***** WHISPERS S01-EP01 *****

In the morning, the sun began to shine, and another sunbeam lighted through the cloudy sky, dew drops on the grass. The thick fog rising from the swamp, like a solid wall, covered the swamp’s secrets. Nature took its course, wakes all the creatures of the Zone, and on one side or another there a crackling or silent yawn was heard.

There were a few blurry lights in the fog. They slowly moved from the swamp to the dry land. A few minutes passed and several stalkers emerged from the fog. One carried a huge mutated boar on his shoulders. Stalkers reached the edge of the woods, man carrying a wild boar, put his heavy pack on the ground. Big red eyes, mouth with greenish-yellow tails the size of a bull’s horns. A sting of blood streamed from his mouth. A light morning breeze swept the hair of the stalkers. All of them were dirty from the feets to the head, covered with some sort of black mass, a similar view was few years ago when a stalker “Plude” hit an oil anomaly. Hair curled, eyes tired, looking away but at the same time not seeing anything. A rockie of the Zone would undoubtedly start shouting and shooting at unknown monsters.

Time has shown that the Zone is alive and the emergence of new mutants, and the retirement of old ones, is just the law of the jungle where the strongest survives. You can always meet new faces at a bar or other place, but you will not always see old faces. Zone promotes or takes in its own way.

One of the stalkers slowly pulled the map out of the dirty jacket and began examining it. The other two looked around.

– Are we lost?

– No, but we set off on our intended path to overtake a herd of fleeing mutated rats.

— We went out into the area with little to no traffic, there is an info that Monolith is ruling here. We should get our feet out of here quietly and quickly.

– After this night’s adventure, we went all night. Although the Old Man was right, we found this last Boar of the Zone. Let’s hope Sidorovich pays for him well.

– It will only pay if we deliver it. Maybe we should contact him and ask him to send a couple more people.

One of the stalkers pulled a walkie-talkie from the plastic bag, waved it, and flicked it several times in the palm of its hand. The lamp flashes slowly and weakly. It finally came into play. Stalker found the right channel and started calling Sidorovich. The radio murmured, hissed, but no one answered the call signs.

– Says that after the Monolith widened the boundaries of its controlled area, the connection deteriorated completely.

The stalker switched the radio to advanced mode and pressed a few buttons to start the scanner. After a few minutes of silence, the scanner finally stopped. A few moments were silent. Suddenly a voice was heard: Need ……. we cannot leave ……………. crazy ……………… code …… .. 4 b …… 2… .e. By the fallen tree ……………….

The stalkers looked up anxiously. The stalker who looked at the map, pointed his finger at the map and said:

– I don’t know how, but we appeared right in the middle of the monolith controlled area. To sit and rest here would be like suicide. We need to get out of here as soon as possible, It was as if the words of the stalker echoed with the roar and the sound of breaking branches from the swamp.

The stalkers stood up quickly, helped bring the boar to one’s shoulders and quickly ran over the remains of the paved road and hid in the woods.

After a few hours of walking… ..

The Pathfinder in the front slowly spread through the bushes and stopped in surprise. Successive stalkers knelt and listened. The drops of rain falling from the gray sky fell to the ground and made their way to the puddles. To the Pathfinder’s surprise he stood in front of an old abandoned formerly white brick building, now shabby deserted, covered with lichens and paved. The crumbling bricks were threatening to fall at any moment. The place where the door was supposed to be was just empty opening as if it had been torn apart by an unseen force with the jamb and dropped to the side. The Stalkers prepared their weapons, slowly entered the building, prepared to kill anyone at any time. There are a few small empty rooms, but it’s better than relaxing in the rain. The Pathfinder stopped at the door of the last room, kneeled down and whispered few words. The stalkers looked anxiously at the Pathfinder, they having never seen him do so.

“Here we can rest more safely,” said the Pathfinder. He dropped his backpack and placed it in a corner.

The stalkers followed the Pathfinder into the room. In the total darkness only shadows were visible. The Pathfinder pulled a small candle from his backpack, lit it and placed it on the table. The candlelight light shone on a picture hung on an improvised altar. Next to it were molten candles of various shapes, which indicated that they were visited from time to time. Stalkers, following the Pathfinder, tossed their backpacks, placed them in a corner, and leaned against the floor and leaned against the wall.

– Pathfinder, you are as calm as if there was no fear or danger.

– Yes, you’re right, this place in the Zone as an oasis in the desert. Here, by silent agreement, no one shoots, monsters and mutants overtake this place as if the souls of dead stalkers were protecting it. The good news is that it is safe here and no one threatens us.

– Okay, so what’s the bad news then?

– We’re in the middle of the monolith controlled area. And we will need to go through another hurdle to get back safely.

The Pathfinder pulled out a box of canned food and a basket of sourdough bread from his backpack.

– Maybe we cut a piece of meat from a boar and roast it?, Said one of the stalkers.

– Maybe you better run away through the anomaly with your naked butt. At least the image of death will be interesting.

– So you said it’s safe here !!

– It’s safe, but better snack on what you have and let’s take at least a couple of hours to sleep.

In the silence stalkers bitten, and the old rusty flask sipped something stronger in his mouth, and went to sleep.

The Pathfinder was awakened by quiet and careful steps. Slowly he opened his eyes, trying not to move. Above one of the sleeping stalkers, a man in a white medical gown leaned over him, smeared with dried blood, and in several places the color of the gown seemed to hold a mutated, purring dog, and dog had escaped and pus remained. The person pulled his tweezers and beaker out of his pocket, brushed the hair of the sleeping stalker, and threw pieces of dirt into the beaker. An unknown device was pulled out of his other pocket. It was catching and spreading the light, glancing at the stalker, looking down and muttering softly under his nose. Slowly, the Pathfinder untied the tray and polled out his tired PM and pointed it at the “medic”, without making any noise or unnecessary movements. Medic did not make any visible movement, only extended his finger to the wizard and waved quietly without even looking back.

– Don’t dare, this is a holy place! Even the monolith does nothing here, but sometimes the prayer comes, – silently like a light breeze medic whispered.

– Who are you and what do you want?

While the Pathfinder uttered his words softly, the other stalkers’ eyes immediately opened. Stalker, who had been examined by a medic, woke up, drops of cold sweat on his forehead, his eyes open to the medic. The mouth moaned, but did not release any sound. The doctor told something, pulled out an old leather box from his pocket, removed a pinch of unclear powder from it, and patted the stalker under his nose. After a few seconds he put the powder back into the box and hid it in his pocket. A few seconds later and the stalker began to move.

– I needed to make sure you were not mutants and not monolit agents or otherwise unaffected by the area so I paralyzed you. But I seemed to be in no need of fear,- the doctor said.

– Here’s a safe place and nobody does anything for each other, One of the stalkers said.

– Not killing. I have not killed you, nor will I kill you. I just need some small samples for studies.

– And what did you want to know?

– Well, I watched your group pull up a boar, where did you find it? And I thought you had to go through the swamps, and nobody goes there without a need . Also, a couple of nights ago, I saw a few blue lightnings that didn’t hit the ground, but on the contrary, got off the ground and hit something in the clouds. So now there are more questions than answers.

– We also saw that we were close to us. Later, the pieces of metal felt on us. It would look like an airplane, but where from in the Zone airplanes come from. Some time ago the monolith had knocked down a few helicopters, but it was something different. And actually the monolith could shoot.

– Maybe you could bring some of that fallen metal back, I’d be happy to buy it.

– We never thought about those metal scraps, we tried to attract this creature,- The Pathfinder waved at the boar’s body.

“Pitty, so pitty,” the doctor said. He pulled out of his pocket small box. – Maybe some candy?

The stalkers quickly picked up the candy and threw it into their mouths without a word being spoken by the Pathfinder. The doctor opened his palm with a glittering blue candy to the side of the Pathfinder. The Pathfinder slowly shook his head and sighed heavily. The doctor smiled and tossed the candy back into the box.

– Well now it’s time for me to go, I have some things to do. One must pass the monolit patrol and not fall into the hands of the military patrol also. But know that in the Monolith Controlled Zone now there are very few stalkers and no one wants to collect the artifacts, if you come to me, I will tell which artifacts you can bring to me, you can make a good fortune.

So the doctor turned around and walked out the door.

– Who was there? I’ve never seen him, the stalker asked.

– Doctor, scientist, stalker, I don’t know how to name it. As a woman, you never know what to expect from him, – The Pathfinder came over and started to pack his things.It is time for us to travel.

The Stalkers loaded up their belongings, tied the boar and pulled towards Sidor.

To Be Continued……

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