He led me away from the fear of the world.
It was 1986. The twenty-fifth of April. They should have watched. They should have been more careful. But no. It wasn’t their fault. The radiation killed so many. So, so… many. He was one of them. Alexander. He was the closest person I had. He wanted to become more than a friend. I had said that we could. He was killed during the second explosion. They didn’t tell us right when it happened. It took ten days… ten damn days. I was underground. I was safe. My father… he had the bright idea to prepare for the unthinkable… he was right. Maybe the chaos that swirled around in his head wasn’t so far-fetched after all. We stayed underground for so long… and the warnings came… to evacuate… to leave… I begged for him to let us go, let us leave the damned place, and see the sun. He denied it all, and we stayed. Until he ran out… I never saw him after that. First days had passed..then months… then years. I had made a promise to stay there. I had to leave. I had to go. The metal door sat in front of me, and I shook, my pale white hand on the handle. I pushed… pulled… and pushed again… the air was cold… I needed fresh air. It opened, and I was blinded by the light.
It was quiet. It was strange. Cars lay on the side of the road, rotten, stripped to barely anything. I heard birds in the distance… and a breeze blew past me. It felt nice, but I was scared. Empty. I wanted nothing more than to climb back down into the dark depths of the bunker… and sleep my life away. I couldn’t do that though. I had to find somebody. Anybody. My feet slowly trudged along the ground, passing between tall and twisted trees. The trees were still green, yet they cast dark shadows onto the ground. In the corner of my eyes, dark figures twisted and turned. Yet I would turn, seeing nothing but shadows. Leaves lay in piles, skeletons littered every so often. I swear I heard him whispering… I wanted to hold his hand..be held in his arms…
Months had passed… with each day I would return to the bunker, sleeping. I grew thin, rationing my food to the best of my abilities. I started to wonder, and found a small house, deciding to make trips back and forth, moving my things from the bunker to the house. One by one. I was scared. I missed the comfort of my father, the constant talks with Alexander. But here I was, by myself, and wanting to cry. Days continued to pass, and I started to lose hope. Then a letter. I was about to go and scavenge, and I stepped out into the silent world. My foot crushed the paper, and I paused. My small, weak hands slowly reached down to pick up the paper, unfolding the lip of the envelope. I reached in, a smooth, white page in front of me.
“Он убил много маленьких. Но это не убило всех нас. Я прошу вас приблизиться к месту хаоса. Скоро увидимся.”
My eyes watered. But who was this? Alexander was gone. It was father. It could only be him. A surge of confidence shot through me, as I looked out the window of the small house. There, in the far distance, stood the reactor, and beyond me, stood the unknown. As soon as dawn would arrive, I would take my leave, moving to find the next shelter. The sunset and I let my head fall to the worn-down pillow. Sleep. I needed sleep…
My feet hit the cold ground, and I looked into the dark morning sky. The air was cold and crisp. Just how I liked it. I had managed to find a bag, and quickly scooped my small amount of food and other rations into the dark blue sack. I swung it upon my shoulder, opened the door, and walked on. Small creatures scrambled in the forest, and I soon came to a stop, looking into deep fields of long, tall grass. Horses slowly grazed, nipping at the grass. Their eyes were glazed over as if they were in a soft trance. Following a routine, graze, walk, graze, walk. Over and over. They seemed oblivious to my steps and continued to walk further and further on. My warm breath pierced the cold, sharp air, coming out as a fog.
The reactor seemed to not grow closer, Every so often, my eyes would meet the dull concrete, and it would seem to stare back at me. Mocking the death of those I loved so dearly. The wind whipped my hair back and forth, and I simply walked on. My stomach roared with anger, wanting food. I pulled out my pack and opened it. A few small canned goods and dried fruits remained. It would not last for long. My frail hands reached in and grabbed the plastic bag of peaches. I tore it open, biting down as the bitter taste hit my tongue. I had to eat. Without any hesitation, I finished the bag, looking down in the empty plastic. The sun started to set, and I looked around, finding another small building. The old warehouse of the reactor site. My feet echoed as I continued to walk. Each step seemed to drag me down into the depths, the dark of where that fateful day was blown apart. The thin metal creaked, groaning as the wind blew its gentle kiss. I curled up against the stone wall, my eyes closing as I clenched my bag, the night growing cold as I fell into a slumber.
“Просыпайтесь и вставайте с утра. Вы приближаетесь”
My eyes opened, to meet a small black bird, it’s tan beak slightly open as it let out a chirp. Its eyes focused on mine, seemingly for minutes. I shook my head, staring behind it, the reactors now a large building. I grabbed my bag, nodding and looking to the bird, who simply hopped along the worn down window. The dirt trailed up behind me, each step seeming to trail more and more. Until in front of me lay the door, large metal slightly open, the darkness seeming to beckon me closer. My hand rested on the metal, prying it open.
“Выходите и ходите. Не бойтесь ходить”
It was dark, the light barely managing to seep in. Yet in the dark, lights shown, b*****s on panels. I was drawn to them, each button seeming to pulse, rapid bright colors of green, blue, orange, red, and so much more. Yet as soon as I grew closer, they froze, a dim color in the building. Cold air rushed around, and I backed away, seeing a new color in the distance. As if I wasn’t in control, I walked closer, the lights fading, then appearing somewhere else. Until I was in a single, lone room. Surrounded by a spiral staircase, falling as the metal rusted into the floor. The cold wind surrounded the room, the lights dark. My figure shook, and I held onto my bag, an alarm blaring suddenly. I turned, the hall leading from where I came now illuminated. A figure stood, blue wisps surrounding them. The alarms were quiet, the red flash of them continuing. As soon as one would shut off, another would appear, but closer. The figure moved closer with each one, and I felt my body stand still. I would die. This would be the fate that I would have to have. My eyes closed, fear running through my body. A cold hand rest on my shoulder, gentle, yet standing still. I didn’t dare to open my eyes, as I knew whatever this was, it would attack as soon as I saw it. Its blue wisp-like hands ran through my hair, slowly caressing my cheek. “Откройте глаза маленьким шариком” they spoke, the voice distorted. Through the strange noise, it seemed familiar. Safe. My eyes opened. There he stood, his hand holding mine. The alarms blared behind me, and he smiled that soft smile. “Пойдем со мной. Я буду держать вас в безопасности” he whispered, the blue wisps surrounding us. My eyes met his, and I rest my hand in his, a simple nod giving my answer. He smiled once more, leading me down the dark hall, away from the new alarms.
But the world she was once raised in called for her to come back.