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Metro: Beyond

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@Morrigan

July 6th, 2013:

“Ruslan—Go and get your brother.” Ruslan’s mother, Anka ordered, calling out from the kitchen as she finished whatever she was preparing for lunch. With a reluctant sigh, Ruslan rose from his spot on the couch, and hurried into the next set of rooms, leaving his father, Zakhar and Uncle Maxim to continue watching the TV in relative silence. With how small their home was it only took a few steps down a hallway to arrive at his brother’s door, which he gave a quick series of knocks.

“Come on, Kolya. Time for lunch!” Ruslan announced and soon heard an annoyed sigh from a girl behind the door, Antoniya. His brother’s girlfriend, she hadn’t meet Uncle Maxim before, no doubt she’d be part of the conversations once the lunch got started. The family rarely ever got entirely together, despite how small it was.

Soon the two lovebirds left the room, giving Ruslan the stink-eye for ruining their fun. Ruslan merely shrugged and followed them back out into the dinning room where his mother had outdone herself this time, preparing more food than one would have expected at a little family get-together like this, but the circumstances and tradition called for it. Uncle Maxim worked for the Moscow Police department, in a station on the other side of the city and was usually too absorbed in his work, as workaholics such as him are, to really care too much to visit family. It took a good couple of phone calls from Zakhar to get his brother out here, but after a while he managed to get the younger brother to finally agree to spend the afternoon in the family’s small apartment.

Soon the family began to eat and the expected conversations came about, usually started by Uncle Maxim; how were the brothers doing in school, how was life in general, where had Nikolai meet a girl such as Antoniya and when would Ruslan get a nice girl for himself, all questions and topics Ruslan had expected. The last one was perhaps the worst, personally he hadn’t cared for the few experiences with dating he had so far, even at his age, but he still needed to say something, and as he was about to give the overly original excuse of ‘oh, I’m too busy for that, uncle’ that his mind first leapt too, Uncle Maxim stopped him, the officers phone ringing and Maxim told the boy one moment as he walked into the next room to answer it.

Thank God…Ruslan thought to himself and returned to his food, his attention soon drifting away from everyone else at the table and beginning to listen in on his uncle, more so out of curiosity and boredom rather than anything else.

“What do you mean? No, no that…Damn it, Pyotr they wouldn’t!—They already…when?!” Maxim began, his voice soon rising to a scream, and Zakhar with a sigh got out of his chair and went to ask his brother what was going on when Maxim rushed out of the room.

“We’re leaving, all of us—Now!” He ordered, going for the door.

“Wait, wh—” Zakhar began.
“There’s no time!” Maxim shouted.

“What’s going on, Maxim” Anka asked, by now sharing the fear everyone in the room had.

“We NEED to leave, all of-“

Soon the air filled with a ringing so loud, Ruslan could swear he was going deaf.

“Now-Now, come on!” Maxim shouted, opening the apartment door.

“Are those bomb sirens!?” Antoniya asked.

“Come on!” Maxim ordered, walking over and begin to push the family out one by one into the hallway and then down the stairwell. The family began to descend the stairs, it was five floors to the bottom, Anka had gone first, only getting down three steps as the entire apartment block shook, sending her tumbling down, and cracking her head against the concrete siding of the stair well, the wall getting coated in blood in moments.

“Anka!” Zakhar shouted, trying to get ahead of the line to grab his wife, Ruslan and Nikolai by now where trying to do the same, they didn’t think, it all went into instinct, trying their best to help their mother before Maxim began to push them again.

“Come on! Come on, no time to stop!” He ordered, Zakhar tried to push him away but Maxim forced him down, nearly pushing his brother down the stairs and then forcing the boys, Ruslan with tears in his eyes, away from his mother and down the stairs and outside, into the parking lot, forcing everyone into his car, having the kids practically sit on top of each other as he pushed them into the back seat.

“God!” Antoniya shouted, tears in her eyes as she choked on her next words, finding her throat closing up in fear as she looked out the window,

“Don’t look!” Maxim shouted, the car having already taken off, speeding past a crowd of people as he drove ahead, while a cloud, towered above the cities skyline, the roofs of homes still standing burned like bone fires, bits of glass fell out of windows and a plane had gone into a nose dive and quickly disappeared as it crashed in some neighborhood closer to the cities center….

-------------------------

Who did this….? Ruslan could only wonder, he had curled up next to his weeping brother and his girlfriend, he still cried like them but did not sob, he could not even find the energy to do so. All he could do was think, and even then, barley. Maxim had gotten them to the police station, where some officers; Pyotr, Ivan, Lev and around seven others had remained while the rest had seemingly taken off for their families. He had forced them into the depths of the departments basement, much deeper than one would have expected and through a door—where a…platform of some sort, like the ones in the cities metro, stood, all light up by bright lights. That’s where they were now, curled up against the wall of this…station for lack of a better term. Ruslan could not recognize it from his usage of the metro….

Where are we?

“What happened out there!?” Zakhar shouted.

“What do you think, Zakhar? The American’s…they finally did it.” Maxim explained dryly and without any fear about the whole situation, as if the world hadn’t ended just moments before and what he was saying wouldn’t shatter their world forever.

The Americans…why, why would they? Was all Ruslan could think, over and over again as the hours passed by. The officers had tried to get the teens to talk but to no avail.

“…Where are we?” Zakhar asked tiredly, looking around the platform, standing in the doorway with Maxim, who remained quiet for some time.

“…A governmental line…” Maxim muttered. “They’ll come for us soon enough.” He said, seemingly confident in his own words.

August 2nd, 2013:

“Wish us all luck guys!” Zakhar announced as he, Maxim, Nikolai, Pyotr, Ivan, and a few other guards made their way to the edge of the platform that had been their home for the past month. Zakhar and Maxim had finally put aside their constant bickering on what to do, and with the meager supplies finally having run low at the police station above, they had decided now would be the best time to finally head down the tunnel and towards the center of the city. Someone else had to be alive out there, right? Whether the government that had yet to arrive as Uncle Maxim had confidently predicted, or anyone else it didn’t matter, they’d find someone or something…

There was a tunnel, leading from the platform to the west, and one to the east, towards the center of the city. The group had equipped itself with some rifles and pistols from the station, most had thought it would be too much but Maxim feared for what the metro might look like, believing it to be too chaotic and that they might need something. His argument eventually won out and now every man had something for himself in the group. They’d be leaving Antoniya and Ruslan with Lev. If it all went according to plan they’d be back by tomorrow, hopefully with help and food.

Ruslan hugged his brother, father and uncle. Antoniya gave Nikolai a kiss and hug and the group began to set out down the tunnel, as everything began to shake once more.

May 9th, 2015:

“….What do you think he looks like?” Antoniya asked, still tired after the birth. She was resting on the homemade cot as she had been for the past few hours as Ruslan held the baby boy in his hands…looking the child’s face over.

I’m sorry brother….I’m so sorry. I’ll keep them safe--both of them, I promise. He thought to himself, over and over and over, for what seemed like the millionth time in the past few months. He was going to say something to Antoniya, make up some name, anything but soon he could feel the ground shake again and he placed the boy on the ground, pressed his hands over his ears as he prepared himself to ignore the scream as another one came down the tunnel just as before, causing the boy to cry out.

2039:

“Ruslan…” Lev, the last guard from the police station, muttered weakly from his bed, trying his best to force himself to sit up. The old man was looking weaker each day, and yet he still found some strength to argue…

“I said I’m going.” Ruslan said, closing his satchel and throwing it on. He was, no one could stop him now, especially not this old man. He checked his two canteens, one for him and one for—

The coughing started again, on the other side of the platform, Nikolai had began to cough again and Ruslan hurried over, clutching the young man’s canteen and putting it up to his lips.

“No, no…none of that, what did we say?” He asked as he tried to force the water into Nikolai’s mouth, which was now covered in phlegm and small spits of blood. Water seemed to help, once he got it all out of his mouth but he also seemed afraid of water, even small amounts when he had eagerly drank it before, now it took Ruslan to practically begging and forcing Nikolai to drink it to help him. Even with the water in him, Nikolai was still severely dehydrated. His skin sagged at the pull, he had no tears when he tried to cry, yet beads of sweat formed on his head and rained down onto the platform.

Why did this happen…

Ruslan returned back to his supplies, checking them over once more and then looked back over at Lev. There was no way Ruslan could bring him along, but he’d be back…he’d be back if this all worked out anyway…

“I’ll be back for you.” Ruslan began.

“And where do you think you’ll go? Ruslan—it’s been twenty-six years…maybe more, hell I’ve even lost count!” Lev shouted and Ruslan began to tune him out. They’d been over this for days. “It’s been years since we seen anyone, and the ones we did fine--remember what happened to Antoniya!?” Lev shouted.

“Do not bring her into this!” Ruslan shouted and started to go for the old man but stopped himself, took a breath and looked back at Nikolai.

“We’ll be back…soon. We’ll bring help for you. I promise.”

“Ruslan!” Lev cried out once more.

“I said I promise…I need to do this Lev--I can’t just sit here!” Ruslan shouted and gestured silently at Nikolai soon after. Despite more shouting from Lev, Ruslan grabbed Nikolai. The young man was skinny enough to now carry around almost like a baby, but soon he settled on carrying him on his back while Ruslan shifted the satchel to the front of his own body and the two made their way off the platform and down the tunnel, a small home made lantern in Ruslan’s hand….

----------------------------

The nervousness had not let up since he left the station, he felt sick as he had first left, closing his eyes to the blood on the tracks before forcing them open a few steps later.

Just keep going…just keep going

And that’s what he did, for what seemed like forever. The tracks here were narrow and simple, not like what he could remember of the wide-open tunnels and double-sided tracks of the metro from his youth. He felt like he was walking throw a pipe or a straw. The monotony of the tunnels only got broken up on occasion, but the odd fuse box or old wires that had fallen off the side of the tunnel and now resembled vines.

He continued on, then stopped, his heart began to pound as the ground shook once more and seeing a large fuse box and a slight gap near the side of the tunnel, immediately went for it, covering his ears and pressing himself against the side of the tunnel as another one came by, it’s metallic screeching echoing off the wall as the train rounded the corner and disappeared from site. Nikolai was sobbing, he hated those things more than Ruslan. Ruslan sighed and patted Nikolai’s shoulder.

“I know…I know, it’s gone now…” He muttered continuing on, his lantern was getting dimmer as he continued, and he had no real plan of where to go. He did not plan to follow the shuttle, so he continued on, heading forward, into the main tunnel that continued to rise for some time before leveling out again. Each step felt like climbing a mountain, he wasn’t used to rising surfaces anymore….everything back home was flat and straight and small compared to these tunnels that would rise, turn and would grow in size and shrink at seemingly random moments as he continued his journey.

He’d stop occasionally, give as much water as he could to Nikolai and himself, which was beginning to not matter. He felt sick, exhausted. Sweat was cascading down his face and landing in large droplets down his chest and down onto the tracks below him.

“Where do I go…?” He gasped out, forcing himself ahead and soon needing to stop. He looked around for something away from the tracks and soon found a large pipe, jutting out of the side of the tunnel partially, he shined his dying lantern into it mostly out of curiosity….it went on for a while, he was considering leaving this weird obstruction but he could just make out something on the other end.

Were those…. voices?

There was no way, it had to be something else but….

The pipe was wide, wide enough for him to hunch down in but still stand and carrying Nikolai bridal style through it. It was not meant for sewage or water it seemed. It was old, maybe it wasn’t a pipe he thought.

What else could it be….?

He continued ahead, the pipe went on for about four meters, then ended. The drop was about another meter or two….he could make it, just needed to be careful.

“Ok…We’ll be fine, just gonna go for it. Ok?” Ruslan muttered to Nikolai, who by now was silent. In a panic Ruslan felt the boy’s neck, he had a pulse but it was weak, and so was what counted at a sad attempt at breathing. Not wanting to take any longer, Ruslan jumped down.

“Fuck!” He screamed, tumbling forward onto a new set of tracks, Nikolai went further ahead and rolled to his side, Ruslan scrambled over to him, ignoring the large gashes on his arm and chest as he tried to roll Nikolai over. Just before he could see the young man’s face, everything went white and Ruslan screamed, covering his eyes.

What happened!? What happened?! He could not see, everything was just pure white as he tried to open his now burning eyes. He heard footsteps, rushing over just as his vision began to slowly return.

People!? Was it really people? Were there others? He could see something human in figure moving towards them, something in their hands. By now Ruslan could not contain himself, he had tears in his eyes as he weakly reached out to whoever or whatever was in front of him.

“Please….” He begged then moved his hand weakly towards Nikolai “Help him--help my boy, please!”

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