My hands shake. I’ve wandered aimlessly. Entering a building built into the side of a hill, I find out its filled with the walking corpses of other STALKERs. Still half sentient, they fire off at me. I return their gestures.
Five dead. Or redead perhaps. I bandage the collection of holes the shotguns have put in me. I’ve survived. Again. I continue on. A derelict building is on my way to the next crash site. Possibly the remains of a school. There is an incline that cuts into the earth. Man made. I’ve heard rumors that some STALKERs have gone missing there.
A jeep is collapsed on the near side of the incline, a sure attractor of radiation. I take a swig of vodka to prepare my system for it. As I approach the building I hear rummaging. A glimpse of movement. Bandits. They don’t look to be the reasonable kind either.
I take cover by the jeep. There is a bandit on the incline patrolling. I take him out with my pistol. I forget to silence it.
The sound attracts the bullets of every weapon in the area. The Geiger counter crackles in sync with the cracks of gunpower and spent casings. My limbs become receivers of perforations and dispensers of blood. My hands become gunpowder whisperers. The whisper through the triggers of my rifle and shepherd my bullets into the cavities of their craniums.
Their pavement catches their corpses. I wrap myself in bandages, hoping they’ll hold my body together. My guns have worn down in the skirmish, and take the moment to loot their corpses. Guns, rations, and bandages. I’m a bit overburdened, but I’ll still be able to trek back to base and pawn off the goods.
The air vibrates with a siren call. Twilight gives way to a foreboding luminosity. An emission is approaching. I take a moment to compose my state of mind. I dash for cover but it quickly becomes apparent that I won’t be able to make it much farther than a few meters before collapsing. I take a swig of a drug STALKERs like to call “Hercules”, and chase it with vodka and an energy drink to kill the taste. A weight lifts.
For a moment I take on slideshow eyes. I live the possibilities, dying many deaths: dropping down the incline into what seems to be an underground base, my eyes seared with horror as I realize it’s locked; swarmed by shadows of creatures, lying in a pool of blood seeping from the scratches they awarded me; combusting from the inside as an emission microwaves my body; scurrying under a bridge with a fellow bloodsucker, tied down and drained.
When it ends I find myself led into a nearby shelter for scientists. Idle chatter passes the time as we heard the emissions pass over. My body doesn’t seem to be it’s own.