CHAPTER 1: The Extinction
“You are the chosen one to restore balance to the world.”
Words which had soothing effect few months back has cursed undertone now with demonic intent along with preposterous responsibility for which Mia was never prepared. Setting her green eyes, matching the color of poisonous gas vomited by small green goo filled puddle few meters away to setting sun which resembles dying out sodium vapor lamp through smeared out visor glass and rising mist and vapor and radioactive waste particles, she could only have her imagination to help her truly realize the beauty of “the upper world”. Future of the mankind now lays on her hand, in fact considering the current situation, laying in her hand as she clamped fingers around small glass vial containing green liquid safely; competing against green of her eyes and that poisonous gas. And this is the only color left in the world laying in front of her as mankind has chosen to utilize broad deep brushstroke in darker shades of grey and blue to paint the canvas of the world. Crumbling concrete structures which had been once heralded as homes of millions of families, now stood like crumpled paper toys with metal girders poking out like broken bone; misplaced and utterly painful; acting as massive sarcophagi entombing those who were not lucky enough to get shelter and of those brave STALKERs who chose to embrace courage and exploration over cocooned stale life in the metros worse than death.
It had been 40 years since “The Moment” when mankind decided to introduce nuclear weaponry in the war on massive scale, wiping out almost entire humankind and reducing better part of the earth to nothing but radioactive nuclear test site. Millions years of fit-for-survival biodiversity had been swept clean with single stroke. Radioactive clouds hung in the air had choked the life out of plants and vegetation within few years, leaving numbered few which survived due to transition from photosynthesis to fulfilling nutrients requirements from dead rotting meat. Known animal species were replaced by grotesque creatures so foul that it seems that they were drawn out of some hell-hole created by nuclear crater. Mankind also survived, in vast connected metro networks and underground silos and bunkers.
Sitting at the base of fallen statue of old-world forgotten leader Mia was well aware of Metro entry lying nearby for quick escape. But more than sudden attack of predators of upper world, Mia was much concerned of thoughts playing out currently in her mind which she feared only going to be climaxed in tragedy. She wanted to remain here in this “real” world forever without her hazmat suit and air-filters and tangled connectors and tubes; just in plain clothes to feel the real air and smell the real earth.
Few years back, Mia’s world consists of her own metro station along with few neighboring ones which she travelled on occasions and that was also in keen observation of his father. After her father’s sudden demise due to severe radiation poisoning through pork meat; she feared to be alone and vulnerable to harsh metro conditions. She knew there was no place for young girl like her in such a lawless world. Community made of men where only primary objective in life is to survive and nothing else to do is major contributing factor to women objectification and “misuse”. Still Mia was different. Even though she was not the fighter, she was intelligent enough to avoid unnecessary attention and find her way through proper channels. She was good at setting up traps. Handmade from whatever available and if required, death traps. Her trap for mass-cremation of massive swarm of tunnel rats with the use of few solvent canisters and radio controlled trigger detonator earned her reputation of savior of her station from over flooding of tunnel rat migration with only downside as complaints of burning meat for weeks.
Things were changed after death of her father as if some conspiracy had snatched the protective cover to make her exposed to sadistic society. She could feel the attack on her fabric of dignity with weapons of malevolent gaze, sneering comments and twitching hands to find the opportune moments, waiting for Mia to let down her defense, exposing weaknesses of womanhood which once found could be taken advantage of and eventually used to tear apart whatever left of her self-dignity. So she decided to move out to those big hub stations where rare combination of good work and safety was not entirely unfeasible.
Not that Mia was afraid to travel alone but uncertain, unexplained and unexpected “anomalies” were frequent happening which would make one disable of living life and worst devoid of easy death. It was mandate to travel in groups to reduce death toll. One logical thinker had also come up with “The Collective Subconscious” rule which set lower threshold value of group comprises of human to 4 which had dramatic but effective reduce in “anomalies” effect over last decade and also death rate.
During the search of such traveler groups, she met Dmitri, the old man known in Metro as “The Dmitri” whose sole objective was to travel through Metro, scouring different stations on the way and conducting “his special work”. At that time she was not aware that he would give her opportunity to attain ultimate salvation and hence the purpose in the life. He would give her power to perceive the real upper world which she never thought existed before along with excruciating pain and burden of her own existence.
To Be Continued…..