I stepped into the darkness of the front hall, ahead were stairs, to the left a passage, and ahead and to the right a room. I could hear laughing and voices coming from the room, but it seemed that none of them had heard the door open. I hadn't a clue who they were, so I played it safe and pulled the steel pipe from my webbing belt and crept toward the room.

The tread of my boots were oiled softer than flesh, and so they didn't make a sound, but my bib-and-braces and jacket creaked at the knees and elbows, and the filters on my chest rattled and clicked as I breathed.

Finally I stood opposite the doorway, and with a small mirror I looked in; the room was full of an odd assortment of people. I wasn't going in there. No way in hell. I didn't care if it was raining outside, my suit would keep me dry and warm, but I wasn't staying in here with these 'people', for all I knew they might try to eat me! I went back to the front door, even more careful not to make a sound, looking back to see if any of them were coming for me. On my way back a glint of gold caught my eye. It was a .30 caliber brass casing, Yugoslavian from the looks of it. What was it doing here?

But my luck had obviously run out. The door wouldn't open, I couldn't even get it to move, the handle didn't even rattle! I poked and prodded and searched for a hidden catch or lock, but I saw that there wasn't even a dead-bolt in the door! It just wasn't going to open! I decided to get another look at the people who had set up in the house.

Again I reached the doorway unnoticed and took out my little mirror. In 20 odd years I had seen some weird things in the Zone, weird people, weird animals, but this was more like a dream.

"A dream! That's-" I really shouldn't have shouted like that, dream or not, because they all turned to stare at me (or more to the point, the mirror floating in the shadows of the passage).

"You can come in you know" A woman called from the room. Perhaps I was overreacting, perhaps I was just dreaming, all I knew was that I was tired and sore, and would love to curl up on the rug like a dog.

I lumbered in noisily, giving up on stealth, and eying the people in the room. I would have taken off my mask but anything that had a horn on it's head couldn't possibly breath normal air.

"What's you're name? What story are you from?" A voice asks from my right.

"Call me Rizak, you don't want to know what I do, I'm from the Donbass (which isn't a story you little so-and-so), and what the devil does it matter to any of you?!"I bellowed (although I'm not sure how much made sense through my filters). I stood there for a minute, panting and watching the people sink back and forth into the fog on my lenses. Then I went into the corner and lay on my side, taking a position so I could see all of them.

They seemed a little shocked, perfect. Speaking from experience, when an irate man in an ugly rubber mask screams and flails a pipe, you tend to leave him alone so he doesn't become as violent as he looks, and if he asks any questions you do best to answer him.I didn't plan on causing a ruckus, as I could see a child over there, and I knew could never look my own daughter in the eye...

"I want some answers. Where exactly am I? What are you? Why did I find an Yugoslavian rifle casing? All I want is answer, that's it."



The End

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