Matt used to be a simple employee at a custom broker's office back at Argentina. He was adept at climbing that ladder, owning to his focus on the job, its rules, and total lack of care for anything else so, when the time came and someone had to be shipped overseas to nowhere country in Eastern Europe, he was the best option. Or the only one that didn't necessarily object to it.
And so it was that he was sent to Chernarus, to take lodging at Severograd, just a quick trip away from the main administrative offices of the TEC corporation at Novodmitrovsk. A quick deal, a couple of days of business meetings, just a quick check at the machinery to be imported and directions on how to pack it: the usual stuff. His English had always been the best among his colleagues, and it was sufficient here too. In fact, the fist meeting gave him the solid impression that he had a better grasp at it than most of these TEC executives, and it seems he managed to get them to comply to more conditions than he was instructed to do back home.
But a quick trip home wasn't meant to be. And so came the 10th of July, 2017.
It was just a couple of days in his trip, while he was getting ready for his last meeting at his lodging, that he heard the explosions. There was no other way to call it, he never heard something so loud in his life, not even on the midst of the classic Xmas fireworks celebrations that take place every year at his home country. Youtube documentaries did it no justice either: this was real war.
There were signs, of course, but he had decided to ignore them. Some unrest in a backwater country like this was something to be expected, so he paid it no mind. But now, things escalated quickly. Within hours he was taken from his lodgings and shoved in a bus with little explanations and no luggage except what he could immediately carry with himself. But his status as a refugee would not last. It wasn't even 10 minutes on his transport when it was overrun with screaming people running South, and even soldiers ran amongst the crowd. There was a rout of some kind, but he couldn't understand a word. Everyone was getting out the bus, and he followed suit. But he didn't run the same way. It felt stupid, it felt wrong, but he had kept his wits with himself and didn't want to just follow the crowd. So he ran towards one of the farms in the countryside and got into a wooden shed.
He held there for a few hours, just trying to figure out what had happened with the little information available to him. Whatever was chasing the crowd, it hadn't chased him. But, when the first shells started to drop, artillery from who knows where, he realized his current shelter wouldn't hold if anything hit near it. He needed better shelter, not just to hide. Thus he moved towards the house of whoever owned the farm. Maybe he would get lucky there.
The doors were ajar and the place was turned upside down, even ransacked, and there were no signs of anyone remaining, but no shelter! That house wasn't much better than the shed either: too many windows, and mostly wooden itself. Then he found it: there was a simple carpet with almost unnoticeable cut marks: three sharp lines marking three sides of a square. It was a trapdoor. With no time to lose, he proceeded to force it open, and he heard the gasps and screams of the people inside, but there was no time to lose: any of those shells could fall on him at any time, and the house wouldn't really hold. So in a moment of mad bravery, or just sheer instinct of self-preservation, he jumped in.
It was a man and a woman... they were kinda old. And scared witless. And didn't speak any words he could recognize. But they didn't pose any danger, they were just scared. He quickly tried to show them how he wasn't a danger himself, that he just wanted some shelter, but it took time. Too much time. In fact, it might have been exhaustion rather than newfound trust that made them shut up. Useless...
The refuge was just an old basement, not bigger than a rather small garage. The only access was trough that trapdoor he came in, and it held no lock or handle of any kind. There were some old cans of paint, some farm tool and smaller gardening ones, some forgotten brooms, a pile of old bricks and floorboards, and a small round table with two chairs in one corner that the old couple seemed glued to. All the natural light and air we could get came from an extremely small and barred basement window, so it wasn't much, or any for most of the day, as it faced East. But the old couple seemed to keep a inexhaustible source of candles, that they kept on for every waking hour, always just one at the time over their table.
And so Matt became somewhat of a fugitive, but he rather tried to think himself as a refugee with reluctant hosts.
Days passed, and he managed to build some trust with the couple. The shelling persisted for far too long, and provisions weren't abundant inside that basement. It was just a bunch of canned foodstuff and some old forgotten jerrycan filled with water that suddenly found itself precious. But the couple was horrible with rationing, and they didn't like to share.
When the shelling ceased, he tried to get out, but the couple wouldn't allow him to do that. It was almost funny, how they were too scared when he got in, but now they're scared to let him out. he couldn't understand why, but they were adamant about it. And so he stayed. Reluctantly...
The second week was worse. If he was badly fed the first week, the second week would see him emaciated. He begged for water only for it to be denied, and soon water was all that was left. They were so damn annoying! Not getting out to get more provisions, not sharing any of the ones they had. How useless can they be? How mad with fear do you have to be to prefer death over the possibility of survival!
Then he noticed the guy in the corner. It wasn't well lit down there at the basement, but missing an entire person was kinda ridiculous, Matt thought. It was funny, almost weird that he didn't notice him before. Maybe it was because he kept himself silent and motionless, huddled into the corner most of the time... if not all the time. But for all he could make out of the guy, he was in his early 20s... around Matt's height maybe. And he only watched. Never saw him eat, never seen him drink. Maybe he did all of that while he was asleep, Matt thought. But all he saw him do was watching. Matt thought he might have been the old couple's son, but maybe not. So he set himself to just call him "son".
The third week was madness. Matt was used to follow the rules, but the rules right now were madness. Let the old people handle the rations, never protest, never go outside. It was so stupid and he knew it, but there was little hope. He has waited too long, and now he didn't feel strong enough to do anything. Maybe he would wither and die there, he thought, and the thought drove him mad with rage.
That's when he saw it. The guy in the corner: he got up.
The old couple was already getting pretty hungry and weak themselves. They screamed and begged but their "son" didn't care. He just got out. After a few hours, he came back. With food. With a couple of 2 liter sodas even. And he shared. Not like the old couple: he shared equally.
This went on, for a couple more days. Every time the same scene. The old couple screaming their heads off, but the guy going out anyways. Matt thought he never spoke. Along with the old couple, they waited for a few hours. and the "son" always came back. Sometimes it was some old cereal and powdered milk, sometimes it was canned peaches and beans. He always brought something. Matt could feel his strength coming back to him. And as it did, Matt started to regain his will to go out. He could not remain there any longer. And as he was reaching that conclusion, it happened.
He had gone out, that "son" of theirs. The trapdoor was closed, but there was no lock of any kind, on the inside or the outside. That's why Matt could get in so easily when he did, but at the same time it meant anyone else could, at any time. And someone did. It was a woman, but she was dirty. The smell was horrible, and she didn't climb the ladder down. She just fell trough the trapdoor after opening it without uttering a word, and slowly got up. The old couple screamed, even worst than when I first came in and they ran to a corner of our little hole in the ground. And as the woman finished getting up, she lunged. At Matt, at them, at everything. She was beyond mad. Beyond anything Matt had ever seen. She was more animal than human, biting and clawing at everyone. As everyone got hurt, the "son" came back. He jumped in, ignoring the ladder, and quickly kicked the woman's legs. As she lost her footing and went to her knees, he took her by the hair and smashed it on the wall. Once. Twice. Three times. Each harder than the previous one. She was still moving, but dazzled. And he took one of the gardening tools that was kept down there and just made a sharp, wide stab for the place the head was bleeding the most. It sunk there. And so she stopped moving. It was incredible.
With everyone hurt, that night was a nightmare. Matt bandaged himself and the old couple as best as he could and tried to keep them calm but to no avail. It was hell trying to get the bandages on them and utterly impossible for them to shut up. The wounds weren't that bad, just a couple of scratches and a bit mark each. And the pain Matt himself was in was not small matter either. But his mind flew, from their animalistic attacker, to he way the "son" got rid of her, to the wounds on himself and the old couple. It was too much for one day, and a few hours in, he just tried to sleep the pain away. The old bastards seemed to be shutting up for once, maybe sleep was overtaking them too.
When he woke up the old couple was up as well. Kinda silent. Their son, just huddled in the usual corner. The corpse of the woman, nowhere to be seen. Matt stayed still for a couple minutes, thinking in the dark. It was weird that the old couple hadn't bothered lit up a candle already. But when he got up, he realized why. Both of them turned their faces toward him instantaneously. He could barely make up the eyes with the little light that came from the window, and clearly realized their faces weren't warped in the usual fear. It was rage they expressed.
Matt immediately got up with speed and strength he didn't think he had. And as they lounged at him, he managed to push them back, one with each hand. But his hands alone wouldn't be good. He screamed for the "son", but he didn't move. He just watched. And, as Matt grew desperate, he realized that the farm tool was just at arms reach. It was that or nothing. For a second he almost feel reluctance, but the feeling was quick to pass. His first swing was wide and low, so he hit the arm of the old lady and made her fall, but the old bastard was coming towards him. As Matt recovered from the swing, he quickly hit the approaching head with the handle, and made him recoil a bit. That bought him enough time and space to make a downward swing towards the old asshole while his hag still recovered. It connected, and as the handle of the tool broke the metal part sunk itself deep on the creature, past the shoulder and into the chest. It gurgled a bit, proof that Matt had hit as far as a lung, and it fell on its knees and then over its own face.
When the hag was up, Matt hastily kicked her back down, mounted her, grabbed a brick, and swung hard. It took more than just that brick, but after the third she was moving no more. The fourth was just the rage settling down.
Finally, Matt fell to the side, exhausted, and just lay there looking up at the floor, breathing hard. He noticed something moving and got momentarily alarmed, but stopped when he realized it was the "son". The asshole seemed not to care about what had happened. The "son" just moved towards the ladder, opened the trapdoor, and climbed out. From his position, Matt could clearly look at him in the light for the first time. And he beckoned him to get out.
It was about time.