I was carrying the gun. Lilia was holding my free hand and using her other hand to wipe the tears from her eyes. We approached a large building and stopped at a corner. I told mother and Lilia to wait behind and I’d go make sure the coast was clear. I turned the corner and looked both to the right and to the left. To the right I saw a small group of Chimera. To my left I saw a Stalker camp. Ahead was the Conversion Center. I nearly cried seeing this, realizing that that was the only place left for us to go. I motioned for mother to follow with Lilia. I stopped them and explained that there was danger to our right, and danger to our left. Then I showed them the Conversion Center and explained that we would have to travel straight through it. Lilia burst into tears and ran back around the building. She dug her face in the snow to hide the sound of her wailing. I heard some snow crunching behind me. I turned and saw a Chimera walking our way. As far as I knew, it had no idea of our presence. Mother saw it too. She told Lilia she had to be quiet and keep her eyes closed. The Chimera didn’t look like it was turning. It was coming straight for us. The crunching got louder and louder until I was sure he was around the corner of the building. I spun around and shot the gun at it. A bolt of red electricity shot out of my gun and struck it as it fell into the snow.
This one was unarmed, but man was it ugly. It looked almost human. I think it had been moving something. That’s a menial job if you ask me, and rightly so. We covered it up quickly and I took Lilia on my back. I ran around the building and sprinted to another building across the road, careful not to attract the attention of the two nearby Chimeran groups. I was terrified. Mother was running behind me. The Conversion Center was maybe two hundred paces ahead, and we crossed every inch of that with no trouble. Getting in was a piece of cake too. It was getting out that was going to be tough. If what I held in my hands was a Chimeran gun, then they have technology on their sides that none of us had even known existed. If we were caught, we were as good as dead.
We walked with little resistance through the Conversion Center, which only made me suspicious of where they were and what they were doing. It was then that we passed the Conversion Hall, and I’ll never forget the day I realized that father was never going to take me to New York and the horrific foreshadowing of what was to come. In the hall we saw tubes to the left of us, tubes to the right, tubes below, tubes above. We saw glass cages with little bugs in them. We saw cocoons down the hall, and we saw large mechanical arms hatching and grabbing these newly formed Chimera and attaching something to their backs. We walked down the hall and Lilia was trailing behind. She was mesmerized by the tubes. It seemed like they all had a human in them, except for about two, but I expected those to be filled soon. And it was no shock to me when they were filled. Suddenly Lilia burst into tears and ran forward ahead of us to the cocoons and punched them with every ounce of breath she had in her. Her cries echoed slightly and when we heard the footsteps echo back, we were sure we were all dead.
Lilia held her breath and ducked down behind a cocoon. The creature growled as it searched high and low for her. He began to slowly pass the cocoon she was hiding behind. Mother dashed out to save her but I held her back. Lilia held her breath as she began to shimmy to the other side of the cocoon. We were all holding our breaths at this point. As the Chimera began walking away, Lilia got up and ran into mother’s arms. She was still crying as mother held her, rocking back and forth while promising it’s going to be alright. But no, it wasn’t going to be alright. And I finally understood that when I saw what made Lilia burst like that. Back down the hall was another tube. Inside was a man. He was shirtless. He had scars on his back and chest and a big gash up his leg. The face, though slightly scratched and scarred, was familiar. “It’s going to be alright, I promise.” And looking upon that face I realized never to believe in promises. Promises aren’t real. Promises have no value. Promises are lies. And you should hate every promise you hear.
Even the ones your father tells you.
Those few hours we spent in the Conversion Center felt like a lifetime. As we continued down the conversion hall, we saw cocoons being heated so that they opened. What emerged was a Chimera. Mechanical arms then picked it up and stuck something on its back. We watched this cycle over and over again as we walked through the hall. At the end of the hall was where Lilian was almost caught. There was a room full of cocoons being suspended from the ceiling. We slowly entered this room, aware that in doing so, we began what would be the hardest thing we ever had to do.
The Conversion Center was large, to say the least. Everything was made of materials that we had never seen before. Chimeran architecture, no doubt. It all gleamed. But my fascination was undermined by my intense fear. The Conversion Center was built in such a way that sounds echo through the halls. Chimeran growls were heard everywhere we went. But that wasn’t the scary part. The scary part was what also echoed through those halls. Our footsteps. We tried walking slowly and quietly. The one thing we could not do was to get ourselves caught. That would be suicide. But suicide wasn’t half as bad as what the Chimera were capable of. If I had known, I would have committed suicide when this all started. Back when father said he was leaving.
It was a cold night and I heard father leave our house and go out onto the porch. He often left at night to smoke a pipe. I went out onto the porch and sat down. I looked up at him. He was tall with dark brown hair and brown eyes. He was getting old, and you could tell from the countless wrinkles on his face. He took a deep breath and sat down next to me. “You should be in bed, son” he said to me. At that moment I noticed something that I hadn’t before. He had a large bag with him. He was leaving. “Where are you going?” He sighed and stood back up. “They want me to help build something. The ‘Great Wall of Russia,’ or something. They say that Russia has some secrets that the Europeans should have no part in. Frankly the whole thing scares me.” My father wasn’t a great engineer. The only thing he had ever built was our house. Suddenly, my fathers eyes lit up and he turned down and looked me square in the eye with a grim expression on his face. “Son, promise me something. Take care of Lilian, your mother, and grandmother. You’re the man of the house now. If anything happens, promise me you’ll take them into the cellar I built. Don’t come out until I come back for you all.” He had also told me that one phrase he wanted me to say in the ham radio. The phrase I forgot. The whole thing was overwhelming to me. He gave me a kiss on the forehead and the biggest hug ever. Then he picked up his bag and began walking west. Little did I know that was the last time I would see my father. I just stood there like an idiot, unable to say anything. Unable to say ‘I love you’.
What angered me more than ever was the fact that I know I would see my father again. But when I do, he’d have six eyes. Those creatures…they took my father. My father was soon going to be a Chimera. I hate the Chimera, I hate them with every ounce of breath I have in me. They took everything from me! They took every single **bleep** thing. Of course I can’t totally blame the Chimera. It was my fault…some of it was my fault. And I never stopped hating myself for it. I sit alone in my apartment at night and think back to everything that was my fault. The first of these happened in the Moscow Conversion Center.
We had been traveling through the Conversion Center for about 2 hours. We had no idea where we had already gone and where we hadn’t. We had seen even nastier Chimera as we traveled deeper. Some had armor covering almost every inch of their body. Some carried the same gun that was in my arms. We saw a lot of the non-armed strain doing manual labor in the conversion center. We tried to avoid them all. But it couldn’t last forever.
We were now walking in a strange hall. It was very dark but it was open space. All over the walls, ceiling, and floor were red and orange pouches that seemed to move. They were eggs. What was inside them was a total mystery to us, and I wish it had stayed that way. As we stepped forward into the hall, we heard a sound. It was a high pitched growl, or more like a screech. The eggs began to shake violently. Suddenly, every single egg burst, giving birth to hundreds of little jumping Chimera. They all started for us. I took out mu gun and shot the bolt of electricity out at them. There were too many and I couldn’t hit them all. They began advancing forward. One stopped right in front of mother and jumped on her. Mother screamed as the creature began pecking her body trying to eat her. Lilian somehow found enough adrenaline to jump up and bat the thing down, and even to step on it. Mother began crying uncontrollably, and Lilian with her.
I turned my attention to the immediate threat that was advancing towards us every second. I kept shooting and shooting. I had to keep backing up to avoid them. Shooting and backing up, shooting and backing up, and then I tripped on something. I fell backwards and struggled to find the trigger. My finger slipped off of the main trigger and pulled the one under it. I discovered my gun had an alternate fire. A beam or red electricity shot out of the barrel and made impact with one of the creatures. But that wasn’t the end of it. The electricity then began moving to all nearby creatures, killing the entire room in one go. Blood stained my face and clothes. It wasn’t my blood. Mother had a wound on her head from where the creature had attempted to eat her from. Her face was dripping with blood and sweat and tears. She was shaking. She was scared out of her mind. I had never seen her like this.
I slowly got up and looked at the room ahead. Hundreds of dead bodies were in the room. There wasn’t a place you could step without it being on Chimera flesh. I turned around to mother and Lilian. I slowly helped them both up. Mother picked up the ham radio that she must have dropped with all the excitement. None of us wanted to carry it along with us. We couldn’t just leave it here though. If the Chimera found it, they’d know we’re here. But by the looks of the room we were standing in, they’d know anyway. I ripped off a piece of my shirt and put it on my mother’s wound. I then bent down and used my thumb to wipe away Lilian’s tears.
Getting up, I realized my gun was out of ammo. The smartest thing to do would have been to get out of that place fast. But no, what did we do? We made our way to the artillery. The room was full of guns and grenades. I took as many grenades as I could keep in my pockets and picked up ammo for the gun I was carrying. Not much happened here.
The rest of the journey was silent. Mother was still recovering from that traumatizing experience, Lilian was scared to death, and I was listening. Listening, for a growl. A footstep. Anything. It scared me to think that at any moment something could pop out and kill us. And the fact that we had no idea where we were going or what we were doing or how we were going to get out. Suddenly, an alarm sounded. The lights flashed red. They knew we were here. We heard growling behind us as red bullets flashed beyond our heads. I grabbed Lilian and ran with mother closely behind. We sprinted in any direction, any place we could turn where there was no growling. “Stop!” screamed Lilian. I turned around to see what she meant. Mother was no longer behind us. I turned around and sprinted back with Lilian on my back, retracing our steps until we saw her, sitting on the ground with her foot stuck under a pipe. Above her was a vent. That would lead us outside, there was no doubt in my mind. I put Lilian down as I shot the pipe with my gun. It burst and release water, making a small puddle. I reached up and opened the vent. I told mother I thought it would lead us outside. She nodded. I quickly helped Lilian up into it, and then followed her through it. I should have let mother through before me because as I turned to help her up, I saw her close the vent and whisper “I love you.”
I began to cry as I knew what she was doing. She was sacrificing herself so the Chimera wouldn’t find us. I pressed my eye against the vent and was able to see mother through a small hole. She was crying. That’s when I heard the growls. The Chimera advancing forward. Not just one, dozens. The Chimera took my father and converted him. I soon forgot about my father. Because those slow seconds watching the bullets pierce my mother’s body felt like an eternity. The image still runs through my mind, every day. It was my fault she died. My fault. I watched as the jumping Chimera began consuming her. I listened as the growls began sounding more like laughs than they did growls. And I watched my mother’s cold, dead lips. The same lips that breathed the words “I love you”. I wanted to see them move. I wanted to see even a quiver, a twitch, anything. As the sirens turned off I found myself crying uncontrollably. “Where’s mother?” whispered Lilian. It then occurred to me that she hadn’t seen the death of her mother. I intended to keep it that way. I wiped my eyes and took a deep breath before turning around. “She’s going to meet us outside.” I knew that lie wouldn’t last long. Lilian began to cry. “You’re lying!” she said to me. I crawled over to her through the vent and held her in my arms. And then I lied to her again. “It’s going to be alright, I promise.” Promises aren’t real. Promises are lies. You should hate every promise you hear.
We continued crawling through the vent. Both of us were sobbing. Lilian was in front of me so that I could keep an eye on her. I was holding the gun as I crawled. The ham radio was with mother when she was shot. We reached the end of the vent where Lilian needed to push it open. We found ourselves in a small room that looked like it was used for storage. There was a door in the back of the room. It was a round door that seemed to be controlled by a switch that was next to it. I put my fingers in the holes on the switch and turned it slowly. The door opened and a cold, winter night was in view. I began crying. We had escaped. I was so happy. Lilian and I ran out into the snow. We were now looking at the eastern end of Moscow, the city limits. And from what it looked like, we were going to be safe for a short while. It was just Lilian and I now. I intended to keep her safe. I couldn’t protect mother. I couldn’t protect father. I could barely protect myself. But I was certain I would take care of Lilian. I had to. She was all I had left. I had to try. I was prepared to become a Chimera myself if she could go on living. Yes, I would become a Chimera. The very creatures that took everything from me. Everything. Without exceptions.
Lilian was asleep on my back as I trudged through the snow for hours. It was a blizzard that night, with snow that came up to my knees. I was tired. Lilian’s salty tears were drying on my shoulder. I had watched for those previous, silent hours. Watched, and listened. Watched and listened for any threat, any opposition that may come our way. Anything that could take the last thing I had that made life worth living. Lily was my life. Lily was the only reason I hadn’t killed myself yet. White flakes continued to fall down all around me. My clothes were white from the snow. My heart felt like it had stopped. It was hard to breathe. I couldn’t feel a single part of my body. And it was dark. Clouds covered the starry night. There was no moon. And suddenly, it began to get darker. And darker. And then I saw nothing at all.
I woke up from a few good kicks to my ribs. Lilian was up. She was shivering from the cold, and coughing uncontrollably. We didn’t have jackets. We’d been wearing the same clothes for weeks, maybe even months. I quickly got up from my short knock out. I lifted Lilian back onto my back and continued trudging. We needed to find a place to keep warm and spend the night. Since the conversion center, there were no signs of life at all anywhere. We were roaming in empty country. I was both scared and overjoyed. Those…creatures. Maybe we had seen the last of them. I was being hopeful. No, I was being stupid.
Lilian lifted her head up and pointed into the distance. I followed her gaze and saw where her sudden excitement came from. There, rising up into the nighttime sky, was smoke. Russians? Or another Chimeran camp? It didn’t matter where we were going…there was fire. I began to run through that snow, eager to dry my wet clothes and thaw my frostbitten fingers. I had never been happier for anything in my entire life. And in the midst of all the pain I suffered, there was a small glimmer of happiness. One of the last tiny bits of happiness I ever experienced.
A small log cabin slowly came into view. As we got closer I could already feel the heat of the fire and smell the burning wood. I didn’t care who was in there or whose house it was. There was life here, and life had a fire. I burst through the door and collapsed on the warm, wooden floors. The house smelled of pine and burning wood. In the back of the room was a fireplace. Lilian was sitting by it. She was still coughing and I got worried that she may be sick. I got up and sat beside her in front of the flame. It soothed my body, it soothed my heart. For once I felt safe. I held Lilian in my arms. She was still crying. Her eyes were always wet, never dry. I held her and began to cry myself. I was quiet about it, I couldn’t let her see me cry. She would be even more terrified. I was determined not to let anything happen to her. I was determined to keep those things away from her. But as I learned, what you plan and what actually happens are two different things. And so I lied to her again, saying, “It’s all going to be alright. I promise.” Promises aren’t real.
I hadn’t moved from my position for a good hour. I let the fire dry my wet clothes and the tears running down my cheeks. Lilian slept for a good 30 minutes. At the same time of being relieved, I was scared. Someone―or something―lived here. There was a fire burning. It was recently lit. The flame was not that big and there were not a lot of ashes. Someone, someone who was coming back, had lit the fire. And that scared me. I wanted to go investigate the house while that person was out, but I was scared of what I might find. Who’s ever heard of a log cabin in the middle of no where anyway? And those fears were aggravated when I heard something outside. It was different from the normal wind blowing, no, there was a voice in it. And all I could think was please don’t come in this house. And it would have been surprising if he didn’t. I held my breath and listened to his voice. He was grunting. Soft grunts, as if he was trudging something through the snow. And as he got closer to the door I heard it open slowly with a creak. And slowly I backed away as the figure came into view. And slowly, I scanned him from his shoes to his hair. My host was wearing working boots and military pants that were way too big for him. My eyes continued up to show he was wearing a thick pelt for a jacket. Hung over his shoulder was a larger deer. And my host’s face was clean. He was completely devoid of any facial hair whatsoever. And this was because my host...
Was a child? Looking no older than Lilian, the boy walked in and put the bleeding deer on the ground. He quickly kicked off his boots and stripped off his jacket. He turned my way to walk towards the fireplace. And when he did, our eyes met. I looked up at him with utter confusion. He looked back at me the same way. We stared for a few long moments―moments that felt like an eternity―until I broke the silence with a friendly word. “Hello.” I extended my arm for a shake. The boy took my hand and shook, his expression still painted on his face. He said nothing. “Uh, how old are you?” I asked him. I stood up and saw that he was even shorter than Lilian. The boy had brown eyes and long, untamed brown hair. It looked like it hadn’t been brushed or washed in months. Finally, he spoke up. “Are you here for dinner?” It was a strange question, and I noticed how he completely avoided mine. But it was upon him asking that I realized I hadn’t had a decent meal in weeks. I eyed the bleeding deer on the floor. It was large, enough for a family of 8 to enjoy. I was surprised he brought it in by himself. “What are we having?” asked Lilian from behind me. I hadn’t noticed she had awoken, and by the look of our host, he had no idea she was even there. When the boy saw her, he stood straight up, stretching his body to make himself a full inch taller. Lilian giggled when she saw this, as the boy looked very foolish. Her giggle made me smile. I hadn’t even seen a smile out of her in a long, long time. I was happy to see her happy. I didn’t know that would be the last time I heard it.
He told us his name was Lucas and we proceeded to tell him ours. I helped our host move the meat into his kitchen. There didn’t seem to be anyone else home. There didn’t need to be. He was very cooking savvy. He knew exactly what he needed and how to do everything. I had never cooked a deer before. I had never even caught one. Lucas had more finesse than anyone I had ever seen, and he was no older than eight. “Are your parents home?” I asked him while he was cutting through the deer with the largest knife I have ever seen. The question made him pause from his work and stare down for a brief second. I regretted my question. But then he looked up at me with a blank, zombie-like stare. “Papa’s building the wall. He’ll be back for dinner. Mama’s at the store. She’ll be back for dinner.” With that, he looked down and resumed his work. His expression scared me, but not as much as his words. “The wall,” he couldn’t have meant the Red Curtain, could he? Production had stopped on that years ago. And no one who was building that got out alive. And his mother was at the store? There wasn’t anything for a clear mile from here. But I didn’t start to argue with him. I had faith. Maybe it was a different wall. And maybe he didn’t mean “store”. But I left him to finish his work and left the room. “If you wish to sleep there are two beds in the guest room upstairs,” he called to me. I looked at Lilian. Apparently the hard wood floor was good enough for her. I picked her up in my arms and started up the steps. I set her down on the softer bed of the two. I didn’t plan on sleeping. I wasn’t going to trust Lilian’s life with a kid who wasn’t even her height. But the bed was so beautiful. Maybe I would just rest my head for a minute.
Lucas woke me hours later. The smell of fresh meat was filling the cabin. I woke up Lilian and Lucas led us downstairs. We went into the kitchen where I noticed a doorway that I hadn’t noticed before. It led to a room where there were the lights were off. Lucas was leading us into it. In the dark I could make out a table and two people seated side by side. This was the dining room. “Mama and Papa are already here,” Lucas told me as he entered the room and turned on the lights. I followed him in and I saw mama and papa. I screamed, Lilian cried. Papa was looking down and it took me a minute to figure out why. The skin on his face was peeling off to reveal flesh and bones. His left eyeball was just barely hanging from its socket. He had no nose, only a hole where it should have been. His right arm was on the floor. In his neck thee was a huge gash. Maggots were eating his legs. His left shoulder had no skin on it, only bone. His right leg was only muscle and bone. This man had died and was decaying. And he had been this was for a while. Seated next to him was his radiant wife. There was no chair behind her. She was suspended in midair by a thick rope that was tied to one of the high rafters. Her neck was wrapped in a noose and it had clearly broken her neck as her head was hanging over her left shoulder.
Lucas looked at me once again with his zombie-like stare. “Mama and Papa don’t like your shouting.” From his waist he pulled out the knife he had used to cut up the deer. It was stained with the blood. And I knew that soon it would be stained with our blood.
I picked up Lilian and ran out of the room. I ran to the door of the house and tried to open it. The snow was piled too high outside and the door was stuck. Tears began streaming down my face. This was how I was sure it was going to end. Lucas grabbed Lilian and held up the knife. She screamed and tried to shove him away, but he was strong and held his grip. I lunged at the boy with my fist, ready to knock him out. I grabbed him by his collar and pulled my fist back. And then I stopped. Lucas stopped too. Lilian stopped her crying. We stopped because we had heard it. A growl.
Suddenly Lucas didn’t seem so scary. He broke down on his knees and began to cry. “We have to get out of here!” he whispered. He disappeared into a closet and came back with three pelts. He gave two of them to us. He tucked the knife into his waist. I quickly ran up the stairs and grabbed my gun. Lucas grabbed from the kitchen a small can of beans and a case of water. I was confused why he was helping us, the kid who had just wanted to kill us. He must have sensed it because he said, “I’ll explain later, once we’re safe.” And he pulled out keys from his pocket. He gave them to me. “You’re older, you drive.” He led us to the back where we put on our jackets and he opened up the garage. I looked at the vehicle. It was a car with a turret mounted on the back of it. I had never driven a car before, and never in 2 foot deep snow. I got into the driver seat and Lilian sat next to me. I gave her my gun and she looked at me, understanding what she needed to do. Lucas got in the turret and opened up the garage door. I quickly sped out into the snow and heard the growls and gunshots behind me as I started going west, straight for the European border. I had to get both of them out of Russia. I was determined. But like I said before, sometimes, what you want to happen and what actually does happen are two different things. And sometimes it’s better to let fate work. But other times, fate only cares for blood. Promises are lies. Fate is cruel. And sometimes, death is the only way out. But death didn’t come to save me, no. Even death was against the world this time.
Please note this story remains unfinished for reasons unknown