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The descent

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The back story for my character on my whitelist application wouldn't fit on the form so I shall post it in its entirety here. It is my first piece of creative writing in over ten years so I apologise if its terrible.

I've never written in a journal before but seen as my mum went to the trouble of getting me it I should at least give it a try.

I suppose I should start with how I find myself about to leave England for the mountains of a tiny eastern European country with only my friend Rich for company.

Since the end of the civil war in South Zagoria the government here has been trying to attract investment and skilled people to the country, particularly from the EU. One of their initiatives was to offer funding to universities that sent researchers for a wide variety of different things, from renewable energy to untapped mineral wealth. The latter is where I come in. I had just finished my second year of uni studying geology when I was made an offer. Spend six months surveying for coal and other precious resources in the Black mountains of Chernarus, all expenses paid for, a handsome salary and most importantly real hands on experience! Nowadays having a degree isn't exactly a guaranteed job and with my social skills or lack there of, interviewing wasn't going to be easy. This seemed like my way to stand out from the crowd.

The job isn't exactly going to be a walk in the park, we have to live in a cabin up a mountainside for six months with supplies brought in once every two months by helicopter. I grew up camping and surviving in the woods so the environment doesn't worry me. My dad served in the army for a long time and he showed me how to camp for real, no camp sites or tents just bivvy bags, minimal equipment and the knowledge that as long as I've got a good knife and steel to light fire I stand a chance. It has been a few years since I last went but we have a proper base in the cabin so it should be easy.

The actual work itself will involve lugging some equipment at first but once we have it set up it is mostly monitoring and maintaining. Rich isn't really the outdoors type, if I'm honest we're both huge geeks who could use a bit more sunlight, so the initial phase could be interesting but once we get set up its plain sailing. We are both excited to get away from it all, no internet, no mobile phones and most importantly no people, just the work, lots of reading and a big pile of money when we get back!

Day 1:

It turns out that Rich doesn't like flying at all. I never realised it was possible for a person to actually turn green! As the good friend I am I gave him zero sympathy and laughed at his misfortune. The airport we landed at in Russia looked more like a farmers field than somewhere a jet would land. There was more grassing growing through the runway than tarmac, I guess health and safety isn't a huge priority here.

We were greeted off the plain by a pair of brothers Lexi and Abe (short for Alexander and Abraham) they were going to be our guides and the ones who resupplied us every couple of months. they took us over to a nearby hangar and showed us the helicopter that was going to take us over the border into Chernarus, it was not a pretty thing, an ancient soviet looking hunk of junk that Lexi obviously adored from the way he stroked and fondled it. I on the other hand thought we were all going to die a fiery death, I'm pretty sure I heard what sounded suspiciously like a whimper come from Rich as we were introduced to our transport. The ride was better than any roller coaster I've ever been on! Abe really knows how to fly or he is completely insane, my guess is a combination of the two. Rich kept his eyes closed for most of it and considering how close to the treetops we got during our flight south over the border I didn't blame him.

The cabin is pretty basic but its dry, spacious and has a large supply of dried logs for the wood burner. It's July here now but this high up I imagine the nights could get cold.

Lexi and Abe decided to stay with us this first night to help us settle in and show us a the area. Once it got dark and we had a fire going out came the vodka, what they say about Russians and vodka is true, I'm pretty sure they put away enough to kill a rhino. At some point in the night Lexi went over to the heli and came back brandishing an AK. Now me and Rich are gamers so the sight of a real life assault rifle had us grinning like a couple of five year olds on Christmas morning! Lexi asked if we had ever fired a gun and we explained that in the UK guns are extremely rare and other than shotguns and hunting rifles almost entirely illegal. He looked at us like we were aliens and said we would need educating, Russian style. I'm certain that drunken firearms training is a bad plan on multiple levels but damn, firing a gun like that is ridiculously good fun. In my drunken state of appreciation I staggered to the cabin to grab the bottle of scotch my dad had given me before I left and presented it to my new found best friends. Even Abe ,who barely spoke or looked at us, eyes lit up at the sight of 12 year old Glen morangie single malt. Apparently vodka isn't the only drink these guys love. Lexi was that impressed he ran to the heli again he then produced two pistols and half a dozen boxes of bullets. I recognised these weapons as they were American or as lexi put it ''just like in the movies'' one of them was a .357 magnum revolver and the other was a Colt .45. Lexi said we could borrow them for the 6 months we where here to have some good old Russian fun with. I love Russia! Its safe to safe much scotch and even more vodka was consumed (so much so that I am actually writing this on day 3 due to the worst hangover of my life).

Day 2

Lexi and Abe left in the morning and looked fresh as daisies. They must have still been drunk because I felt like someone had replaced my insides with ash and shit! Safe to say neither Rich or myself did much other than lay in bed and pray for death to bring a swift end to the pain that day. My shoulder feels like I got kicked by a mule! I think I'm going to have some nasty bruises from shooting that AK, totally worth it.

Day 3

Woke up today feeling like a human being again woohoo! Decided to check out the equipment while Rich made breakfast. We are well stocked for food and warm clothing. There is what looks like a Russian military medkit complete with suture kit and morphine auto injectors. The realisation that we are miles from anything remotely like help started to sink in when I saw that. We brought a few textbooks with us as well as some novels to read during downtime, I'm sure one of them is a medical journal, might be a good idea to learn some basics just in case! There is a ancient radio in the cabin but it doesn't appear to broadcast properly, we tried everything but it can only receive, that isn't much use though seen as it only picks up a few signals and everyone is speaking what I assume is Russian. It is a little disconcerting but we will be ok.

Day 14

The equipment is well on its way to been set up! Rich and I have been hiking miles to place it in areas of interest for our surveys. I already feel fitter. No procrastinating in front of a computer browsing Reddit or watching Youtube videos. Just the silence of the forest and hard work, I could get used to this. These mountains are are a hard to navigate but they are one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

Day 30

We decided that, seen as the equipment is set up fully and only needs checking every couple of days, it was time to have some fun with the guns Lexi gave us. After a bit of very careful trial and error we worked out how to load and cock the guns. they both seem to kick like hell but we persevered and Rich seemed to have more luck with the .45. I loved the magnum from the start, I feel like dirty Harry with this thing!

Day 40

I twisted my ankle at one of the furthest bits of equipment from the cabin today. It took Rich almost 4 hours to help me back. We need to be more careful I was definitely feeling cocky after settling into the routine. It doesn't appear to be to bad so I got off lucky, on the plus side the pain meds we have are kick-ass! Mhmmm opiates.[/b]

Day 42

My ankle hardly swelled up at all and I can put weight down on it so Rich wont have to go out to monitor the equipment by himself. No more stupid mistakes, what if I had broken it!?

Day 55

The food supplies that looked like they would last forever are practically gone. We will need to ration slightly better for the next two months as its the end of august now so the weather is going to get colder. the colder it gets the more calories we need. I'll mention it to Lexi when he arrives.

Day 60

Lexi and Abe arrived today to bring us more food and another set of equipment. They even brought us more ammo and a bottle of vodka!

I showed Lexi the radio and explained it wasn't broadcasting he said he would bring us something next time but it appears we are on our own until November. After unloading the equipment we decided to celebrate the fact we had some variety to our food stocks again by having a little feast, if you can call tinned meat a feast, but we are going to ration out the more interesting foods over the full two months instead of eating all the good stuff straight away.

Day 63

Holy shit! I'm not sure how legible todays entry will be as my hands are still shaking. We were removing the wooden outer crates on the equipment we had to install today when Rich tripped and stumbled onto the corner of a crate. He barely even fell but the exposed nails caught his left shoulder and tore a ragged flap in the muscle. I'm not going to lie we we're both panicky but got a towel against it to try and stop the bleeding. Thankfully it didn't appear to be gushing so I composed myself and took a look at the damage. It wasn't pretty at all! I've never seen a cut that bad up close and my stomach did a few loops at first. After giving Rich some pain killers and a couple of slugs of vodka I disinfected the wound with iodine which made Rich howl like a banshee. I injected some of the morphine to numb it and then with the medical textbook on one side and the suture kit on the other i proceeded to stitch my friend together. The wound wasn't straight or even so it looks messy as hell and I'm sure I must have hurt him loads but 25 stitches later I think it should heal right.

We only have three weeks worth of broad spectrum antibiotics so I'm going to give rich a weeks worth to fight the infection I certainly just gave him with my butchery of that medical procedure. That was the most intense and scary thing I have ever had to do in my life, I need some vodka!

Day 66

Rich's wound has a bit of redness around it, I hope it isn't infected. Will the antibiotics work? He is positive and keeps jokingly calling me Doc but he doesn't remember very much of me sewing him up probably due to all the vodka and morphine.

We are behind on setting up the second phase equipment but I don't want to risk going out by myself and Rich cant carry much for at least a few more days. We have a certain amount of leeway with the timeline so I aren't overly concerned.

Day 71

I removed Rich's stitches today and the redness around the wound has gone down. I will have to monitor it in case the antibiotics don't work fully and it comes back but fingers crossed. We bot feel like badass mountain men right now, Rich even has a wicked scar to prove it. Tomorrow we will start working again but I'll have to do most of the heavy lifting.

Day 80

We have all the equipment installed and recalibrated the first phase. Even after a week unattended there wasn't any problems. Easy and simple, just how I like it.

Day 103

Since we have a pretty well established routine in place now boredom has started to creep in on the nights when we don't have much to do so we started fiddling with the radio trying to pick up a signal. We were mostly hoping for some music or better yet someone speaking English but sadly all we have got so far is people speaking Russian. We quite often leave these static filled voices playing in the background as we read or just stare into the fire, I guess we just miss tv sometimes.

Tonight we heard something that sounded like it was straight out of a horror film. A woman was sobbing and what sounded like pleading for something, maybe help? Then we heard screaming and gunshots. Whatever happened it freaked us both out and we can't get the signal back.

Day 115

We have heard more and more disturbing things coming from the radio the past couple of weeks. Lots of panic but we don't understand what is actually been said, there has been an increase in the amount of gunfire in the background though. I can't wait for Lexi and Abe to get here so they can explain what the hell is going on! They should be here in the next 5 days.

Day 120

They haven't arrived today like they where supposed to. There is probably a perfectly reasonable explanation but we are both on edge from all the things we keep hearing over the radio. We have taken stock of our food supplies and thanks to our rationing we have a week of food left if we are careful. I know we are both starting to worry but I'm sure they will come tomorrow.

Day 121

They didn't come today either but more importantly we heard our first voice speaking English today. It was very broken and we couldn't understand most of it but we heard enough to scare the shit out of us. Something about rioting in the capital, infection and borders then we definitely heard quarantine. Is that why Lexi and Abe haven't come back to us? Is the whole country under quarantine? Is that even possible!?

After talking it over with rich we have decided to pack as much as we can into our packs and make a push for one of the mountain passes into Russia. As long as we take it steady on the food we have enough to make it from what the map says but these are nowhere near the accuracy of an ordnance survey map so all I know is the terrain is going to be difficult!

Day 122

As we set off this morning we heard the sound of a helicopter engine. My first thought was that Lexi was going to arrive and make us look like a couple of panicking school girls but I soon realised that the sound was coming from the south of us which is the Chernarus side. When we Rich spotted the heli it was trailing smoke and didn't look like it would gain the altitude to get over the mountains. As it disappeared from our view we heard the sounds of tearing metal and trees snapping. It was to the northeast of us so we set off in the direction of the column of smoke. I wish we could have just ignored it. I still don't fully understand what happened at the crash site but I know I will never forget it.

After 2 hours hiking we came upon the crash. It didn't look like anyone could have survived it but one of the pilots was stood there in charred combats staring into the flames. as we approached I called out to him, he turned around like a startled animal and snarled like a rabid dog. soon as I saw his front all torn up and blackened from the flames I felt a shiver run down my spine all the way to my balls. No one could have taken that much damage and still be alive, let alone standing! We both started to back away as the pilot made jerky shambling movements towards me. I felt like I should be helping this poor man but something felt terribly wrong and my base instinct to get the hell out was screaming at me. Rich obviously felt the same as he had pulled his pistol and was pointing it at the pilot. Before I had chance to ask what the hell Rich was doing the pilot had sprung towards me and I was pinned down with him on top of me. As I looked into his eyes, desperately trying to keep his snapping jaws away from me, I knew he wasn't human any more his eyes were white and dead, black sludge was flying from his mouth as he snapped closer and closer to my face. the next thing I heard was the deafening roar of the .45 inches from my head where Rich had stuck it to the temple of whatever that monster was and pulled the trigger.

I was covered in gore and black sludge. We both just stared at each other in shock. I've never owed some one my life before I didn't know what to say! Rich just tossed me a water bottle to wash some of the brains off me and said ''you would have done the same for me''. I don't know if I would have though, would I have just frozen up?. Am I infected? I got plenty of blood and that black sludge in my mouth. Rich said that there isn't much we can do if I am so better concentrate on more immediate problems like hiking our way out of here.

Day 125

We came across a road today. If we follow it north we should get to the border and find some civilisation soon. After an hour or so we saw a car parked up on the verge we frantically ran up as we saw someone in the front seat. What we saw in there was beyond words. It looked like an animal had savaged this poor man in such a frenzy there was blood and gore all over the inside of the car. I puked my breakfast up and didn't stop until all that was left was bile.

Rich was around the other side of the car looking in the bloody mud and guts. I asked him what he could be possibly looking for in that and he pointed out there where no animal tracks only human footprints. I checked and he was right no matter how hard I looked just lots of human footprints. Did sick people like the pilot do this? What is happening!?

Day 126

I nearly threw this journal away but I think it may be the only anchor to sanity I have left now that Rich is gone. It doesn't feel real. There doesn't feel like much point in writing this as I now know I will die in this god forsaken place but maybe someday someone will find this and tell my parents what happened.

We slept in shifts last night in case any sick people found us in the night after seeing that car. In the morning we carried on following the road and not long after that we heard raised voices and gunfire coming from around the bend in the road. I wasn't sure if we should move towards it or away but we had come this far so we got as far as the bend and hid to see what was going on.

A group of five people where running ahead of a group of infected, they had the same jerky animalistic movements as the pilot. One of hem kept turning to fire a handgun at the infected but there must have been at least two dozen of them and as we watched they overtook him and started to tear him apart. It looked like the others where actually making ground on the infected but just up ahead of them there was a border post with a tank next to it. The soldier on top of the tank shouted something to the group and the soldiers around him raised their rifles. They killed them all the people and the infected like they were dogs in the street. They could have saved them but they just murdered them in cold blood.

Is this what they meant by quarantine?

We realised that we couldn't get out we could maybe sneak around the border post but I heard a heli engine in the distance, what if they have thermal and night vision they could track us before we made it to a town. Before we could make a decision one of the soldiers spotted us hiding in the trees and they started running towards us. We ran into the trees back the way we had come but the sounds of soldiers and dogs barking followed. Just as I thought we had run far enough and the sounds of pursuit were fading I heard a shout of pain from behind. Rich had fallen into a gully about three metres deep I climbed down and as fast as I could but he was dead before I got to him. I just lay there next to my dead friend and waited for the soldiers to find me. I must have passed out from exhaustion because when I came around it was dark. I couldn't even bury him, my friend that had saved my life, but I could at least give him a shroud in his sleeping bag and some dignity in death. I took what little food he had left, the pistol and the spare ammo. I am writing this by the light of my torch as a eulogy to him. I have spent so much of my life hiding away from people but now I am truly alone I would do anything to see a friendly face.

Day 126

I said my final goodbyes to Rich and decided that I will head south. There might be some way out of here or a safe haven somewhere. I only have a day or two of food left and I do not know how far the nearest civilisation is but I can't just lay down and die.

Day ?

I don't know how many days I wandered in that nightmare of a forest for but at some point I started to hear Rich talking to me. At first I was afraid but then I decided that it was rude to ignore my friend so I started to talk back. He spurred me on when I felt to weak to go on. He just kept telling me I could make it even when all I could find to eat was moss and had to lick the dew from leaves to quench my thirst. He just kept telling me to put one foot in front of the other and he was right! I found a village! As I walked in I knew something wasn't right the only movements was the smoke from fires left unchecked and rats. I made my way to what looked like a market of some kind and there sprawled across the floor where vegetables of all kinds. Some had started to rot but I didn't care I ate them all the same. Rich told me to slow down that I would be sick but I couldn't help it They tasted so good. I can still feel the tomatoes squishing between my teeth, I never knew food could taste so good!

Rich said he heard something an I should hide. I hadn't heard anything but he has kept me safe this far so I ducked under a car. Just as I made it under a man walked in from the other side of the village, I almost burst out of hiding there and then, I was so happy to see another human being but Rich warned he might be sick or dangerous so I waited. The man was doing something behind another car that I couldn't see so despite Rich's protests I snuck out to see what he was doing. At this point I was sure he wasn't sick from the way he moved. As I came around the corner of the car he was behind I saw the corpse of a young woman at his feet and the knife he was using to cut a large chunk of the woman's thigh away from her leg. I gasped and recoiled in horror as I realised what this man was doing. He turned round and leered at me and it was then I saw the look in his eyes, it wasn't the white dead eyes of the infected but there was madness there just of a different variety. He started to move towards me knife point dripping with blood and gore, I quickly pulled my revolver and he froze realising he had brought a knife to a gunfight. Then suddenly I heard a scrape from behind me and Rich shouted to look out! I turned round to see another dishevelled looking man about to bury a cleaver in my back, before I could think I pulled the trigger and he folded , I span back round but the knife wielding man was almost on me, we struggled for a few brief seconds before I brought my gun up to his temple and pulled the trigger. I thought I would feel something after taking a life but all I felt was a sense of relief and the surge of adrenaline slowly ebbing away.

I searched the rest of the town but other than the vegetables in the market there was nothing. on the way out I saw a huge, gnarled and ancient oak tree with three corpses hanging from its branches. I cut them down and noticed deep slashes and bruises all over them. What had these people done to deserve such a fate? What has become of mankind? Will I ever see the friendly face I crave or is madness all I have awaiting me? Rich tells me to keep going and not give up he hasn't been wrong so far.

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