My name is John Karrlinski, I was born and raised in a small farming village in northeastern Chernarus. I have a memory from when I was just a boy, I'm standing on the steps of our farmhouse, and my father is standing in front of me, a rifle slung over his shoulder. He's speaking, but I can't remember his words. I can almost remember his face that day. I think he was smiling. I look back at my mother, her mouth is smiling but her eyes say something else. I turn back to my father, but he's gone, back turned to us, walking away.
My father never came back. I later learned that he'd died in the civil war. We never even got to bury a body. All that came back was his rifle. Mother grew quiet after that. I think the whole town did. Everyone had lost somebody. For a long while after the clouds always seemed a bit darker, but rain never came. Life went on as it always does. Like my father always said "You can't cry and get any work done." In the beginning I asked mother about him a lot, pestered her really. Truth is, I was afraid of forgetting about him, but mother refused to talk about him, always saying she'd tell me when I was older. When I grew older I saw that the more I asked, the more she distant she became. So, I focused on school and chores around the farm and let the issue drop. Occasionally I'd catcher her staring at me, a lost worried look in her eye. "You're so much like him," she'd whisper almost fearfully, before rushing inside, tears in her eyes. It pained me to remind her of the father I knew so little about. She'd never even told me what side of the war he was on. All I knew is she was terrified of me ending up like him.
I was away in Berezino looking for work when I first heard news of the conflict on the Russian border. I immediately called my mother and told her I was coming home, but she insisted I stay where I was and not to worry about her. Reluctantly I stayed and waited for further news. I wish I hadn't.
We'd all heard rumors of what was happening. Russian annexation, another civil war, biological warfare. There were even whispers from refugees about some strange disease, but no one really knew. It wasn't until it was already too late that I made up my mind to return home. The morning I was set to leave infected flooded into the city. Gunshots rang out and there was bloodshed in the streets. It was chaos. I just took off running. I ran and ran until my lungs burned and my head spun, I ran until the sounds of tearing flesh and bloody screams faded from my ears, and then I kept running.
I must have collapsed from exhaustion because I awoke the next morning laying on the forest floor covered in sweat and dirt. My arms and face were covered with small cuts from my wild dash through the woods the night before. Everything ached, but I stood and gathered my bearings. As far as i could tell, I'd run north, towards home. My thoughts quickly flashed to my mother, scared and alone in our farmhouse, and I cursed myself for not leaving Berezino when I had the chance. Over the next several days I slowly made my way back to my home village. I stayed mostly to the trees and avoided anything that moved, the memory of human flesh in human mouths ever present in the back of my mind.
When I arrived, the village looked untouched, almost picturesque. But as I got closer I saw signs of the newly birthed apocalypse; A car crashed into a building, dried blood smeared on the grass, a few empty shell casings littering the street. The air was silent, none of the noise and turmoil of the city. I made my way to our farmhouse without seeing anyone living, or otherwise.
The front door was locked, and hope bloomed as I scrambled for my keys, but everything came crashing down when I opened the door. There was blood, fresh blood splattered all over the kitchen floor. More blood than a single person had to lose. A smeared trail lead off around the corner to the back door. It was open, the glass smashed out from the inside. Outside was one of them, a newly turned undead. It was bent over, facing away from me, eating something. No, not something, someone, my mother.
My body moved before my brain knew what was happening. My hand pulled a lose brick from the walkway and my legs lunged at the thing. I smashed into it knocking it off my mother. I landed on top of it and everything was a blur of motion. It snapped at me, its teeth making an unsettling clacking noise, but my hand was around its neck and squeezing with all its might. It's arms flailed wildly as I brought the brick down on its head over and over until there was nothing left but a bloody mush where it's head used to be.
I dropped the brick as my hands began to shake violently, the were covered in blood. I pushed myself off the body and stumbled over to my mother. One look at her eyes and I knew she was already gone. I brushed my hand over her face, closing her eyelids. In a daze I walked back to the house and found the chest in my mothers room where she kept my fathers rifle. I opened it, and tossed aside the heavy blankets that lay on top. There it was, the same as the day he'd left. I picked it up and loaded it.
As I stepped outside I felt a raindrop on my hand. I looked up to see dark clouds gathering. I paused for a moment letting the cool rain wash my face. I stood over my mothers unmoving form. I knew from the bites she wouldn't stay that way for long. I aimed the rifle at her forehead, blinking salty tears from my eyes. "Don't cry now," I said to myself, "There's work to be done," and pulled the trigger.