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The life and times of Montgomery “Skeeter” Huneycutt.


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Entry 1: A new hope From the Graces of God do I rise.

I was always told that writing expresses an ineffable release of one’s soul- a merging of one’s converging realities into ink. We express in writing perhaps all that cannot be done with speech, as only in these carefully measured responses may I find myself able to accentuate, create, amend, and omit; but I will focus and lay bare the reality of my situation as accurately as I may recall. Perhaps when this memoir is discovered, there will be a world of print awaiting to embrace just one more narrative of what occurred in Chernarous- and if I am lucky, god willing, I will be there to see it.

              I promise you the if you have met me and are reading this that I am the same Skeeter. Raised in Elkin, North Carolina to a Mother who taught English at Elkin High, and a Father who worked as a surveyor, it was drilled that although we may “sound country,” I was never to forget the dignified roots of southern twang. Although I may be a Bonafede yokel to most, I bleed the same blood as the rest of you, and that is something that will never change.

              Despite this air of confidence, I found myself finishing the end of my Black Mountain hiking trip without my guns, gear, and god-damn map. The Ruskie air that once did wonders for my spirit now sunk the only chances of my going home anytime soon. All that was left to do was wander- and so I did. Coming down the mountains I thought of my first moral dilemma: is it okay to take what isn’t mine from these houses? However, that dilemma was solved at the same time as I went biblical with a stone at the home’s previous owner- a victim of this “frenzied flu.”

After scrounging around a few houses, I met someone named “Sophia,” who seems to also be coming out of a spell of disorientation. With the two of us combined we created one sensible person, and so we journeyed together. She filled me in on the fact that she had not been filled in on the goings-on in Chermarous for quite some time. But considering that I has spent the past two months in the Black Mountains, I was not about to start complaining. After making our ways throughout some towns that I definitely could pronounce, we headed towards a big signal tower, as Sophia mentioned there was once a settlement there. This is the only clue we had to go off of- well that and the fact that she knew someone named “wind(?),” and that this person might have some type of hope for us.

The tower was abandoned. I said a quick, internal prayer that whatever fate befell them that it was kind- most of Lady Sophia’s stories end with executions and death. We travelled north, but Lady Sophia fell tired and left me to sleep. Leaving me with words to go east (towards the coast) I embarked, making my way there successfully after only blacking out once (not from a lack of food, but from a lack of a food opener). It was here, dear reader, that I made a grave mistake.

We all make mistakes- whether it’s something as simple as forgetting a birthday, or as complex as forgetting your lady-friend’s birthday. So, what was mine? Trusting. As I made my way along the coast, I met a few people briefly- nothing major, nothing wrong. No “Mad Max” raiders, no
champions of humanity,” just a Russian man who gave me a joint, and a few folks driving by in cars. That was until night fell and me, in my old age, used my flashlight to walk along the road.

It started innocently enough- and by that, I mean out of nowhere I was yelled at by this woman to turn my flashlight off- didn’t I know there were cultists around? Cultists. Huh. So I listened. I listened far too well. In fact, as we saw another flashlight in the distance, I took her advice and we bolted into the woods. I must confess that now I look bitterly back on my actions and think: since when do cultists ever travel in packs of one? Everything went normal: I introduced myself / She said he name was “Tick,”/ I joked about politicians being cultists / she asked me if I had any family / I explained that I was utterly alone (without a radio in fact) / she took me to a remote cabin in the middle of the night. Totally normal occurrences, nice foresight, Skeeter. As I was running inventory, she asked me to read a note- a strange request, but then again, a Russian man did just randomly give me a joint only hours earlier- so maybe it was just the culture. The paper contained three lines of a poem, or a song, or something- all what matters is when I looked up, there was a gun pointed at me.

I think most people have no clue what it's like to have this occur, to know that within an instant, you could be dead. That in this flash, all power has drained from your body, and as the adrenaline starts to pump, your soul screams for an out. There was an out, but it came at a price of permanency. I was dragged to the cabin’s bedroom, was made to undress and lie on the ground. Bound. Waiting. I tried to hold myself together until I heard the sound of a knife unsheathing. Something that, as a hunter, I had heard hundreds of times. And, like every time, I knew it was going to be used.

She asked me questions that I can’t remember, the adrenaline and anticipation made me delirious, hysterical. I begged, pleaded, and cried. I only describe what happened next out of a necessity to you, my dear reader, because what follows will continue to haunt me for the rest of my life. She flayed the skin off of my calf while singing some fucking song. It felt like I was on fire, like every fiber of my being had come under attack. I was then forced to eat my own skin. Your mind can do wonders when it wants to, and even now I can feel it trying to devour my trauma, to store it away in some recess. But “tick” made sure to leave several reminders. She carved into my face, leaving me two scars that form a permanent “smile.” After she has finished this, she went to gather firewood.

I struggled to break free- she has confiscated all my weapons, but due to her fear of my freezing to death, she left my vest on. In this vest contained my pistol, complete with a full clip. In a noxious frenzy I broke free of the tape that bound me and pulled my gun. I wish what happened next was a storybook ending, that I got the bad guy and saved the day. But that’s not how life works. I am 63, I am old. I was barely conscious after my torture- and now I was expected to think straight? I stumbled out the door and found her. My gun raised, I felt ready. Ready? NO, woozy. Woozy? What’s happening? The earth was spinning, I held onto the doorframe.

I woke up to the feeling of a hot knife cauterizing the wound on my mouth. Then, once the knife had cooled, she filed down my molars into sharp points. Or was that when she carved a cat (my favorite animal- one of the many questions she asked me) into my back? I can’t recall which happened next. I was formless, expecting this to never end. I was in hell. This doesn’t happen to good people. She told me there were others- that this wasn’t a first. I feel sick to admit it, but I latched onto the little comfort which came with knowing that in this fallen world, I was not alone. I had ruined my pants somehow in this exchange, she brought me a new pair. A kindness? No. I was alive, after all. I passed out again.

I woke up to silence. If I sat still, it would be as if everything had stopped. But my face ached, and I knew that this was the world I was in. That evil truly exists, and life balanced itself on a pendulum. Perhaps you don’t think this now, but consider- has it really swung for you yet? After some time, I stumbled outside and looked for signs of life- both in myself, and in this world I now found myself in.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chapter 2: Stints and Splints

Adrenaline pumped through my veins as I stumbled blindly in any direction that felt away from that monster. As an American abroad, I did what we do: neglect to learn where the fuck we are. Luckily, my years of hiking paid off- I could follow the few major constellations that I saw. North. I am headed north. Well, more like I am headed north slowly. In the back of my mind was, well, nothing but pain, but if there wasn’t pain, I bet I would have been saying: “slow and steady wins the race.”

              After some time, I found myself in a big city that I later learned was called “Novo.” I heard gunshots and talking: two really good or really bad signs, and it all depends on which side of the coin you land on. I pressed my luck, or rather lackthereof, and staggered towards the men. My appearance freaked them out, (shocking) but thankfully I didn’t resemble an infected too much. They all wore berets, so they were either French or knew how to shoot a gun. My money's on the latter. They led me into the compound, and despite my injuries had the gall to ask for my ID. I finally learned a name: Thompson. This was to be essentially the first and last name I learned in Novo. Their doctor was out, but I was treated to the best of their ability and given some drugs strong enough to make your aunt sweat. Thompson gave me a room, and from there I could rest.

              While I wish I could say I’m still in Novo, the reality is that it fell within a few days. Too many raiders, I believe. Not enough morale. It was nice while it lasted, though. I got to practice my green thumb out and grew an army of pumpkins. I decided to limp around a few days after I has been given light treatment of my wounds. The journey wasn’t too arduous, but during the day I was gone everyone in Novo must have been throwing a goodbye party. There certainly wasn’t one when I got back: just a ghost town full of confusion, and a man named Jose.

              Jose and I got along swimmingly. Probably because he was just as confused as I was. After deciding that Novo and its inhabitants must have fallen, we weighed our options: Polana or Berezino. These are the only other places in which we heard there was still signs of civilization. We decided to leave for Berezino quickly, because at the rate civilizations are lasting, they might not be there by the time we arrived. The trek was long and hard on me, and I felt my wounds occasionally open up. The reality, dear reader, is that I suppose I just wanted to ignore what happened. The humiliation. The pain. The anger. All welling up inside me, and the only recipient of my emotional discharges is this damn memoir. But if I don’t last, something of mine ought to. We made it to Berezino in the middle of the night. Tired, exhausted, we fell to sleep in a garage.

              When I woke up and stumbled outside, Jose was gone, and in front of me were two men with Ak-74s, demanding that I put my hands up.

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