A Pious Man (Part I)Submitted by ridiculous at 2010-05-20 06:41:58 EDT
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Sergei swung his legs out of his hammock and fumbled in the perfect darkness for the zippo he knew was hiding in the depths of his cargo pocket. The case opened with its signature metallic click and he struck the weak flame in the still air. He used it to ignite the old oil lantern before closing the cap to conserve its dwindling fuel supply. Sergei knew he had to go into town foraging again, today.
The wind howled outside the heavy door, Sergei could hear the clash of pine and cedar branches above his hideout. His hideout, he called it, was dirty and sparsely furnished. A bomb shelter made of steel and concrete that did little more than keep the weather out. Sergei had dismantled the six beds that had occupied the space to salvage the rusting frames and burn the mattresses shortly after his discovery of this place. He looked up at the web of rust colored moss leeching an existence in the cracked concrete overhead.
Closing his eyes, Sergei fell to his knees and pronounced the prayer he had offered every morning since the “attack”.
“O God of spirits and of all flesh, who hast trampled down death and overthrown the Devil, and given life to thy world, please, the same lord, give rest to the souls of thy departed servants. I beseech thee to pardon every transgression which they have committed, whether by word or deed or thought. For thou art a good God and lovest mankind; take from us your holy fire, thy righteousness is to all eternity, and we have been cleansed.
For thou are the resurrection, the life, and the repose of thy servants who have fallen asleep, o Christ our God, and unto thee we ascribe glory, together with thy father, who is from everlasting, and thine all-holy, good, and life-creating spirit, now and ever unto ages of ages.
Sergei kissed the pewter icon of Saint Michael hanging from his neck and stood. Donning his goggles and a heavy coat he hoisted the AK 47 and his pack over his right shoulder and made for the rusted door.
Sergei climbed the dozen steps to the surface level door and pulled the wire snips from their holster on his belt. He knelt on the steps and crawled close to where they met the surface. Bracing his back on the steel door he lifted it, slowly. Once Sergei had the door open a couple of inches he gently reached out and clipped the near invisible wire connected to the MON-50 landmine buried before the door.
That done, Sergei swung the door open, stepped out, and went about his routine of dumping his latrine pot, dousing the lamp, obscuring the entrance to his hideout and rearming the trap before starting the trek towards the abandoned city that had once been Nizhnevartovsk.
Sergei approached the road that encircled Nizhnevartovsk, he lowered his eyes. Biological terrorism, they had called it. It didn’t matter if the words were a poor reflection or not. The world knew what it wanted to know. There had been a plague in Russia. Millions died. The military of the Russian Federation quarantined the area and later developed a cure for the virus, the end.
There were over 200,000 people in Nizhnevartovsk, alone. The city had once had one of the busiest airports in the Russian Federation and had been a milestone in oil production and commerce. Now it was a lifeless husk of its former self, gray and stale the very streets seemed to cry out for retribution.
The plague swept through the populations of Megion, Molodezhnyy, Mosovaya-Mega, Nizhnevartovsk, Savkino & Izluchinsk as if Gabriel had cast down his horn and reaved through the land with a scythe instead. There was no day of judgment; God had chosen to punish all his children.
It had been six years. Medvedev, the “president” at that time had told the world that everything was under control. The culprits had been captured and would be tried, that the government would be returning refugees to their homes within a year. There weren’t any refugees. The military “quarantine” was in place before the first plague death: They had been test subjects.
The soldiers killed indiscriminately, no med check, no confirmation of carrying the virus; they just killed every man woman and child they saw, carefully maintaining logs of their victims for comparison to the virus’ mortality rates. After the first month, newly formed death squads started sweeping the communities. Within three months the virus, the military and hunger had killed almost everyone. Then the burners came and destroyed every structure they could find. Anyone who had survived that long froze to death, all but very few.
The destroyed city lay before him. Snow piled itself in the doorways of burned out houses and swirled in little wind borne eddies. Row upon row of houses were in ruin, their abandoned shells testament of the atrocities they bore witness to. Fifty meters ahead lay the mummified corpse of a little girl, frozen solid, with a bullet in her back.
Sergei swung the rifle from his back and removed the magazine. He pressed down on the 7.62 ammunition, making sure the frost hadn’t caused the spring to stick. Seating the thirty round banana clip in the receiver he yanked back on the bolt carrier and chambered the first round. Sergei stepped onto the road and proceeded into the ruin.