Post World War Three, North Korea bombed America. America retaliated. The worlds gone to shit, everywhere the landscape is destroyed. There is no safe place except Canada, the only country that wasn’t completely destroyed. Unrighteous, horrid, demon mutations roam the lands, killing any who survive. An alien race hunts these beasts, and the struggling humans are barely passing by. Between the three races, water, food, and shelter is scarce. The mutant race, referred to as the Maelstrom race, are carnivores with their own ruler, Zerterratossceros. Zerterratossceros and his race are not the natives mutated, but merely beings from planet Utthagua. The leader of the alien race, called Terramancers, worships almighty gods. The current prophet of the Terramancers is K’h’jus, and he is a peacekeeper of the humans and warrior against the Maelstrom.
The races arrived a year after North Korea and South Korea fell. NK and SK were the first countries to fall, actually. The land was a barren wasteland, devoid of life. Good portions of both China and Mongolia collapsed next. Japan managed to avoid the problem because of the ocean, but Russia finally broke. Tensions have always been high between the two countries. Germany, stung by Russia from its past betrayal and destroying Germany’s ally, got Italy and the other Germanic nations involved. And, well… it truly was WW3. Every country, even Switzerland got involved. Then everything stopped. It’s been five years since the last government official has been seen. People are few and far between.
You were currently somewhere in Alaska, having fled Russia with your brother, Stanislov, his wife, Adla, and their two sons, Czar and Fabi. You were close to the border of Canada; a partially destroyed sign in the ash told you so. Of course the sign was blown around by the radioactive blasts, so you could’ve already passed over or maybe be another day’s journey away.
“______, how accurate do you think that sign was?” Adla asked, carrying her younger son Fabi, who was six years old. You grunted, “Beats me. I’m still wondering how we haven’t seen any bandits.” “Don’t jinx us, mladshaya sestra.” Stanislov said gruffly as he continued to lead the group on. Czar, eleven, stood between you and your older brother. “Stan, don’t you think we should rest? I can barely tell through the acid clouds, but we’ve been walking awfully long. Fabi is never tired, and even he wants to rest.”
Stanislov paused, glancing around. “And where would we stay? You know acid clouds mean acid rain; we must find a shelter first.” Adla shifted the now-dozing Fabi to her other shoulder. “Lyubit, what of that cave we passed a mile back?” “And what if there are bandits hiding in those caves?” Stanislov suggested pointedly. You piped up, “Another cave can’t be far away! Right, Czar? Didn’t you read about cave systems in first grade, before Russia was in the war?”
Czar was only six. It was mind-blowing to think he was only six when WWIII began. Fabi was only a year old. Fabi never got to experience school or vacations or life. Czar didn’t see too much more. What kind of world do we live in where our own families can’t live their lives? “We were in the middle of a lesson about caves when the principal brought a TV in.” Czar answered innocently, his voice slightly gruff from lack of use. You bit back tears, He’s only eleven years old!
Stanislov led the group for another couple of miles while you silently reflected. Your mother and father had been killed fighting for Mother Russia. They were stationed in Japan, after conquering the island nation, and were killed when France attacked Russia’s base. Your friends were all dead; they died because they simply weren’t fast enough. You managed to make it to cover, while they… t-they were on the way to the cellar w-when the blast hit. You saw your friends ripped to pieces as you ducked under the stairs.
Czar stumbled and you caught him, cradling him as Stanislov sought cover. The group had stopped while Stanislov searched, and Adla’s belly rumbled pathetically. You sat down and laid Czar carefully across your lap, and reached onto your back for your supplies backpack. You pulled out an unmarked can, and punctured it with your Swiss army knife. Ironic. You thought as you passed the popped can to Adla.
“My Birthday is soon.” Adla suddenly said, breaking the silence after taking a long swig of peaches. You peaked over at her, eyebrow raised. “You’ve been keeping track of the days?” “Every time we rest.” Adla said matter-of-factly, her voice low in acknowledgment of the boys. “What’s today?” You asked, taking the peach juice can from her and sipping at the rim. “April 29th, 2020, Wednesday. My birthday is in two weeks.” You smiled, the mud caked on your face cracking. The peach lingered in your mouth, and you savored the flavor. Adla and you leaned against each other, shutting your eyes to wait for Stanislov.
Footsteps approached just before you drifted off, and you awoke quickly to see a tall man standing over you. He had a long tan trench coat on, and a billowing white scarf. You moaned, “S-Stanislov?” Adla blinked awake and looked in your direction. “_______? Who’s that?” The man bent over, brushing mud off your face. “I’m Ivan; I used to work for Russia.” The man spoke, his voice deep and silently commanding. Behind him two ladies appeared. “These are my sestry, Natalia,” He waved to the fierce brunette one. “And Yekaterina, but you can call her Katyusha.” Ivan waved to the big-breasted platinum-blonde.
You cleared your throat, “How do we know we can trust you?” Ivan laughed, “Have we killed you yet?” You snorted and rasped, “I’m ______. This is my sister-in-law, Adla, and her two sons, Czar,” You motioned to the boy in your lap. “And Fabi. My brother, Stanislov, should be back soon.” “Stanislov is the reason we found you. He asked us to come fetch you.” “Fetch us?” You immediately stood up, causing Czar to awaken and fall into the mound of ash you’d been sitting on. Adla quietly picked Fabi and herself up.
“You found a place?! Come now, Czar, shelter is not far!” You became excited, and Adla followed lead. Czar was instantly ready, holding your heavy pack. You snatched your pack and Czar up, begging Ivan to lead the way. Natalia shot you a glance, flanking you and Czar. “Touch moy brat and you won’t hear the end of it.” Startled, you shook your head and nearly halted. Katyusha called from beside Ivan, “Don’t mind her. She’s a little protective, zverenysh.” Ivan walked confidently along, and you could see why Natalia would be protective. In an apocalyptic world with so few choices, and a cheery man such as Ivan…
A hill soon came into view, and you entered a cave, which led into a tunnel, which went into a spacious cavern. The cavern had many nooks and crannies, all of which led into other caverns. “Perfect, especially in case the acid rain is heavy.” Ivan said proudly. Stanislov appeared and he ran to Adla. Czar hugged his father, and Fabi stirred to say “Daddy?” You hugged your big brother, and Ivan cleared his throat after a moment.
“I hate to break up the reunion, but we must prepare for the acid rainstorm. It should hit us tonight.” Natalia spoke with a roll in her eyes. “And we all know how the Maelstrom love their acid.” That was the real reason you must sleep in high up cave crevices. Maelstrom flyers, Xenobirds, couldn’t navigate the caves, and the lowly Maelstrom Stalkers (Almost like deadly dogs) couldn’t reach you.
Ivan climbed into your crevice, “We sleep in pairs, for safety. And I’d rather stay with a stranger then one of my crazy sisters.” You nodded, laying your backpack out as a pillow. Ivan took off his heavy trench coat, revealing a white, tattered T-Shirt and dark green/gray slacks. He settled down with his own arms as a pillow, and laid his coat over himself as a blanket. You snuggled deeper into your puffy jacket, closed your eyes, and whispered good night to your parents.
Thunder shattered your precious sleep. A deep growling was heard echoing through the cave. Maelstrom Stalker. You rustled quietly in your sleep, disturbing Ivan as you got up. Since you couldn’t stand in the crevice, you crouched and watched the beast lurk around. It was a deep navy blue color, with menacing claws protruding from its back. It was about the size of a young Great Dane, it’s back arched with thick scale plating on its back, face, and claws. Two sets of vibrant yellow eyes searched the cave for life.
You shivered as the Stalker froze, turning its head slowly in your direction. It peered at you, narrowing its vicious eyes. The growling became a howl, and the Stalker awoke everyone in the cave. Fabi started crying, and the Stalker twitched its tiny head in the family’s direction. Stanislov grabbed his son, placing his hands over Fabi’s ears, and shushed his son. Fabi sniffled and his wailing calmed, but the Stalker had already pinpointed his location.
Splashes were heard as the Stalker ran through the thin layer of acid rain covering the cavern floor. The Stalker attempted to jump up into the crevice, but didn’t even make it halfway up. Fabi screeched and Czar’s lip was trembling. Adla was crying, clutching her children and husband. The Stalker jumped again, this time closer to the entrance of the crevice. Oh my God. If it keeps jumping… You reacted instinctively, pushing Ivan away and jumping onto the floor, rushing the Stalker. The stalker turned and its mouth stretched wide, and green slime shot out at your face.
You sputtered and slammed into the Stalker, which wiggled free and used a claw to stab you. You held onto its claw, the sharp edge cutting into your hand. The Stalker opened its mouth again, and the slime spat at you again. You hit the floor with a thud, the acid burning your skin. You were crying in pain, but knew only one thing: you must protect your family. The sizzling of skin and acrid smoke it created made you cringe, and blood was spilling out of your stab hole. The Stalker suddenly froze, and the only sound was the pattering of the acid rain and your heavy breathing.
The Stalker unfroze, looked at you with terror, and ran whimpering out of the cave. You sat there until it all caught up with you. You quickly climbed onto a stalagmite, balancing precariously on the tip. Your clothes were basically gone, and your skin had horrible burns. The fight had lasted mere milliseconds, though it’d felt like hours. You grunted and felt woozy. “_-____! Get up! Give me your hand!” Your brother’s Russian accent called out to you. You looked up, saw his hand, and gratefully accepted it.
Once pulled into the crowded crevice, Stanislov searched his medical pack and found the small bottle of hydrogen peroxide. He pulled out gauze and sterilized the bandages, then wrapped them around your stab wound. He scoured his bag and finally pulled out his lukewarm water bottle and a pair of scissors. Stanislov was a doctor, working his way up, before the end of the world. He shushed me as he cut away the few strands of remaining clothes from the burned area. He gently poured the water on your legs, where the burns were the worst. Adla held your hand as you grimaced and squished the fleshy bone.
“______, stay strong! You must be still!” Stanislov loving scolded, and a voice rose from the darkness. “How bad is it?” It was Katyusha, her voice nearly drowned out by the roll of thunder. Lightning dimly lit the cave for a second, revealing a terrified head poking out from behind Natalia. Natalia was murmuring “Shut up” as she closed her eyes and turned away from the commotion.
“Bite this.” Stanislov handed you a dirty cloth, which you uncertainly bit. He quickly wrapped your legs with gauze and a rag, and you grinded your teeth in pain. You wept silently as he searched his fanny pack once again and pulled out an ibuprofen pill. He handed you the pill and water, which you took gratefully. You removed the cloth and swallowed the pill with ease, forcing yourself not to chug the bottle.
The cool water calmed your parched throat, and you raised your head, now loudly crying. Stanislov held you and rocked you into a nightmare filled sleep.