I awoke on the coastline near Kamyshovo. It was raining and there was a heavy mist in the air. Down the road I could barely make out a town and people shuffling around. As I neared I knew something wasn't right. These weren't people, something was wrong. Wanting a closer look, I crouched and skirted the town, trying to stay hidden. At one point I was forced to crawl on my stomach to avoid being seen. I got really close to one of them and saw his blood covered face, smelt the rotting flesh, and heard his pained moans as he stumbled around. Zombies. A sudden fear hit me as I realized what had happened. I wanted to scream and run for the hills, but I forced myself to stay calm. Controlled breaths, slow your heart, I thought to myself as I crawled away from the city. I had to get into the hills, away from this city.
A long time ago, my friends and I had jokingly talked about zombies and what we would do if it happened. Somewhere within the conversation the city of Mogilevka was brought up because of the large industrial buildings they had. It seemed like a safe haven, somewhere you could fight and holdout for a long time. That was my destination and with any luck, someone would have survived to make it that far.
I ran through the woods north of Kamyshovo, crossed a dirt path and began to beeline for Pusta, a small village I knew of. It was quiet and eerie under the canopy and every twig snap made me jump. Along the way I discovered a tree stand with a 12-gauge shotgun. As I descended the ladder smiling, I turned to face my first zombie. Apparently I wasn't as sneaky as I thought. I lined up the barrel and watched his head pop, the round ripping through his flesh. I almost threw up as I scrambled away. Somehow I had never imagined killing zombies to be so brutal.
For hours I walked under the shady trees, the rain finally dying, until I found a road. It ran north and south and I guessed it to be the one that ran between Elektro and Msta. I also recalled there being some tourist stop along the way with an old ruin or something. I decided to press my luck and see whether I found it. It was risky but I was growing thirsty and needed to find something soon. The road stretched on for miles uphill and I had to stop numerous times to catch my breath. After what seemed like the millionth bend, I saw an odd rock structure. Quietly I approached and saw a sign reading Rog Por. This was it. Within the grounds and inside the crumbling buildings I found supplies. I wondered if someone was coming back for them, but shrugged away the thought as I abated my thirst and hunger. Every man for himself seemed fitting.
I returned the way I came and continued my trek through the woods. It was uneventful and I was grateful for that, until I reached Pusta, a small country village. Again I was forced to skirt the edges and stay hidden. It was tense half-hour as I passed dangerously close to zombies, but soon I found the old dirt road that led to Mogilevka. I jogged for miles until I saw a fork in the road and, my heart stopped, a person. I fumbled with my gun and brought it up. Would they fire on me? He saw me as well and we both cautiously approached one another. My finger was tight on the trigger, but I kept the barrel slightly off him, ready to snap to his chest at any moment. But as his face became visible I realized it was my old friend Devin. The fear lifted. After a brief celebratory greeting and an exchange of stories, we looked towards Mogilevka in the distance and the fields of zombies in the way.
Gripping our weapons and feeling a new surge of confidence, we rushed forward. As we slid up against a wooden fence I heard a growl and turned to face a zombie stepping out of bush. I panicked and fell backwards, managing to bring my shotgun up. The round exploded from the barrel and splattered into his chest and face. I looked at Devin and we knew what was about to happen. Zombie after zombie began showing up, wondering what the loud bang was. We began firing and running, trying to dodge their lunges and savage arms. I had never seen such anger, almost as if their thirst for blood was a horrible addiction, something they would do anything to satisfy. After body after body fell to the ground, we realized we had to make a move. We ran along the old wooden house and into the field. We were able to confuse them by hitting the dirt and remaining quiet. After a few minutes we began crawling towards the city.
We were about half way there when stopped at another old house. As we caught our breath I peeked around the corner and saw multiple zombies moving towards us. I went around the other way and saw more coming up the road and from the field. We were surrounded. There was an exchange of nods as we both realized it was time to run. Standing up and yelling we both fired our guns and shot the closest zombies. More rushed in and met their demise. Devin headed around one side the house as I went another. We both sprinted towards the large industrial building. Almost there I yelled to myself, just keep running. As I tore through the doorway I frantically scrambled to close the door. I didn't see Devin. I ran the length of the building checking other exits. Unfortunately one side had no doors and couldn't be blocked. I prayed none would come that way. Turning back I heard a door slam shut as zombies crashed up against it. Devin was panting and barely able to run as he crossed the building towards me. That was too close, Mogilevka was a bad idea. As we caught our breath and looked around the area we saw nothing but broken down buildings leading into the heart of the city. We needed supplies and more importantly, ammunition. We walked slowly towards some of the smaller buildings to check them out. A few minutes passed in silence as we explored the rubble. Nothing. All of a sudden I saw a couple zombies wandering in from the large building. They must have realized where we were. We fell back to a small building and waited. As we sat inside, a loud pounding echoed through the building as zombies began beating on a door behind us. Where were they coming from? I ran over and looked through the window and saw a face looking back at me. I almost screamed as I lined up my gun. No save the round, I thought, he can't get through. We had to run again. On the count of three we both stood and sprinted from the building. We ran back the way we came, through the large industrial building and out a side door. I led the charge as we crossed a field. Looking back I saw Devin being pursued by multiple targets. It was a horrible moment as I realized I might watch him die. Crouching down I brought up my gun and waited for him to pass. As he ran by, I lit up the first one. The round caught him and he dropped. Devin began to fire as well. Mogilevka was a bad idea.
We headed east for a short while. Both of us were wore out and needed rest. We passed into a small area with buildings. It was quiet and only had a couple zombies we easily finished off. We split up to find supplies. I opened an outhouse and discovered ammo and bandages on the floor. It was disgusting but I couldn't complain. As I gathered up what I could I heard an awful crashing noise. I ran over and found Devin on the ground, writhing in pain. The wooden platform above him was cracked and broken. He indicated towards his legs as he gritted his teeth. "Can you move them?" I asked as he tried to apply pressure. He muffled a scream. They were broken, maybe fractured. Fuck, this was bad. After an hour of lying around, Devin realized what needed to be done. "Shoot me," he said simply, trying to keep the emotion out of his voice.
"What?!" I exclaimed, "I can't do that." He sighed and explained the situation very clearly. Even if we decided he could be saved, it would require me to head alone to Elektro or Chernogorsk, find a hospital, get lucky and discover the right supplies, escape the city and return. It would take days probably, be extremely risky for both of us, probably risk Devin dying anyway since zombies would find him, and he might die of dehydration anyway. He said it again, "shoot me." My hands shook furiously as I raised the barrel. The iron sights came into focus with a blurry head behind it. After I fire don't look, I told myself. I swallowed the lump in my throat and felt my eyes water. Fuck this shit. A long silent moment passed and then I squeezed the trigger. I felt the boom ripple through my body, echoing loudly off the buildings and scaring birds from trees. I fell to my knees and saw his mangled face sputter its last dying breath. I ran into the woods, not looking back.