Turning over a new leaf. One of several, really. I can’t say that I will suddenly commit to regular postings, but any time I write something that’s not Top Secret Classified, I’ll probably post it or link it or say something witty or disgustingly self-deprecating about it.
So I wrote a chapter for a fanfiction about some crazy Slavic adventures in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. I may have written a post about this before.
The characters in the current chapter are Washer, a veteran stalker (read: Eastern European adventurer / treasure hunter in this sci-fi rendition of the Exclusion Zone) and gruff man of action, and Natasha Palinchak, a Ukrainian-born British reporter for BBC Documentary, on a film expedition to the Zone gone horribly awry. The story, as it goes, is of her adaptation to the Zone, and Washer’s heroic efforts to keep her from getting herself killed while himself not being killed by her ineptitude.
Here be the link to the new chapter, and a preview of it:
“Alright, pop quiz, Miss Palinchak. What’s a safety, and what should you do with it?”
“It stops the bang. And you should keep it on until you’re ready to shoot someone.”
“Half credit. You should always be ready to shoot someone. Now, aim at the target I’ve set up at the end of the barn. You have eight shots to impress me.”
“Plus one in the chamber?”
“No, fresh magazine.”
She nodded and thumbed the safety off, then looked for the target. She saw only piles of hay, rusted tools, broken stalls, and the bones of farm animals long past. And Grisha’s body, leaned up against the barn door, strapped to the bar-hold with some moldy rope.
“I don’t understand. The door?”
“No. Our friend. Center of mass, less than 30 feet, unaware. Easiest shot you’ll get.”
“Unaware? He’s bloody dead.”
“What’s the difference? Shoot him.”
“No— no! He- have you no respect for the dead?!”
“Nor the living. Shoot him.”
“Cut the shit. He’s your friend!– Look, just— I’m not totally incompetent. Just let me shoot at a shovel, or hit a horseshoe or something.”
“–He’s also dead. And you will be too, if you can’t shoot a man-shaped target. Do I have to explain the psychology behind it?”
He saw the blank look on her face, and sighed heavily.
“So, in the old days of the Army, in the days when soldiers were just amoebous muck and not even dignified with being called frogfoots, they learned to shoot with bullseyes. Easy stuff, for volley fire. But as small-arms got more advanced, and aiming became actually important, military eggheads realized that soldiers which did perfect on bullseyes were actually terrible marksmen in combat, on the frontline or snipers. Can you guess why?”
“Stress of combat?”
“No, though that’s not a bad guess. It is because they were trained to shoot at colored circles, not people. They could easily hit the center at 300 yards, 4 out of 5 rounds. But they could not bring themselves to willingly shoot a human being center of mass, a much easier target.
“So, if you could shoot Grisha in the chest a few times, I’d be much more confident in your chances of survival.”
Natasha looked at the gun, then at Grisha, then at Washer, then back at the dead man.
Washer shook his head and walked away. “Well, I won’t make you. You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make her drink. I’m still not giving up on my payout, so thank your God that I’m a greedy bastard. We should probably get moving to stay—”
A gunshot rang out from Natasha, followed by a whimper from ringing ear drums and a thump as a body hit the ground. Washer turned and saw a dead tracksuit lying in the doorway of the barn, a spatter of bone and cranial matter on the door where his head had been.
Promptly, Natasha threw up. Not having anything in her gut but radioactive water, her vomit was mostly pond scum and frog eggs she’d accidentally swallowed.
For a brief moment, he was sickly amused by the irony of the situation. Immediately after, he heard guns being cocked, and a volley of Ukrainian profanity, shortly followed by—
He tackled Natasha into her vomit as the bandits outside lit the barn up with a hail of gunfire, 5.45mm rounds punching through the wood and sending wood shrapnel and lead fragments flying.
“Suka blyat, idi na khuy! Miss Palinchak, I would advise you to start crawling!”
“I am-I am you tit!” she yelled back in English.
“Hey, hold your fire, kurwa, stop shooting! Zdec turistka! Myi budem bogatymi! Obxodim patsany! You’re fucken dead, Washer!”