Let me begin this story with a bit of a background of my Adventure. I was a Staff Sergeant serving in Germany when the outbreak began. When SHTF everyone bugged out, and I was left behind with a skeleton crew to protect the base. It did not take long before the base was overrun; first by desperate people and very shortly after with the undead. The other survivors and I tried to make a run for England to catch a ship to the States. Sadly we could not pay the massive toll and had no choice but to turn back. We traveled from Germany to England, through France, Belgium, back to Germany, and east through Poland into Ukraine, Chernobyl and finally to Russia. This trip has taken a serious toll. Up to this point all the other American survivors have died. Some by the undead, some by sickness or injury, and some just gave up. I can't give up, not after coming so far. Here is where this story begins....
Winter in Ukraine has been brutal, but I was very fortunate to find a family of farmers who were willing to take me in. Hell I am more than fortunate. They saved my life in more than one way. After escaping a small group of zombies by losing them in the woods I got careless because I was in the middle of a field of short grass. No surprises in sight. I suppose I got too relaxed and didn't see the hole in the ground. Sure enough my foot went down and locked into place and all 180lbs of me kept on going. It's less painful than it is sickening to hear the sound of bones breaking. The pain does follow shortly after though. My new "Godfather" Luka found me in the field screaming at the top of my lungs. One swift smack of a shovel kept me quiet. I woke up in his home not too far away. It seems I was trespassing on his property. Luka could not speak a word of English or German, and neither could anyone who lived in the house. Thankfully they were patient with me and caring.
A good doctor came by with a young girl who could barely speak English. The doctor set my leg, and thankfully he did it right. After a few weeks of nasty cabbage soup, eggs, and kasha (Porridge) I was back on my feet and helping with the chores as best I could. They were delighted with my eagerness to do something other than lay around. Food was available but you always felt like you were never full. I couldn't really complain though, plenty of people didn't have anything to eat at all.
We were semi-sheltered in the countryside from the problems of the cities. The Ukrainians still had weapons even if they were not legal, and the cities always had a "trash" problem and had cleanup crews to keep sweeping the cities for undead. Rumors were flying that some of them were cleaning up more than just the undead. With the shortages of food, I have no doubts that it was true. I had avoided major cities for that very reason.
By spring of 2008 I was up and running around. I helped plant the spring crops and in the harshest Ukrainian I could manage, I told my "Godfather" Luka that I must keep going to Alaska. He was sad to see his "Godson" leave, but he knows I have family at home. He guide me to a road that would take me through Russia.
Words do not describe just how big Russia really is. Take a look on a map. See the massive United States, now grab a piece of paper and use that to cut out the shape and size of the US then put that on top of Russia. Russia dwarfs the United States in amount of land, however a great deal of it is unoccupied. Russia has 17,075,400 to 28,000,000 km depending on which country and politician you ask. But lets stick with Pre-end of the world figures. Russia has 17,075,400 kilometers or 6,592,800 square miles. The United States has 9,826,675 km or 3,794,101 square miles. Russia is nearly twice the size of the US. Crossing this behemoth was going to be incredibly difficult and long. If anyone remembers the Oregon Trail video game, it would take people over a year to cross the US. It's a miracle I was able to cross Russia in about the same time.
While on my own "Oregon Trail" I was traveling with a band of refugees much like me. We had a few Ukrainians, Georgians, Hungarians, Germans, and some others I never got to know. One day we were nearly the outskirts of Saratov. It was a city that had done a good job handling the undead "trash". They were doing so good because they were using Russian soldiers to clean up the area and keep new "trash" from coming in. This meant they were turning EVERYONE who didn't live there away. Well my Russian really isn't very helpful at all and I had to resort to English in the hopes someone would be able to tell me wtf was going on. I didn't have to wait long before someone noticed.
From out in the back of the Russian soldiers a giant bear of a man came walking right for me. I thought about running, but I had come too damn far to be turned away. I don't give a shit how big the fucker was. He looked down at me, I looked up and gave him the look of "This can go one of two ways, and I'm ready for either." Then he suddenly said in crystal clear English "Are you American?" Surprised I stuttered yes. He asked me what I was doing in Russia and I told him the short version of my story and I got another shock. He smiled and offered to buy me a drink. I know I was shocked but the look on the faces of all the other Russians was truly priceless. It seems my new friend named Bogdan was former Spetsnaz or Russian Special Forces and he hated everyone. Everyone except me I guess. We sat down for a drink and he poured me a big glass of the nastiest vodka I've ever drank. (And I have drank quite a few) That cold liquid burned like red hot lava in my mouth and throat. My coughing like an amateur got him laughing hard.
A man that looked like a young Russian officer came walking over looking like someone had stolen his bike and started to yell at my Spetsnaz friend. The bear of a man stood up and looked down at the young officer. The young officer started to yell some more at Bogdan and was quickly silence by a backhand to the face. That ended the conversation and Bogdan sat back down to resume drinking. He told me the "boy in a mans uniform" had ordered everyone turned back, and that included me too. From the looks of it I wasn't going anywhere until the Vodka ran out. Bogdan was a curious man who had clearly been a few places and done a few things. He mentioned he had worked with Americans before but never went into detail. After a few more drinks and some wild war stories he told me a tale I would hear for the rest of my journey through Russia. It was "The Greatest Rock Concert of All Time!"
It seems there was a rising but not yet famous rock band in Russia that was rising in the charts before the zombies showed up. Their lead singer and guitarist was a man name Uli. His band had all been killed during rehearsal and Uli escaped on their "tour bus." It was nothing more than a large conversion van but it still had some of their equipment. Uli drove until he ran out of gas in the city of Kazan'. Kazan' is a port city and had a serious undead problem. So serious that the Russian military was there to clean it out. Death and decay was everywhere. As many soldiers would pour into the city, the undead would swell to match their numbers. Bogdan met Uli on the outskirts of the city with a gun in his mouth. It seems the singer couldn't handle the reality and had given up. Despite his size Bogdan was a very quick fellow and he had the gun out of Uli's mouth and the singer on the ground.
Later times when I would hear the story Uli had couragously offered to help save the city. Bogdan said Uli was a crying sack of shit who was begging for death. An idea was born. The Russian military decided to use the town's main square as a central location to kill as many zombies as possible. To do that they needed some good bait. The military offered Uli the greatest show of his life. The plan was to send in 10 men and Uli to the main square of the city. The Russian soldiers planted a mix of incendiary bombs and explosive bombs with shrapnel all around the square with the incendiary in the center. Uli used a ladder and climbed onto the tall fountain in the center. There he connected his guitar, his amp, and a few small speakers to a set of car batteries. Then he began to play.
With the explosives planted the soldiers left, all except Bogdan. He stayed behind to set off the explosives before getting out of town. From his church tower perk he watched and listened to the musician play. Each chord would pour out the pain and sorrow in his heart. Sound of Kurt Cobain with heart bleeding out pouring through the guitar and microphone. The undead poured into the square from around the city. Uli would look through the tears in his eyes and his adoring audience reached up for him. They were there for him, drawn in close by his sad song and strong voice. The moans of the dead climbed as they swayed back and forth with hands in the air. Bogden had never heard anything like it before. Uli's dream of becoming a great rock star had come true. There he was playing for a crowd of thousands. A true show of legend that was truly complete with fireworks.It was the greatest rock concert of all time.
Bogden said the flames reached over 30 meters and the explosion knocked him on his ass. As the story was told over and over I got to hear many different versions. The farther east through Russia I went the larger and larger the crowd. Eventually Uli had a complete band playing with him, and instead of thousands of zombies it was over a million. Instead of playing just one song, Uli had rocked the city for 8 hours before starting the fireworks himself.
I never had the heart to tell the people I met, Bogden's version of the story. I always figured it was best to let the people dream bigger. Looking at the world we all now live in, there is not too many stories people will tell each other with great pride. Few stories of heroism and courage. Who am I to crush someones fantasy? No, I think it's best we let the story be told as it is. There is great value in having something worth believing in. I learned that early on, and it's the only reason why I'm alive today. Finally at home in Pennsylvania, 3 years later.
Thank you Sean. This all stemmed from a mental image of rockband. Playing for a huge crowd. Just change em to zombies, then make it fit into a story my character would tell. :P