Month: August 2014

Survivor Stories – The Broken Mirror

Wow, haven’t updated this for ages. To be honest I sort of got bored of the whole idea. Anyway, I needed somewhere to publish this bit of DayZ (which is an awesome, awesome game) fan fiction so here it is.

For those who don’t know, DayZ is a multiplayer, hardcore survival game. With zombies, permadeath, and absolutely no helping hands for those who aren’t prepared to learn how to play. It’s set in a fictional post soviet state called Chernarus which is full of abandoned towns, military bases and the like. You don’t have to know anything about DayZ really to read this story, it just happens to be set in the DayZ universe.

I’ve been writing crap on and off for a couple of years. I’ve been trying to complete a novel but I either get bored/pissed off with the progress or quality of the work and give up, only to go back to it months later and write random chapters completely out of chronological order. I might start posting this garbage on here in pieces as I find that I make better progress if I write short stories, or random chapters.

Anyway, here’s a short horror story: The Broken Mirror

 

The Broken Mirror

The two men stared greedily at each other over the dying embers of the camp fire. The cold, damp December air constantly threatening the only source of heat and light in the entire city. The square outside the town hall was to be the final showdown for these two nameless transients and only one of them would be leaving this place alive.

The taller of the two men reached down to his side and picked up the last decent sized charcoal briquette from the pile next to him, his stolen silver watch glinted brilliantly on his wrist in the twilight. He tossed it into the fire with a quick flick of his hand and fresh sparks danced like terrible fireflies against the cold dark. He smiled as he looked over at his companion,

“Last one. Last one that will work anyway. Guess it’s nearly that time old friend?” he asked with a raspy and hoarse voice. The kind of voice that lets you know a man has been through something.

“We are not friends.” said the smaller, slightly more athletic looking of the two.

“Friends, enemies. None of these words hold any meaning no more. But hey, got to keep looking on the bright side right pal?” the taller man pointed at the other and gave a thumbs up to go with his flippant remark. He couldn’t sustain the gesture though, as a violent cough erupted from his cracked mouth.

The smaller man shuffled closer to the fire, his black eyes loaded with scorn. “You and I both know there is no bright side here. Perhaps there never was. Now shut up and let’s run out the clock in peace. I have no desire to spend these last moments engaged in conversation with you.”

“Last moments huh? Sounds like you’ve already made your mind as to how this is all going to play out buddy.”

“Believe me I’ve been thinking about this for a very long time, now be quiet. And if you refer to me as buddy or pal or friend or any variation of such again, this will end much quicker than we agreed.”

And so there was silence again. The tall man knew his companion was not screwing around. ‘Better just shut up and wait for my chance’ he thought to himself, never once taking his eyes off the man across the flames from him.

Two hours passed without a sound other than the crackling of the fire and the low hum of the winter winds. This winter had been a particularly harsh one, probably the worst since the outbreak began. In fact the conditions were so poor that neither man had expected to survive beyond this year, a fact which had played a large part in them arriving at their current predicament.

Another hour and a wolf howled in the distance. The poor beast sounded like it had been caught by a zed as it gave out an anguished cry and then fell abruptly silent. Neither man flinched. The fire was almost out, it would happen soon.

The tall man’s eyes started to droop, but he was unaware of this. He had expected the tiredness to come on gradually; in fact he was banking on this fact so he could assure himself that he’d be able to react appropriately. On nights like this though, you can be awake one minute and asleep the next. The cold and the dark get into your bones and afflict you with a lethargy that only the strongest can resist. The tall man didn’t know it yet but he was already dead.

As he watched intently from across the fire pit, the smaller man began to see his way out. A few more minutes and it would be over, and he could finally leave this place. He waited patiently until he was sure the tall man was asleep, and then he carefully and silently rose to one knee. The tall man’s eyes fluttered, giving pause to his companion who had begun to inch closer and closer to his side of the fire. The small man held his breath, but slowly relaxed as he realised that he was witnessing the first stages of REM sleep. His companion was dreaming, it was time to end this.

He positioned himself to the side of the sleeping man and kneeled down. On the floor next to the fire, among a pile of other junk, was a broken looking glass. The shards that were strewn all around glinted in the moonlight and then went dark as the shadow of the man who was not asleep crossed over them. Without making a sound, the smaller man grasped one of the bigger shards between his hands and slowly but forcibly slipped it into the back of the sleeping giant, between the third and fourth rib. He felt the pressure of the other man’s lung as he fed the makeshift blade deeper into his back, then with a satisfying pop, the small man knew it was over.

To his surprise, the tall man did not wake up instantly. It took several seconds before the doomed one’s eyes opened fully and he turned to look at his companion. He tried to speak, but the new hole in his lungs prevented him from doing so. As his eyes grew larger and the sleepy, peaceful look on his face slowly turned to abject horror, the smaller man gave a wicked grin.

“It looks like you lose, friend” he exclaimed with unabashed joy as he twisted the glass shard clockwise and then wrenched it back out through the dying man’s flesh. The sound of sinew and muscle tearing gave him a cheap thrill as blood began to flow freely and erratically over the glass and down his forearm. The deep cut on his own hand, a gift for holding on to the makeshift blade too tightly, bothered him not. He had waited a long time for this day, and he intended to savour it.

As the tall man realised his fate, the look of horror on his face faded to a blank, mute, expressionless stare. He was unable to speak or move, but was strangely comforted by the realisation that he felt no pain.

‘This truly was the worst winter in recent memory’ he thought to himself as he expired, ‘So fucking cold I can’t even feel myself dying. Kudos to you my old friend, you have won this night. May we meet in the clearing at the end of the path one day, and may I haunt your soul until that day arrives.’ He managed a weak smile and with a slight gurgling sound raised his head to look into his assassin’s black eyes. His companion took great comfort from this glance; he knew exactly what his victim was thinking.

“Haunt me all you want you superstitious son of a bitch. I will take my leave of you and this awful place once and for all. You and the other ghosts are welcome to it.”

As the light went out of the dying man’s eyes, his companion suddenly felt more alone than he had ever felt in his life. Putting it down to the trauma of ending his only real constant companion’s life, he shrugged off the dread and poured what remained of the dead man’s canteen on to the bones of the fire. In the morning he would leave this place for ever. He felt cold and weary, but with a glad heart he lay down by the long suffering fire pit and closed his eyes. As a brisk wind blew across the square and the first hints of dawn appeared on the horizon, the man fell asleep.

He had only intended to catch a few hours to make up for the all nighter he had just pulled, but instead he woke up to realise at least twelve hours had passed. Judging by the mood of the sky and the dwindling light he estimated it to be about 6pm. ‘Goddamnit’ He thought, as he cursed himself for sleeping too long. His first chance to leave this place in years and he had overslept. ‘You fool, anyone could have happened upon you in this state and all this would have been for nothing. You’re alone now, be more careful’. He shrugged of the self-deprecation and started gathering his few belongings. The dried blood on his arm looked like some hideous rust coloured birthmark and to his disgust he found that it made him feel quite nauseous. He picked up the discarded canteen and managed to mete out a few splashes of water that he used to clean up his arm somewhat. It still looked bloody, but at least he could stomach it now. The cut in his hand had coagulated over the night, so he tore off a swatch of material from the dead man’s shirt and wrapped it tightly around his now aching hand. The body of his companion lay motionless at his feet.

As he gathered his gunna, his affectionate name for a small improvised backpack made from boar pelt and some hastily thrown together rope & sticks, his foot kicked against something on the gravel. He kneeled down once more, and inspected the blood soaked shard that he had used only hours before to win his prize. A dark smirk crept in to the corner of his mouth, as he crushed the shard under his boot heel and turned away from the camp fire. It was finally time to leave Novodmitrovsk, his unwanted and hate filled home for the last three years. He couldn’t even remember how he had come to be in the town, but there was no turning back now, he had won his freedom and he intended to take it by both horns. As he passed the road sign indicating the end of Novo’s borders, he spat at the ground and muttered something unintelligible. He had no idea where he was going, his map was long since lost, but he didn’t care. He did not look back as he walked outside of the city. With his shape getting smaller and smaller on the horizon as he moved in to the countryside, a cold dead eye regarded him from afar, the vitreous humour slowly solidifying behind the lens.

After three days and nights on the road, the man arrived starving and manic in the small town of Stary Sobor. He had no idea where he was, like his former companion he was not a native of Chernarus and without a map to guide him everywhere looked the same, but he picked himself up and, spurred on by the promise of salvage and shelter, he headed deeper into the town.

Taking shelter in an abandoned and run down town house, exhausted by his three day trek, the man lay down to sleep. Food could wait until tomorrow and with any luck the town well would still be operational so he could refill his dwindling water supply. As he drifted off, the man started to dream.

The dream was the same one he always had. At least once a week this recurring nightmare would plague his slumber and cause him to wake in a cold sweat. As if this place wasn’t bad enough on its own. In the dream he recalls how he first arrived in this awful place, how he came to be trapped in Novodmitrovsk, and how he met his ill-fated companion. But this time, something about the dream was very different. This time the dream felt like it would be the last dream the man would ever have. And so very lucidly, his own story unfolded before his own eyes one final time.

The man is sitting in the first class lounge of an Air Volga passenger jet. He’s on an internal flight, connecting to Sochi International as he flies from Volgograd. He’s a junior lawyer with a major international firm on his way to his first big meeting with the Russian division. He is anxious about the meeting but excited that his career is finally going somewhere. The air hostess mumbles something to him in Russian that he doesn’t understand. He motions to the empty glass on the tray table; a single half melted ice cube is all that remains. The hostess understands and heads to the galley to get some more scotch whilst the man stares out the window at the tricolour fields beneath the wings of the plane. He is content, but all that is about to change.

A high pitched scream pierces his half drunk, half asleep mind as he sees the hostess stumble out of the galley, knocking over the drinks trolley in the process. There is something wrong, she is covered in red all down her left side and looks very distressed. He realises the red is blood gushing from a giant wound in her throat, it looks like a bite and tear job. As she loses blood her movement becomes erratic, she twists and falls backwards into the galley, cracking her skull on the metal sideboard. She isn’t moving anymore. The other passengers start to become aware of what is happening and chaos begins to spread throughout the cabin. A teenager, a boy of about seventeen covered in blood that isn’t his own emerges slowly from behind the body of the now dead hostess. His eyes do not look like normal human eyes. They are bloodshot to the point of being almost completely red, and they have a psychotic gaze that sweeps across the passengers one by one. As the frantic passengers look around in confusion and fear, the boy lunges at a middle aged man wearing a business suit. In a split second he is on him, perched on his back like some kind of fucked up conjoined twin, and he sinks his teeth into the man’s shoulder. Upon seeing this, any sense of composure that any of the passengers had retained up to this point is lost, and the chaos deepens. Several groups of parents pick up their young children and make a beeline for the back of the cabin. Aware that something very wrong is happening and that this psycho kid could attack them at any moment, they push through the curtains separating them from the economy cabin and flee to the back of the plane, thus spreading the panic across the whole aircraft. They will not be touching down at their final destination.

Our man is frozen in his seat. What is going on here? Who is this crazy kid attacking people on the plane? He looks over at Business Suit, now lying in a crumpled heap on the floor whimpering and slowly bleeding out. I better do something, he thinks as the teenage boy looks directly at him with murderous fervour shooting from his eyes. I better do something RIGHT FUCKING NOW, he repeated to himself as the boy started to rise from his position, hunched over Business Suit. He unbuckles his seat belt and leaps from his chair, sending the empty glass flying into the air. He decides the only prudent measure is to join the fleeing passengers and the rest of the cabin crew towards the back of the plane. As he glances over his shoulder he looks on in horror as the air hostess, who had been dead for a good few minutes now, slowly started to rise to her feet and open her eyes. Those same eyes as the boy. What the hell is this?

But no time to question that now, there’s only one direction to go and that’s backwards, but what to do once he gets there? It didn’t matter, he just had to move. So he does, he runs so fast he doesn’t see the low hanging sign that marks the separation between first and economy class cabins. There are stars in his vision now and he feels sick. As he falls to the ground he is briefly aware of the plane shifting violently downwards. He hears the dying screams of his fellow passengers who were not quick enough to escape the chaos in first class. As the sounds become muted and his vision starts to dim, one last thought runs through his mind before unconsciousness takes him. I hope I die quickly.

Waking up inside his own dream, he comes to and observes the carnage around him. The plane has crashed, that much is obvious as he places his hand on the damp, charred grass beneath him to steady himself. How on earth am I alive? He thinks to himself as his vision slowly returns. All around him he sees blood and metal. Twisted bodies and twisted steel. Some of them are still alive, he can hear them moving, crunching the wet grass underfoot. No, not grass, something else. Something worse. He looks over his shoulder to see an elderly woman eating her own leg which has been severed from her body by the seatbelt that was supposed to protect her. He glances all around the wreckage, he has no idea how he is alive, but he isn’t the only one. He can see shapes moving all around him, some are clearly still human, but the others…he doesn’t want to admit to himself what he thinks those other things are. He has to move before he becomes one, he saw what happened to the hostess. Get up and run, if you can, he thinks as he attempts to rise. To his astonishment he notices that save for a few bumps and scrapes, he is perfectly unharmed. He’s survived a plane crash without so much as a broken ankle, but now he has to deal with, well, with what appears to be the walking dead.

He jumps to his feet and begins to run as fast as his legs will take him for a nearby wood about half a mile in the distance, south of the crash site. He still cannot believe he is not dead, let alone not even injured. Several of the creatures that are prowling the corpses and not-quite corpses strewn around the crash site notice him leave and begin to give chase. He hears them and, looking over his shoulder, decides that he can outrun them or die trying. He breaks for the treeline.

Bleating and babbling they fell on his neck with a scream. Guess it’s Die Tryin’ then, he thinks as his knee buckles and he falls to the ground. But no, wait, perhaps not. The sharp fall has sent the feral beast who almost-but-not-quite managed to bite his neck from the vantage point upon his back, to the dank green forest ground about three metres in front. Close, too close, now get up and RUN. So he ran. He ran for seven months.

And the dream shifts now. Time and space is convoluted. The man is still himself, but the world he once knew is gone forever. He lights an improvised cigarette with a match off his boot heel. The military grade, red & black combat boots he found in a dumpster near the coast that one clear night many months ago. He isn’t sure exactly how long he’s been a nomad but he knows it’s less than a year, as his first winter is upon him. He’s pretty sure he remembers leaving in May, after Louise’s birthday. But he cannot be sure. All he was sure of these days was his dwindling ammo supply and his friend in the opposite tower. He needn’t worry about the ammunition, as it would last him well into the next two years, as he and the stranger in Tower 4B preyed on the helpless civilian wanderers who dared to enter the city in search of aid or succor. They killed indiscriminately, convincing themselves that it was for their own continued survival, only pausing to trade fire with each other in a vain attempt to gain dominance over this haunted city. A monumental game of cat and mouse that is written about in other texts apart from this that you now read. As their game escalated, the zeds below gathered in their dozens. As the men fired the hordes would hear, and they would arrive and quickly became part of the slaughter. This was their life, every day for almost three years. Scavenging for food and supplies was almost impossible, with one constantly watching out for the other. As a result the men grew weaker and weaker, and madder and madder with each passing month. We are catching up to the present time now.

The dream shifts a final time. It is the night before the night of the bonfire. They have come to an agreement. They communicate in morse code with penlights and practically worn out pistol flashlights. They are too weak and sore to call out loudly. They will meet in the centre square, their killing grounds for the last three years. Hundreds upon hundreds of dead litter the streets and the smell is unbearable to anyone but these two men. Tomorrow night, it is agreed, that they will come with no guns or blades unsheathed, to meet in the centre and play one final game with each other. Leave your rifles behind, sit down at the fire, and do not be the first one to fall asleep. It was simple and elegant, and it was long past due.

The man’s eyes opened with a start as he gazed dimly at the broken bulb above him. He was on the 2nd floor of a reasonably well defended base camp. It was run down but it had solid doors he had ripped off to build a zed barricade. He cursed himself for the dream, always that same dream, and rose to his feet promptly. His time in the tower had honed his skills rather well, he was no junior executive lawyer anymore but he was certainly as ruthless. He was always alert despite his extremely weakened state. He had heard something and that’s why he had woken up, but what?

He was not prepared for the answer.

As his failing eyes adjusted to the darkness he peered out of the cracked window frame and down to the street below, but there was nothing there. Or at least it appeared so to begin with, as the thing in the darkness was not moving which made it almost impossible to see. But as they grey mass of cloud moved from east to west the light from the emerging moon gave recourse, ill-fated though it may be, as the yellow-white luminescence bounced off the silver watch that had almost become part of the flesh on the limply hanging limb of the thing in the darkness. The man froze and his mouth moved but no words were spoken. How was this possible and how had it followed him here all this way? Was this some twist to his recurring dream or was he definitely awake? Nothing made sense anymore. Even when he knew he was dealing with zombies he still never really accepted it. Never wanted to accept it. He abhorred superstition and thought ghosts were convenient excuses for weak people to explain what happens after you leave this mortal coil. So zombies? No way, not real, not unless we’re in Haiti and they use that weird powder. But no matter how long he berated himself, he always had to give in and accept what was in front of his own two eyes. The human time was over now, the planet belongs to the dead and the soon to be dead. It was kinda fun while it lasted.

He snapped out of the trance and came thundering back to reality. This was happening. He didn’t understand why it was happening but it was and he had to be fast. 4B had turned that was for sure, he had seen as much plenty of times before during his time in the forgotten city. The virus takes longer to bring you back from death, natural or otherwise, than if the zeds actually bite you, in which case turning is almost instantaneous. He had thought about putting another shard from the mirror into 4B’s brain as he lay helpless at his feet three nights prior but had instead found humour in the idea of his old enemy stumbling around as a brain dead shambler so he elected to let nature take it’s course. Well, what we now refer to as nature.

He grabbed his things and lept from the window to the street below. Grabbing a dilapidated old fashioned postbox from it’s loose purchase in the soil, he swung the weapon at 4B’s head before recoiling and then stumbling in terror as the zed dodge the swing. He half fell half jogged up the street, dropping the useless postbox in his wake as he heard from behind him the slow menacing drawl that caused his heart to skip at least eight beats,

“Frrr–rr–iii–eeeee–ee–nndd-dd-d”

“What the fuck are you kidding me? Really? TALKING?” he began to cry and laugh at the same time, his mania reaching critical mass. He cast his mind back through his short life, remembering only the really good stuff, the best and most celebrated memories. The girls, the drugs – oh especially the drugs – the money, the kudos, the prospects. He badly wanted to smoke a joint and fall asleep forever but fat chance of that out here. He had once tried smoking something brown-green he found in a baggie in a dead man’s pocket but that made him sick for three weeks. Once again he gave himself a mental slap in the face and snapped out of the reverie.

“OK fine.” he conceded “Talk all you want you’ll never catch me, you’ll starve to death trying you flesh eating wraith.”

“Buuu–dddd–d–ddd–y–yyyy”

replied 4B with what he swore looked like a grin. “Yeah, bye buhh-deee.” and he ran off into the night, and then he kept on running and he did not sleep, and by now you’ve got a pretty good idea by of where our man is going to have his finale. The smouldered ruin of the week old bonfire greeted him in the square. His pursuer gave no respite for these past three terrible nights. His body was ravaged, his mind was broken. He was done and he knew what he had to do. He would not give 4B the satisfaction.

4B, known by others in the wasteland as the anomaly, looked on from a decent distance. He had achieved his aim and now only had to watch as nature once more took it’s course.

The man stood outside the grand front entrance of the town hall in Novodmitrovsk. He was tired of running and he was going to go out on his own terms. He had survived the plane crash those many years ago, he had cheated death once and now death controlled the vast majority of the population. He knew what had to be done.

He climbed the stairs swiftly, there was no sense in delaying this any further. He emerged on the roof with the setting sun before him and just in the distance he could make out a small shape, standing lookout on a hill about a mile outside of the town borders. He took one final look at the world and ran around the railed precipice before leaping off into the cool rushing air. As he approached the ground his eyes opened and he witnessed the last thing he would ever see in this world. A broken shard of glass from the mirror rushed up to meet his gaze as his weary body fell into the square, killing him instantly. The shard pierced his eye and embedded itself firmly into his frontal lobe, destroying any chance for future motor function. He had finally won his freedom.

THE END.

Advertisements