Yeah, I know I haven't posted anything in a while and admittedly that's less because I haven't been writing and more because I can never seem to finish anything anymore. I have another Metro 2033 fanfic I started three days ago that's so far over 8,000 words and counting. Wonder if that will ever see the light of day. Also I really should be sleeping. Sometimes I think my best work comes when written in the middle of the night instead of partaking in sleep.

Hole Station was a bleak reminder of what could happen to any resident of the metro at any given moment. Artyom did his best not to step on any human bodies out of respect, silently apologizing to any he disturbed by scavenging bullets and other needed items. He made sure he took only what was needed for survival from the corpses. He did not consider himself a scavenger or a petty thief (though could it really be stealing if the owner was deceased?), so he was uninterested in anything else that might be considered to have monetary value to others. If he died he would not want anything that had sentimental value to him in life taken from him, so he showed the same respect that he himself would have wanted to the dead.

The Lurkers were less kind, shredding the bodies of both slain Nosalises and humans and gorging themselves on the dead flesh. Artyom did his best to ignore the grim scene playing out before him. Sometimes looking away wasn't always possible, especially when the Lurkers caught his scent and bolted off in his direction, forcing him to take action and shoot or stab them until their bodies were as cold and limp as those of their intended prey.

The entire time he was in the station he felt as though there were eyes watching him from all around. Not those of the Lurkers, though he was sure there were quite a few watching him from the burrows that they were making at an alarming pace, but something else. Maybe it was just nerves and paranoia from being in such a desolate and depressing atmosphere, but he almost felt like the eyes of the dead were still watching him, silently cheering him on that he may make it out of here alive or cursing him because he had a pulse and they no longer had that in common with him.

Artyom stepped through a crumbling archway and stopped when he saw the Lurker rearing up on its hind legs in front of him. It had its back to him and did not seem aware that he was there. In front of the beast, crumbled up in a heap, was a Nosalis, which would have been nothing worth noting had the creature not still been alive. The Nosalis watched the Lurker lower itself to the ground and creep closer. Even from where he stood, Artyom could see the sheer terror in its expression as it realized that it was about to be eaten alive.

At first he wondered why it didn't fight back. Surely a Nosalis, as formidable a hunter as they were, would easily dominate a Lurker, or an injured one would at least force it to fight for its meal at any rate. Then he realized that the reason for its stillness was that its injuries had paralyzed it. Its spine severed, it could only look on as its tormentor loomed over it, preparing to devour its still living prey until it either passed out from the pain and died soon after or died from its wounds before it could achieve unconsciousness.

A bit of carelessness caused Artyom to kick a piece of rubble. The debris made a clacking sound as it rolled across the ground and the Lurker jerked its head around, now fully alert of his presence. It screeched at him and charged, only ceasing its attack when three revolver bullets were firmly lodged in its brain, right lung, and left kidney. The mutant collapsed on the floor where it would remain until it was either eaten itself by one of its own or decay set in. Artyom briskly stepped over it and approached the paralyzed Nosalis that he had just inadvertently rescued from a horrifying end.

The Nosalis stared up at him with wide eyes full of fear. It did not want to die. Like so many living in the metro, on the surface, or anywhere else in this crumbling world, it just wanted to survive. It wanted to protect its home, find food to share with its brood, find a nice girl Nosalis and pass its genes on to the next generation so that even when it was long gone it would not be forgotten. Now through some dumb mistake- maybe it wasn't paying attention as well as it should have or perhaps it attacked the wrong enemy- its time was up far sooner then it had planned.

It was often easy to forget that the Nosalises were not inherently evil, that they were just doing what instinct told them to do, but in this moment with this one pathetic creature displaying weakness, that fact could not be more notable. Artyom holstered his revolver. A dying, non-combatant animal was not worth wasting precious bullets over. Still, he couldn't let it live, not like this. He unsheathed his trench knife and kneeled before the Nosalis. It put up no resistance as he slid his hand over its chest, feeling for a heartbeat. It was so faint that he almost failed to notice it. Once he had located its heart, he steadied the blade above it, careful to avoid the ribcage, and forcefully shoved it in. The Nosalis' world grew dark and its breathing ceased in an instant. He pulled his knife out and stood up, wiping the blood off on his coat before placing it back in its sheath.

"You're kinder than most."

Artyom spun around and tried to locate the source of the voice behind him. There was a corpse lying directly in front of him, its brains splattered across the wall in an obvious suicide following a painful, mortal injury to the abdomen. Artyom doubted he'd be speaking up anytime soon. Shining his flashlight around in the dark, hoping to find what may have been the sole survivor of the Nosalis attack on Hole Station, he was disheartened to find that he was the only living thing in the station that wasn't a hiding Lurker. The voice was imagined. The result of stress or grief or hallucinogenic gas or something. Nothing more. He scavenged a few bullets off the body against the wall, offered the poor soul a silent prayer, and made his way towards the exit, leaving the dead Nosalis with the other bodies in the dark.