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Nova_Ethridge

One moonlit night.

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I love the night. I mean, not night TIME, per se, but the enveloping darkness of the night. Maybe it's the voyeur in me, but I love being able to slink about through the trees under the cover of complete shadow, with only the silver light of the moon, the twinkle of the stars, and the sound of gentle breezes rustling through the trees to keep me company. 'Night's Lullaby', I like to call it. I had a night like that recently, on a routine trip to the Krasnostav airstrip.

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"Great, it's gonna rain soon." I muttered to myself, a nasty habit I picked up being an only child. That, combined with a severe case of ADD, meant that sometimes I had to think out loud in order to focus my thoughts. The soft rumble of thunder across the landscape seemed to punctuate my statement, as if the skies of Chernarus herself were confirming my suspicions. It was darker than usual thanks to the low-hanging layer of clouds, and while that might scare most people, it only made me feel safer. Darkness, it seems, has become a comfortable blanket for me to shroud myself in, safe from the prying eyes of those that would seek to rob me of my possessions.

Oh, not to mention the eyes of those shambling idiots that have been reduced to little more than mindless animals by the virus that's permanently changed the face of the world. They used to terrify me, and at one point I would wake up in the middle of the night screaming in a cold sweat, nightmares of their ghoulish faces and dead eyes still fresh in my sleep-addled mind. Now, they were like gnats. Dangerous gnats, of course, but still worthy of little more attention than was needed to swat them, or simply ignore them like an annoying neighbor that won't shut up about their next bake sale or their kid's latest stupid accomplishments.

At least the air was nice and cool. A jog from the trade post to the nearby air field was less than a mile, but between the heavy pack, my rifle, and the bulky army outfit I was still wearing, it could make for a sweaty adventure, and I still haven't been able to take a hot shower. Bathing in cold water sucks, let me tell you.

Rather than take my usual direct route, I decided to make a slight detour through the nearby town. Sometimes, you can find a few leftover supplies at the supermarket in Krasnostav, and since I was already anticipating a dinner of meat, a can of pasta or some beans sounded like an excellent side dish. As I came down the hill, the moon served to illuminate the darkened town. It doesn't matter how used to the moonlit countryside you get, seeing a human city like that, quiet and completely dark, still gives me the chills, like a chunk of our past etched permanently into the Earth's flesh.

As anticipated, I spotted several slow-moving humanoid shapes aimlessly wandering about, some of them clinging to the buildings while others seemed to trek into the forest. While the untrained observer would no doubt assume their movements random and thoughtless, I had been studying the monsters for long enough to know the truth.

They were hunting.

I've spent enough time among the infected to realize that they possess some sort of sixth sense, an ability to somehow subconsciously sense the presence of uninfected humans. They never show any deliberate intent unless they're actively pursuing a victim, but their wayward meandering seems to slowly draw them closer to their victims. I'm hoping it's just some kind of subconscious reliance on their sense of smell or something, and not something more off-the-wall, like telepathy or some nonsense. I don't think I could deal with telepathic zombies.

I was careful when I approached the supermarket. Coming down the hill from Klen mountain, I immediately hugged a brown picket fence, using the shadows it cast for additional cover. The infected may have superhuman endurance, but their eyesight and hearing are no better than ours, and since they're usually not all that attentive, sneaking past them at night is surprisingly easy. I continued up the fence until I reached the corner, only to find myself face-to-face - rather, face-to-groin - with an infected. It was an older man, I would guess in his late fifties, though the gaunt condition of his skin caused by the infection made it hard to tell. He wore a simple suit, a brown jacket and brown pants, with a blue shirt, and despite my proximity, he didn't seem to notice me as she shambled on by. I fought to keep my breathing calm and quiet as he wandered off into the clearing to my right.

Beyond the edge of the fence was the supermarket, and one quick (but quiet!) jog across an open, overgrown parking lot brought me to my destination. I ignored the growls and frustrated grunts of the infected outside, something I've learned to adapt to since the outbreak. The shelves, not surprisingly, were bare, though I did manage to find two cans of Coca-Cola and a can of macaroni. As I tucked them into my pack, the scuff of a shoe across the tile near the front door caught my attention. Immediately, my hand went to my sidearm, drawing it from its holster as I quietly leaned around one of the isles, my position hidden from the front door. I was relieved when I saw that it was just another infected that had randomly wandered into the store, and carefully mirrored his movements. The zombie slowly, casually stumbled through the isle, heading for the spot where I'd just found the canned sodas, and as he did I was careful to move towards the front door, using the shelving units to remain hidden. I holstered my pistol as I reached the exit, and after a brief glance to ensure he hadn't brought any of his friends, I quickly made my way north.

The trip out of town was uneventful. I've done it enough times now that it's pretty routine. At one point, I had to crawl under a broken fence and sneak through a few back yards to avoid a large group of infected that had decided to clog up the main road. Eventually, I made it to the outskirts of town and headed north into the woods. Luck decided to play a joke at my expense, however, as I suddenly heard a high-pitched scream from off to my right. I glanced over and immediately spotted an infected man dressed in dark pants and a light-colored shirt charging across the field towards me.

"Goddamnit!" I cursed. I drew my pistol, but I knew that firing a shot this close to town would end up alerting a dozen or so of those monsters, so I did the only thing I could do. I ran. The infected don't get tired, and they're relentless, so I knew running uphill wasn't a good idea. Instead, I split and ran to the east, perpendicular to the slope. I could hear the zombie's frustrated growls and screams as it tried desperately to catch up to me, but I only needed enough distance so that the infected left back in town wouldn't be able to locate me via the sound of my pistol.

After running a good hundred yards or so, a quick glance over my shoulder confirmed that the stupid thing was still hot on my trail. The moonlight, even diffused by the cloud cover, gave it enough light to see me by, and I'm sure the sound of my feet crashing through the tall grass didn't hurt. I decided that I would have to turn and shoot before I was too exhausted to aim properly. After a few more steps, I quickly dropped to a kneel and turned 180 degrees to face the zombie. His shape was perfectly silhouetted on the moonlit sky, and I took my time aiming, thankful that the Glock I've been carrying for the past month has illuminated sights. Like any good, mindless idiot, the zombie ran straight at me, and just as he got close enough that I could hear that frantic, hoarse gasping that always makes me feel queasy, I fired. One round. It caught him right in the left eye and he went down like a sack of bricks.

I didn't bother gloating over my victory or taking any time to evaluate the body. I've killed so many of these things now that shooting one in the head was no more a big deal to me than swatting a fly, and I gave it the attention it deserved, holstering my pistol and continuing my journey to the airstrip, leaving the rotting corpse to lie in the field.

I still hoped I'd be able to find tonight's dinner, because I was certainly getting hungry.

(To be continued...)

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Guest Alfie   
Guest Alfie

Haven't even finished it yet, and it's amazing! Keep it up Lucia!

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Jarvis Seistt    7

More, more, I/we demand more! :)

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Gullio1    0

/Yay, great story. But what happened to your journal? Is that discontinued, or is this it?

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Proxzor    3

Damn you have a talent for writing! Really awesome story, and definitely the best I read on this forum so far!

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