this is the first chapter of a short story i’ve worked on. if enough people like it i’ll keep going, otherwise this might just be something i look back on and cringe.
The final gunshots could be heard on the morning of November twelfth, 1989. A period of tranquility and even a twisted form of peace befell the island of Östertorn for two short days. The entire land lay quiet and unmoving. If the streets weren’t empty, they were littered with the bodies of the dead. Buildings were left nearly untouched or demolished and ravaged by the killing machines. One thing was certain: the war was already over. There was no declaration, only sirens and panic as the innocent and enlisted alike were exterminated like insects. The responsible party for this holocaust was doing exactly what it was made to do on its own country’s soil. What Ludvig will experience won’t explain this mysterious foe or this brutal curse afflicting Östertorn. It will merely be a case study of what such a horrific situation can do to a person such as himself… How long will it take for him to die like the rest?
November 14th, 1989
Ludvig jolted awake as the boat’s engine backfired yet again. Before he could even see clearly he could make out the nervous expression on Elise’s face. “Is this thing even going to make it back in one piece?” Johan gave no reply. He worked on the boat as much as he could, so at this point he was uncaring towards the responsibility on his shoulders. Karl was able to sleep through these annoyingly loud problems, but his nap wouldn’t last much longer. As the shore drew nearer Ludvig grabbed his duffle bag and began to put his bright blue converses back on. “Alright, land ho!” Johan yelled over the roaring motor. The hunting trip had gone far too well, and being rather superstitious Ludvig felt that something bad was bound to happen. He braced for the engine to go out, thinking of how his varsity jacket would be ruined if he had to swim to shore.
The group had all gone to the same college at Stockholm and had even grown up together on the island, so this trip wasn’t exactly unusual. All they had left their parents were a couple of notes and an answering machine message, which is arguably more personable, but this only happened because the writing of the note was forgotten. Suddenly the sound of a whip cracking could be easily heard over the engine. Ludvig looked at Elise briefly only to notice her expression of horror as she looked upon Johan’s body which had fallen out of the driver’s chair. His legs seemed to twitch as blood sprayed out of his now gaping throat. The whip cracks rapidly filled the air as glass and fragments of hull flew in every direction. Bullets. There were no thoughts in Ludvig’s head now, he just had to get out of this boat. He gave one last look towards the passenger seats before he jumped. Elise was missing, but Karl’s fate was seemingly far worse. Ludvig couldn’t count the wounds, but there was enough blood to declare with disturbing certainty that Karl had never awoken from his sleep.
Ludvig twisted rapidly and rolled off the boat’s side into the freezing November water. As he froze, he could feel a blast of prominent warmth and a brief glow surrounded him as the engine went up in flames like a torch. He knew he had to stay under the water for as long as he could, otherwise he would be risking certain death from the overwhelming hail of bullets. The shore could barely be made out from this point in the water, there was hope. As he swam he realized he couldn’t hear the bullets anymore, but he was cautious anyways, only poking his head above the water once, quietly and quickly. He could feel his chest hit the sand, and once his feet found good traction he crawled out of the freezing ocean and under the cover of a nearby dock. He desperately scanned the churning waves for Elise, but she was nowhere to be seen.
As the adrenaline started to wear off, Ludvig began to notice a sound coming from a nearby house. Hydraulics? Slowly he peaked over the decrepit wooden dock, his pale face creeping up just enough to assess his environment. There was no movement or sound anymore, only the bright yellow house and its broken white picket fence. Before he made any decisions, Ludvig took advantage of his concealed position and attempted to process the violent moment - or maybe hour, he couldn’t tell anymore - he had just lived through. He never thought that lives could end so quickly. The delicate and terrifying reality of his situation set in. This is no nightmare.
The boat was now long gone beneath the waves. Ludvig could only quietly whimper the word “No” with a stutter. His left leg was shaking uncontrollably and he was practically coated in sand. He needed to move now. After a couple of deep breaths, he cautiously slid out from under the dock and moved towards the house. He now recalled that he was in Yttervik. The confusion left him so disoriented that he couldn’t even remember this place where he was going to be dropped off by Johan. Blue lights seemed to fade in and out on the walls of the ice cream kiosk just about ninety meters away. Was help here? Hope began to build even higher.
Ludvig couldn’t cultivate the courage necessary to call for help. As he inched across the dark beach he couldn’t shake the feeling that something was looking at him. The yellow house was drawing closer and a faint red glow could be seen in one of the windows. Before entering the house Ludvig gazed out at the waves one more time. He couldn’t bear what he was thinking, his vision started to blur with tears. Looking away quickly he focused his view on the white front door and tried the handle. Unlocked, but why? He didn’t have to call out, he knew no one was home. Turning right Ludvig saw what was emitting this mysterious glow. To his bewilderment this red light was coming from the head of some sort of machine covered in, seemingly, its own fuel.
This machine had four legs and in its broken configuration seemed to be as tall as Ludvig, that is if it was standing upright. He noticed a machine gun attached to the machine’s side and shell casings littered the floor. The confusion was now never-ending. The room was in complete disarray. But the scene became grimmer when Ludvig noticed a trail of blood leading out of the living room and upstairs. “I’m not going up there,” was his first thought. He moved to the kitchen where he found a note on the counter, addressed to a “Mats,” and a decent looking Walther pistol. It already had a full magazine loaded, but something told Ludvig this wouldn’t suffice.
Just outside the kitchen windows he spotted what he had already assumed was creating the blue glow he saw earlier; a police car. A very convenient place for ammo assuming that there were no living officers to help him, this being a reality he had subconsciously embraced. But just as Ludvig started leaving the house he could hear a faint droning in the distance. As he listened closer he heard a sound too clear to ignore. A dog’s bark.