I seemed to have made an impression on even the mutant with the horns, it kept sniffing the air and seemed to shrink back from me. Enough yelling and flailing, it was time to talk and figure out what was what.
"What do I mean by rifle casing? I mean a spent shell from a rifle bullet." I held up the piece of brass for the horned thing to see, "It's got Cyrillic writing on the bottom so I'm going to assume that another Slav came through here, a guy with a gun no less. Was he dressed like me? Did he talk like me? Did he say where he was from?"
All I received was blank looks and uncomfortable shuffling; some of them looked like they could do a number on me, but if they had wanted to hurt me they would have. It looked like I could be there for a while, and considering some of the people looked more or less human I decided that the air was clean enough, so I pulled down my hood and worked my mask loose. I rubbed my eyes and wiped my face dry with a dirty rag. I took out my little mirror and had a look at my ugly mug; red-rimmed eyes sunk into my head, sunken cheeks, pale skin, no hair, I looked like a bloody skull!
"Like I said, I'm Rizak, Cutter. I was an army engineer for a little while, but most of my life I've been a miner, but not in the traditional sense. Folks in America call us stalkers, others looters or scavengers; I'm best at going underground, so they say I'm a miner. The last thing I remember is going into the Visitation Zone with some comrades, going to a foundry and falling into the waste pit, then I woke up in the forest here."
"I don't have a clue what you're talking about, but this is the Hideout for Misfit Characters, which means that we're all characters in someone's writing. We can't leave, even if we want to, our author decides when it's our time to go." Now that I had explained myself and had stopped acting like a madman (for the moment at least) they seemed a little more at ease, at least I was getting some answers that made...
"I'm willing to believe the whole 'We can't leave' thing, but what do you mean 'characters in someone's writing'? I'm a man with a wife and 3 children, and a life I've been living for 46 years now! I've never even met an author, unless that teacher that Maksim is married to counts! I've heard some strange stuff in my lifetime, seen even stranger too, but this takes the cake boys!" But the looks one their faces... they were dead serious, which meant either they were all mad and delusional, or else they were right.
"What strange world am I in now? No matter, I'm too hungry and sore to figure this out, have got anything to eat?"