As he lay sprawled out on the warm pavement under the afternoon sun, and in a pool of his own blood. He was taken aback by how wonderful the weather had been all day. We still have clear sky’s with a mild breeze and a slight chance of being lost to the zone.
“Clear the infestation,” was Trappers request.
“You got it chief,” came the eager response and off he went northwards ignorant of things to come.
Other than that one encounter with a lone zombie at the ridge, the entire journey was no less than serene. The check point was deserted, save for one easily recovered kit, and the path forward was clear, not a mutant in sight. Things were looking good, he was in high spirits and merrily marched forward to complete his current task.
He spied one pseudo dog running through the bushes at the far incline, and cautiously made his approach. It was about that time he began searching for a suitable sniping position, while he carefully circled the objective. Too late though, Rude had moved in just a little too close, and now the creature he stalked began to run towards him, forcing him to react. His first shot missed, the second one hit. That creature barely acknowledged its wounds, and kept on running towards him. Just then, another one appeared a little further away. It too charged menacingly towards him. Grave mistakes were made, and Rude barely had time to reassess his options, when out of nowhere, a third mutant grabbed him by the neck, dragging him to the pavement.
A lively mauling followed, and it was brutal.
He could feel rows of sharp teeth tear into his every being as he struggled to defend himself, the creatures putrid stench overwhelmed him, as they clambered over his body, happily gnawing and ripping away chunks of armour and flesh. Knowing this was the end, he franticly reached out for comfort and found Lenny. His internal dissonance, now assuming the role of an imaginary friend.
“I know, i know.” It responded as it materialized demonstrating a sense of sadness towards the current state of affairs. It squatted among the creatures as they worked, lay a calming hand on Rudes shredded vest and whispered. “You do know that pseudo dogs are not to be trifled with.”
“Not helpful Lenny,” he screamed his response. “You see me dying here right?”.
The apparition stared at him and nodded, wasn’t the first time Lenny bore witness to Rudes deaths. Most were quick transitions, this one was taking a little while longer and the mutants were not letting up at all. They were probably hungry.
“Bad time to go stalking,” Lenny said after a while. “If you want to try again, you do so at your leisure. I’ll be there if you need me.”
Lenny motioned to scare the mutants away, but since invisible to all except Rude, that gesture was more symbolic than effective. Eventually the feeding frenzy died down, and one by one the mutants scampered back into the woods, leaving him a torn and untidy mess.
Rude knew that soon he would wake up somewhere else, forced to start his life in the zone, over once again, adding more to his cache of memories of past existence. He was happy to have some company right now. Dying takes its toll and without Lenny he was sure he would go crazy. No, make that crazier.
As for the evolution of the zone, the more things change the more things stay the same. The zone remains the place where every encounter could be your last. This moment, is no different.
The whole: “Why is this happening to me,” was set aside long ago.
He sought to master this existence, and avoid terrible moments like these. Dying can get irritating after a while. Should try to stop doing that.
“You think?” Lenny jabbed as it got up to circle what was left of Rudes remains. Chunks of flesh were missing, leaving gaping wounds that hemorrhaged blood everywhere.
“Watching you die is not fun either. I’d like to go now, if that’s alright with you.”
Rude tried to nod his agreement, but failed miserably. Next he sought the inevitable, and withdrew into himself searching for that thing that can make it all go away. He did not know what that thing was, only knew it to exist somewhere within him, something that connected him to the zone.
Slowly, his existence began to fade off into nothingness.
“About time,” his final thoughts.
Then all went black, except for that one extremely bright light to his right. It would pulsate at intervals for a while, then disappear. Annoying to say the least, and he simply could not find peace while that god awful glow existed. There it is again. It would appear, hang around for a few, then go away.
Torrential rain could be heard close by, followed by an uncharacteristically close thunder clap. He felt himself elevated and above the world. Somewhere far below, the distinct sound of the undead shuffling and foraging could be heard.
This is where his new life in the zone will begin, he thought as he slowly recognized where he was, and resented it with a passion. The glowing gas anomaly hovered once more outside the dimly lit apartment by the window, as if mocking him, then slowly roll away from view.
“At least it is safe up here,” he muttered. “None of these damn doors work, and the only way out sucks.”
He rolled to his side in a vain attempt at hiding from the anomaly that was taunting him. He tried to withdraw into himself once again. Try to find that thing to make it all go away, he did not want to be lost to the zone once again, and knew all too well that death and its associates were eagerly waiting for him outside, in that ruined city below.