It was hard to see what the first building they came across was. April tried to peer through the mass of green and brown plants. Perhaps it had been a house? It looked small enough. The crew moved on, Gun reminding them about not touching stuff and that there mission was just to document the environment and air.
‘What does the reader say?’ April asked, falling into step behind Trigg.
He shot her look, which of course she missed due to the mask and helmet, then looked down at the needle.
April tried to see over his shoulder, but she still couldn’t make it out.
‘It’s got a little higher,’ Trigg explained.
Feeling uneasy, April looked around them. More buildings were growing up out of the vegetation and trees. It was hard to imagine that the city had once looked very different. Fallen branches, leaves and rumble crunched underneath their heavy feet. They walked slowly, each member of the group, but April, seemly getting on with their individual tasks.
After a few minutes, they came to a very large building that must have once been a high school. Whilst the others gathered on what once had been steps, but was now a level carpet of green moss and grass, April walked closer to the front of the building. She could make out no letters or signs, just the empty windows and was that sound beyond dripping water?
Deciding, she was wrong, April turned back and watched the men, digging around in their rucksacks for equipment. In her head set she heard Gun giving orders.
‘We need soil samples from these spots,’ he declared as he waved a plastic map in the air, ‘and air tests alongside them. If we find any water, we take samples of that too.’
‘What about animals or…humans?’ someone asked.
April guessed from the slightly nervous tone it was Babble. She picked him out, standing slightly away from the others on the left, in a faded blue suit with big baggy arms and a slightly wonky helmet. The glass visor on his mask looked slightly misty.
‘There shouldn’t be anything but us here,’ Gun spoke, ‘and if there is note it, but leave it alone. That’s not we are here for.’
‘Are we going to spilt up?’ Joe asked.
‘Not this time. Too easy to get lost and too dangerous,’ Gun explained, ‘we’ll start here, head towards the centre then come out again and go back.’
‘Sounds like a plan, boss,’ Nook cut in.
Gun carried on giving orders and make sure everyone knew they jobs. Finally, he got around to Nook and April. She had been walking back and forth in front of the building, trying to see further inside. However, the walls and roofs had fallen in blocking off what might have been classrooms and offices.
‘April get over here!’ Gun snapped.
April jumped and hurried over as fast as the heavy boots and difficult body suit would allow. Coming to stop between Nook and Gun, April thought she heard soft sniggering in her ears.
‘Guard duty here is extremely important. You need to stay visual at all times and report anything you see. Don’t just shot it. Remember the Code,’ Gun said in a low serous voice.
‘Right Boss,’ Nook rumbled back.
‘Don’t go wandering. There’s nothing worth salvaging here. It’s still all contaminated and we can’t risk bring any of that back.’
‘No problem,’ April put in.
Gun turned and addressed the rest of the crew with that statement. He ended with, ‘let’s get to work!’
Nook moved and began patrolling the area, drawing his gun as he did so.
April reached for her’s, finding it against her hip in one of her belt’s pouches. She took it out, barely feeling the weight of it in her leather gloved hands. She checked it then felt for her knife at her other hip. Feeling it there, she dropped her arms and began pacing in front of the building, her eyes darting everywhere and her ears listening for any other noises.
The minutes ticked by and April felt like they had been there a long time, though really it had only been about ten minutes. Gun hustled the crew along and they moved to the next marked spot on the map.
Coming to stand at what might have been a supermarket once, April clutched her gun tighter. The lack of bird sounds was really getting it her. It was well known that animals would go nowhere near the worse effected areas long after the third world war ended. Even now that was proving to still be the case.
She tried to recall things she had read and heard in the briefing about Pripyat. Beside from a little history about the original nuclear disaster and then the second one triggered by the war, she couldn’t remember anything else. She shivered and decided she had lost her interested in the place and wanted to go home.
The crew moved, leaving little green flags behind them at the marked spots, so anyone who came again could see where they had been. They arrived at the centre and April felt better that their mission was almost complete. Tall buildings rose on all side of them, battling with the trees to be seen. April felt a slight tugged to explore some of the buildings, the eagerness of seeing what lay within, but she stood her ground. She watched the four men taking all the samples. Gun and Trigg looking at the reader and talking softly about it whilst further away Nook walked slowly around them all, eyes glued to the ghost buildings.
‘We’ve got everything,’ Joe’s voice came loudly through.
‘Let’s pack up and move out. This place gives me the creeps,’ Gun added.
A muttering of agreement followed.
April sighed deeply and went to put her gun away, but a disturbing noise from behind her stilled her movements.