*The tape springs alive to the sounds of people talking in the background, followed by a short laugh and the sounds of footsteps. The voices get fainter as the tape progresses, Dan can be heard breathing lightly before there's the sound of a thud as the recorder is set down on a surface*
"Well, here we are again. It took me near two weeks to find a goddamn new tape to record anythin', the other one filled up faster than I imagined. I ain't no expert on these things though, so beats me how much it can actually hold."
*The speech is interrupted by the sound of a match being struck, followed by a deep inhale and equally deep exhale, indicating that Dan would be smoking something*
"Where to begin...It's been a rough few weeks. Got a call from a old friend that I thought was long dead. He needed some help just past the border and I couldn't get myself to say no. Probably wasn't the nicest thing to leave Happy without a warnin' of somekind but... sometimes you just gotta answer the call. Can't say I enjoyed myself too much though, it was messy, to say the least. Not to mention the weather wasn't all that fun up in the I ain't going to dwell on it too much. It's not something to be proud of, but ignoring the messages of that mad dog... he deserved my help.
Anyway, I was able to make my way down the mountains. Hailed the frequency Happy tends to use and got in contact with some weirdo callin' himself "Misfit". What is it with people and their strange nicknames nowadays. I get that people keep callin' me cowboy because I've got myself a southern accent and find this cowboy hat to be good protection against the summer sun, but Misfit... Chimera. I swear, some of these folks must be thinkin' they're in somekind of fantasy world. Didn't trust this "misfit" at first, but he had some details on Happy that no stranger would know. Ended up back in Novodmitrovsk and lo and behold, Happy was there with a bunch of strangers. Ain't nothing quite like tellin' each other to go fuck ourselves to greet someone back from a sudden expedition."
*A short chuckle is heard, followed by the sound of another long drag of whatever Dan was smoking*
"I ain't gonna hang it from the Tower, but I feel that Happy and I are goin' to get along just fine. Took me a bit to get used to him and his constant lyin', but even when he's mostly full of shit, there's somethin' about him that reminds me of a better time than I've been having for the past two years. Maybe it's because it's nice to just have someone to act normal with without havin' to worry about the guy pullin' a gun on you because you made some degoratory remark about his ancestors or somethin'. Ain't a lot of people that are really happy with the general forwardness of my approach, so to speak. Ah well, I ain't gonna tone myself down because some folks can't handle a stern word.
Got led to one of the new hidin' holes by some russian. Felt a little odd walkin' with one of them after my... expedition over the border, but it seemed like this ruski wasn't very keen what his own people were doing over the border either. Least that leaves a pretty good impression on me. Still not a fan of the folks bein' so awfully nice, usually means they got somethin' to hide. The other guy hangin' around is apparently a Brit. Not that he talks, at all. Which is fine by me, to be honest. Better not to say anythin' at all instead of opening your mouth and saying nothing but nonsense... heh.. Even though I generally keep myself on the latter rather than the former.
I heard some whisperings about a plan... to make the Tower into somekind of livin' space. A hotel kind of deal. Don't know how to feel about that, but I have been noticing a lot more activity than usual. Crowds draw attention, I suppose. Which ain't gonna make Happy any happier, but as long as it's folks that ain't intending to make any trouble, I don't see why it'd be a bad thing to get some more folks hanging around here. Maybe I should ring up the old man I met before. I.. ah, have been neglecting that, I guess that the whirlwind of events kind of took away my attention."
*The tape goes relatively quiet for a minute, only to be interrupted by intermittent inhales and exhales, followed by the sound of a boot shuffling around on the floor and the crackling of the microphone as the recorder was moved*
"Right, enough recording for one day. I'm trying to time how long it takes until I fill these tapes up, so maybe next time I won't have no more tape without havin' secured some more. Time to go back downstairs and see if I can find Happy to pester him about the plans. This is Dan, signing off."
*the recording cuts out*
*The recording picks up the sound of a hefty wind blowing through, apparently Dan seems to be someplace up high. After a moment of environmental noises, the recording would pick up his voice*
"Another month flyin' by like it's nothing. It's weird how having a place to stay warps your perspective. It's a strange sense of safety, despite the fact that there's continuous gunshots comin' from the town not far from here. Ain't our concern though, Novo's been nice and quiet. Ever since the uninvited guests left on their own accord we've been gettin' a sparse amount of traffic and quite honestly, I don't mind one bit. This tower's startin' to grow on me. And I'll have to... begrudgingly... admit that the folks hanging around it are too."
*A heavy gust of wind would interrupt the recording, followed by footsteps and the slamming of a door, cutting out the wind*
"Happy's gone off to do god knows what, he left a note sayin' he had some... business. Can't blame him, really. Least he had the decency to leave a note, I probably wouldn't have done the same. The others are scattered round the country, all doin' their own part in what I hope it promotin' the tower's good name and keeping their goddamn mouths shut about it so we don't end up with everybody and their mother's knocking on our doors for a room. I'm all for having folks be around, but attract too much attention and we've got more than just a couple of crazies carpenting up the place. I ain't sure we're capable of holdin' off against a big force and I ain't too keen to find out either."
*The faint crackle of a radio springing to life can be heard, followed by the voice of a man calling through on it. The sound of a thud as the recorder is placed down onto something and footsteps soon follow, Dan's voice getting further away as he is heard talking into the radio. The recorder struggles to pick up his voice, as only fragments can be heard in the distance*
"... Cowboy here, about damn time that someone bothered to use our frequen-... -Abanino? The hell you doing down there... -Ou honestly think I'm spendin' the better part of a day runnin' down there just because you need some back-up you can go fuck yourse-... I told you... -Hell you mean going down to the priso-... -ine, FINE! But you goddamn owe me, Red. I'll be there. You better be waitin' whe-... -ate you with a passion unbeknownst to any kind of deity in this conceivabl-.. -Owboy out."
*A very frustrated sigh can be heard between the footsteps back to the recorder, followed by rustling noises as its picked up again*
"Right, well. As usual, someone got himself into trouble and needs a extra set of hands to try and get himself out of it. I swear, this Red fellar has been nothin' but a royal pain in my ass since I met him. If it weren't for the fact that Happy's got a history with him, I wouldn't mind him not being around here to cause more trouble than he's worth... but you gotta make compromises in this world nowadays. Well, I got a trek ahead of me, better start movin' while the sun's still out. This is Dan, signing off."
*The recording cuts out*
14-07-2019, Near Rogovo
*The recording starts off with disgruntled muttering. A heavy object can be heard sliding over the floor, accompanied with a rather pained grunt. The sound of someone sitting down into a creaky chair echoes through what appears to be a mostly empty room before the familiar noise of Dan's breathing coming closer to the microphone of the recorder*
"Well, ain't this been a -ngh- pleasant experience. Fuckin' Red, he's going to be the death of me someday. Made my way down to Kabanino only to find it completely deserted. Now, don't get me wrong, I ain't one to complain about the fact that that hellhole of a town was empty, but unlike what he promised me, he weren't there. Made me double-time it all the way fuckin' down here only to him bein' gone without being courteous enough to leave a message. Spent the night just outside of the town barely being able to catch some shut-eye because I know what kind of folks tend to pass through that dump. Not the nice variety, I can tell you that much.
After a glorious... what, three hours of sleep? Yeah, oughta be around 3 hours, I tried my luck again. Lo and behold, I get a reply from the fucker himself sayin' he's down in Zelenogorsk. I get a feeling he's hellbent on making me run all around this goddamn area just for laughs, to which my response inevitably will be some form of physical violence aimed directly at his nose -hng- damn shoulder.. Anyway, I made a quick dash down there, wouldn't want to be caught out all by yourself around these parts. I'm startin' to feel the years, who woulda thunk. Came down to Zeleno pantin' like a tired dog to see Red happily standin' around with some other folks like they're havin' a picnic. Met Shock again... punched him in the nose for having him cause Red to run off without a word, he deserved that much. I mean, sure, Red probably deserved it too... but he was closer and I weren't exactly feeling like walking up to that other dumbass after the long trek down.
Met some other folks as well. Someone nicknamed "hunter". Not very original if you ask me, but he's some guy livin' up in Green Mountain. Horrible decision, but hey, everyone's crazy nowadays so might as well do it right, ain't that right? *a short chuckle is heard, followed by a cough and a short pained grunt* "Goddamn, can't even laugh properly without that shoulder of mine throwing a hissy fit... where was I? Oh, right. Also met some woman named Felicia. Seemed reasonable enough, not much to say. Got a decent sense of humor, though. Or rather, my sense a' humor, since she couldn't stop laughin' at the shit I gave Red and the other folks.
Well deserved, might I add.
Also met some crazy woman called Khandra. Claims to be Red's sister, not even surprised in the slightest. She says the trees screams, she claims there's a talkin' tree, classic example of bein' crazy. Doc tried to explain it away by saying "she just sees things in a different way, her own unique way." but that's just a nice way of sayin' you're absolutely nuts. I don't think she likes me much, but that ain't much of my concern. She even threatened me by sayin' she's got a lot of friends, which Red agreed with. Don't know if I'm supposed to be feeling scared about that, but threats come so easily nowadays that it's hard to be impressed. Until she shows up with her friends to tell me to keep my mouth shut, I ain't particularly inclined to change my tune. Most people can't seem to handle honesty nowadays, I can tell you that much."
*The monologue is interrupted by the sound of Dan moving around. The sound of something being opened cracks through the microphone, to be followed by a long swig and a rather satisfied "ahhh" before Dan's voice comes back into the recording*
"In any case, none of them seemed keen on stayin' in Zeleno, so we started walking east way. Ain't nothing special about the walking, but we hit a small town on the way and the infected came runnin' to us. Being a big group tends to catch some attention. Drew my knife to take care of one of them, only to get blindsides by this Hunter fellar charging in with a goddamn axe. It woulda been great if he knew how to handle it, but instead of leavin' one person to get the job done, he decided to play hero and ended up slashing my shoulder damn near clean off. Didn't even hurt at first until everyone panicked and told me to get it looked at. Turns out he left a pretty deep gash, had to get cleaned and closed up on the spot. It's been a while since I've had to grit my teeth like that, it weren't the most pleasant experience I've been having these past weeks. The bigger downside to it is that I'm not pretty much useless until this heals up properly. I sure ain't able to hold up a rifle with the stitchin' in my shoulder and I already tried shootin' my .45 at a infected, but the kickback makes it feel like a hundred nails being driven into there. Considering I'm a shit shot with my left hand, I oughta be lucky to be able to fight off infected with my left arm.
Suffice to say, it's been a mistake coming down here. I've been forced to rest up in this house here for the night while everyone else kept on movin'. Gonna try to get some sleep, see if the morning brings me a little less pain. Then I'm making a straight line back to the Tower... shouldn't have left to begin with, but that's what I get for holdin' somekind of positive opinion on folks... We'll see what tomorrow brings. This is Dan, signing off."
*The recording cuts out*
17-07-2019, Near Novodmitrovsk
*The recording springs to life, the sounds of chirping birds and a gentle wind combined with footsteps on forested soil being picked up by the microphone. A content humming can be heard, mixed up with the intermittent sound of Daniël singing what appears to be "Country roads" to himself. This continues for a couple of minutes until a rustling sound is heard as the recorder is lifted up*
"Oh, it was already on? Well shit, wastin' tape here. I've got to find a way to have it not suddenly start recordin'. One of these days it'll cause me some trouble with the wrong folks if they think that I'm tapin' conversations. But, since it's running already, might as well give a little update on what's been happening since a couple of days ago.
Woke up with the nastiest shoulder pain you could imagine. But seems like the wound didn't get infected. Stitching's holding as well, but the pain's telling me that I'll be walking around with this for a while. Called out on the radio to see if any of the usual folks were around and got a reply from Red sayin' that they moved back up North. A stone's throw from the goddamn tower, essentially havin' made my trip down to the southern side completely and utterly useless. But since I was too busy tryin' to bite away the pain I couldn't be bothered to get angry at him. Decided it'd be best just to grab my things and start heading up North again. Stuck to the trails to avoid most of the strangers. Even two years in people still seem to prefer travellin' along the roads, even though that's a surefire way of gettin' yourself caught by whoever's willing to cause some harm.
Took me the better part of the day to get up there, but since I paced myself instead of runnin' down like a moron I didn't quite have the same problems breathin' as I did when I got down south. Arrived up at the Black Lake, where Red said he's got some friends that he was tending to at the pub. At the last stretch of the trail I stumbled upon him and Shock havin' quite the heartfelt conversation. Me, bein' the gentleman I am, decided to park myself a little ways off and listen to it. My legs were appreciative of the rest anyway. Hearin' them talk made me realize that nobody's immune to their emotions getting the better of them. Kevin ain't doing so well in the head department apparently. Somethin' about him blaming himself for a car crash that caused his wife to die combined with the incredible stress that he's been under trying to fix all the crazy in this hellhole. Just goes to prove that the only way you become a shrink is when you've got problems yourself and can't be damned to fix those, buryin' them under the guise of helping others instead. But I'm just some nobody, it ain't worth the time and effort to get that through someone's skull.
After a good ten, fifteen minutes I gave up on listenin' in. Red's a real motivational speaker, if it weren't for the fact that his voice tends to grate on my ears and soul. Made myself known and surprised the shit outta the both of them. Always good to know I've still got that range-... that touch that kept me and the others alive in the beginning. I walked on ahead down to the compound only to meet that Chernarussian man again. Arno or somethin', hell, I don't really care. Also met Felicia again. Gotta so, of the people that Red tends to hang with, she seems to be the only one that is actually sane. It weren't much interesting that day, but I got to see the place that Boris is buildin' up. It's actually pretty nice, not too far from the Tower either. Once Happy's back, I'll let him know about it, maybe we can get somekind of agreement goin' on between that place and ours."
*More rustling is heard as the footsteps stop. The microphone seems to be covered by something for a moment as Dan moves, only to hear a small "thud" as something is set down, accompanied with a pained grunt*
"That fuckin' shoulder, I'm telling you. Next person that comes close to me with a axe is goin' to get greeted by a lead projectile in the pelvic region. Anyway, the followin' morning I came back to Red pullin' me aside and telling me that two of the kids down there were sufferin' from what he called a "shared hallucination". So basically, they're both fuckin' nuts, as to be expected of anyone that he comes in contact with. To my better judgement, I decided to give him a bit of leeway and try not to "shatter their reality", even though sayin' it ain't real is fact, not shattering shit. Luckily Felicia was around as well so I had someone to actually talk to instead of me havin' to grind my teeth and not call everyone crazy for the shit they were pullin' out of their delusional minds. Spent some time around a campfire, then some time around another fire in the pub, all the while havin' to listen to some crazy babble about some Calvin, how he was this old bein' from before space and time and how he wanted to make the world better. I'm tellin' you, if there was a scientifically sound way of slapping the crazy out of someone, I would be a goddamn pioneer, if it weren't for the fact that I gave Red my word I wouldn't... well, wouldn't be me.
Saw them trash the cars with a shovel, jumping on roofs. Makes me real glad that I don't have children of my own. Hell, in a different world I might'a been a good father or lovin' husband, but with what I witnessed yesterday, it's better that I ain't. Nor that I have any relatives or people closeby to care about. Because they ain't nothing but trouble, I'm telling you. Keep that stuff at arms length, that way you're garantueed not to get pulled into too much of a mess.
-ngh-... yeah, enough recordin' for today. I'm going to make the trek back to the Tower and rest up. It'll be good to be in familiar surroundings again. This is Dan, signing off."
*The recording cuts out*
*The recording springs to life with a loud crackle, the familiar sound of Daniël's voice breaking through immediately*
"Time's been passin' long enough for me to have a excuse to make another recordin'. Listened back to my last tape, guess I got to do plenty of restin' up till a week or two ago. We've been havin' some trouble with new people tryin' to set up near our Tower. While I'm not opposed to some friendly neighbors, these seem to be hellbent on tryin' to break into the Tower. All started when I got my sorry ass out of bed and found that they had not only broken the chains on our front door, but built up a makeshift barrier in the doorway to the stairway. Had to spend the better part of a day clearin' it out with Happy laughing at me from the other side. We quickly deduced that whoever decided to try and invade the Tower must've thought that it wasn't occupied... y'know, despite the fact we've got a locked door, fresh food and a small supply of common goods littered all around it. But I guess the freshly cut steaks up in the restaurant must've not tipped them off to any recent activity."
*A soft grunt could be heard, the recording crackling as it was moved around*
"We tidied up, locked the place up again and went to do our business. Got the chernarussian to keep a eye on the Tower when Happy and I left, lo and fuckin' behold, not even twenty-four hours later two folks showed up. Male and female, apparently. The man lifted the woman right over the barricades in the windows and had her snoop around inside while he kept an eye out. Chernaruski played it smart, just kept observin' rather than engage them, as Happy and I were nowhere near close to be of anykind of assistance. Our little... surprise we left for any trespassers turned out to be a dud, though. So much for the reliability of eastern military ordinance.
They ended up leavin'. Strange thing, by the time we were back, the chernarussian... man, I really oughta ask him his name sometimes... anyway, he reported that nothin' went missing, which lead us to believe it weren't the same folks that came in before. Maybe they were just scoutin', maybe they were curious. We haven't seen them since, nor any kind of activity around the Tower. The folks up at the depot closeby seemed to have given up too, that place has been a ghost town for the better part of a week now. The only sign of life we've been findin' is up at Severograd. Apparently there's a band of survivors callin' themselves "the library", their compound's literally that... a library. They give out books. In the apocalypse. Like anyone's gonna be readin' some unreadable trash novel... I guess everyone's got their peculiarities, ain't that right? Least they gave us some information, they have been raided too recently, maybe our culprit and their culprit is the same. We struck a bit of a deal by agreein' to let each other know if we found anyone responsible, hopefully we'll gain one more quiet ally, ain't never wrong to have some favors with folks."
*The sound of a match being struck can be heard as the monologue temporarily stops, followed by a moment of silence and a long exhale*
"Speaking of favors. Red's been gone for a while now. I rigged up a transceiver to the nearby relay tower with a repeatin' message to see if he's still kickin'. Happy and I had a bet on whether he'd be dead, captured or turned into a slave. Seems like he's fine, though. He's hangin' around down south-east. Orlovets I think, I ain't sure though. He did say that russian Arno was livin' there. Could be the other folks are there too. Felicia, Boris, all those folks I ain't seen in near a month now. Doesn't quite bother me like I thought it would, however. The longer I stay in Novo, the more I'm startin' to feel like this is the best place to be. Sure, we might have some local problems, but it ain't the shitstorm that it is in the rest of the province.
Happy and I offered Red and his group some of the supplies we've been gatherin'. He said they'd throw us a barbeque, I reminded him we ain't a charity. Friends are friends, but with the things we're going to bring down to 'em, I don't feel a mere barbeque is going to cover that. I feel Happy will agree with me for once on this one too, but he ain't here right now... Regardless, I've been filling up this tape quite nicely with this update. I'm going to go head up to the relay tower to pull the plug on that transceiver before we start gettin' some unwanted attention.... or before Happy finds out I rigged it up and transmitted far 'nd wide. Then again, maybe I should just keep it runnin' and change the repeatin' message to 'nothing makes you sadder than being Happy' because... y'know, that's just statin' facts.
This is Dan, signing off."
*The recording cuts out*
*The recording starts off with Dan's familiar voice immediately starting to talk*
"Right, well.... It's been a hell of a week. Where to start even... I suppose at the start of it would be a good idea, actually. Happy and I were plannin' on heading down to Severograd. We haven't had any break-ins for a good while and figured we'd see if the folks from the Library suffered anything in the time that passed. Maybe the culprits have long moved on, the Tower's been nice and quiet. Nobody was around when we arrived there, Vass linked up with us shortly after and after tellin' them both about the latest whereabouts of Red Happy was all too eager to see if the moron needed any help, or if anythin' the rifle and ammunition that we had found a while back. We continued down south, headin' to Orlovets, the place Red told me about the last time we had some contact. What happened next I couldn't have imagined