Project "Eye" Part 8

    Photo: AV Photography

    After several weeks off, publications are resumed. During this time, I was able to think through plot twists and even make sketches of the final scene. Before her, however, still write and write, but still.

    For those who do not understand what it is and what happens:

    Eye is my personal project, work on which I started in May of this year. Now it has grown into a science fiction work, the chapters of which I spread, as I write, on GT. Incidentally, the size of the Oka, taking into account this publication, exceeded the mark of 200,000 characters.

    Previous parts:

    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3
    Part 4
    Part 5
    Part 6
    Part 7

    The text, as always, is under the cut. Enjoy reading.

    Ever since Johnny died, they have been on the road for several days. The first day the men moved without halts, trying to go around the pre-war buildings, in which nevertheless someone could live. By the middle of the second day, age began to take its toll: Matt offered to stop for a halt, although they were all in danger. Oliver was glad of this respite. In whatever good shape he was in his fifty, he was still not a youth and a sleepless night, coupled with a march over rough terrain, exhausted him. Tired and Joe. After the halt, they continued their journey and, after another three hours, decided to settle down for the night. Joe offered to take one of the empty houses nearby, but Matt insisted that they remain in the forest belt. The bonfire was not lighted up; in army armor it was more a tribute to tradition or a tool for preparing warm food than a necessity.

    - How much is left to go? Matt asked Joe.

    Joe was silent for a few seconds, something figured in his mind and answered:

    “If I remember these places correctly, then by noon we will leave on the highway.”

    “Good,” Matt nodded in satisfaction, “then everyone will hang up, I will be on duty first.”

    The old man moved away from the place of the halt closer to the edge of the forest belt, while Joe and Oliver settled in as comfortable as possible. Joe chose a place under one of the trees and after a few minutes he breathed evenly and deeply - he was sleeping.
    Oliver could not sleep. Turning around on the hard, already cooling in the autumn ground, he recalled the past. The past pursued Oliver, walked hand in hand with him, hung behind his shoulders like a backpack that cannot be removed, stretching his shoulders with his weight and digging into the skin with hard straps of details of what happened somewhere and once.
    - Commander! - Megan jumped up from her place by the fire to greet Oliver who returned to them, - Commander Oliver!

    “Hi, Meg,” Oliver walked up close to the girl and patted her shoulder, “how are you?”

    “It's all right,” Megan's eyes shone with adoration, although perhaps she herself did not realize this, “we left you some soup.” Mikey shot a hare.

    “Fine,” Oliver smiled back, “I wouldn’t refuse soup with fresh meat.” Will you help?

    - Of course!

    The girl grabbed Oliver’s camping backpack and dragged him to the place they left for him in the parking lot; a little distance away, in the shadow of an old but low chestnut tree, from where a good view of all the participants in their raid opened. Oliver did not like gatherings around the fire, preferring to indulge in thought and cleaning things and weapons before going to bed.

    He looked at the fragile, slender figure of a young woman, a couple of years ago a former child, whose trust he shamelessly exploited. He had long understood that it was easier to give this red clot of energy secretly, as she herself thought, to love him, than to break the girl's heart.

    Perhaps the reason was that behind Oliver went the glory of the spoken: he went out of all the meat grinders alive. Maybe that's why Megan, although unconsciously, chose him as the goal of her feelings. According to Oliver, unrequited love is less painful than the funeral of an object of love.

    The funeral, and more often simply digging up or laying the corpse with stones, was for Megan, like all of them, then familiar. She was born after the drought, the decade that overthrew the continent, and, probably, the whole world, into chaos. Not knowing normal, in the general understanding of life, Megan still managed to grow up as a person, and not as a beast, like many of her peers.

    Oliver turned over again from side to side, in the hope that this would help him fall asleep, but memory, without asking for the opinion of his consciousness, slipped more and more scenes from the past. Here is an unsuccessful attack on a convoy, here is a crazy turn, one of the bullets of which damaged the girl’s spine, here are a couple of grenades and a pistol that he puts in her hands chilling from blood loss. He remembered how quietly Megan was crying, how, surprisingly hard for a seriously wounded woman, she grabbed his sleeve for the last time. Oliver and three other surviving fighters went deep into the forest, leaving her to cover the retreat.

    Five minutes later they heard a few distant shots, an explosion, and after another one. It was he who announced that everything, they became one more soldier less.

    "All is well".

    Maybe you should have told her something else? Oliver did not know. For almost twenty years he had been asking this question, but could not find an answer. Because this situation was no longer replayed. There were many women in his life. Somewhere in the West, he is sure he has several children, but specifically Megan has not gone out of his head for the third decade. Perhaps because he saw in the eyes of this red-haired girl what people call love? All the others were with him for profit: a member of the headquarters, a prominent, stately man, moreover, tenacious, like a cockroach. And Megan began to look at him with this special look of her, as a teenager, when he himself was still nobody, when Matt had not yet elevated him in the hierarchy of resistance to the level of brigade, and after the staff commander. So maybe it was worth saying something else to the dying girl in love instead of "Everything is good"?

    Oliver this time could not find the right answer.

    He never managed to fall asleep, got up, brushing off raw coniferous needles and small leaves adhering to his armor, picked up his weapon and set off to the side where, in his opinion, Matt should have been now. He found the old man pretty quickly. He stood motionless in the shadow of one of the trees and watched the open area from where they had come. It had not yet darkened to the end, and Oliver could discern the roofs of the dilapidated houses of the once prosperous suburb, which were already hiding behind the crowns of young trees, and sometimes a wild dog howled somewhere.

    “You stomp like an elephant,” Matt said.

    “I didn’t want to get a bullet from your head,” Oliver answered quietly, “it would be awkward.”

    - Yes, awkward.

    Matt's voice sounded as if his thoughts were somewhere far away, where no road leads. He, like Oliver, with the onset of night visited the ghosts of the past.

    - To smoke now.

    “You smoked for the last time twenty years ago,” the old man finally turned to Oliver and looked at his old friend, “why not?”

    - And therefore I wanted to. It has long been, ”he answered.

    The men were silent. Matt more comfortably intercepted the carbine, froze for a moment, and after grunting he sank to the ground, leaning on his weapon like a staff.

    “You're falling apart already, Matthew.”

    - Shut up. You yourself are already beginning to suffer from senile insomnia, although you haven’t slept for so long, ”Matt spat on the ground,“ and then it will be worse, believe me. ”

    Oliver also sank to the ground. Unsuccessfully clutching the barrel of a carbine, he slightly pulled his right hand. Immediately an old wound ached, covered by a huge scar, which seemed to stretch from a brush to the elbow bend. Matt noticed how wrinkled in pain Oliver was, but said nothing. He was well aware of this wound, due to which Steel General nearly lost his arm once. Fortunately, there were no amputations. He waited until Oliver got comfortable and spoke, looking in front of him:

    “I often think about how my life would have happened if we had not brought the planet to the handle,” Matt rubbed his face tiredly with his palm, “then do not begin hunger, who would I become? Certainly not a bloody commandant who scares children at night.

    - How old were you then? Twenty?

    - Yes, about that, I don’t remember exactly. You know, when the world gradually dies, you don’t notice it. A hundred years ago, people in a panic built bunkers for fear of a Russian nuclear attack. How ridiculous it looks now, this paranoia. For generations, they have been brainwashed about the fact that everyone around is idiots, that all around are enemies. And you know, as it turned out, as it pressed, no one before us had much to do.

    Matt's eyes were empty. He was far away again.

    - It all started with blowing the soil. While the knowledgeable, as it seemed to me, people were sounding the alarm, those in power were swaying grandmothers from the ground. In the news, everyone said that grain stocks were declining, drought was destroying crops, dust storms, and so on. Food went up, discontent grew. And then, in one of the years, I was still in school, Kansas farmers dug clay before plowing. This is where it started. Suddenly they remembered the scientists who banned GMOs, the devil remembers what it is, something related to genetics and experiments on crossing, a lot of things were remembered then. And then the Asians decided to trade something there, in general, abandoned our great and mighty dollar. And that’s all. We stretched out another five years, but the population of that wow, seven hundred million, was already there, but no one was in a hurry to save us. Well, then you yourself remember. Cards, trimmed rations, hunger. You know What do I think about all this? We were all told that the planet is dying. But look around, Oliver. It was enough to mow ninety-five percent of the inhabitants of this land area, and after forty years, everything came to a relative norm. We somehow grow bread and corn, we raise cattle. And this is in the north, where winter is 5 months a year. So, we plan to launch a couple of steel mills in addition to what is already working. The guys that went over to us, young people are taught engineering, collect bit by bit knowledge from those that have been preserved. And we are all fighting. where winter is 5 months a year. So, we plan to launch a couple of steel mills in addition to what is already working. The guys that went over to us, young people are taught engineering, collect bit by bit knowledge from those that have been preserved. And we are all fighting. where winter is 5 months a year. So, we plan to launch a couple of steel mills in addition to what is already working. The guys that went over to us, young people are taught engineering, collect bit by bit knowledge from those that have been preserved. And we are all fighting.

    “Yes,” Oliver answered. It was not the first time he had heard this monologue from Matt, but he still didn’t interrupt from time to time. The old man had to talk.

    “Yes,” Matt repeated after him, “we are at war and at war.” For incomprehensible power over incomprehensibly by whom. And you know what? It will be an eternal war. We could have been slammed for a long time, but we, the boogeymen, scared us of naughty children and their parents so that they would not raise their heads and were glad that they had. Because otherwise the boogeyman will come and take them away. Those who sit in the new capital, just like many other rulers in history, need an enemy, external or internal, it does not matter with which they will scare naughty children. The Russians are now far away, but we are close, ”Matt spat again on the ground,“ I'm tired of all this fuss already in order, Oliver. ”

    Oliver had nothing to answer Matt: he himself was well aware. Therefore, he tried to escape from this life, at least somewhere, even in the capital's Ghetto, filled with beggars and bandits.

    They were silent for a little while. When Oliver, for the umpteenth time, was going to share his story, the story of what he remembered about droughts, famine, civil war, in the distance there was a cry, and then a shot. The men sharply turned their heads to the side where the sound came from. Without saying a word to each other, they rose from the cold earth, intercepted more conveniently carbines and removed them from the fuses.

    “I'm going to wake Joe up.”

    “Come on faster,” Matt nodded. “See the building?” - He pointed with his hand to the house, visible behind the trees a hundred meters, - pull yourself there.

    Oliver turned silently and went to the place where their guide was sleeping. He found Joe already on his feet and, like himself, with weapons in his hands. Noticing Oliver, he first aimed a carbine at him, but after hearing from him a quiet "Joe, mine!", He lowered his weapon.

    - Damn it! “Oliver thought for a second that Joe would wake him up,” it’s good that you didn’t shoot.

    Joe grinned in response:

    “Well, I'm not blind, you weren’t in your place, you never know, can go pour.”

    - Your truth. Come on, Matt is waiting for us.

    - What kind of shot? - asked Joe as he walked.

    “If only we knew,” Oliver answered, “but we need to check.”

    Sleepless night made itself felt. The world around was sometimes bizarrely distorted at the border of view, narrowing the view and tunneling it, but shooting, as Oliver knew from his own experience, would not hinder it. But to notice the danger and react - it may well. In vain he did not sleep at least the hour that they sat with Matt.

    We moved carefully and tried not to make noise. Somewhere in the grass they came across debris and debris, like they got here, a couple of times Joe seriously tripped over something, quietly cursing under his breath. Having reached the building indicated by Oliver Matt, they found the old man around one of the corners.

    “You just lacked an accompaniment orchestra.”

    “Not tidied up in the field,” Oliver joked.

    “Yeah,” Joe confirmed, “I would even say that it’s very tidy.”

    What is there? Asked Oliver.

    Matt silently peeked around the corner once more.

    “See over there at home?” He pointed with his hand to a handful of dilapidated two-story buildings across the road, to the diagonal to the left of where they stood.

    - Well?

    - There's some kind of fuss. But I can swear that at least one soldier wanders there, although you can't see him. ”Matt looked at his comrades.“ Your suggestions? ”

    At that moment, a woman screamed again from the building that Matt was pointing at.

    “Well, clearly, the soldier is having fun,” Oliver remarked, “can it sleep quietly back?”

    He understood that the proposal was stupid, but someone had to voice it.

    “And if those who killed Johnny?” - said Joe, - So, they are reeling in our hearts here.

    This was the most obvious, albeit unpleasant, fact for men: if it’s their potential pursuers, it means that they have played in the tag in attempts to confuse the tracks and lost too much time.

    - What do we do? - continued Joe.

    Oliver and Matt looked at each other. The old man looked expressively at the gun and knife on his friend’s belt, and then into Oliver’s eyes. He sighed heavily, already leaning the carbine against the wall:

    - They would have gone out and chopped them, business.

    “Two trunks are enough to go out and beat, as you put it,” Matt answered him, “but you have a chance to do everything more or less quietly.”

    “With this love of silence of yours, I will someday lie down in the ground,” Oliver went on whining, but rather, for the sake of appearance. The old man was right: it was not worth it to announce the surroundings with the sounds of fierce firefight from automatic weapons. Plus, these new models of army carbines could hardly be called quiet. Functional - yes, quiet - no.

    He put the armor into full combat mode, checked Beretta’s store, removed it from the fuse, took out a knife and, having exchanged glances with Matt and Joe for the last time, said:

    “You cannot help me.” Hear pistol shots - don't twitch. I’ll go out and call myself. And if I don’t go out, then it means I’ve either been caught or killed myself.

    “Wait,” Joe went to Oliver, taking out his knife.

    In the darkness, the steel of a curved twenty-centimeter blade gleamed dimly. Outwardly, Joe’s knife looked like a kerambit, but at least twice as large as the largest that Oliver had seen in his life. The handle was braided with some kind of thin rope, and at the end of the handle there was a huge ring under the index finger.

    “Hold on, otherwise I saw you chopping wood with a knife in the halt,” said Joe, holding out the blade to Oliver with the hilt forward, “this is the bloodsucker.” You can’t chop wood like that, it’s only good for killing. Caution, double-edged.

    Oliver took the knife in his hands and felt that he weighs a lot. A sickle-shaped blade will not allow him to be thrown efficiently in case of anything, but in order to quietly remove the sentry, he fits perfectly: the main and only task of such blades, as Joe said, is to kill people.

    “I'll try to get it safe,” Oliver tossed the knife from hand to hand, adjusting to his weight, took Matt Beretta from him and silently disappeared into the dark.

    He chose the route bypass. Moving away from the place where they heard screams and, as Matt claimed, the soldiers were lodging, Oliver crossed to the other side of an abandoned street and moved into the backyards, counting the buildings. Moving around was not easy. In some places garbage was scattered, rickety and, in some places, showered fences added problems. Once he almost fell into a hole in the pool, which was virtually invisible in the night darkness.

    Three houses from the place where the soldiers were, Oliver stopped, lay down on the ground and began to listen. For several minutes nothing happened. He already thought that Matt was wrong, but then he heard someone stumble about something and apparently cursed loudly.

    Oliver got up and continued to move as carefully as possible to the building indicated by Matt. Sneaking up to a dilapidated fence no more than a meter high, he saw a soldier moving away from him towards the street. Oliver decided to wait until he returned and turned his back to him again.

    For all the sentinel’s habits, it was clear that the younger one was on duty: his hands lay loosely on a carbine hanging on a belt over his shoulder and back at chest level, the helmet is removed and lies on the porch. Apparently, the guy sees duty as an unnecessary formality. Again there was a cry and the sounds of some sort of struggle or fuss. The sentry turned his head to the side of the house, and on the move darted:

    - Infection, for me there will be a chop piece instead of a woman.

    He walked a few meters from the place where Oliver was hiding behind the wall, turned around the corner and went into the next round. Oliver stood up quietly, carefully stepped over the wall and crept behind the sentry. It was not difficult: the guy was a sleigh and made a noise on the whole company, sometimes shuffling legs or kicking stones, lying in abundance under his feet and once being part of the wall of the house.

    Oliver grabbed the blood in his right hand, in two broad steps, almost jumping, reached the guy, grabbed his head and cut his throat. Joe said not in vain that this knife is only suitable for killing: if Oliver had put in more effort, as he thought, he could have beheaded the poor fellow. The sentry wheezed, began to grab his neck and twitch, blood was beating in a fountain from the cut arteries. The struggle did not last long. Oliver gently lowered the body to the ground, removed the carabiner from the sentry, away from sin, and moved towards the house.

    Already at close range, through the dirty glass and the window openings clogged with boards, it was possible to distinguish dim light and the movement of shadows. Oliver could not understand exactly where the fire was located or the lantern, and decided that the detachment was located in the inner room, which used to be a hallway.

    He quietly climbed the porch. Of course, the best solution would be to open the door, throw a couple of grenades and open fire from a carbine, but Matt asked to be quiet. Oliver did not know how many more soldiers were inside, so he went downstairs, went to the edge of the street and waved his hand, letting his comrades understand that their help was needed. After a few seconds, two bent figures of Joe and Matt emerged from the corner of one of the buildings, running across the street. Oliver was waiting for them, squatting at one of the windows and listening to what was happening inside.

    - Well? Asked Matt in a whisper.

    “Only one sentry and that puppy,” Oliver answered.

    - What do we do? Joe asked in a whisper.

    “I was thinking about a pair of grenades at the door and vigorous shooting, but we're not going to make noise, right?”

    “Exactly,” Matt confirmed.

    Oliver thought for a while, biting his lower lip.

    - Then let me from the back or through which window, if not boarded up, and you from the parade. As I understand it, they are kind of wild, - so they called those who did not want to live in government cities, but did not join the resistance, - they caught and have fun. And I don’t remember that armor was fly. Do you want the blade back, Joe?

    “Don’t leave it for yourself,” the man answered, “as I understand it, you are the main executioner.”

    Steel General just nodded, got to his feet and moved to the back yard, where he killed the sentry.

    “Give me a minute and come in, just be quiet.”

    Without waiting for any additional instructions from Matt that he loved so much, Oliver disappeared around the bend, counting in his mind the seconds until his comrades entered the house.

    The back door was boarded up, which he was afraid of, so he had to climb through one of the broken windows. Carefully, trying not to make noise and not step on splinters and other garbage under his feet, he found himself in the kitchen of the house of a once prosperous family.

    The voices were heard distinctly. Oliver by ear counted five, but perhaps there were more. Quietly moving towards the living room, he lifted Beretta, grabbed the knife into the ring under his finger, with a crescent-shaped claw forward. The handle of a knife with such a grip was disastrously great for him, and at that moment he remembered Tommy: under his paw this knife was just right. “So, most likely, the brigadier’s gift to his right hand,” Oliver thought.

    He reached the doorway and carefully peered into the room. As Oliver thought, there were five men in it, actively discussing something among themselves. All the armor was either removed or turned off, freely lounging in the corners on the floor. Then the conversation was interrupted by an explosion of laughter and one of the soldiers, a real big man, rose from his seat, went to the stairs, near which Oliver stood and shouted:

    - Hey! Let's live there with the girl, not one here! It’s time to start the third round!

    At that moment, the front door slammed. Oliver realized: Matt gives him a chance to quickly end the main thing, judging by the tone of command, in this group. There was no time for reflection. He rushed at the soldier, who was now standing to his side and with one powerful, sweeping blow thrust a blade of blood into his neck, almost cutting off his head. Battle mode armor made itself felt. The remaining four were still looking towards the corridor, behind which was the front door, and only one of the soldiers noticed the wheezing emitted by their commander. It was impossible to procrastinate. Oliver fired one bullet into the chest of those two who held the carbines to themselves, and with the rest they dealt with Joe and Matt who jumped out from around the corner. It was impossible to resist men in army suits transferred to combat mode.

    “Another one upstairs,” Oliver said, and began to climb upstairs.

    A soldier jumped at him from around the corner with a knife in his hands, not expecting to meet the enemy in army armor. The blade slanted uselessly over Oliver’s chest and jumped to the side. In response, the steel general struck the enemy with a powerful blow to the jaw, which knocked the soldier to the ground and when he stood on all fours, trying to get to his feet, the Steel General with one blow to the blood separated the enemy’s head from the body.

    After a second looking at the work of his hands, Oliver went to inspect the room in search of a woman: she should have helped, and besides, she could tell something useful. Oliver found the "soldier's toy" in the back of the stairs, a deaf room with no windows, from where the screams of the victim were worst heard. The woman was sitting in the corner and holding on to her bloody leg. “They shot me when I tried to run away,” thought Oliver.

    “Hush, hush,” Oliver raised his hands with a pistol and blade up, trying to show the woman that she was in no danger, “I'm out of resistance, the soldiers are dead.”

    Entering the room, he could better see the raped. Long, dirty, tangled reddish hair, several bruises and abrasions on the face, a wound wrapped in some rags. Thin, looking thirty-thirty-five years old, but Oliver was not sure of this, since he very poorly determined the age of people by eye, it was impossible to judge the growth.
    - It's okay, let me see what’s wrong.

    He prudently put down the blood and the gun, although he was sure that the woman was not able to harm him even if he had no armor, and squatted down next to her.

    The wound was light: the bullet passed right through, not catching an artery or bone, but bleeding badly. Oliver touched the unit of the medical kit on the belt and from the opened box took out disposable camping syringes with an antibiotic and pain medication. Seeing short sharp needles, the woman jerked, but after Oliver's assurances that it was a medicine, she allowed an injection of an antibiotic. She refused the pain medication, mumbling something inarticulate.

    After some time, the victim of the rapists relaxed, the hands that frantically clasped the rags that had previously been her shirt, and with which she tried to cover herself, dropped slightly. Oliver noticed traces of bites and bruises on her breast and looked away: even though he had executed hundreds of women and sometimes children during the long years of the war, and executed himself, he was of the opinion that sex should be mutually agreed, and even more so violence in sex.

    A woman for the first time, although all this time she hid her eyes and trembled at the touch, looked him directly in the eye. There was still fear in them, but now mixed with gratitude. Oliver patted her shoulder, trying to look as welcoming as possible.

    “It's okay, we won’t touch you, we have enough other worries,” he tried to joke, “what's your name?”

    The woman pulled the rest of the shirt up, looked at Oliver once more, as if deciding whether to speak with him.

    “Melissa, sir.” But you can call me just Mellie, ”she said softly and smiled timidly.

    In order to keep readers up to date with the pace of work, and just chat without fear of being hit by a banhammer on GT, or, if you do not have an active account, on VK open spaces I created a cozy corner of the Eye project . We are already more than a thousand people!


    Criticism, ratings, discussions and feedback in the comments are highly appreciated.

    Part number 9.

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