the zone

May 1, 2011
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A group of men burst from the tree line into a field. One wore a business suit and carried a brief case. Two others were dressed in plain long cargo pants and hoodies with guns and packs strapped to their backs. A swarm of shadows burst out of the tree line, chasing after the armed men. They sprinted towards a helicopter on the other side of the field. One of the two armed men looked back and was tackled by a dark shadow. He screamed and turned over pointing his AK-47 and squeezed off a burst. The rounds passed through the shadow with no effect.
“Leave him!” the suited man screamed.
The other armed man glanced back and looked in horror at the mass of shadowy figures barreling toward them. He sprinted even harder towards the helicopter, lungs burning. His heart pounded like it was about to explode. They were increasing the space between them and the massive horde. They finally reached the helicopter and the suited man handed off the brief case and was pulled up into the helicopter. The armed man reached up and grabbed for his hand to be pulled up. He looked up feeling that he was not being pulled up. The suited man reached into his coat and pulled out a pistol and pointed it menacingly at the man.
“You’re fired,” he said with a blank expressionless face, as he pulled the trigger.
The armed man fell and collapsed to the ground as the helicopter lifted off. The armed man rolled over and stared at the oncoming horde. He touched the bullet hole with his hand and looked at the blood, then back at the horde of shadowy figures. The man quickly started losing consciousness. He tried to stay awake and crawl away from the horde but quickly collapsed as the shadowy figures swarmed over him.

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The man lunged upward breathing heavily and gasping for air, covered in a cold sweat. He looked around and found that he’s still in the same field. He stood up feeling slightly weakened. He looked down and saw a large area of blood stained grass that was under him. He instantly put his hand on were the wound was and found only a hole in his shirt. He observed were the wound was and only saw slight blood stains on the cloths around were the hole was but the bullet hole as gone. He took his backpack off and emptied its contents onto the ground. His radio, ammo, map, and most of his food and water were gone. He quickly re-packed his pack and looked around again and tried to get his bearings. Then he heard a noise, it sounded like a group of people heading his way. He ducked down and reached for were his rifle was. It’s was gone, he quickly grabbed at the holster on his hip . . . also empty. He dived flat behind some tall grass and tried to peek out to see where these mysterious sounds were are coming from. He watched as a group of armed men approached the area. They didn’t seem to be wearing a uniform of any kind. Maybe they could help me figure out what’s going on. He slowly stood up with his hands above his head. The group instantly turned and points their guns at him focusing all attention on him.
“Don’t shoot please!” he yelled.
One man in the group steps forward and lowered the gun of the man next to him.
“Hold your fire” he said in a stern voice, “he is not a threat and might be of some interest”
He watched the group observing that this must be the leader.
The man held up two fingers and pointed to him. Instantly two men ran up toward him guns still drawn and pushed him back to the ground and patted him down.
“Clear, sir,” He lifted the sleeve on his jacket to reveal a barcode tattoo on his wrist. “He’s marked.”
“Good, detain him,” said the apparent leader.
“Wait! What?” he yelled right before one of the two men hit him in the back of the head with the butt of his rifle.
“Were taking him to The Boss…” the leader said and then turned back to walking down the road.
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He found himself walking down a long hallway with an iron door on the far end. It was as if he couldn’t control his actions he kept walking even though he wasn’t telling himself to. He reached the door and swiped his arm under a small device on the side of the door. The door slid open exposing another room with cages on either side. Massive horrid beasts lined the walls of the cages. They were of all shapes and sizes, animals pushed past normal bounds by mutation. The muscle and sinew bulged against their skin as they rammed the walls of the prisons. There were other people in the room injecting mixtures into some of the sleeping beasts. A large one rammed itself against the wall of its cell over and over again. A man walked over and raised a blunt club at the animal. He opened his mouth to speak.
“Lay still or I’ll hit you again,” a voice said.
“Uuugghh, where am I?” he groaned as he slowly regained consciousness.
“Ha I guess I hit the kid a little too hard, you are back at our compound you’ve been knocked out for about 2 hours now,” says the same voice.
He was blindfolded with a rough cloth.
He tried to sit up but felt a heavy weight on his chest holding him down.
“I said sit still. The Boss wants to see you soon so just wait your turn,” said the same voice. He could also feel that his legs were bound but he was given some slack between the bonds so he could walk but not run.
Someone untied the blindfold and his eyes pained for a second as the got used to the light.
“Boss wants to see him now. Get him on his feet,” said the leader of the group. The man that hit him came over and lifted him up and dusted him off and started to push him towards the gate. He stopped at the gate and let go of him.
“It’s right down there, careful on the stairs.” The leader gave him a slight nudge towards the first step. The stairs turned a couple times and seemed to go on forever until he reached another massive iron door. As he approached it he heard a voice and quickly turned to confront it.
“Come in!” it said cheerily it was coming from a speaker mounted to the ceiling in the corner. Then he quickly turned back as the huge iron door creaked open to let him inside. He stepped inside and was greeted by a chubby fellow standing behind a counter that was blocked off by more iron bars. Behind the man were rows and rows of guns, ammo, food, and water.
“So, you’re the man they found hiding in that field?” said the chubby fellow.
“I guess so, where am I?” said the man.
“You’re in my mercenary compound located near the outskirts of the Chernobyl site, Put your arms up here and ill unbind your wrists,”
“Oh thanks, well who are you?” said the man as he flexed his wrists and rubbed were the rope had made raw.
“I am known as The Boss, I am the one paying these mercenaries and giving them jobs,” said the chubby man.
“Oh, well why am I here?” said the man.
“I don’t know, but there must be something you can do, what’s your name?” said The Boss.
“I can’t remember, I don’t remember anything I just woke up in that field,” Said the man.
“Hmm well that’s not good you’re going to need a name if you’re going to stay around here,” said The Boss. The Boss then walked over to a computer sitting on the counter and started typing and looking through some files.
“Well the codename Jackal is open so you’ll be the mercenary Jackal now,” said The Boss.
“Wait, what me a mercenary?” said the man.
“Yes it’s the way of life around here now after the accident, military has sealed this entire area off so now were here trying to survive by collecting these weird materials that form around the heart of Chernobyl and we sell them to import more food and weapons,” said The Boss as he hit one last button on the computer and printed off a couple sheets. He went over and grabbed the papers and placed them in a folder and wrote on it “Jackal”. He then went to the opposite side of the counter and grabbed a small PDA device and slid it under the bars.
“Here you’ll need this it contains everything you’ll need to know in order to survive in the zone, it has a map with all important locations noted, and a list of all the other mercenaries in this compound,” The Boss said as Jackal picked up the device and started looking through it.
“Thanks I guess? But what am I supposed to do?” said Jackal flipping through the pages on the device.
“I’ll send you on some easy missions at first but you must be of some importance see that tattoo on your arm that tiny barcode… there is something big going on here and it has to do with that because we’ve been searching around and so far have found 24 bodies all shot and killed all of them had that same tattoo so it has to be of some importance.” Said The Boss as he walked up and down the rows of guns. Jackal looked at his tattoo not noticing it before he looked and studied it seeing if he could remember anything.
“Here you’ll need these,” Jackal looked up from his arm and saw The Boss lay a pistol and an assault rifle down on the counter. He then walked back and grabbed a backpack and started dumping ammo and supplies into it.
“You’ll need this also,” he said as he opened up a slot and dropped the back pack on the other side of the counter.
“Well get going, I’ve already informed the others to uncut you and that your one of us now,” said The Boss. Jackal bent down and grabbed the backpack full of supplies and started back up the stairs. Upon reaching the top of the stairs the man that had been leading the band that found him stuck out his hand. Jackal jumped back for a moment and then realized he wanted to shake his hand, so he reached forward and shook his hand.
“Welcome to my crew, I’m Rex the leader of the crew,” he said.
“Thanks I guess but I have no idea what we’re doing out here,” said Jackal.
Rex laughed “don’t worry none of us did at first you’ll get used to it fast or die,” responded Rex.
“Well that’s… reassuring”
Rex then knelt down and cut the rope free from Jackal’s legs.
“Thanks” said Jackal.
“You’re going to need to be able to sprint if you want to do what we do,” replied Rex re-sheathing the knife. “Now get your gear ready, you first mission is now.”
All of a sudden the compound was filled with life everyone was moving and gathering gear and clipping stuff onto themselves. Jackal quickly copied them and followed Rex outside. It was dark outside and everyone was standing around burning barrels and small campfires. Rex started walking to a position in front of everyone and motioned for Jackal to follow him. They stood next to each other in front of everyone.
“Everyone! This is our newest member Jackal apparently he’s of great importance to us, but he’s also new so show I’m the ropes, well tonight were going on another mission to go and raid some supplies from an abandoned science facility in the heart of the zone it should be a fairly simple mission. Let’s get going.” Rex yelled to the crowed. Everyone got up and started walking down the road some people checked the same device that he was handed a little before. So Jackal opened it and look at the map there was a large building highlighted in red that was a pretty far way off, he assumed that this was the science facility they were supposed to raid. He turned and started following Rex and the rest of the group. He looked around and saw most people were talking or going through weapon routines. He decided to take out the pistol and put it in his hip holster just in case, he left the rifle sticking out of his backpack thinking he wouldn’t need it. They finally got to the target building it was huge and made of solid concrete. Rex lifted his hand in the air and everyone stopped, he then pointed in a couple different directions around the building and smaller groups of people broke off and went to other sides of the building.
“Jackal you’re with me for this one so I can show you how we do it said Rex as he moved up to the closest door. Everyone lined up behind him against the wall and Rex waited a little while.
“Breach,” he whispered and then quickly slammed the door open and the line quickly followed. Jackal followed them in and looked around at the shelves of test tubes and beakers.
“spread out and collect any supplies you find and boss wants us to collect some high priority experiments apparently the rest of you collect what you can find,” Rex said into his headset spreading the message to the other groups. Everyone quickly spread out and started pushing random stuff they thought of value into their backpacks. Jackal walked around and examined some of the stuff that was lying around as everyone bustled around him. He found what looked like a couple clips of ammo laying on one of the tables he noticed there was something bright inside the clip and he popped one of the bullets out. He held it up and saw it as no ordinary bullet its tip looked like glass with a small swirling white and blue light inside it. He twirled it in his fingers and looked at it closely.
He found himself looking over a couple men in lab coats. They stood behind a thick concrete wall with a small viewing window in it. On the other side of the wall was a large empty room in the middle of it was small pedestal with one of the same small glowing capsules placed on it. The men pulled a lever and the capsule exploded forming a large ball of white light lighting up the entire room. A small cheer came up from the men, and then his vision changed to a white room. The same men carried in a larger capsule on a cart towards the center of the room where a lone pillar stood. They carefully lifted the capsule into a hole in the pillar.
A hand thumped down on his shoulder and he was brought back into reality. He was startled for a moment and dropped the bullet that was in his hand. It hit the floor and burst open. Generating a small ball of light witch quickly faded.
“What was that?” Rex asked still looking at there the ball of light used to be.
“I don’t know but it seems of value,” jackal replied as he pushed the clips of ammo into his backpack, and took one of them and loaded his pistol with it.
“Well come on lets go we have to go find this experiment.” Rex motioned Jackal to follow him to the stairwell. They proceeded up the stairs with Rex occasionally checking the map strapped to his wrist. “It should be just up here and near the center of the complex,” Rex said pointing down a long hallway. They walked down the hall and came upon a room full of large cages. They approached the cages all of them were busted open and tracks of different shapes and sizes led off in different directions.
“I don't get it, it says the experiment is supposed to be in this room,” Rex said checking the cages one by one for anything left behind. Jackal approached one of the cages and reached out and touched were it had been broken out. All of a sudden Jackals mind raced and he saw images of himself in a lab coat before when this facility was still running he was running tests on the things in these cages. Then an alarm came on and he was meet by the same suited man he had the dream about before. He then saw images of a white room with blinding lights, in the center was a pillar that had a small keyboard and monitor on it. On it was a radioactive symbol. He then saw images of scientists being rampaged by dark shadowy creatures and more were coming out of the cages they were the same monsters that had chased him in that field. Jackal all of a sudden found himself back in the abandoned facility looking at Rex.
“Squads come in has anyone encountered anything suspicious because the experiments are missing,” Rex said calmly into the headset. “Squads...squads? Someone respond.”
There was a small scream and gunfire sounds coming from the headset. Jackal and Rex Heard the same shots a second later echoing off the halls.
“SQUADS! What’s going on down there?” Rex yelled into the headset.
“There’s...there’s things everywhere were being massacred! They've blocked all the exits and were being picked off.” a voice yelled from the headset.
“Dammit!” Rex yelled as a large continues blast of static came from the earpiece. “What are we supposed to do now my entire team is dead and were trapped in this building.”
“I know what were supposed to do...” Jackal whispered slightly exhausted from the visions.
“Well you were saved for some reason lead the way to whatever you have planned,” Rex said sweeping his arm in the direction they came. They started to run down the hall and back down the stairs. Jackal reached over his shoulder and brought the rifle out of his backpack. They quickly circled down the stairs guns drawn. They reached the first floor and kept going down.
“Were are we going we just passed the first floor this is the basement it shows nothing is down here on the map,” Rex said as they reached the bottom stair. They raced through the hallway and kept going around corners. There was a noise behind them and they both turned around guns pointed at the source. Then a large dark sleek figure walked around the corner looking at them. They instantly left off a burst of rounds into the figure the bullets seemed to pass right through the figure leaving it unscathed.
“RUN!” Rex screamed and they both sprinted down the rest of the hallway. They reached a large door completely sealing off the area.
“Were trapped!” Rex yelled as he turned around gun drawn to find an even larger group of the same figures at the other end of the hall. Jackal felt around the door and found a small scanner on the side, he tried to figure out how to open it. Rex left off a few rounds at the mob of figures once again the bullets passed right through leaving them without injury. He threw the gun down and started slamming his shoulder into the door trying as a last ditch effort. Jack stared at the scanner and then at the tattoo on his arm. He rolled up his sleeve more and slid his arm under the scanner. It beeped once and the doors started to open.
“So that tattoo is good for something after all, well let’s go!” Rex yelled running through the small opening that was becoming wider. The door led to the bright white room he had seen in his vision earlier. They ran to the center pillar and Jackal used his hand to wipe off the dust that had built on the screen. He tapped on the keyboard and the screen lit up saying identification required. A hole opened up under the monitor, Jackal looked in the hole and knew what it was.
“Come on swipe your hand under that thing and let’s go.” Rex motioned, ready to run.
“No, I can’t this thing is made so who ever activates it is trapped here, so you can’t pull it to sabotage the place without getting yourself killed.” Jackal said as he unhooked his backpack and dropped it to the floor. “You go; I deserve this for helping create these horrid things,”
“There’s got to be some other way we can make a run for it common,” Rex replied trying to urge jackal to come with.
“No, this is my punishment for creating such horrible creators; ill hold them off as long as I can. Go!” he unholstered his pistol and brought out the other clips of the ammo he found before. He looked back to see Rex hesitate to run then turn around look back and start running down a tunnel. He quickly placed the clips on the small keyboard so he could reload with one hand. When he turned and saw Rex was completely gone he raised his right arm and slid it into the hole in the pillar. It clamped onto his arm and held him in place. The screen flashed authentication passed…
Countdown to detonation started.
5 minutes until detonation.
Jackal sighed and relaxed himself, the shadowy figures immediately started to move into the room.
He raised the pistol at the first of the shadowy figures and pulled the trigger. He saw the shadow shudder and for a split second could see the capsule suspended within it before it exploded in a ball of light. The beast screamed and burst into nothingness. He shifted his aim to the next one and breathed out and squeezed again. Again and again the shadows screamed their wail of death before bursting into vapor. In one swift fluid motion he flicked his thump to release the clip and slammed the gun down onto a new one on the keyboard and went back to vanquishing the shadows that began to flood the room. He kept them at bay but they were slowly getting closer, one was almost on him when he jammed the pistol right into its face and pulled the trigger. There was a loud click and he realized he was out he quickly glanced at the keyboard there was no more clips. The shadow in front of him released a low growl from deep within its throat.

Rex sprinted down the tunnel never looking back. By the time he could see the end of the tunnel his lungs were burning and felt like they were going to burst. He reached the end of the tunnel and saw that it opened to a huge hanger it was empty besides one helicopter. He ran over to it and heard a scream echoes down the tunnel he had just come from. He scrambled into the helicopter and flipped on a couple switches sending the helicopter into life. The ceiling of the hanger started to open revealing the night sky above. He glanced back out of the helicopter the shadow figures already starting to flood into the large hanger. He pulled up on the stick and the helicopter took flight. He climbed through the air as the shadows swarmed over the spot where the helicopter used to sit. He gained speed as he burst out of the hanger into the dark of the night. He looked back when he was a while away and saw the building become engulfed in an enormous ball of white light. The ball of light seemed to stay for a moment or two then instantly shrank sucking everything in with it. The facility crumbled and collapsed inward the ground around the building seemed to turn into a swirling vortex. Then it seemed to stop and he saw the shockwave ripple the air. He turned back to the controls trying to get away as fast as he could. The shockwave caught him sending him into a tailspin towards the ground. He fought vigorously with the controls trying to regain stability. But it was too late he was busting through tops of trees and then he slammed into the ground the force smashing him against the window.
He woke later; he lay around ten feet from where the helicopter was. He must have been propelled through the window. He had cuts all over him and one gash across his forehead that dribbled blood down one side of his face. He stood up and looked around. He heard a low growl come from somewhere nearby. He couldn’t tell where he heard it again, and then again, all around him. He quickly turned around trying to find the source of the noise. Then he saw it a long dark shape slithered down a tree near him. He turned and saw that they were coming from everywhere. They moved closer he spun in a circle trying to find some avenue of escape, there was none. The creatures moved all around him, he let out one final scream as the shadows flooded over his body.





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