The first thing April noticed was the lack of sound. It felt unsettling. She looked around taking in the tall green leaf trees and bushes that almost hid city. Breathing heavily through her mask, she wondered if the communication system had broken again. She reached her gloved hands up and felt for the mic at her throat.
A crackling stopped her searching fingers and she heard Trigg’s voice muttering. She turned and looked over her shoulder, frowning. He was only a few steps behind her, looking through his rucksack. He pulled out a toxin reader and then announced he had found it.
Turning fully, April watched the rest of the crew preparing to move on again. The six large men who had either been standing or sitting, seemed to move as one and gather their rucksacks up.
April patched herself through to Trigg.
‘I can’t hear anything,’ she said.
Trigg looked up at her, ‘did you get sand in your speakers again?’
‘No. I cleaned my mask before we left. Come over here.’
Trigg pulled on his bag and went over to her. Together they stood on the ridge looking down at the city once known as Pripyat. They could just make out the collapsed roof tops of the tallest buildings and what seemed to be a Ferris wheel in the distance. A gentle wind ruffled the trees and above them the dark blue sky was growing with grey clouds.
‘There’s nothing to hear,’ Trigg said in a low voice.
‘I know there’s been a lack of animals since we got here…but I thought with all this green we’d at least hear birds,’ April responded.
Trigg looked down at the device in his palm and pointed a finger from his other hand at the screen. A small red arrow was waving between an arch of numbers. April’s eyes read it, but her brain didn’t understand it.
‘There’s still radiation. It’s low here, but further on it’ll get higher,’ Trigg explained.
‘Is everyone ready?’ Gun’s voice called through both their headsets.
A rattle of positive voices replied from the rest of the crew and with a wave of his hand, Gun started walking. The other men fell into place behind him. Their metal boots easily making work of the rough nature taken over ground.
‘Don’t take your helmet off,’ Trigg hissed.
‘Huh?’ April replied.
‘You didn’t all ready did you?’
‘Of course, I didn’t. And I won’t. How dumb do you think I am?’
‘Very,’ Trigg muttered.
April whacked him on the shoulder, ‘I’m not!’
‘Hey! You can have your lovers tiff later, come on,’ Nook cut in.
They both glanced at him, taking in his big grey body suit and black mask, then looking away.
Trigg moved first and walked passed him to catch up with the others.
‘Knew bring a girl would cause trouble,’ Nook added, ‘you gonna stay there or come?’
April tried to shake her head, but the mask and helmet made it difficult to. With a sign, she gripped a last look at the long abandoned city below and trudged over.
Nook pushed her in front of him and April began struggling her way through the jungle like scene. Keeping focus on Trigg’s rucksack with the bright neon orange stripes, she wished she could pull her knife and cut back some of the foliage. The rules which she knew off by heart, rang in head and she started muttering them under her breath.
‘Always wear your mask, gloves, suit and boots. Plan everything down to the last detail and know what you are doing. Keep someone in sight of you at all times and make sure someone can see you. Take only what you must. Leave everything else untouched. Note all discoveries. Don’t cut, damage or kill plants and animals on the surface. Don’t look directly at the sun.’
‘Do you really believe that?’ Nook scoffed in her ear.
Ignoring him, April switched off her mic. She then stepped over a fallen tree and found herself on what once had been a road. She stopped looking both ways and saw to the left the burnt remains of a small car.
‘Document that,’ Gun’s voice sounded in her ears, though it wasn’t directed at her.
She started walking over, but Nook grabbed and spun her. April slammed into Trigg’s side.
‘Keep a hold of your little lady, hey,’ Nook rumbled.
‘She’s not mine!’ Trigg snapped back and pushed April passed him.
‘What’s going on? Quit it. This isn’t a place for messin’ around in,’ Gun growled.
He came in-between them, but Nook and Trigg had already stepped away from each other. Quietly, he gave them both different tasks then went back over to Len who was jotting notes down on a crumpled pad of paper. He totally ignored April.
Leaving the men to it, April walked down the road. The stillness of the place still unnerving her.
To be Continued…
*These characters were originally from the story Obsolate and Plane, published last month; https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/2016/04/18/obsolete/ I really like them and am seriously thinking about writing a dystopia novel with them.
**This story was inspired by The Daily Post’s daily prompt: Abandoned