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MartinJ

Jevgenij Varlamov.

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MartinJ    1

Most of the dialogue in these short stories is meant to be in Russian, and if they are in what appears to be slang, it should represent Eastern Russian dialect. For obvious reasons I am keeping it in English but representing the Russian dialects with slang.


Infection.

"Ostan! Ostan ili ja budu strelat'!"

The man ignored the warning. He knew this part of Sankt Petersburg as well as himself, and turned a corner just as a few shots rang against the wall of a building he hid in. He knew he had to keep going, jumping over trash bins and old furniture dumped there by the careless residents. The policeskij clung onto him like a shadow, holding onto his PYa 6P35 handgun as he knew the runner was also armed. At least so the police report said.

Another turn into a a square filled with people. Varlamov knew this was either a very good idea, or very bad. It's easy to get lost in crowds; both to pursuers but also yourself. Lose track of your own movement and you might fall into the arms of your pursuers. He pushed through a nearby crowd and slowed down, trying to blend in with those attending a summer market. His pursuer stood at the edge of the square, worried.

It wasn't too far. Just get into that street, turn left, into an alleyway, and you're in Natasha's apartment through the backdoor. She can hide you for a while, she always helps, hopefully she will be home. Hopefully, the fact that you're wanted hasn't been announced on the radio or television, he thought. So close to safety...

Jevgenij Varlamov, a wanted fugitive, got out of the crowd, nearly stumbling over some food stalls. He blended in well, and the Makarov PM tucked under the back of his jeans was only noticeable to the trained eye. Just as he knew the route; Svirskaya street, take a left, into an alleyway. He burst through door number 421 as if he himself was the police looking for a wanted man, shut it behind himself, and finally took a breather. The hallways were completely empty and save for the distant crying of a baby, silent. Relief flooded him with every step closer to the upstairs apartment of his mistress Natasha. His knuckles hit the door thrice.

"Natasha! Èto ja, Zhena!" The door finally opened but instead of the familiar face of beautiful Natasha, the pale, blue-eyed twenty-something student, Varlamov stared into the depths of a barrel of a gun. The screams to get down on the floor faded out, he could see Natasha crying over the shoulder of the policeman that was holding him at gunpoint. Somebody forced him to the floor from behind, found the weapon and his wrists suddenly clenched as the cold steel of police cuffs wrapped them tightly.

Several months later, Varlamov was on a prison transport to Luga, further south from Sankt Petersburg, with about 20 other inmates. They heard strange rumors of a "flu infection" raging in the nearby regions, but information was limited, and the prison guards were not of the talkative personalities. It was an uneventful trip until Luga could be seen in the distance. Some of the inmates commented on the smoke coming from several buildings, but were promptly silenced by the brutal guards. Varlamov was paying no mind to it, staring out of the window lost in his own thoughts about Natasha and the mistakes he made that lead him to this situation. His trail of thought was interrupted by a high-speed impact when a Lada hatchback swerved and head-on hit the prison transport bus.

Skidding into a ditch, the bus turned around several times and the now caught fugitive lost consciousness. When he woke up, all he could see were bodies around, shards of glass, and a man - Kozlovski, he knew him as - offering a hand. Originally a citizen of Poland, arrested for murder after he moved to Russia to be with a woman he met through correspondence. He killed her when he found out the pictures she sent weren't hers. Varlamov was helped up. The damage was clear: all of the prison guards were killed, though as far as he could see, at least two of them survived the initial crash; not so much the prisoners eager to escape. Kozlovski unlocked Varlamov's cuffs.

"You speak English, yes?"

"I do," Varlamov replied assuringly, still amazed by the fact that he survived the crash.

"We do not have much time, I think. Something bad is happening. People are bad."

This was not news to Varlamov. People are bad. He sniggered.

"Not like you think! Everyone is going crazy. I and some other prisoners go to South Zagoria, the border is not far. If we find car, we can be there tomorrow. Then, we decide where to go next."

It didn't seem like a good idea to Varlamov, but he had to admit: he had no better plan. It was do or die, or worse - Russian prison. It seemed like they have more of a chance to travel in a group. He picked up a pistol from one of the guards and nodded at Kozlovski, getting ready to leave. They would have to find different clothes and a mode of transportation, but Kozlovski, a natural leader, seemed to have that already planned.

He turned out to be a good leader, leading them all the way throughout southern Russia to South Zagoria. It took only a day for the group to realize that people weren't just "going crazy", they were turning. Into what, they didn't know, and at first they hesitated to shoot them, but once one of them bit Petrov, a younger member of the group - a clerk who was arrested and sentenced to two years in prison for financial fraud - it was no holds barred. They must have killed two dozens of them before finally reaching South Zagoria. By the time they crossed the border, the group lost five members and it was just Kozlovski and Varlamov.

"We must go to Chernarus region, the international airport is there. It must still be safe. It would be where the military keeps things safe. I do not think anyone will check if we are convicts. They must save anyone who is still normal!"

Kozlovski seemed to know his way around the map, and so they set out to do it. It took them several months to cross the country, raiding towns for supplies, stealing cars when necessary. They would run out of gas and just leave the car in the wilderness, moving on. One day, Kozlovski fell ill, but Varlamov refused to leave his newfound friend, staying with him for several months in an abandoned house, caring for him as he was fighting off an infection with no antibiotics. Kozlovski kept telling the man to leave, that he is likely turning into one of them, but Varlamov refused, promising that if it came to that, he would put a bullet through the man's head and end it for him.

Miraculously, Kozlovski survived the infection; it was an infected wound from before that his natural antibodies could fight off with the help of vitamins they found, but it took several more months. Once Kozlovski was properly healed, they set out again.

Chernarus. Finally they reached their target - they stood on a hill several kilometers away from the International Airport, the flat area could be seen from that far. A sense of relief washed over them. Varlamov took a swig from a plastic bottle of water he filled when he lost his hearing. An annoying ring filled his ears, and he felt blood splatter over his face. Kozlovski was lying on the grass with half his face blown off. Bandits.

Hit the ground. Assess yourself. Assess your surroundings. Engage. Varlamov thought on his feet and hid under Kozlovski's body, but no more shots rang out. They must have been coming. Hastily, he started crawling away, figuring the sniper was nearby but did not have a shot at him when prone. He made it into a nearby forest and watched a group of men look through Kozlovski's body, clearly angry that one of them got away and Kozlovski himself didn't have much of value on himself.

Alone again. Varlamov didn't feel comfortable going to the airfield now; clearly, it would be no more safe than anywhere else. He wandered the woods for days, thinking through every step, until he ran out of food and desperation got the better out of him. He ran into a small town of Gvozdno in the northern part of South Zagoria, but got caught by a group of zombies while looting a house. Ammunition was limited, but he saw no other option. Even after successfully killing most of the zombies with one shot, more were coming. Of course. He knew this - they were very sound sensitive. But he never would have been able to take the initial, large group on with just a hatchet. Now that their numbers were lesser, he did.

All of the frustration of the past months, the rage over losing his only friend in the world, the dark thoughts that Natasha was probably dead or worse, infected - they were all let out. Blood stains from the zombies covered his face and clothes, and he was screaming, fueled by adrenaline. Once he was finally done, there were two dozen dead infected at his feet. He leaned down and took a breather when he heard another step.

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MartinJ    1

Grave diggers.

"I dunno what got inta her, Zhenya. It ain't like I've never done it before. Like it never happened. You screw up, you lose your job. Ain't no grounds for divorce, y'know what I'm sayin'?"

The sunlight just barely made it past the horizon. "Just forget about it. Zabyť eto. Go home, put your feet up, sip on some of this henny," Jevgenij Varlamov continued, shoving the half-empty bottle in his friend's hand. Stanislav stepped back, knocking a shovel stuck in the soil behind him backwards. It landed with the thud of wood hitting wood. "I can't drink any more anyway, Stanyo, and you need it way more than I do, y'pussy footed shmuck." After making sure his friend Stanislav has a tight grip on the cognac bottle, Varlamov leaned down into the grave and lifted the shovel from it. His shirt could not get any dirtier anymore. As if every line of fabric was so deeply in symbiosis with mud and dirt it became a living organism. "Fine," Stanislav assumed, "but if y'whine that I left ya here today, I'mma remind you of this, boy." Varlamov looked at his friend with a confused expression before shrugging and going back to work.

He watched the only person in the world he could call a friend walk off. An opened bottle of cognac in hand, taking gulps from it nonchalantly every fourth step. "Mr. Lukyanov," Varlamov addressed the man in the coffin, "y'was probably happy to be released from this life with that kinda name. Y'see, my friend Stanislav over there, he feels the same way. Alcohol. Man's poison. A controlled path to self-destruction. Fellas like him, y'see, they just don't got the guts to off themselves in a fast, clean way, but they wanna have it under control anyway. Slow, but in their hands, literally. Somethin' he can control, unlike the love of his wife. Y'know?" He loaded a shovelful of soil and threw it over the coffin without ceremony.

"Ain't no humanity there and he realizes it. We're just selfish, instinctual animals roamin' this Earth and only 'cause we got half a brains, we occasionally strive to conduct ourselves in ways that are less than pure evil. Mankind's destined to repeat the same mistakes, even now when we gots all of those great philosophers and organizations protectin' lives and values and whatnot. We had them since the reckonin', and look where that got us. OSN, NATO, EU, USA, any of'em abbreviations make about as much damn sense as the letters they consist of individually. The honorable thing to do, people like Stanislav do it, Mr. Lukyanov, deny our instincts entirely. Stop reproducin', walk in unison to the sound of some great piece of music and to our extinsion."

Varlamov looked down on the engraving of Mr. Rodion Petrovich Lukyanov's tomestone and allowed a deep sigh to escape his mouth, as if exhaling the weight of the word. "May the Lord find you with opens arms, dear son, father, husband and brother." He shook his head and threw another load of dirt in the grave. "God. I don't know if you really was a believer, Mr. Lukyanov, but if the only thing keepin' you decent was the prospect of a divine reward or eternal punishment, then maybe your life was never really worth livin'. But you never realized that, despite that great gift of human consciousness."

Resting the shovel down against the ground, the aging man withdrew a pack of cigarettes from a breast pocket of his working shirt and lit one up. There was a poetry in the way he exhaled the first dose. "It's a tragic, tragic misstep in evolution, human consciousness. In ourselves, a part of the nature is suddenly excluded from nature itself, too self aware, denied by the laws that govern the rest of the universe. This grand illusion of a grand purpose, a false feelin' of havin' a self, something to be fulfilled and honored... when the truth is, everybody is nobody. There ain't no greater sense, there are no circles in which the world and our fates spin around in."

He embraced the next drag as a sort of relief from his monologue with the dearly departed. The cigarette stub, put out against the top of the shovel, landed in the dirt resting peacefully upon Mr. Lukyanov's grave. Noone was going to care.

"You might ask, Roďa - can I call you Roďa? I feel we're bein' awfully intimate here. So, you might ask, why are you here then, Varlamov? You talk the talk of humanity havin' no point, about Stanislav bein' so weak he can't off himself in a quick way, but you're drinkin' just as much as he is and you smoke. When are you gonna walk the walk, Varlamov?" The shovel drew an arc in the air before landing another load of soil inside the grave. "Well, y'might be right. I could be weak. I like to tell myself that I am here to bear witness. To realize all of this and be here, 'cause well - the world, it works on audiences. That's the petrol of the universe, because nothin' really happens if there is no observer. With the observer, it exists, it's alive, without it, it's dead. Denying this dichotomy means admittin' that we are both alive and dead at the same time, regardless of audiences, and I just don't believe that. So, that is my point. I will light a cigarette watchin' mankind march courageously into their own little personal black hole, finally see that I was right, and then, then I'm gonna peacefully close my eyes, Mr. Lukyanov."

Varlamov distanced himself for endless minutes, mechanically shoveling more and more dirt onto the dead man's coffin before the grave was filled, a measurable distance finally put between Rodion Petrovich Lukyanov's corpse and the rest of the world. Once the job was done, the grave digger violently stabbed the shovel in the ground and leaned on it, looking at the tombstone. Staring at it as if he was angry at the deceased.

"We all have our jobs, Roďa."

There was another moment of silence.

"You had it easy."

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I promised myself I would read and respond but... shit happened. Now that you've updated it I may as well start.

First thing I noticed is that it isn't really clear whether you are describing his thoughts in third or first person. You start the first paragraph with "he knew" but in the third he's referring to himself as "you". That was confusing for me, and only when it said "he thought" was it clear to me that it was supposed to be his thoughts.

Perhaps you could use italics?

Your English is amazing and it shows in this thread too. Normally I comfort myself knowing that people with large vocabularies are usually native speakers, but I can't really use that excuse with you. I'm jealous.

The way you skip time without interrupting the flow of the story works surprisingly well. I let out some sort of chuckle in shock when I read Kozlovski got his head blown off just after he was cured from a months-long infection. :P

What I loved most was Varlamov's "conversation" with the corpse. I might steal that idea from you if you don't mind.

Check your PM. ;)

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MartinJ    1
First thing I noticed is that it isn't really clear whether you are describing his thoughts in third or first person. You start the first paragraph with "he knew" but in the third he's referring to himself as "you". That was confusing for me' date=' and only when it said "he thought" was it clear to me that it was supposed to be his thoughts.[/quote']

Can you quote the exact passage? I can't track down what you mean. Perspective dissonance is something I use a lot though so it might have been semi-intentional.

Your English is amazing and it shows in this thread too. Normally I comfort myself knowing that people with large vocabularies are usually native speakers' date=' but I can't really use that excuse with you. I'm jealous.[/quote']

Thank you!

The way you skip time without interrupting the flow of the story works surprisingly well. I let out some sort of chuckle in shock when I read Kozlovski got his head blown off just after he was cured from a months-long infection. :P

Similar to the perspective dissonance, I like to interrupt time flow and write stories that are in no way timelined. I've written stories where two different timelines intertwine as well, but that's something completely unrelated to DayZ.

What I loved most was Varlamov's "conversation" with the corpse. I might steal that idea from you if you don't mind.

Always glad to inspire others :)

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The man ignored the warning. He knew this part of Sankt Petersburg as well as himself, and turned a corner just as a few shots rang against the wall of a building he hid in. He knew he had to keep going, jumping over trash bins and old furniture dumped there by the careless residents. The policeskij clung onto him like a shadow, holding onto his PYa 6P35 handgun as he knew the runner was also armed. At least so the police report said.

Here you talk about him in third person. "He knew", etc.

It wasn't too far. Just get into that street, turn left, into an alleyway, and you're in Natasha's apartment through the backdoor. She can hide you for a while, she always helps, hopefully she will be home. Hopefully, the fact that you're wanted hasn't been announced on the radio or television, he thought. So close to safety...

Here it gets confusing when he is being referred to as "you". Only later does it become clear (when you write "he thought") that he is referring to himself as "you", as if he is talking to himself. That's in contrast with how you write most of the story so something to differentiate it might help.

Or maybe it's just me. :P

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