The ground flew past beneath me, the dirt and gravel road only inches from my head, which dangled out of my perch. The military truck, a rusty Ural, was travelling at a high speed through the empty countryside. This once fertile farmland was now littered with pockets of radiation and other hidden dangers. From my makeshift platform on the truck's undercarriage, I could see collapsed farmsteads, and the occasional abandoned town. The outskirts of The Zone just a bleak picture of what was to come. The truck slowed to a stop, and voices emanated from above me. Heavy combat boots hit the ground one after the other as the soldiers dismounted the truck. Silently, I crawled off my makeshift hiding place, which consisted of some thick straps tied between the truck's chassis. My breathing shallow, I crawled towards the back of the truck. The soldiers who had dismounted were making their way to the front of the truck. Beyond that I could not see. The engine of the Ural shuddered to a stop, and all was quiet, but for the marching sounds of the Soldiers boots. Swiftly I crawled out from under the truck, and I took a look at the surrounding land.

The truck had stopped in a shallow valley, bordered on both sides by thick forest. From around the corner of the truck I could see the soldiers were marching towards a checkpoint embedded in a thick razor wire fence. Sandbags and concrete barriers made up the majority of the structure, and a metal gate spanned the width of the road. The soldiers marched up to the gate and the leader spoke to the guards. While they talked, I pulled my pack off, and opened one of the pockets. Next to spare magazines rested a Makarov PM, an old Russian service pistol. I slid a magazine into the receiver and then pulled the slide back. It clicked into place with a metallic sound, and I slid the pistol into my holster. By the time I had finished, the guards were opening the gate. I quickly counted them. Three guards on foot, one on a machinegun and an eight man squad who were passing through the gate. When the military patrol had passed through the gate it closed, and one of the guards approached the Ural. He walked casually smoking a cigarette, his weapon holstered. I quickly slithered into the tray of the Ural, the canvas cover concealing me. The truck shook slightly as the guard opened the driver door. Through a small window into the cabin I watched the guard climb into the driver's seat. From my pack I produced a rusty silencer, the receiving end glinting from lubricant I had applied to it. The silencer screwed onto the end of my Makarov and I went back to watching. The guard turned the key, and the Urals engine sputtered into life with a roar. The gearbox crunched as he pushed it into first gear and began to drive forward. He pulled the truck in next to the gate, across from the fortification. I watched the guard turn the key, and the truck fell silent. With a steady hand I held the silenced pistol against the small cabin window. With a light squeeze I pulled the trigger. The pistol kicked back, but made no more sound then a footstep. The pullet punctured the glass window and it entered the guard's skull from the back. The sequential exit wound left a bullet hole in the dashboard, and a mixture of brain, gore and bone littering the interior of the cabin.

"Did you hear that?" Asked a voice.

Another voice laughed and said. "Wasili is just trying to scare us."

Footsteps approached the Ural, and I heard a man draw breath quickly, in shock. Before he could speak I threw my body against the canvas cover of the tray. The material tore under my weight, and I fell sprawled against the guard, who was looking at the Ural from a few steps back. He cried out loudly as landed on top of him. During my fall I had dropped my Pistol, so I tore my knife from its holster and I plunged it into his chest. The guard cried out, but ceased to struggle. The other guard was already leaping for his weapon, which was leaning against a table. In a race of life or death I stood from atop the dead guard, and I sprinted at the second guard, but I was too late. He reached his weapon and went to level it at me, but in a desperate attempt I threw my knife at him. The blade glinted with fresh blood as it arced through the air towards the man. Before he could fire a single shot, the blade caught him in the throat. Blood fountained from the fresh wound in his neck, and he fell to his knees, holding his neck. His gun clattered to the ground, him following. I stopped dead in my tracks and I leant over, supporting myself on my knees.

"That was too close" I said to myself, standing. From the ground next to the Ural I retrieved my Pistol, and from next to the expired guard I retrieved my knife, wiping it clean on the guard's uniform. The gate sat on a rusty wheel, which supported its weight. With a pull I managed to open it to some degree, and then I slipped through the gate into the land beyond. Into the Zone.