Countdown
rating: +14+x

Dr Anderson rubbed his bleary eyes, and rolled over in his bunk. He jolted awake when he saw the blinking light on his digital alarm clock. Why the hell didn’t anyone wake me up?

“Come in, Bravo Two. Bravo Two, do you read me?”

Dead static was his only answer. He jumped to the floor, grabbing his coat off the door and shoving it open in one fluid motion.

“Bravo Two, come in, this is Bravo Three, radio check. I say again, radio check,” shouted Anderson, straining to get the words out in the howling Siberian wind.

He trudged through the snow to the Site-3034 central building, in a hundred-meter journey that felt like it took hours. As soon as he opened the door, a foul smell of vomit and urine hit his nostrils, and surveying the room, he knew why nobody had replied. The furniture and equipment lay strewn across the floor, shattered into wood splinters and broken electronics. Something was wrong with the lights, too, with only a single flickering bulb illuminating the wreckage. His eyes darted across the room, and the breath caught in his throat as he saw the bodies strewn across the floor. As he took a step forward, he felt the crunch of broken glass beneath his feet. Anderson gave the nearest still form a tentative poke. With no response, he rolled the man with the callsign Bravo Two over onto his back.

“Vaslov! Agent Vaslov, can you hear me? Are you okay?”

Agent Vaslov let out a small groan. Blood trickled from his forehead.

“Couldn’t… control…”

“Vaslov, speak to me! Misha!”

“… Anderson? I’m sorry… we should have… should have told…”

Vaslov spluttered, groaned again and lapsed back into unconsciousness. Anderson cursed under his breath. What the hell happened here? At least he’s alive.

A series of electronic tones interrupted his thoughts.

Oh, no, no, no.

Двести, said the girl’s voice. Two hundred.

Not now. Please, God, not now.

сто девяносто девять. сто девяносто восемь. сто девяносто семь. One hundred and ninety-nine. One hundred and ninety-eight. One hundred and ninety-seven.

Anderson ran to the middle of the room, where the radio equipment was. His heart sank as he saw the smoke and sparks coming out of the set. What the hell did they do to the radio? This can’t be a coincidence.

He began pushing buttons and fiddling with dials.

“все хорошо. все хорошo,” he repeated, his voice cracking with desperation.

сто тридцать один. сто тридцать. сто двадцать девять. One hundred and thirty-one. One hundred and thirty. One hundred and twenty-nine.

Oh God, oh god. “все хорошо!” he yelled into the microphone.

“все хорошо?” a voice replied. Anderson jumped, and spun round to see the body of Dr Walter lurching towards him, swaying from side to side, arms outstretched.

“Jesus, Walter! What the hell is going on? How do we transmit the kill code? Where is the backup system?”

“все хорошо?” said Dr Walter, as he shambled towards him.

“God damn you, Walter, the kill code! все хорошо! All is well! все хорошо!”

девяносто пять. девяносто четыре. девяносто три. Ninety-five. Ninety-four. Ninety-three.

“все хорошо. All is well. All is well. All is well,” Walter slurred, comprehension beginning to dawn on his dulled features. “All is well!” he laughed, wild eyes flashing.

“All is well!”

“All is well!”

“All is well!”

Anderson looked around the room in terror, as the prone forms on the ground stirred to life, turning to stare at him, repeating the phrase in unison.

“All is well!” the others shouted, their voices building to a crescendo of demented laughter. They began to advance upon him, shuffling and swaying.

“Get - get back!” screamed Anderson, his hand fumbling for his sidearm, finding nothing at his hip. Why did I leave the gun in the barracks? “Get away from me!”

Тридцать. двадцать девять. двадцать восемь. Thirty. Twenty-nine. Twenty-eight.

The broadcast was now loud enough for Anderson to make out the screaming in the background, building to a fever pitch.

“This is Anderson at Site-3034!” he yelled into his receiver. “We have a Level 1 emergency! 3034 containment protocols have failed. I repeat, Site-3034 has a full containment failure!”

Only the crackle of static was his reply. He let out a strangled sob and threw the radio to the ground, where it shattered, its remains mixing amongst the rest of the debris. The voices were getting louder and louder – the shouting of his colleagues and the girl’s radio broadcast mingling in a cacophony of noise. He put his hands over his ears, and sank to the floor, watching the others continue their march towards him. This is it. Is 3034 an XK object? I’ll be the first to find out.

Три. Два. Один. Three. Two. One.

He heard the muffled sound of far-off gunfire and explosions, drowned out by a colossal, booming roar, shaking the foundations of the building.

с новым годом.

Before Dr Anderson fainted, he felt Dr Walter’s arms close around him, and smelt the stench of alcohol on his breath.

“HAPPY NEW YEAR, COMRADE!”

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