Mine was never the life of great excitement or intrigue, but I was proud of the name I had carved out for myself in the community. I was born through a midwife on January 12, 1970, during a terrible blizzard that buried the Chernarussian countryside in snow. My father was an electrician for the local factory and my mother was a typist at the same factory. I am of Polish decent, with my ancestors having been forced to settle this land as the Russian Empire pushed eastward into Siberia. My grandfather on my father’s side was conscripted into the Red Army to fight the Nazis during the Great Patriotic War. He was later executed by the Soviets for going against their political ideals.
I grew up in Komarovo, a small town, with a rapidly developing economy from the railroad and factory. We Poledník’s never had much money but worked hard and cherished what we had. From an early age, I had worked as a greaser in the factory, oiling cogs and machine parts. That lasted until my hands grew too large to fit in the complex machines. I went to school and got a job as a shop assistant in town. In 1986, shortly after I turned 16, I joined the military, receiving training as a combat engineer and sapper. After leaving the army during the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, I became a police officer back in my home town. In 1995, I married a childhood friend, Agata. My daughter Tereza was born in 1997.
During the Chedaki uprising in 2009 I left my position in the police department and joined the Nationalists (NAPA), engaging in small operations against the ethnic-Russian rebels. With coordinated help by the Chernarussian Defense Force (CDF) and the United States Marine Coprps (USMC). After the Chernarussian Civil War was won, and the disbandment of NAPA, my family and I moved to a small farm northeast of Sosnovka. There, I grew potatoes for the vodka distillery in Vybor.
You see? Nothing too exciting! I was just a simple man trying to do what I felt was right. God almighty gave me two hands to work, a heart to love, and a brain to think things through. I’ve worked hard and built a name for myself. A man can be proud of his accomplishments, no? Yet, this was all before… before the world fell into darkness. This is my story…
For me, the beginning of the end started off like any other day. I got up, pissed, made my wife and myself a breakfast of sausage and oats, and went outside to check the potato crop. When the morning chores were completed, I came back inside and turned on the news. That’s when I began to panic. News of Russian Army bombardments in the north of the province, jets in the air, and people being evacuated and taken from northern towns had me shitting my pants. Could this be another war? Efforts on reporting focused mainly on the CDF and Russian forces clashing at the border, but the following day, news more sinister emerged: people in a rabies-like trance attacking others. That was July 10th, 2017.
However, the following day was much, much worse. Once again, I woke early and performed my chores. When turning on the news, stories of more and more crazed people lashing out, biting, and displaying animalistic behavior surfaced. Talk at the local pub was worrisome. Many friends considered leaving. Me? I couldn’t with my farm and all. Couple of days later, on the 13th, local towns began to empty out and flee. I could only feel that, perhaps, I should get out too. But where would I go?
Talking to my wife, we decided to pack up and leave the following day. Before so, I called my daughter, who was attending Novigrad University, to let her know what we were doing, and that she should consider getting out of the country as well. From Sosnovka, we fled south to the coast to Chernogorsk. The arrival of NATO and U.S. Marines was a welcome sight. My wife and I, and thousands of others, were kept waiting in the city for evacuation by boat and air. Waiting was killing me. So many people, it was like a match was about to set off an explosion. No one could tell me what exactly was happening, just the horrors of what they had seen: thousands of disfigured, agitated, and bloodthirsty men, women, and children attacking anything with a pulse.
Chaos erupted the night of the 19thin Chernogorsk. With lack of information coming from authorities, food and water running low, and evacuations not happening fast enough, riots broke out and fires were started. Robbing, killing, and rape echoed throughout the densely packed streets. My wife and I, and a few friends hid on the top of a convenience store as the chaos ensued. I witnessed a plane collide into the big hotel in the city, lighting up the night sky. By morning, bodies littered the streets. Hailing a helicopter, we were picked up and flown to the docks where survivors gathered under CDF and Marine protection.
Within the next couple of days, the situation here got worse. Hordes of those afflicted neared the city and the military began to withdraw. Fishing trolleys, yachts, and NATO vessels all crowded the harbor to load refugees. As my wife and I and a group friends lined up to get on board. The first infected swarmed the city. Panic erupted on the docks, and people began to crowd onto the boats. Seeing the situation for what it was, I grabbed my wife’s hand and muscled my way through the crowd. Several infected reached the crowd and began to tear people to shreds. People began to jump into the water and onto boats.
In the chaos, Agata’s hand slipped from mine and she was lost to the crowd. What I thought was a man trying to push me over to get to the boat, was actually one of those things trying to claw my face off. It tackled me into the bay, and I struggled to get it off me. I was able to smash its head against the concrete pier. Looking up, I saw the last of the boats pulling off. I could not see my Agata, did she make it? People tried throwing me life lines, but as I swam for them, more infected piled off the dock and began to drag me down.
Just being able to break free, I swam with all my strength towards the beach outside of the city. Reaching shore, I looked for the boats, but they were gone. My wife gone. My cellphone was dead, I badly wanted to call my daughter to see if she was okay. That night, I snuck back to the docks to try and find my wife. I did. She was gone, not a person but one of those things. My heart dropped. Over the course of the next couple days, I maneuvered my way back to the farmhouse. Everything was still intact when I arrived, so I tried the phone to see if my daughter was okay. The lines were down.
In the span of a couple weeks, I hiked my way to Novigrad to see if I could find my daughter. Arriving in the city was a major shutdown. Demons everywhere, the place in shambles. I made my way over to the university, but that too was in near ruin. Only bodies lay where people stood. I could not find my daughter. Her dorm was empty. There was no indication that got out. God forbid she did not. There was not much else I could do. I decided to head back home, and do my best to wait out this mess. Perhaps, the military would come back? This was not certain, but in the meantime I would do my best to survive.