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Chapter 10: "Cup of the Carpenter"
Stalingrad, Soviet Union
“Oh Nikolai, why do you not smile anymore?”
Nikolai Belinski sat dour in his chair, gripping the vodka bottle close in hand. The beautiful brunette he had the pleasure of calling his wife approached Nikolai, gently resting one arm around his shoulder, and the other tugging the bottle from his hands.
“I fear what is happening in our motherland. I sense war is on the horizon, my love. And they will take me away from you, to fight for Stalin's vision of our Russia.”
“Drinking will not make your worries disappear, Nikolai. We need to have hope.”
“I know...I just wish I could take you away from this place.”
Nikolai turned his gaze to his wife's eyes, now fixated on his own.
“One day Nikolai, we will live in peace. Perhaps not here, but somewhere out there.”
Nikolai closed his eyes and rested his head on the wooden table.
“When this war starts-”
His wife interrupted him, “If a war starts.”
“If a war starts, I promise I will see it through until the end, and return home to you. Maybe then we can find a place to live out our lives as we have always dreamt.”
She wrapped her gentle arms around Nikolai's neck, resting her own head on his.
“Thank you Nikolai. Please get some rest. And try to smile more, for me?”
After a moment of silence, she wandered towards the window, gazing out on the city of Stalingrad.
Nikolai raised his head and stood up from his chair, approaching the front door of their home. Inside their mailbox was a letter addressed to Nikolai specifically, with the recognizable seal of the Soviet Union on the front. Inside: a letter. Nikolai's hope began to fade as he read further down the letter. Words began to meld together in a cacophony of fear. Conscription. War. Training. Comrade. Glory. Stalin.
As Nikolai's heart sank, he heard the screams of his wife. Turning to look but unable to intervene, she looked up at the sky as German planes flew overhead, releasing their payload.
She screamed again and again, the voice slowly dampening and fading as Nikolai was unable to move. With one final scream, she evaporated before his very eyes as the bombs tore his home apart, and the blinding light blurred his vision.
As he regained his bearings, he was now in a war-zone. Mortar shells exploded all around and bullets zoomed by, killing off any who stuck their head too high.
Nikolai was unarmed, only holding ammunition for the gunners, as a shortage of supplies had left the Soviets unprepared.
The captain of his platoon blew his whistle, and Nikolai charged with his comrades towards the raining gunfire from the German line. Buildings in this once great city were now rubble and makeshift cover from German fire. Over a hundred men charged alongside Nikolai, most eviscerated by the steady stream of bullets. Any who turned back were shot by the captain. Nikolai's comrade armed with a rifle took cover with him near the line, asking him for ammunition. Immediately on raising his head above the bricks, a bullet went through the soldier's skull. Terrified of meeting the same fate, Nikolai waited behind the thick debris for more men to arrive, but none came. Their captain was now retreating with the rest of the Red Army. Nikolai was alone now.
By night, the bullets stopped, and Nikolai relocated to a nearby bar, bombed out by German air raids. The cellar was still protected however, and he crawled into its depths.
For a week, Nikolai stayed in the cellar, eating what little food was available and drowning his sorrows with alcohol. His last memory is a blinding light from the cellar door above as a frightened German recruit discovered him in his disheveled state, who screamed at his sight. The scream lasted longer than he remembered however, becoming deeper and more agonized. Nikolai opened his eyes once more, trying to piece together where he was. He was on the ground now, empty vodka bottles clanging around and falling off his body as he adjusted his position. He was in a building, behind him, the giant, bell-shaped teleporter, and out the windows, the bright moon now in an eclipse.
Nikolai remembered he was told to do something before he passed out into the awful nightmare. In his breast pocket was a note with four numbers: 1 – 8 – 0 – 3.
The teleporter. It had to be linked. Nikolai shifted all his weight to flip himself on his stomach, then pushed himself back up on his wobbly legs. The shift in position made the keypad of the MTD blurry, forcing him to feel around for the buttons' positions. Finally, he entered the combination before hearing the same scream which punctuated his nightmare. In the center of the room were three zombies now jogging towards him, mouths agape. Nikolai did not waste time raising his PPSh-41 and shredding them to giblets.
An unbearable headache began to set in from the screams and gunfire from other areas of Der Riese. Nikolai looked to his left where there was a tunnel. He could try to escape that way, but there was no guarantee it was any safer. Towards the exit of the building was a few more zombies heading his way. Nikolai chose to head towards the factory, fighting anything that might be in his way, instead of running underground. Russians do not retreat.
He sprinted, gun raised to shred the runners that came too close until he reached the magic weapons box. Nikolai held out hope for something to fight the horde, when several caught sight of him from the upper balcony, near the bridge. Not fearing the height, they jumped down to try and kill Nikolai. They met a swift fate, however, as Nikolai pulled the red switch of the electro-shock defenses, raining down electricity from the bridge, killing everything to walk through.
The box cycled through several weapons from around the world, and settled on something quite peculiar: A stuffed monkey attached to dynamite. The eerily creepy monkey also donned a blue fez with a painted Group 935 logo, and held cymbals between its hands. The monkey itself was incredibly odd to the hungover Russian, but he searched for some way to activate the dynamite, perhaps to stop any horde running at him. At the side of the monkey was a wind-up key, which Nikolai turned several times, faster and faster as seven zombies caught sight of him back from the teleporter. With one last crank, the monkey came to life with a shrill voice and the clanging of its cymbals.
“YOU'RE NOT SAM!”
Visibly jolted, Nikolai tossed the monkey away in fear. As it hit the ground, it began to bounce up and down, still slamming its cymbals together and playing a loud tune irritating to Nikolai. The zombies took notice as well, averting their attention away from Nikolai towards the odd cymbal-playing simian. With one final clang of the cymbals, the dynamite set off with a loud explosion, destroying the zombies all around it.
The smoke finally cleared and the electroshock trap deactivated leaving the area silent. Finally, the monkey's song was driving Nikolai nuts.
Where one of the zombies stood was now another green glowing orb like the ammunition box from the swamp. The object inside the orb, however, was a large hammer. Nikolai placed his hand outward to claim the reward and a loud booming voice bellowed out, “CARPENTER.”
Several wooden boards began to appear next to a nearby window, and the opening was now covered by the boards which were nailed into the frame. This may prove useful in slowing these foul creatures down, if only for a moment. The woodwork reminded Nikolai of his time before the war, working as a carpenter in the city.
With the newfound time, Nikolai reloaded his weapon, and approached the mystery box once again. The weapons cycled through, before finally stopping on a bloody teddy bear, and Nikolai's heart skipped a beat as the bellowing voice giggled at his misfortune and the box disappeared.
Angered but not sober enough to care, Nikolai began his trek back towards the factory in search of Richtofen and the others.