Philip's daily record (general gameplay story)

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Philip's daily record (general gameplay story)

Daily record by Philip Kindred.

Day 1.

World gone crazy. That, or i did...

Spoiler: Highlight to view
I decided to write down what happens, every day, before going to sleep. Starting today. Namely, the day i woke up from apparently very long cryogenic sleep. I have no idea what date it is - nor what year. Worse, i don't remember how i got here, and memories of the past are fragmented and dream-like, in general.

There was noone around when i woke up. But there was that... mutant, i guess. That, or old werewolf stories are true? It (he?) attacked. In a short hand-to-hand fight, i managed to strangle it to death. I just reacted instinctively, not even fully awake from my long freezing slumber. It feels that i am not skilled in any martial art or cold weapon combat, - even under adrenaline rush, my moves were not as precise as quick as i'd want them to be, given the situation. The creature cut my left leg a bit, below the knee, and bruised my hip before i managed to grab its neck from behind, at which point it had no chance to get out of my iron grasp.

Good thing my strength was not reduced by cryogenics - i can feel lots of strength in my muscles. Still, i think i was lucky to kill the thing while taking so little damage.

Then i went out of the cryogenic facility. Hoped to find someone. Outside i found only broken windows, rain, and it was DARN cold. Noone anywhere. There were few buildings south-west, so i went there. Again, not a soul. Inside those buildings, i found plastic bag, some dirty rags, a pair of blue jeans, large sleeping bag, dozen strings and ropes of good length, and some other junk.

Then i realized there may be more of those creatures lurking around, and so i need some weapon to deal with them, if need be. "Dogmen", this is how i'll call them. I thought about getting a gun somehow. That thought instantly made lots of information about target shooting to appear in my mind. Apparently, i am a skilled marksman, or something like that! Yet i don't have a gun now.

After couple minutes of thinking, i arrived to the only logical conclusion: right now i am my only gun, myself. Throwing rocks, given my strength, is not a useless option, and i can enhance the force by using a sling. So i quickly made one out of some rags and strings, picked up several dozens pebbles, and made some practicing throws. Several minutes later i was able to reliably hit a building's door with more force than i expected out of this crude sling. It's not a gun, but it would sure hurt anything it'd hit. May be even break a bone, especially if using larger stones.

Then i went back to Cryo facility - the dogman had some fur on him, and i don't like the idea of traveling far under chilling rain half-naked. I skinned the corpse. Then tied pieces of hide together, poking holes in them with a sharp glass shard. Rude fur coat, if i can call it that, was the result. Wearing it made me feel way much better, - hospital gown was the only thing on me when i woke up. With few little fur pieces remaining, also made a glove, but there wasn't enough to make another. After some doubts, i carved some meat from the carcass, too - if there are no people for miles, then who knows what's the situation with the food supply. Even with my slower than usual metabolism, i'll need to eat sooner or later to stay in shape. How exactly i know about my slow metabolism, though? That, i have no idea about...

Then i tried to find some clues within the facility. Found working terminal, with some data about people who were put to sleep, including myself. Also checked for tracks, and found some! Very strange tracks, unlike any tracks i have even seen. This is when i realized i have seen lots of them - apparently, i am much experienced in tracking. Well, this couldn't hurt, for sure. I also found rather hard to spot room, which i think can be great as a sleeping place.

With plastic bag packed to capacity and dogman-hide tunic warming me up, the idea to go somewhere else seemed reasonable. Past south-west buildings were open fields and hills, so i decided to pick some other direction. Visibility towards south and north-west was low, deep forests those directions, it seemed. Myopia at its best, too... To the east were wide open fields, as well as to the north. Going east, i'd face rising sun - it was mostly cloudy morning, but the rain stopped, and the sun was sending its blinding rays through breaks in clouds now and then. Well, at least the sun didn't go crazy and looked totally normal, good to see... I headed north.

Years of athletic training were not for nothing, i thought then. So, i am an athlete! And kind of marksman in the same time. Hm... Biathlonist, was i? But then why i know how to read tracks. May be i was serving in special armed forces at some point? But then i'd definitely know at lest few things about melee combat, yet i don't. I tried hard to remember who i was in the past - people, events, achievements - but nothing clear came up in my mind.

It felt good to walk towards chosen direction, after i went into a rhytm, even despite no shoes on my feet. After walking through couple acres of forest, something like half an hour later, a dog rushed towards me. Hungry one, by the looks of it. I spotted it only when it was rather close. Used the sling and killed it without mercy - ain't no walking dog's meal here.

Few more clicks of open field, and then a hill. I walked on top of it. Obvious sounds of distant human activity filled the air, and, soon, i walked to a sight of many buildings further north. I thought i'd be glad to meet anybody, but seeing lots of ruins to the north and north-west and lots of plant growth along the streets, caution suddenly kicked in. This is when i finally understood that civilization as i knew it is definitely dead. So, i decided to go around, checking outskirts of the town, see if i can find some clues or get a peek on what is happening there before going well in.

Another dog ran towards me when i was going downhill, with upper lip lifted and teeth all open to see. This time i spent less pebbles, hitting dog's forehead with one. Finished it with few more pebbles and went on to outer parts of seemingly dying town. Scouted through more than a dozen of buildings, some practically intact, others badly damaged, looking for anything of use. Found a boot and a shoe - going around barefoot was getting uncomfortable to say the least, given all the concrete around. Then found one really useful thing - a cigarette lighter. Working cigarette lighter, and half-full with gas! When i was looking for a place to make a fire to fry that dogman meat - don't want it spoil sooner than i'd get hungry - someone walked by.

Initially the guy didn't notice me, despite appearing just several steps away, from behind a corner, and stopping for a moment. He didn't look friendly. I sneaked away bit by bit, but then the guy finally noticed my presense. I then tried to talk with him. He did not reply; instead, he took cover and started to move towards me, staying in cover as much as possible. Spear in hand, with a grim face. I then sprinted away in two quick bursts, building distance. The guy kept moving to me. Are people so uncivilized here they turned to spear-wielding primitive-language tribe men? Anyhow, i offered to talk, he did not respond a word, and was following me with a weapon in hand. So i started with my sling. Very 1st throw of 3 pebbles had two pebbles hitting his head, and one of them - breaking through his skull, probably sharp edgeded one cutting through... The guy died in an instant.

So much for "friendly meeting" with "intelligent life"... But i was sure glad that at least it wasn't me ending up dead as a result of "1st contact" between people from different times.

Made a fire and roasted some dogman meat. Still didn't feel hungry, so put it back into plastic bag. Smelled good. Boiled some water, then boiled a rag, washed the cut on my leg and bandaged it. Read a couple old newspapers i found in nearby ruin. Detroit Mega City? Things were really bad for authorities to build a wall around whole Detroit... I wonder, are there any authorities left, by now.

Half a dozen buildings later, when i was going through another ruin of what looked like appartment building, its roof collapsed on me. I was very careful not to disturb the building, and used the lighter to see where i'm going, but it didn't prevent the collapse. Bruises, two significant cuts and lots of pain was the result. I didn't have anything to wash or disinfect those cuts with, but thankfully i found first aid kit with 6 proper bandages in one of previous buildings, so i used two of those to stop the bleeding. With the hope the pain will go away, i continued to search outskirts of the town for anything useful.

Less than an hour after that, two men ambushed me. Fortunately, there was still some little distance when i spotted them - barely enough to have time to sprint away from them. Then they gave chase, but failed to get close even despite me tripping once. So i built some distance and started to hurl pebbles at them. One was badly hurt after few throws, visibly bleeding - he retreated. I then switched to hit the other. Few throws crippled his leg and made wounds all over his body, and then he spoke to me! Begged for his life. And i let him go. In his state, he won't be a threat to me for a long time, and may be his friends will learn a lesson - or even two: 1st, it's bad idea to ambush Philip Kindred, and 2nd, i am reasonable person and am not hostile to them, unless they behave in a hostile way themselves. Besides, the 1st guy - one who ran away - would tell his friends about me, if those two were not alone, so there was no big point to silence the 2nd guy, anyway.

That fight was intense, and i felt tired after it. Cuts and bruises from collapsed roof were still painful enough to slow me down. Still, i went on with more looting.

Almost two hours later - another ambush. Another man, wielding a flashlight of all things, jumped on me from nearby building entrance. And once again, it was barely enough distance between us two, initially, for me to be able to run away from him without being hit. He chased, running as fast as he could, but i was faster. This guy was different than earlier enemies. He looked much like them, but his will to catch me was fanatical. He survived more than dozen pebble hits, after which he was bleeding much and coughing out blood. I then demanded his surrender - he did not respond, charging towards me instead, covered in his own blood. I finished him off - what other choice i had? This world definitely went crazy...

Roasted dogman meat chunk and some blue berries which i ate - tasted just alright, though. Open air effect, of course, but still - yummy!

In one of nearby buildings, i found a map. And i found the area i was in, on it - the irregular shape of the town, outskirts of which i was combing, was difficult to miss. It's southern Michigan alright. Detroit is several dozens kilometers south-east. I probably need to go and see if there is any civilization left there - but surely not today, and not tomorrow. I want to get back to the town up north and see if i can find something better than plastic bags to carry my things. Dozens of buildings i searched through today - did not provide anything of the sort, and both of my plastic bags are full or nearly full - all the time.

After few more buildings searched, with the Sun getting low behind now rather thick clouds, i ran away from the town - back south, to the cryogenic facility. I left the sleeping bag there, and did not find another. Plus the idea of sleeping in ruins with those agressive men lurking around - was not the most appealing one. I spotted some tall buildings to the north-west from the facility on my way - somehow i didn't spot them at dawn. Going to check those tomorrow.

Running made me weary, but i still managed to hide my tracks before getting close to the cryogenic facility. There was a dog near cryogenic facility itself - i didn't see it when i went close to facility, initially, but i heard it. Then i saw it. I looked frail, vulnerable, feral and sick. Half a dozen thrown pebbles ended the dog's problems for good.

Using remains of dogman fur and more fur cut from the new dog corpse, i made another fur glove. Then i set up small fire and roasted some more chunks of meat, hid my tracks again, and went down to that hard-to-spot room i found in the morning.

And so there i am, sitting in dark "Exam Room 17", writing this down on bits of paper, burning some dried twigs for light, with an old pencil found in ruins of once beautiful american town. Very tired and still in significant pain from cuts and bruises i suffered today, - but very happy! I guess nothing makes a man more happy than living a day against many odds, eh. This world may be crazy, but i feel that there is a place for me, under the sun. I won't give up! Now that's one thought i'm OK to go to sleep with.

Hopefully, i will wake up in one piece.

P.S. -ooc- picture of the day: a dog who died twice. Hey, cats have 9 lives - who said dogs can't have two! :)

Spoiler: Highlight to view

... our lifestyles, mores, institutions, patterns of interaction, values, and expectations are shaped by a cultural heritage that was formed in a time when carrying capacity exceeded the human load. (c) William R. Catton, Jr

September 15, 2064 - still near Cryo.

Spoiler: Highlight to view
I slept most of the night, and woke up well-rested even before dawn. Good thing i am not having insomnia, got enough problems as it is. Cuts and bruises were still giving me some pain, so i rested for what felt like 6 or so more hours, napping inside the sleeping bag. After that, most of pain was gone. Seems my injuries are nothing serious. Great!

Ain't no fragile weakling here, this crazy world will have to do much more than bruises and small cuts to get rid of me. With this invigorating thought, i stood up. It was nice, warm, partly cloudy morning out there. I packed my things and went out of the cryogenic facility.

Couple towers north-west had little items of use, except i found some whiskey there. Then i went north-east a bit, and there, i spotted an unusual person - wearing bright blue sash over torso, and in obvious hurry. I catched him up. He turned to me, and i noticed a big gun in his hand. I had a sling ready, and used it. Then again and again. Good thing that first throw stunned him. I didn't let him to recover. He didn't have a chance to shoot. And it turned out, he had Deltec SBS4 12-gauge shotgun in good condition, and 15 shots for it! Now it's mine. The man also had an old and barely holding together duffel bag. It won't serve for long, sadly, but finally i have some proper place to pack my things into. Another notable thing of his i took - is a gas mask with two filters half-used. Another two filters were completely spent... I wonder, where and why he spent them. He also had some pills, smartphone and a key fob on him. Took those too (only battery from smartphone, as the thing itself was locked).

While looting him, i realized that there must be some civilization left. Smartphone battery still had some charge. But thinking about this was disrupted: i noticed strange, big, dark figure half a mile north-east. Didn't look like human. Nor like a dogman. But humanoid. Another sort of mutant? With a sling in one hand, crowbar in the other, and shotgun over a shoulder, i went towards to the figure to investigate.

It wasn't human indeed. No human have arms two meters long, a face of beautiful girl except it was white as a snow, and a nasty habit to disappear from sight in plain view. When she... When _it_ vanished for the 1st time, i thought i'm hallucinating. But its tracks did not vanish. Fresh tracks appearing out of thin air - that's one insane thing to see! I thought - may be it's _me_ going crazy, after all? And then rage filled me, completely. I chased the thing, following its tracks whenever it tried that "now you see me and now you don't" trick. I got close and started to hurl stones at the thing, and didn't stop until it dropped down - not even right after it dropped down, actually.

Whatever that creature was, its corpse was very real - and not disapeparing from plain view from time to time. Nope, just a pile of dead organic matter... The rage ended as suddenly as it started. Impossibly long arms and pale white young woman face of unreal beauty on very not-woman-like body did not leave any doubt, - there it was, very real, very unreal in the same time. I checked the corpse - more out of curiousity. A dozen pebbles was all i found in a pocket of the creature's huge dark poncho-like outfit...

What was it? What's going on? I need some answers, and sooner or later, i'm going to find them.

After a while, i focused enough to get back to tasks at hand. Went to nearby set of buildings and started to comb them for anything useful. Very 2nd building, being quite intact office tower, led to injury - rotten floor in a place i expected it the least... Another cut. Disinfected with Whiskey and bandaged, nothing serious.

In three following hours or so, found several useful items, and two pieces of old newspapers - with stories of Saturn's moons colonized (and in trouble), and some city's failing lights. They had space travel and colonized Solar system, but in the same time they had failing city lights here in good old US, while i slept in Cryo... How crazy is that!

Then two men attacked me together, one with bare hands, another carrying a stone. Spotted them from afar. One escaped after being hit by dozen pebbles, the other, i had to kill.

The last few buildings i scavenged gave me one makeshift sack, though badly damaged, and an unlocked smartphone. Using the battery from the blue-sash guy, i turned it on, and it says today is September 15, 2064. I was in cryo sleep for dozens years! And now everyone i knew is either dead, or very old. Most likely the former, considering nearly dead town i was going through, and what those now-old newspapers say...

I ran back to Cryo facility, hid tracks, ate some meat i roasted before. The big sleeping bag there - is one thing i'll miss next night. Better enjoy it while it lasts.

P.S. -ooc- another case of "double death", and this time it's no other than Yezinka. Heh. I wonder if "triple death" for doing something like head-chest-head burst is possible? %)

Spoiler: Highlight to view

... our lifestyles, mores, institutions, patterns of interaction, values, and expectations are shaped by a cultural heritage that was formed in a time when carrying capacity exceeded the human load. (c) William R. Catton, Jr

September 16, 2064 - more strange creatures and fighting a robot in Zom-Zom's.

Spoiler: Highlight to view
I woke before dawn, again. Rested for 3 more hours, then checked bandages. Two of four cuts were healed enough to remove bandaging, and some of bruises went away. Also, killed another feral dog which tried to sniff its way into the facility - with just 2 throws. Seems i get very good with the sling. Roasted some dog meet, and thrown away remains of old meat supply, since it'd be spoiled by the time i'd need it.

Less than 15 minutes after i went out of Cryo facility, my side vision detected some movement at 2 o'clock. I took out rifle scope i found yesterday, and took a good look. There was yet another fantastic creature less than a mile away - like if ones i seen before were not enough! It had three legs on it, a short body, two little short arms, and two pink eyes as big as flashlights. It stood four and a half feet tall and was grayish-colored.

Seeing all this, i recognised the creature - it was Enfield monster! Somehow, i heard about it in my past "normal" life. Or more likely, i've read about it. Yes, now that i think about it, it had to be written report - this line was in it, i remember: "If they do find it, they will find more than one and they won't be from this planet, I can tell you that". Back during the dawn, when i was looking at it through the scope, i also remembered that this creature is not aggressive, despite its size and looks, and most likely is not sapient.

Curiousity kicked in, and i pursued the creature. It tried to leap away, but i was gaining. Then i tried to talk with it. It did not respond, and its behaviour and features, up close, were clearly animal. I then went to the optimal distance to throw pebbles, and managed to drop the creature in just 3 well aimed throws. Forth throw, made at immobile target, finished it.

I inspected it. Indeed, it was nothing like any Earth animal. Its body had some resemblance to human body, but its head did not. Overall, it did look very alien indeed. I have no idea where this thing came from, and how it ended up on US soil, and if there will be many more of them on my way. But even more bothering is how and where i got the knowledge about it before by long cryo sleep. Was i some FBI agent in the past? Sadly, that part of my memories is still not here. May be it will never return...

Over a mile to the north, spotted two men. Tried to talk - they did not respond, trying to get closer instead, one with a crowbar in hand. So i dropped them both, spending less than two dozens pebbles total. They had no chance to survive, as this was in open field. I am getting good with the sling, indeed! Those two were much like men attacking me before: fancy T-shirts, no ranged weapons, no desire to talk, and aggressive. I'll call those "bad muthas", fits them fine. Another mile north - met another Bad Mutha. 10 pebbles and he became history. This one had a cleaver. Didn't help him none.

When i entered the town, i found a fresh bad mutha's corpse on the street - apparently, they kill each other, or something - this one, i never seen before. He had some great items remaining on him: compound bow with three fine arrows, children backpack, a lighter. All worn, but quite usable. Also, a fine multi-tool, looking almost new, and some bottled water, clearly industrially made - plastic lids were never open. With those in my posession, i was quite ready to go east, towards Detroit.

Before that, though, i decided to finally go to the center of the dying town. There was some civilization there! Lights, generator sounds, vehicles, lots of people and a sign: "place to eat". And most importantly - everyone behaved peacefully. So i sure went the the central structure, some huge warehouse.

I was asked if i'm stock or spectator, upon entering. Spectating when not familiar is a wise choice, so i went with it. Turns out, all those people are cannibals, and "stock" are ones who wish to fight in arena with a robot - whoever dies is then used as food for the rest. I learned that only after i ate some barbecue... The realization was less shocking than i'd expect, but i won't eat here again, for sure.

Robots were primitive, while their victims were mostly weak humans, clearly not capable of any good fight. I was sure i could easily win a fight against one. I observed long enough to be sure there is never human-to-human violence involved, and then went out to re-enter as "stock" - even if there is no prize for the win, winning the fight should make me some solid reputation around here, i guessed.

On my way out, someone calling himself "Stoat" made me an offer - some items for the information about Cryo facility. I agreed. He can go get all the equipment he needs out of Cryo facility, it's all dead place now anyway. He was much different from others - definitely not a cannibal; polite, intelligent, humorous. The first person i've met which can be called civilized. Despite clearly not being cannibalistic himself, he was not any repelled or angered by cannibalistic feast around us. Is it the new post-collapse ethical norm - to be completely tolerant to other people's habit to eat each other? This is crazy world proper, if so.

Most items Stoat provided were not needed to me, and i threw away most of them shortly after we went our own ways, with the one exception: pristine new Deltec "1911" .45 semi-auto pistol, with two bullets loaded into its magazine. Excellent!

Soon i was back in the crowd of cannibals, now as "stock". After five more fights, it was my turn to become "food", except i didn't plan to do exactly that. My certainty about it was pretty much gone, when i had a first glance at the 5-meters-tall machine they sent against me. But there was no way back. The thing was surprisingly agile for such a size, too, and after a while it almost cut my left leg with its blade - except it didn't, because i was amazingly lucky: the blade came into light contact with exactly bandaged part of the leg, where Dogman in Cryo hurt it, cutting through pants, but not through the bandage!

I eventually won the fight without injuries, by finding a way to get the robot clearly unable to get me as i continuosly moved out of its reach, but it's not the kind of victory i hoped for. And there was no prize for it. Nothing. Why some of those people go in as "Stock" then, i wonder? If they are suicidal, then there are certainly easier ways than this. Or is this some sort of tradition? Anyhow, i had enough of this place. I went out, and headed east.

When i was almost out of town, a woman spoke to me, out of a window. Lots of food in the store below her, she said. Is this what winning against a robot does - free invitation to a meal instead of hungry bad muthas attacking? I doubt. Told her to come down and out, if she wants to talk. She refused, instead someone else opened the door. I decided not to stay. To hell with this town. I'm outta here.

Some 20 minutes later, a lone bad mutha attacked, a spear in hand. Once agian, attempt to talk met no verbal response. Useful loot was children's backpack in excellent condition and some strange battery. Apparently, there is no shortage of hungry yet dumb cannibals around this town. I hoped this is not the situation for the rest of the country. It was still morning when Zom-Zom's town disappeared beyond horizon behind me.

For several hours, i was going east - mostly. Deviating to scavenge buildings whenever discovering some. Spotted another Enfield monster, but did not chase it. Apparently, they are a part of US fauna now. Also, had two incidents while scavenging: inhaled some black mold, and cut myself on broken window's glass. Pretty much right after another of my older cuts healed up. I really need to be more careful while in buildings!

Somewhere near 4 PM i met a melonhead. This is the term i thought about the moment i seen it. Yet another mutant? Or, may be, a genetic experiment? I warned him, but he continued his approach. But i still feel quite guilty for killing him. Need to remind myself - looks of "that's weak" can be decieving, as it was with those "weak" robots until it was me fighting one. Who knows what this melonhead kind creatures got in their sleeve. Even if there is no sleeve, there may be something in it, eh.

The rest of the day was walking and combing occasional bunch of buildings, but nothing significant happened for the rest of the day. Darkness caught me in an open field, with few nearly destroyed buildings around - those gave no shelter whatsoever. So i settled for the night under the dark, cloudy sky - fortunately, i found a small sleeping bag earlier today, and it isn't raining.

... our lifestyles, mores, institutions, patterns of interaction, values, and expectations are shaped by a cultural heritage that was formed in a time when carrying capacity exceeded the human load. (c) William R. Catton, Jr

September 17, 2064 - boooring.

Spoiler: Highlight to view
I woke up a few times for no apparent reason during the last night, but otherwise the night was all calm and quiet. The dawn woke me up, and i felt surprisingly well-rested. In no small part for the fact it wasn't a single drop of rain for the whole night.

I was going east and south-east all day, and there was nothing special in few buildings i scavenged.

This night will be one more night with the sky being my roof. This time in a wide open field on top of a hill, without any trace of any structures.

Day summary.

Kills: feral dog.

Injuries taken: 1 minor cut (rotting floor), disinfected and bandaged at once.

Most notable find - first really interesting newspaper piece out of last two days. It said, US scientists created self-replicating artificial cell with some sort of nano-technology. May be this is the technology which gave birth to melonheads, dogmen and that mind-boggling disappearing creature i've met two days ago? I wouldn't be surprised the least. We humans ourselves tend to be the source of most problems we face, don't we.

September 18, 2064 - reaching DMC, learning some things about my past, and fixing my eyes.

Spoiler: Highlight to view
In the middle of the night, noise traps (i made a few out of some parts and soup cans) - woke me up. Someone was coming. I soon saw them - it was a lone man, looking not like any bad mutha. I saw him first. But then he raised his hand and hailed "whoever is here", standing tall, friendly attitude. I could hit him at that time with a bunch of pebbles or a gunshot, but this thought not even crossed my mind; i quickly greated him in response and offered to talk. But suddenly he turned away and ran into the darkness, fast. Strange! But at least, this guy did not try to carve me for a breakfast. That's some progress, for sure!

Other than that brief encounter, i slept well. Once again, not a drop of rain while i slept, too. I know this luck can't last forever, but i was in such a hurry yesterday to get to Detroit that i just ended up walking till the Sun went down hoping to see some shelter ahead, which didn't happen. And when darkness came, it was too late to go miles back to the last house i noticed during the day. And when i packed up and went further south, i found that less than half a mile away was a nice little settlement with pretty intact office tower! Sigh...

With mostly plain fields and only a few buildings to check on my way, i made it to vicinity of Detroit even before noon. What a view! It was clearly not a dying city. Skyscrapers all looking well and occupied. And flying cars! "Back to the future indeed, Philip" - i thought to myself when i saw them.

It is indeed a walled city, and outside of city walls, large "Sprawl", as people call it here, is located. Big "Gates 11" lead into the city. Someone named "Hatter" was kind enough to provide me with a bracelet required to enter the city itself - it's called "DMC" for "Detroit Mega City" nowadays. He offered to come back whenever i'd be looking for job, impressed by my knowledge of tracks, too. Things is, he had tracks in his office same as ones which i found in Cryo facility. And when i asked about it, he shown me the recording. He explained someone - or something, by the looks on the tape - has interest in me. It's either a human with a powerful EMI device on him, or yet another creature of the sort i never knew. In either case, i feel danger about that... "cloaked" fugure.

Inside the city, i quickly found that money are still the thing to have if one needs anything from the city - a single meal in a diner was priced few dozens bucks. Medical diagnostics - over two few hundreds! I went to the market and sold my pistol, all the bullets and shells, and most of my whiskey supply. That made me over 2500 in cash. I hid the shotgun in one abandoned building of the Sprawl, though. I need money now, and i seem to do fine witohut firearms so far, but i better have this thing as insurance if i'd ever need serious firepower.

Then i went and ate in a dinner inside the city. Chicken, rice, mac and cheese, red beans - gorgeous meal! Then performed complete diagnostic in the clinic, and got me eye surgery. They said, my vision is now better than average. And i sure can feel it! Now everything is crystal clean no matter what distance it is. As for diagnostics' results - they told me that i am in perfect health. And i think they can be trusted - the clinic is really high-tech. Among things they offer, eye replacement with artificial units with night vision got my most attention. But it's out of my reach, for now - the price is almost 6000 bucks. I think i'll make it my immediate goal to get it.

After clinic, i wondered DMC streets until i spotted a bank booth. Account details i found in Cryo facility could lead to some answers - so i entered the booth, behaved like a retarted person to prevent the clerk from asking questions i had no answers to, long story short, got the name: Cale McAllen. Seems to be DMC resident alright, got his address alright. The clerk tried to call him, at which point i ran - it felt like if she for some reason had the intention to delay me, and tried to hide it. I wonder, why.

The address of McAllen was one of the city's skyscrapers - "tower 48". I checked around the district for a while - some dancers entertaining a small crowd, local shop (bought some useful items while i was there), everything looked normal. Lots of people around, but nobody paid me any attention. Then i went to the tower itself. Entrance was locked, but there was in intercom.

I considered my options. I could try to find a way in, but meeting the guy in his appartment would mean that if anything go wrong and i need to escape, - there is whole lot of floors to go down, and then go through whatever point of entry i'd use to enter the tower. It would be easy for any opponents to intercept me while i'd go through all that on my way back. Using the intercom could possibly give two outcomes: either "nobody's home", or i'd talk to the guy or at least some relative of his. In the former case, i wasn't losing anything. In the latter case, i'd let him know i am here, but there would be both factor of surprise, and ability to nearly instantly get lost in the crowd. Both seemed acceptable to me.

He was home alright. We talked. He was emotional, and did not tell much. He indeed knew me - "in the past" me. His words indicated that i was somehow involved in something terrible (tragic?) which happened to his father. Possibly death? He said his father helped me, and helped me so much as if it was the most important thing in his life. He said i asked his dad for help through the Deep Web. He rudely refused to give any more details. He also mentioned that i have a friend in Grayling. I don't remember neither the friend nor the place, so that's quite a lead. Few moments after that, he went furious at me and called the police.

I, of course, ran away into the crowd before police would have any chance to spot me. He's a resident of the city, and i'm an outsider who does not remember whether he done anything criminal in the past, so i am pretty unwilling to test how just is the justice of this city. Perhaps another time, but surely not now.

Going out of Gate 11 went smooth and calm. Using one of Sprawl's power taps, completely charged my smartphone, flashlight, water tester and that strange battery i found few days ago. Then went to the building i hid my shotgun in - think i'm going to make it my "base" of a sort. Stashed quite many items i could possibly need in the future, but had no current need of, in varios places within the building.

It was early evening, and i had some time to just wonder around. Discovered the Parkade - Sprawl's equivalent of a hotel. Perhaps one day i'll rent a place there for good. Further south from the Sprawl i found what looks like a great swamp, beyond few miles of normal land. Could it be the "black swamp" mentioned by one of newspaper pieces i found? If so, i better stay away from it, at least until i know why people were evacuated from there. After couple more hours of walking, i went back to base, placed my noise traps, and went to bed. The one i improvised out of few furniture items.

Most notable finds of the day - two more interesting pieces of newspaper. One was about "Great Black Swamp", and mass evacuation of people from it. Assuming it's a local newspaper, this doesn't sound good, for sure. Another was about some casino failure because of people were killed around it, supposedly by something like werewolves - and the same article mentioned uranium soil contamination. So it seems by initial guess about Dogmen being mutants - gets some confirmation.

... our lifestyles, mores, institutions, patterns of interaction, values, and expectations are shaped by a cultural heritage that was formed in a time when carrying capacity exceeded the human load. (c) William R. Catton, Jr

September 19, 2064 - got me working nightvision goggles!

Spoiler: Highlight to view
Now THAT was a great night last night! Slept nice and sound, and woke up full of energy shortly before dawn. And the last cut from past scavenging incidents healed up, so i was in perfect health ahd shape. Packed up and went to the market. Nothing special there today. Then i ate the last piece of roasted meat i made before, and then went further north-west through mostly still-sleeping Sprawl, along the DMC wall. I figured, if few days out in the country made me over 2500 bucks and lots of equipment to use for myself on top of that, it's not likely i'd make more inside that civilized, yet very crowded city which Detroit went to be these days. Besides, so far i took quite a liking in being a scavenger.

Before i even went ouf of the Sprawl, i witnessed a fight between one of DMC guards and a stranger. With predictable result. I quickly moved in, seeing the guard walking away, and checked the body for anything of value - no doubt this would be done very soon by Sprawl resisdents anyway. I found little of use, except one item: night-vision goggles! Very worn, well into second half of its operational life, and without any battery. Then i noticed that battery slot seems to be the same to the shape of the strange battery i left back in my base. So i went back, and indeed, perfect fit! This means i have night vision now, for the time i'll be scavenging for eye replacement. I still want the latter, as it comes with sort of life-time warranty, while this device clearly won't serve me much long. And eyes won't need battery power, too.

When i was heading out of Sprawl the 2nd time, i've met one talkative DMC guard. Asked him about if there are other cities around - he said only fort Wayne "below the swamp". Then asked him what the swamp is. He says, it's highly toxic, the result of some disastrous genetic crop experiment. He says "noone allowed" to enter it. Now i guess i know what the gas mask i found is for! May be one day i'll risk to enter it. But for now, i was heading back north-west, much through all the way i went few days ago. The point of it is simple - as i go through the country, it's best to stay not far from places i already visited, to use known locations with shelter for camp times.

Some time afternoon, i've met some friendly scavengers - a group of five. Three of them climbed down into sewers, as i was approaching. Two others waited above the manhole. Then i arrived to the spot, and smelled hydrogen sulfide down in the manhole. Three who climbed down were lying there, most likely dead. So, i convinced the remaining two that going in there would be suicide, at least without working gas mask - they were eager to go down and check if their friends are still alive. They gave me several food items and a bottle of clean water. Guess i saved two lives today!

Then it was back to normal scavenging for the rest of the day. "Normal" it already is - i catched myself thinking this, after less than a week of this new life... Something tells me such life would be deemed anything _but_ normal by the "old me". After few hours, i found a map. I checked it for whereabouts of "Grayling" mentioned by McAllen, and found it - it is way north from Zom-Zom's town. That's the direction i probably keep in mind when choosing which ways to scavenge. Sooner or later i'd probably want to make a visit there.

Day summary.

Combat: none.

Injuries taken: none.

Most notable finds - a map of the area; big "Yukon" backpack in good condition.

September 20, 2064 - killing spree.

Spoiler: Highlight to view
Slept well in a storage unit i've encountered on my way to DMC, despite being disturbed 4 times during the night. Looters, by the looks of it (night vision rocks, for sure). First time, both ran from me as soon as i revealed myself. Second time, one of them had guts to stay and talk with me a little. I asked what's his story, but he claimed he got no time to tell. Well, he got enough time to wander around at night... They sounded my noise traps two more times during the night. May be they were trying to steal some items of mine? Anyhow, both were visibly weak, one more than the other, and no good equipment on them. I start to understand why there is still so much great loot around - if most scavengers are that frail, they simply can't get into lots of places i can get into.

Found a military shotgun in the 2nd building scavenged, while it was still dawn. But in awful condition. Not worth its weight to sell, i guessed. Broke it and thrown pieces into an elevator shaft - just so that looters in the area wouldn't try to use it.

Morning was cool and cloudy, but no fog. I spotted a dogman nearly two miles to the north-west, and a person with a blue sash to the north-east, over a mile away. Went to meet the latter. When i got close enough, i hailed the man - he was unarmed. He did not respond and charged at me. I warned him, to no effect, and then dropped him dead. He was quite tough, survived over a dozen pebble hits before dropping down. Well, now i know that it's some sort of a gang or something, - those "blue sash" guys, - and i also know they are quite hostile and are not affraid to charge in combat, even when badly wounded. Upon closer inspection, his blue sash had a small frog image on it. Another cannibal group? I am quite far from DMC already, can expect that here. I'll call those "blue frog" people.

Then i went to a tower nearly a mile away from the dogman, went up for a few floors, and observed the creature through my rifle scope for a while. He was sleeping or dead by now, not moving at all. But then i spotted another one, coming out of forest nearly one and a half mile away. That one was bigger than the first. There were two deers running nearly two miles to north-east, too. It looked like the second dogman was following them. I scavenged the tower and two other nearby buildings, then took another look through the scope. Both dogmen were still clearly visible. Then i considered my odds of survival of both dogmen would gang up on me together, and decided that best defense - is the offense. Especially since the two dogmen were significant distance from each other for the time being - so if i quickly kill one, the other won't be able to join him to help.

Still, i decided to approach carefully, not running in, but walking in - i may need my endurance to outrun them, if yet more dogmen would show up. The fight was easy. I started to throw pebbles from a great distance; very 1st hit woke the dogman up. He dodged some throws, but had no chance to get any close before dying to the rain of pebbles i sent his way. Over 3 dozens pebbles thrown, with the last one hitting him in the head while he was still moving - killing him instantly.

The other dogman, as i expected, ran in to help the first one. And as i expected, he was late to do so, and i was ready for him. This time i allowed myself to not waste as many pebbles missing throws from greater distance - and still dropped him dead several seconds before i'd need to start using "hit and run" tactic. Guess i saved two deer lives today, eh. I was quite very glad to see deers alive and running - something very normal and beautiful, they are. It feels good to protect them.

After the fight, i skinned one dogman for fur and cut out some of its meat, roasted three big pieces, ate one and kept two for future use. Then i went to a tower some 3 miles ago, and hid dogman's furs and some other items found earlier in that tower. Such "cashes" may help me in the future, and while some might be looted, i try to use places which are well hidden from most looters.

Less than an hour later, i spotted another blue frog, to the south. Ended up another fight, this one. He was very, very tough, but without ranged weapon in his disposal, i eventually prevailed with hit-and-run tactic. This fight made me very tired, though - and it was only 15:15 yet, according to the smartphone's clock. So when i saw a ruined bungalow in a nearby forest two hours later, i decided to stay for a while and do something less tiresome. 4 hours later, i made me 15 crude, but in the same time durable arrows - i had this in mind even since finding my first compound bow, and now that i have the second, it's quite the time to give it some teeth. A weak scavenger came to the place while i was crafting, but as soon as he realized my presense out of my greeting and proposition to talk, - he fled.

When i headed to a lone bunch of buildings few miles away, which i spotted earlier, darkness already fell. Thanks to nightvision, i could still make it there, and set up for the night in nice and safe IT office.

Day summary.

Combat: 2 Blue Frogs, dead; 2 dogmen, dead.

Injuries taken: none.

Most notable finds - duffel bag, sled with strap and compound bow, all in poor condition.

... our lifestyles, mores, institutions, patterns of interaction, values, and expectations are shaped by a cultural heritage that was formed in a time when carrying capacity exceeded the human load. (c) William R. Catton, Jr

September 21, 2064 - more thinking about the past, and meeting the past soon after.

Spoiler: Highlight to view
One of my noise traps woke me up. Someone was walking up to "my" floor of the office tower. I got up, put on my night vision goggles and switched them on. Then i spotted the man right away - blue frog, wearing the sash of that particular shape and a gas mask. Holding a revolver in his hand, he was sneaking around on the opposite side of the large hall. I forgot to hide my tracks before going in, yesterday!

He didn't notice me yet. So i took my time aiming a bow shot to the center mass. He noticed me in the last moment, and charged towards me, but the arrow fired with maximum force i was capable of - penetrated his arm and stunned him for a brief moment. He quickly regained his senses and quickly pulled the arrow out of his arm, cutting his arm more in doing so. But he didn't have time to do anything else before being shot with 3 more arrows in quick succession, one of them hitting right into the middle of his left leg, another hitting upper stomach. He collapsed to the floor, unconscious. I stopped for a moment, then, knowing that wounds i inflicted would not let him get up - he was most likely dying already.

I thought to myself at that moment: why i always finish my enemies without a second thought? Why i never let them be, giving them a chance to survive? What is it that makes me to make the killing blow as easily and naturally as one combs one's hair or cuts one's nails? It was like if i had such a habit in my past life, and now it was subtly functioning on its own. Thinking that, i took out my sling and ended blue frog's life almost mechanically.

May be i was some sort of armed resistance back in the day? That could explain such a hatred McAllen had to me for the fact his father helped me - if i was some sort of resistance fighter, here in US, against government forces, then helping me could indeed get McAllen's father into huge trouble. And it could also explain all the skills i have - ranged weaponry for hit and run attacks and for self-defense, strength to carry great many things i'd need to live "out of the system", athletics to outrun pursuits through woods and hills and for general long-distance travel on foot, slow metabolism as an adaptation to long periods of time without much food and water, and tracking to know who's around me in the wild. And that would also explain my habit of killing badly wounded, unconscious enemies: for an "underground" resistance fighter, leaving any witnesses behind means putting himself and his comrades in risk.

Still, no matter how hard i tried, i couldn't remember any detail which would confirm or reject this version of my past with certainty. I didn't feel any need to go to sleep, so i went and hid my tracks the best i could, and then spent two hours till the dawn trying to remember something definite about events of my "previous" life. Failed. Well, i guess i'll have to keep going with "may be" about this "resistance fighter" theory, perhaps for the rest of my life...

The blue frog's gas mask was almost brand new. Its filter was completely spent, though. His revolver was empty, and badly damaged. He also had a children's backpack. Overall, these blue frog people are definitely better equipped and much more potent combatants than bad muthas. So perhaps they are not cannibals, but some sort of mafia? In any case, they are the most dangerous opponents i've seen, so far.

Heading out of the IT tower when Sun was just above the horizon, i realized that this moment marks the beginning of second week of my "second" life. Headed north-west. Two miles later, another blue frog came out of morning's fog, and fell victim to my bow.

Half a day and dozen scavenged buildings later, i've met a man unlike any before. Long coat, spear in hand, tall, standing straight and proud, with a white make-up of some sort on his face. As usual for non-familiar people, i offered to talk. He replied at once, saying that "it's not the place nor the time to talk", but "may be we'll talk later", and then went away, heading north. He displayed no hostility whatsoever. Intrigued, i headed north, too.

An hour later, through evening's air, i began to see big forest ahead. It spanned from west to east for at least 5 miles wide, no openings - possibly more, i couldn't see its eastern side end, as it spanned beyond horizon. There were few buildings right in front of the forest. After scavenging them, i tried to see over the forest from the roof of the highest tower, but it was impossible - the forest stood higher than the tower's top.

With the evening slowly turning to dusk, i decided to stop in this tower for the night, but as there was some time left and i still fell well-rested, i decided to put down my sled within the tower, and go look what's in that unusually wide and tall forest. With my night vision goggles, low visibility was not a problem, but pulling the sled through thick growth was not exactly appealing perspective.

I spent nearly half an hour going into the trees' paradise, when i felt i am being watched. Didn't take too long to spot the observer. He wasn't trying to attack, but something in his stance, or may be that stare he had on me - made my neck chill. Instinct told me to run, and so i ran all the way back out of the forest. He gave me some chase, but i shook him off.

There was nobody chasing me out of the forest. I stopped and gave this fact some consideration. If those mask-wearing people were willing to do me harm, they would not show themselves that easily. It all seemed as if the forest guy was purposefully scaring me away. Why? To protect something within the forest, probably. I decided to go back into the forest once again. This time the plan was to sneak around, if possible, and get deeper in without being spotted.

I failed at that. I tried to hide, but they found me, pinned me down from behind, tied my limbs, blindfolded me, and carried me into their settlement as if i was a bag of potatoes. After the first and brief panic attack reaction, i realized that i'm not going to be food: there is no need to blindfold "food", since "food" is going to be dead and going through someone's bowels on a short notice, eh. So, they wanted to talk, and they wanted to keep me unaware about exact location of their place - which means they were considering (or planning) to let me go free, sooner or later. That simple logic was quite unbeatable, - i had ample time to doubt my conclusion as they carried me through the forest for quite a while, but i failed to see a flaw in it.

By the time they took the blindfold and ropes away, i was completely calm, and very curious about what these people are about. Turned out, i got a jackpot by going into this forest!

These people are natives, calling themselves "Anishinaabe". They survived through everything and are still going strong, even if there are not that many of them by the looks of it. Respectful, polite, strong people they are. They work the land. But even better, the woman who greeted me, names Michelle, - she knew about me for all those years! She has a photo of me - back before i went to Cryo!

I told her what i know about myself, which is not much. She told me what she knows about me, and it's much more information about me than i had before meeting her. In short, now i know that i
- visited their village in the past, at least once, in September 2019 - that's the date on the back side of the photo;
- was in cryogenic sleep not longer than for 45 years;
- was editor of "The New Earth Ostracon" website for quite a long while;
- was researching history of Michigan's native people among great many other things, many of which were controversial / non-academic research;
- was using strictly scientific, rational methods in my research, and was publishing results of my research;
- analyzed conspiracies, using same - purely scientific - method;
- ended up in trouble because of some of that work - some "spirit" was going after me, as i told it to her father, and i needed protection against it;
- recieved protection i seeked with the help of her father and other Anishinaabe people, in the form of the talisman i wear (even now);
- found the talisman somewhere else - Michelle said both symbol on the talisman and spirit who was after me are not known to Anishinaabe people.

She even got prints of some of my past research articles, in paper, still readable! One of them, about her people's mythology, mentions "Turtle Shaped Island", "Nanabozho", and "Doodem" system of clans. I remember nothing about those, but it seems those things were important to me in the past.

And she helped me however she could to figure out what to do next about discovering my past. It seems, the only way to it would be to find an electronic copy of that "New Earth Ostracon" website. We both have no idea if it's possible now, but i'll keep an eye for it, if need be, for the rest of my life.

I was then given complete freedom to go around the village. Visited their shaman to "cure sickness", then the trading post - sold some items, bought 9 good arrows and finely made long coat. Also enjoyed great meal, which they give for free.

On my way out of the forest - now that they knew who i am, they didn't blindfold me, of course, - i was thinking much about that "Spirit" Michelle told me about. Is it something paranormal, but very real? If my talisman protects me against it, what happens if i lose it? Or just take it off? I did survive somehow before getting (and then later - improving) the talisman, so i guess no instant death should be involved.

Before going to sleep, i decided i'll try to take off the talisman tomorrow, see what happens. Keeping it in my hand to put it right back if i'll feel any danger. Not today, though - it's almost dark now, as i walked few miles south-east to pick up some items i dropped earlier today, to sell them tomorrow to the ATN trading post.

Day summary.

Combat: 2 blue frogs, dead; one hostile looter, dead.

Injuries taken: none.

Most notable finds - gas mask in excellent condition, two Yukon backpacks (one nearly falling apart, other in average condition), new long hide coat.

P.S. -ooc- the screenshot of a single arrow stunning completely healthy blue frog by hitting his arm.

Spoiler: Highlight to view

... our lifestyles, mores, institutions, patterns of interaction, values, and expectations are shaped by a cultural heritage that was formed in a time when carrying capacity exceeded the human load. (c) William R. Catton, Jr

September 22, 2064 - Another World.

Spoiler: Highlight to view
Slept well, woke up before dawn. Got some more items which i dropped yesterday, went to ATN trading post, sold the loot, and bought more arrows. Back out of the great forest, headed south-east. Was thinking about the "Spirit" all the time. If it's the one which visited Hatter, and left tracks, then it means it's matherial. If it's matherial, then it can be destroyed, one way or another. What are the most universal destruction method at my disposal against something of unknown nature? Couldn't think anything better than fire.

Few hours later, walking through a tiny settlement's main (and only) street, i noticed a hole to the side of it. Nearly 10 feet deep, and wide enough for a horse to fit into it. Looked like some construction opening to a sewer system, or something. Its bottom was all dirt and trash which dropped there over the years.

I decided to make a trap out of it. Spent more than an hour preparing it: thrown down lots of firewood, which i took from the nearby grove, then went down into the hole and fixed a lighter between two strong branshes near the bottom of the firewood pile, using several strings fixing the lighter as tight as i could make it. So that anything heavy falling on top of the pile would press branches together, squeezing the lighter and causing it to give fire. Added some paper next to the lighter for easy ignition. Went out of the hole using two large thick branches i mindfully lowered into the hole beforehand. Then removed them, after which anything human-size would have no easy way to climb out of the hole. Then laid a tarp over several thin long twigs to cover the hole, and camouflaged the tarp with thin layer of soil and some leaves. Marked the trap with a piece of dirty rag thrown right into the center of the tarp - wouldn't be fun to get burned alive in my own trap, would it.

Then took off the bronze talisman. Few seconds after i did, the "Spirit" matherialized alright. Yep, it was the same "man" Hatter's security cameras recorded - no idea how it was looking "normal" to him, 'cause it didn't look anything normal to me. Overcoming initial fear, i reminded myself: it leaves tracks, so it's matherial - let's see if it's combustible, as well!

The "spirit" appeared just few dozens meters away, and started to walk to me. It wasn't running. It wasn't responding to my attempts to talk with it - i knew it can talk, because it had nice and proper conversation with Hatter, far as i know. But it didn't make a sound to me. It was just walking towards me like a machine.

I left my sled in one of nearby buildings before starting. But as the spirit moved slowly, i didn't even had to sprint away. Short bits of running were enough to keep my distance - i had no intention to shake the thing's hand or something.

Then i tried some basic combat. Two arrows flew through the spirit like it was made of air, but the third which i aimed the best i can - hit something inside it, hard. Like it was metallic. No visible damage, no change in spirit's behaviour. Then i knocked some debris towards it - low and behold, it fell down! Then i shot another arrow before it could stand back up - once again, the arrow hit something inside it and ricocheted away, visibly doing no harm whatsoever. Then i let it get closer - but still out of melee range, thank you very much, - and kicked some more debree to make obstacles on its path, few more times. It fell to the ground to some of my tricks, but stood up right away and continued its steady walk towards me, every time.

Running a little when needed, i led the "spirit" back to the trap, carefully went around the edge of the tarp and then turned a little. The spirit took exactly the shortcut i expected it to, stepped onto the tarp - and fell down, making lots of branch-breaking sound from down the hole.

Then for a short while everything was silent, and i started to think the lighter didn't work - but then a tiny bit of smoke went out. I knew then that it wouldn't be long before everything inside the hole would be in flames - something like two dozen kilograms of mostly dry and thin twigs and branches spread fire very quickly. Indeed, in a few minutes, 1st flame appeared above ground level. The spirit didn't come out, and didn't make a sound since its fall. And then, few moments later, - huge splash of blue fire came out of the hole. Some 30 feet high, no less! High temperature fire - much hotter than any normal camp fire, for sure. The heat was barely tolerable even 40 feet away from the hole at this time - i jumped back and down, instinctively closing my eyes for a moment. It was burning for a few seconds, i felt the heat on my skin while rolling away from it. Then i took a look. Ash was falling from above, all around the hole. The fire was now slightly smaller, white in color, and it was lifting thousands small flaming pieces of twigs and bark dozens feet high, burning them to ash in the air. Then the white fire died in just a few seconds, leaving after itself small "normal" flames, quickly fading.

I think, whatever that spirit was, it held enourmous energy within itself, and wasn't fire-proof. At least, not completely fire-proof. Quite a design flaw - if it was something designed rather than really spiritual, that is. And given its behaviour and demise, i started to suspect that it was some sort of machine, indeed. Because for a spirit in a usual meaning of this word, the thing was behaving way too silly, and "died" too realistically. Much like if it was a robot on some sort of auto-pilot, at the time.

With flames completely gone in barely a minute after the big white fire died, i soon got enough courage to go take a look into the hole. There was no spirit, nor any corpse or parts, nor anything looking like remains of human-shaped being - nothing. There was burning-hot soil around the hole, and scorched earth inside it. And there was something i didn't expect to see at the bottom of the pit. There was... a portal.

I instantly knew it's not a manhole or something like that, because a manhole doesn't have its edges pulsating, does it? Plus, the space beyond the portal was nothing like i've seen before. Shelves full of strange items, strange light, strange stairs down to the floor right from the portal. It's just that shapes of mosttly everything there were... wrong!

"This must be an Einstein-Rosen bridge - spacetime shortcut which is considered theoretically possible!", i thought.

I stepped back from the hole, which was still too hot to go down, and slowly went to nearby remains of a garden, keeping the opening of the hole in view all the time. I knew i need to give the soil in there few more minutes to cool down, if i'd be going to look closer. And i needed something to help me climb back, too. So i found two young but strong enough trees, cut them down with my multi-tool, and went back to the hole. The portal was still there.

Dropped both trees to corners of the hole, waited a little - trees did not catch fire, and leaves did not change their shape. So it cooled down enough. Then i dropped a piece of bark right into the portal. It fell to the stairs, rolled a few times, and settled down on the floor of the chamber which was beyond the portal, visibly intact. I jumped down to the hole, landing next to the portal. Steps right beyond the portal were leading into small chamber full of shelves, filled with most strange items. Then i slowly moved my little finger through the middle of the portal, just a bit. Then whole palm. Sensed nothing except air flow. Apparently it was safe to go in. So i walked through the portal.

I found myself in a chamber in a huge tower, with large opening instead of one of its walls, allowing to look outside. Tower at least a mile tall, if it was same size to numerous other towers visible from the chamber. I was able to see towers' bottom, the ground level - if it was ground, which i am not sure. Looked more like a single vast floor, to me. But i didn't see towers' top, though - they just went up beyond visibility range. And far below, at their bottom - there were great many beings, some moving, others not. I took out my rifle scope and with it, i saw that those beings were all twins of the "spirit" i just burned. Realizing that i am most probably not welcome here, i stepped back from the opening, to darker corner of the chamber.

Quickly assessing some shelves - there were so many! - i discovered some human-made items. Going from one shelf to another, i took few items into my bags.

One book in unknown language - apparently for children, seeing its over-simplistic style. And it was heavily illustrated - and yet illustrations were about creation of whole worlds, which blew my mind; what kind of children learn how worlds are created between learning how to read properly, huh?

Then i took me an old 60mm film spool. I watched some of its frames against the light, and there was a "spirit" in a bunch of frames, clearly visible.

Then a set of old letters which described events which could not be given any rational explanation. In english alright. I was not the first to try and make such a catalogue with my New Earth Ostracon website, in my past life. But those letters were clearly way over a hundred years old, made way before i was even born - can't mistake old-style, 19th century english for anything.

And also some papers in german language, titled "Opus Postumum" - took them too. Got a feeling i was holding some extremely valuable historical document in my hand. Sad thing i know about german barely enough to only be certain that it's it, though.

Shortly after, i found some device which had a copy of my old website! The New Earth Ostracon. But before i could figure out how to control the device to navigate through the website - two... aliens came to vicinity. Their intricate masks were much different from simplistic mask of the "spirit", and they were not glowing black, like the spirit was. They had limbs, too. And it seemed that they were about to do something to the chamber itself, using a hand-held device which looked completely alien-nature to me. So i ran up the stairs and jumped out of the portal, back to Earth.

Once out in the corner of the hole, i turned to look back. The portal was closing, fast. Some sort of black liquid was rapidly filling the chamber, - it was the last thing i saw through the shrinking portal.

I then noticed at once that small circle of dirt under the center of space formerly occupied by the portal - was not scorched at all. It even had few badly burned twigs in its very middle - somehow they did not turn to ash, but retained their general shape. And then i realized - the "spirit" opened the portal in an attempt to go into its own world, to save itself from the fire, but it was just a bit late - it exploded before the portal fully opened. And so, small portion of the exposion's energy went into the other world, instead of scorching that small circle at the bottom of the hole. And then the air going through the portal - worked to fan the huge white flame i saw after the explosion.

I climbed out of the hole, being careful not to break young trees' branches under my boots. I hope these aliens don't mind me taking out one of their many... drones. I guess that's what it was - a drone. For people of their level of technology, it should be trivial to make any number of those. So hopefully, they won't be angry at me. If people at their level of evolution can be "angry" at all, that is.

I've put my bronze talisman back onto my neck, though - it's still one potential lead to some other parts of my past, and so it is still important.

The rest of the day did not bring anything significant. I went back east, to DMC. Now that i have two spots to sell scavenged items, - DMC Sprawl market and ATN trade post, - it seems the best way to accumulate required funds for getting cybernetic eyes would be to travel between the two, selling whatever i find without any need to "go back to sell".

Day summary.

Combat: wraith-like "spirit", dead.

Injuries taken: none.

Most notable finds - four artefacts from another world, reminding me that all that adventure through the portal was not a dream.

P.S. -ooc- got the Elusive for outrunning ATN patrol one day ago, and now with Merga Wtaith dead, got Unstoppable too. Now it would be rather difficult to die in combat! :)

Spoiler: Highlight to view

... our lifestyles, mores, institutions, patterns of interaction, values, and expectations are shaped by a cultural heritage that was formed in a time when carrying capacity exceeded the human load. (c) William R. Catton, Jr

Still playing? good job with this, pretty cool!

- Kern

Excellent reading, many thanks!