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‘Twas the Night Before Chernobyl

Twenty kilometers southeast of Bykhaw, Belarus sat a very sad man. His family, all have gone. People don’t live in these parts, for good reason. Everything was dying, and there were no prospects in these areas after those fatal days in ’86. Last year, the year before, and possibly this year, his family had slowly died, or worse. He watched his wife and his daughter be taken away from him, to some place he hopes he’ll never go himself.

The fake carnation his wife once held up in her hair sat in his palms, slightly damp from his sweat and his tears. The rose tint of the flower haunted him. His daughter’s coat, from when she was but 4 years old was blue and draped like a dead animal over the mantle place. This home was a mostly underground studio, with a large horizontal window along one wall and a smoke escape on the other (near a door for entrance and exit). Under the mantle brewed the same Kusmi Tea he had every time this part of the year came around.

His eyes were soaked and bloodshot, the near year was moving closer, reminding him of the previous year’s fatal incident, hoping he wouldn’t see those eyes again, but longed for his wife’s. He had spent the year saving for a rifle, and on top of that blue coat, it sat, ready for whatever demons would try and take away what little left he had to love.

He wiped the tears from his eyes, and put his woolen gloves back on his hands. He picked the pot out of the flames and poured himself a mug of the beverage his wife had prepared for his family previously.

He moved the chair, the table, and the rifle towards the window, and locked away the carnation and coat in the footlocker. The rifle looked upon the fields between him and the fog in the distance. For the next two hours he slowly sipped the jasmine-scented potion.

Midnight was soon to strike, and he continued to see nothing. Perhaps this year would be different. What would the beast want from him? Suddenly, a rasp at the door. He scanned the fields, not wanting to give up whatever possible opportunity to end his pain and misery to answer the knock.

Two more rasps followed. He let out a sigh, with more doubt leading towards the possible return of the incarnate. He left his outpost to open the door.

When his hand pulled the door towards him, he burst into tears. There alone sat a small girl, wearing a bright red holiday garment with long, blonde hair. He fell to his knees, wrapped his arms around the child, and rest his face upon hers.

And immediately retracted.

His daughter had returned, but she was cold, stiff, and emotionless. He pushed his head back to stare into her eyes, to ask a question, but the tears and sobbing prevented it. And there she stood, staring back into him without even a smile. She was cold to the touch, and he had started to become worried. He said her name aloud, “Snegurochka…,” wondering if this really was his daughter. She turned around, to face someone behind her.

Except, it wasn’t someone, but something. There stood a tall shadow of a man, wearing the same red colors, but where his limbs and face should be, was nothing but a pitch black, amorphous shade. Where a mouth should have been was a cone instead, which immediately opened up to show silver teeth. They moved individually, mechanically, and started to rotate around each other. Sounds came from this, nearly inaudible, and at a very high tone.

By the time he felt the pain in his ears, he was already back in his house, throwing the door shut. It didn’t close all the way. A small foot had stood in the doorway. A loud crash came from the table as he fell upon it in shock, spilling what little was left from his libation. Why, why are you doing this to me?, he thought to himself.

He stumbled for the rifle, and attempted to point it towards the creature crawling in through his front door. A loud bang followed, with no response from the hellish entity. He knew he didn’t miss, and it continued to lurch towards him.

A long, shadowy arm without fingers wrapped around the barrel, and it was ripped from his hands and thrown out the window. “Snegurochka!,” he yelled, hoping that deep down inside that shell his daughter could hear his scream. He remembered him and his wife, singing holiday songs together, and then he saw black, as he was engulfed in the shadows of the devil.

The last thought he had was a simple jingle of holiday bells, he heard each note slowly, each one longer after the other. The tune had never finished.

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