THE RUDE ONES STORY 4 – Anomaly, Outskirts, inside the hideout





The initial idea was to starve himself to death right here inside the hideout, thought it pointless to even attempt to scavenge the city. He knew of only one trader in this area and judging by the mob activity below, was confident that traders’ location, was overrun with every unfriendly incarnation imaginable. Not to mention the travel distance, all the way south of here and full of danger. There are only so many things a stalker can run away from and there are only so many bullets available. He had hoped the magical mechanism playing with his existence, would once again whisk him away to somewhere a bit more agreeable.

That has yet to happen, he would need to die first.

The storm did not let up for one second and it remained cold, dark and damp for what seemed like an eternity. Rude gazed longingly northwards, through the small window at the square below. He craved sleep, but found that act to be a challenge. Restlessness became a thing, suppressing it a chore, and as for that goddamn gas anomaly. He simply wanted it to go away forever. Even though his back was turned, he could not hide from that bright and oh so invasive sheen.

Then there is this hunger. Had he been serious about starving himself, he would have thrown his supplies out the window, into that mob below. A little something he neglected to do, for reasons.

His companion apparition idled behind him, basking in the glow of his source of discomfort. Other than being a wingman manifested by only the Zone knows what. It offered no real value. At least, not yet.

“What’s the deal with this Strelok guy anyway. His name keeps popping up in chat.”

Network activity was not only inundated with remote squads calling out for help, there were also discussions about this stalker, called Strelok, showing up once more in the zone.

“You want the long version or short,” Lenny asked.

“Please, explain like I’m five.”

Sometimes there is a need to be brought up to speed, as the act of re-spawning seems to affect the return of memories. Lenny remained hovering by the opposing window eagerly waiting for the gas anomaly to come back, it found that gaseous swirl fascinating, and would look forward to each arrival. Lenny began to recite bits of information siphoned from Rudes mind, applying a touch of creativity in the process.

“Strelok is perhaps one of the more infamous stalkers in the zone. His contribution to the world is somewhat a topic of controversy, that depends on whom you fight for.”

It then turned to Rude and said. “You fight for the free stalkers now buddy, Strelok is your friend. Do not kill the Strelok!”

The gas anomaly appeared once again elevating Rudes anxiety. Lenny was thrilled with its return though, and reached deep into the throbbing mass to experience its wonder.

As Lenny continued, Rude began to hash out a plan and mentally mapped a path to known storage containers. He would have to be quick, keep his weight low and keep moving. He would have to be on the lookout for Snorks, Burers, Lurkers, holy shit there are too many good reasons to not go outside.

Right now this apartment is the safest place in the Outskirts, but he held mixed feelings about its accessibility. The only way in and out of this room is through that gaping hole in the wall, along that massive alien growth spanning the length of the yard outside, avoid that floating gas ball, traverse several stories of alien structure growing from the center of a radioactive and gaseous playground, which funny enough, is being trampled on by countless zombies and mutants of varying hostilities. However, had these doors been working, this room would already be overrun with that mob outside.

“…now Strelok is often referred to as the Marked One,” Lenny droned on. “Which brings me to this next question. Why The Rude One?”

A lurker began to howl outside in the yard below sending renewed chills up and down Rudes spine, he remembers seeing them jump and wondered if they could actually reach this level. He hoped they could not.

“A misinterpretation or two,” came the response. “My Slav is nonexistent and as you can see, I sure as shit do not belong here.”

Lenny chuckled at that last comment. “Mutants know no prejudice silly, a stalker is a stalker and a feast at times.” The gas cloud rolled away again taking that sick hue along with it, offering a fraction of relief to Rude.

“You want us to go and find Strelok?”

Rude sighed heavily and nodded. “Maybe Strelok will have the answers I need.”

“Well now is as good a time as any, as that scary floating anomaly has left another opening for us to shimmy on down.”

Rude shouldered his machine gun, turned around and took his first step outside the hideout. It was still pouring rain and frigid cold. He wondered how long he would live this time. The sea of mutants below suggests, not long at all.