A Rude Awakening


#1

With all the cool stories on here, I got inspired to try my hand at it.


In the dream, it’s summer. The sun is warm on my face as I sit down by the docks. The smell of the sea can be felt on the afternoon breeze, and distant seagulls can be heard from afar. I hear children playing in the garden, and my grandfather’s old grammophone playing old, charming music from the 1950’s. A faint scent of newly barbecued burgers on the grill.

It’s perfect. It’s the life me and my wife Linda always wanted, a place near the sea where our kids could grow up at their own pace. Her grandparents live nearby, and come by with their boat every summer.


We’ve just put a fresh coat of paint on the house, a typical swedish red cottage. Renovating took time after we bought it last year, but it’s already starting to look like a proper home. The neighbours are nice to us, and the kids have already made friends at the school in Östervik. I even got to keep my old car, my orange Ville. Östertörn’s roads are small and there’s minimal traffic, but it’s just up my alley.

Then I feel it. A cold wind brushes up against me. As I draw my eyes towards the house, dark clouds begin to roll in. The music is drowned in a hollowed readiness alarm that echoes over the sun-bleached cliffs, and the surroundings grow ever darker. That’s when I see them. Red glowing eyes, methodically approaching the house from the woods. Mechanical stomps, the whirring of metal joints. Sharpened blades. They want Linda, and the children.

I begin to run to the house. I can save them, we just need to run. As I move, I realise that I’m underwater. For every breath, my chest aches as I draw in more ice cold water into my lungs.

A child screams in horror. It’s a sound that I’ll never forget.


With a loud yell, I wake from my slumber. My voice echoes in the empty dark void around me, and it takes several long, drawn-out breaths before I can regain enough of my senses to realise that I’m awake. My chest hurts as I breathe. And the mother of all headaches comes crashing down on top of me. But my instincts take priority, and I scan my eyes across the black space that surrounds me. There’s nothing to see. Am I blind? I rub my eyes several times, and nothing changes. A bit of panic starts to take hold of me, but I try my best to stay calm. Think, Karl. What’s going on?

I’m lying down, presumably in a bed. I’m clothed, shoes are still on. I’m cold, but not freezing. Wherever I am, there’s ventilation. I can hear it too, now. Just barely. The distant hum from a ventilation shaft. There’s nothing else. If I were inside a house, you’d at least be able to hear the weather outside. It’s November in Sweden. First snow fell a few weeks ago, basically blanketed half of Östertörn in white. I’m still there, right?

“Hello?” I call out. There’s a slight echo. Otherwise, nothing. No response, of course.

I move my hands around, try to get a sense of my surroundings. There’s a bed right next to mine, and one on the other side as well. They’re empty. Behind my bed is some sort of divider. It’s too heavy to move. I slowly get up to sit on the end of the bed, still moving my hands around for things to touch and sense. I stand up. My headache makes an ill reminder of just how much pain I’m in. It’s dizzying, but I’ve got no choice.


There’s a whole row of beds here, and I keep following them. I walk for what feels like at least 30 meters before finally touching the frame of the last bed. Am I in a hospital? If so, all I need to do is find a door. Or better yet, a doctor. Some Alvedon, maybe a Treo. That’d be great. With my arms stretched out, I walk away from the beds, straight ahead. Follow the faint sound of that ventilation. It’s somewhere in front of me.

Suddenly, my stumbling feet hit something on the floor. It’s soft, cumbersome and takes me completely by surprise. It’s one hell of a faceplant, onto a cold concrete floor. I barely avoid breaking my nose, but I’m pretty sure my right elbow took the brunt of the fall. It aches terribly. I move around in a bit of blind panic, trying to find what I tripped on, when I lay my hand on something soft. It’s fabric. Something slim, long… A boot. A LEG.

That feeling of hopeless panic comes back, but I quell it quickly. Yes, it’s a leg. Attached to a body. I feel around it like some insane mortician and locate the head. Is he breathing? No, he’s not. His skin is cold. I’ve tripped on a dead man. Great. Feeling him over, I notice something in his jacket pocket. Two things. One is a square object made of plastic. It’s got a switch on the side. A flashlight!

The light is blinding, to say the least. Who would’ve thought this little thing could shine like the sun? As my eyes adjust to the light filling the area ahead, I start to relax a little bit. I’m not blind, I’m just in a pitch-black room. I see the hospital beds, now. Panning the light around, it resembles some kind of emergency field hospital set up in what appears to be a concrete bunker. All the other beds are empty. There are signs on the walls, leading into various corridors and opened red bulkhead doors. ‘Kraftcentral, Förråd, Barracker, Utgång’. Utgång! An exit! There’s hope, at last. Before I get up, I take a look at the other item I found. It’s a spherical object, with a ring and… It’s a handgrenade.

“Jesus…” I proclaim as I feel the explosive in my hand.

The dead man at my feet is wearing a military uniform. His eyes are open, staring into the ceiling. And there are strange chokemarks on his throat, like someone attacked him from behind and just… Squeezed, presumably until he died. His empty gaze makes me uncomfortable, so I close his eyes gently. Poor guy. Wonder who he was… And better yet, wonder who killed him.

I begin to make my way towards the corridor with the exit sign. It’s the same one where I heard the ventilation. As I walk down it, it feels good to be able to see again, even if it’s quite creepy down here. I can’t hear the ventilation anymore, either. Strange. I thought for sure it’d be right around this corner.

The corridor continues a fair bit, past some doors that look worthwhile to investigate, if it weren’t for the overwhelming need I have to get out of here and find fresh air. At last, I come to a narrow staircase leading upwards. There’s a slight, cold draft coming from up ahead. The sign of freedom. As I grab the railing to make my way up, a strange whirring sound appears somewhere behind me. It sounds like that ventilation again, except… This time it’s more clear. Like a computer terminal powered on, almost. A single, bright red light sits in the darkness, staring right at me. It sits just out of my flashlight’s reach.


I slowly begin to back up the stairs, when it exclaims a loud, terrifying shriek. The thing darts out of the shadow, and what appears to be some kind of overgrown spider charges at me. With a terrified yelp I leg it up the stairs. The flashlight drops to the floor, and breaks. The light goes out, but I can feel fresh air from the exit nearby. So close!


I can hear it’s little legs tapping against the concrete floor behind me, but ahead is an opened, red bulkhead door. Blinding bright light shines through the doorway, like it’s some kind of gate into heaven itself. I dive through the doorway, and drag the heavy handle outward as quickly as I can. The metal door shuts, and I can hear the angry little spider shrieking and clawing from the inside as I lean against it, exhausted.

As my eyes adjust to the shining sun and the cold morning air, I make out several tall shapes a ways down the path. There are a few cars there, as well. A police car among them. I begin to make my way down the slope, when I suddenly freeze in terror. A lone police officer sits in the driver seat, red blood splattered across the windshield. Two bodies lie face down on the road. The tall shapes turn to face me. Mechanical stomps, the whirring of metal joints. Sharpened blades. Glaring red eyes light up, as they let out a blood-chilling howl that echoes throughout the valley.

I take up the grenade, and pull the pin.


#2

How amazing, another story. In a quite different style, more dream or rather nightmare mood. A slow, progressive development. And a precise description of the GZ world first impressions. Mystery and fear rather than hope and glory, rather than courage and dispair. What will happen to Karl next?


#3

Superb work here, the more stories to be told the better!


#4

very cool mate, if i could do as good as you i would write one too


#5

Added some fitting images, curtesy of the brilliant Photomode :slight_smile:


#6

Love the photos, they really complete the story! Amazing story and photos!


#7

Even better when illustrated.


#8

I throw the grenade towards the cluster of machines ahead of me, and dart into the forest. I can hear the explosion behind me, there’s a fierce roar followed by gunshots, and before I can make any sense of it a tree trunk beside me shatters into splinters. I don’t stop. If I stop, I’m dead. The ground is littered with rocks and dead branches, and I trip more than once but I don’t slow down. I can still hear them behind me. The thumps of their heavy feet, twigs breaking, the sound of metal moving, traversing the forest with ease. The woods are thick with vegetation, brushes and pinetrees. The sun is on my back, lighting the way for me as I run for my life. But not for a moment I stop. I’m marked for death by these… Hunters.

Before I know it, I leave the trees behind and I can see the cloudy skies above. My light is gone, and rainfall is not far behind. The clearing is large, and there’s no cover. Woods all around. I can still hear them behind me. My chest aches, and my body is numb. My head feels like it’s going to explode, and I feel sick to my stomach. My legs are just about to give in. This place will be where I meet my end, I grow certain of it. There’s no point in running anymore, I’m only prolonging the end.

There’s a slight, cold breeze upon the air and the pinetrees gently rock back and forth, as I sit down on my knees in the clearing. A rumble in the distance indicates thunder, and a slight drizzle of rain begins to fall.

“What a somber end” I think to myself. “Even the sun shuns me now.”

I hear them behind me, coming through the underbrush. That terrifying, bloodthirsty roar as it sees me. The sound of a blade being extended. Jesus, this is going to hurt. I shut my eyes.

The other Hunters let out similar roars. But as I expect death, something happens that not even a Hunter-Killer Machine can predict.

A brutal, deafening crash sends me to the ground as it comes smacking down. I barely have the time to see a nearby tree being obliterated by the sheer force, and the Machines standing around it, for one brief millisecond, see it approaching. Their electrical bodies contort and twist violently, before erupting in four grand, bright green explosions that send shrapnel and orange metal parts all over the area, before collapsing into nasty, entangled piles. I scream as it happens. I think that for a moment, if they could, the Hunters would’ve done the same. A bright light, then death. It feels oddly appropriate… And almost supernatural. You can’t buy this kind of luck.

It takes me a little while to gather myself before I can clamber to my feet. My ears are still ringing after the lightning strike. I don’t know how I’m still alive, though… I feel slightly singed. My antagonising foes lie spread out around the tree that’s now burnt and shattered. I slowly approach them, as if they would suddenly come back to life. One of the machines has it’s bladed arm pointed straight up, at me. It’s big enough to cut me in half.

On it’s shoulder sits some kind of device, it resembles a camera, or perhaps binoculars. It still gives off a faint glow, so I carefully pry it loose. Looking through it, I start to realise how the Hunters could’ve followed me so closely. An Infra-Red vision scope. Displays anything living or heat-source in bright yellow. Everything else is red or blue. The thrashed bodies of the Hunter Machines still glow faintly orange. I kick one of them in anger. All it does is hurt my foot a bit.

Pocketing the Thermal Scope, I start to move away from the clearing. It’s cold as hell outside. No snow yet, but the rain and the wind is not helping. I need to find a place to lay low, to hide. Anything for a cup of coffee, hell, a roof over my head. A large ridge sits in my way, so I climb it. The wet rockface makes it precarious, but after what I just survived it’s a cake walk. With all the adrenaline going through my battered body at the moment, I doubt anything would stop me now.

The top of the ridge reveals the valley below. There are roads, farms, fields… The farmlands! That’s where I am. I can see the top of a church tower to my west, but a pillar of smoke rising nearby leaves me discouraged from going. I’m in no shape to fight anything. My luck reserves feel like they’ve run out. Turning my head east, there’s mostly just farmlands and roads. I do spot a crossing, though. A few houses, and a news kiosk. A few cars as well, perhaps one of them still has the key in the ignition? It’s not much of a plan, but it’s better than freezing to death. The climb down would probably qualify as something of a risky gamble, but with some effort I manage to not trip and break my neck. Considering the state I’m in, there better be some keys in one of those cars. And a few million crowns. Yeah, and a bottle of champagne. That’d be golden.

There are a few houses at the crossing, but considering the location being so exposed in every visible direction, it doesn’t feel safe to take shelter here. A thick fog is also rolling in, blanketing the entire area in a nigh impenetrable mist. Better to get moving. Get north, to the mainland. It’s far, but with wheels… It’s doable. Just need to follow the main roads.

My stomach grumbles. Another problem that I try to just… Put in the back of my head, focus on surviving. No, that’s not happening, is it? I need to eat something. I stagger up to the blue news paper kiosk. It’s adorned with some ice cream signs, some newspaper headlines. Some news about the Berlin Wall, and the end of the Iron Curtain. Wait… I stop for a moment. The Cold War is over. But… There are these Machines everywhere. And there are no people. Cars are left abandoned in the roads, and the houses appear vacated. Were we wrong to assume that it was really over… Or is this the beginning of a Soviet invasion?

I think about it as I rummage through the garbage bin. Nothing but trash. Eagerly digging to the bottom, I end up cutting my hand on a broken soda bottle.

“FAN!” I proclaim loudly. “Helvetes satans jävlar…” I grumble a long line of swedish curses as I make my way around the back. I wipe my bloodied hand against my shirt. The wound’s not very deep, it’s more another annoyance than anything to worry about. The door to the kiosk however is completely pulled off it’s hinges. From the outside.

I cautiously peek inside. It’s dark, but empty. What looks to be drag marks can be seen on the wooden floor, and stains. Dark red stains. Shit. Another reason not to linger. I search through the cabinets, and to my delight they look like they were recently restocked. There’s Bepp Soda, Chocolate wafers, candybars, chips… I fill two bags and probably my entire mouth with candy before I head back out into the rain. The sugar helps me focus, a bit. Maybe it’s just placebo, but it does feel a little bit better. Now, to get a car. There are two cars here, a white Björk, and a black Ville station wagon. Tossing the bags in the back of the Björk, I sit down in the drivers’ seat and begin to check around for keys. It proves to be an easy task, as they’re still in the ignition.

Who leaves their car just like this? But no matter. The engine hums to life with the turn of the key, and I let out an enthusiastic cheer. I am out of here! Onto the main road, then to the Östertörn Bridge, and… Wherever. Preferrably behind some heavily reinforced military barricades.

I pull out onto the main road, and speed up. As the engine growls, I barely make out the noise in the background, a kind of heavy thumping sound… Approaching somewhere up ahead. As I peer through the windshield at the foggy road, an enormous, dark and bipedal silhouette comes into view.

One single red eye staring back.


#9

Once more, I’m reading a captivating and intriguing text. And there is a genuine link between text and photos. It is good to wait for another chapter. When I was young, we used to read novels printed in a daily newspapers, each day one chapter (I know, I know I am not a youngster). However, it’s a first time a can ask a question to the author. Why the tree fell, luckily crashing the metal pursuers ? An accident, a friendly fire from a Tank, a land-mine or maybe some mysterious saviour hidden in the fog, another survivor, fired a granatgevar rocket ? Will we get the answer in the next delivery ?


#10

As it says, lightning struck the tree. The Hunters being of metal, did not survive. :cloud_with_lightning:


#11

Oh yes, you’re right. I have read it once more. It appears now clearly to me. Distant thunder, rain, deafening crash, electrical bodies, bright light, luck. A good idea. How could I have misread this :thinking: I must have been really tired looking for three missions and three weapons a in large and desterted space of Normyrra Base last night. :sweat: