The summer of 1985 was the hottest in the history of Pripyat. Carnations bloomed in bright color on the square. Cars and buses carrying passengers lazily rode along the roads.
Children sitting on a bench eating ice cream. All this was observed by Tyoma, a resident of Pripyat.
A couple of days ago, walking through the woods, he accidentally got lost, and as it seemed to him, he ended up in another place not familiar to him. In some places the forest was dense and with yellowed foliage. Artyom went further, guided by the moss, and in the distance saw the central stadium, which now looked deserted and abandoned.
“What happened to him?” He thought. — Where am I? Questions revolved in my head like a herd of wasps, but there were no answers to them, Artem hoped that he would soon receive answers to them. Going closer to the stadium, he was seized with horror. The walls were gray and in places destroyed by natural disasters. The wooden stands rotted and were blackened boards, sometimes broken and allowed. Behind the stadium began five-story buildings, as sad as the stadium. Artem went to Gidroproektovskaya Street and went along the road. In places, small bushes of trees grew, and somewhere the whole forest. Familiar Pripyat turned into a ghost town. With difficulty orienting himself, he went out onto the street of Heroes of Stalingrad, the multi-storey buildings, which turned gray, looked lonely in the distance with their empty black windows. Everything was overgrown with trees. He decided to go into one of the houses, see what happened. Looking around the high-rise building from below, he noticed that some windows have glass. Looking from below, out of the corner of his eye, he noticed some movement in a window on the sixth floor. Suddenly he was overcome by fear, his heart was beating, as if trying to break out of his chest, but at the same time he wanted to climb to the sixth floor and check, maybe he was not alone in the abandoned Pripyat. Looking around, he still decided to go into the porch. Around was stuck plaster. The doors to the apartments were wide open, as if people were hurrying away from the apartments, and this was the case throughout the floors. Last landing and three doors. What door to enter? After looking at the door number, he entered the 56th apartment. Inside, the light green wallpaper was covered with stains of mold and, in places, damp with ugly bubbles. The furniture was also blackened by humidity, and dry leaves and broken tree branches lay on the floor. It smelled of musty inside, Artem looked at him with an unsteady step, as it seemed to him, it was a nursery, but it was very dilapidated. A tree trunk, broken by a strong wind, looked out the window. Suddenly, goosebumps ran through his body, he wanted to run away from here to hell. A piece of plaster crunched underfoot and Artem nearly cried out in fear. With difficulty he took it in hand, he went out into a small corridor and headed for the kitchen. The inverted table was lying against the wall, the floor was strewn with foliage and broken ceramic plates. He went to the window and looked down. Below, only the crowns of the trees and a little path were visible.
“Is this the wrong apartment?” A thought flashed through his mind.
Suddenly he felt someone’s gaze on his neck. Slowly turning in the direction of “look,” he saw a pulsating black shadow in the doorway, almost two meters tall, it stood and pulsed. Artyom caught his breath, he could not even scream, fear paralyzed his whole body. The shadow moved slowly at him. He did not see the doorway, as if a shadow covered everything, as ivy grew everywhere. Taking a deep breath, the body came to life and he, looking back where the window was, turned around and ran into the window sill and jumped into the window from the sixth floor. He was haunted by fear that a shadow would follow him.
Artyom landed very unsuccessfully. Jumping from the window of the sixth floor, he fell on a tree reaching the window of the fourth floor. The branches hit him hard in the face, one even almost gouged out his eye. Trying to grab the tree, Artem, as if a sack of flour fell down. The branches crunched and broke under his weight. The ground had already appeared below, he landed on his back. Great pain pierced the whole body. He could not move. The earth was cool. So he lay until it got dark. The sky was shrouded in gray clouds, shadows were gathering around. The bushes gradually disappeared into the dark. It got cooler, my back ached. Somewhere in the distance there was a howl of either a dog or a wolf. Artyom was scared, now he will die. The leaves rustled around him, suddenly it seemed to him that the same pulsating shadows crowded around him. Artem closed his eyes, in the hope that he would die without torment. So he lay until dawn.
— Hey guy! Why did you lie down in the middle of the street? “Came the man’s displeased voice. Artem opened his eyes and saw a janitor.
— Help! My back hurts, — Artem whispered barely.
— What happened? The man asked.
— I jumped from the sixth floor, someone was chasing me…
— Now I will call an ambulance, — with these words the janitor ran into the entrance and began to knock on the first door with calls, calling an ambulance. Ten minutes later, people went out into the courtyard, they looked at Artem. Someone asked each other what happened, but no one knew what. After half an hour, an ambulance pulled up and drove to the city hospital. In the car, he lost consciousness. Doctors took him to the surgical department, where on a stretcher they brought him to the operating table. Artyom’s spine was broken in three places. Now he was waiting for a wheelchair. The operation took a long time, there were failures in electricity. Two hours later, the operation was completed. Artem was taken to the ward. Nurse Anna Vasilievna gave an injection of pain medication. After half an hour, opium intoxicates Artem’s brain.
— Where I am? What is the year now?
“You’re in the hospital; the janitor found you.” Now is June 23, 1982. What’s your name? What happened to you? Why did you jump out of the sixth floor window? — the nurse asked him a question.
— Artem Maskalenko, someone was chasing me, he was black, like a shadow. I got scared and jumped out the window, but the apartment was empty. Pripyat looked abandoned. I walked along Pripyat and everything around was abandoned and empty. Everywhere trees grew. — Artem fell silent, he meekly looked at the nurse and realized that she did not believe him. Heavy eyelids fell and he fell asleep. The nurse left the ward and informed the head doctor about the status of the patient.
— He says that some shadow was chasing him. And everything around was abandoned, “said Anna Vasilievna.
— He raves, it is caused by severe pain shock from falling from a great height, nothing to recover. Did you give him an opium injection?
“Fine, and now go to ward 5, look how Michael feels there,” said Pyotr Sergeyevich.
“Good, Pyotr Sergeyevich,” and Anna Vasilyevna went as a nice doctor, right down the hall to room 5.
Artem, fell asleep soundly, but he dreamed that his shadows surround him everywhere, even in the room. He lay paralyzed on the bed. The same shadow had melted in the doorway, but now she had eyes. Two white dots stared at Artem and waited for something.
Then the shadow moved on him, and he woke up. The chamber was dark, the walls were black in the dark. He was alone. My back ached with dull pain.
Artem spent three months in the hospital. After spinal fusion, he was transferred to a general ward. He was not alone in the ward; Mikhail was lying with him.
Michael had a fracture of both legs. Soon he will again learn to walk with Elizarov’s apparatus.
— Are you Artyom? — he asked.
“I’m Michael,” he held out his hand as a sign of acquaintance. Artem held out in response, a weak handshake. — I heard you jumped from the sixth floor, how did this happen?
“I… I …,” Artem hesitated. “I was running away from a black man,” he looked at Mikhail, looking for disbelief in words on his face.
— A black man under two meters tall? — suddenly asked Michael.
— Yes. How do you know? — asked Artyom in surprise.