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Collection of short horror and sci-fi stories. This collection of short horror and sci-fi stories is divided in Three.parts. Most of the stories were published in collections, magazines and as online editions and some of them were very well received by the Serbian public (Major, Farm, In the depths...). I MAN Major - Horrors of war become even greater when our main heroes get a company from those not living in our world. Mandate - When people loose their mind in the night of elections, mandate gets overtaken by those from the other side of the law, but also from the other side of the reality. II TREE Farm - Farms are usually perceived as quiet and idyllic places to live in. However, many people don`t know that it sometimes requires sacrifices that we cannot even imagine. Root – a short sci-fi story about post-apocalyptic world in which surface becomes a home to alien species… Under the tree top – If the mankind would get chance for the new beginnings, how would it look like? III VALLEY In the depths – A young married couple moved to the little idyllic town, determined to start a peaceful family life. And while everything seemed perfect, they had no idea their new neighbors had been waiting for them for a long time. Holiday – Is the mother’s love strong enough even in the afterlife? Dinner - When all hopes are gone, one ray of light always appears. All problems of our main character of this story will disappear if only she agrees to one dinner… PUBLISHER: TEKTIME
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Author: Goran Segedinac
Translator: Natasa Budisin
Publisher: Tektime (2018)
I - MAN
The Blues could no longer deceive him, to convince him that he has a choice. The magic inside him was pushing further into his soul, dragging the last remnants of good to the surface - only it wasn't enough anymore. He has become completely empty, and will need to try some different treatments for his troubles.
There was only one way left.
Until tonight, he hoped he wouldn't have to search for Sandra. The reason for this was as practical as it was selfish: if he fails, he will be left with absolutely nothing. If only he had another option — just a hint of an alternative — that will give him purpose if he fails, it would stop him from waiting.
Luckily, he had nightmares.
The drugs did not remain in his body after he woke up, trembling, from the afternoon nap. Perhaps the holiday spirit reacted badly with him; perhaps it would become easier if he could resist until February. He had a thousand maybes swarming in his head. Finally, he made a decision: give up and run away. There was no escape.
He will go mad.
If he has not already.
"Would you like another drink?" shouted the bartender.
He has known the bartender since coming to 'Krigla'. He always worked the late shift, always wearing the same shirt. He never asked for his name, yet they still became friends.
He was thinking about whiskey. How it would go well with the song that was playing. But it was too expensive. He liked to drink the same booze, nothing else. His wallet could survive two or three glasses, but he still needed more. Much, much more.
"Give me the homemade one!"
"Plum? Or pear?"
Brandy is better than whiskey, in every way but one: it was not whiskey. It doesn't sit well with the Blues, and he can't live without it. Good thing he stopped believing in perfect moments.
It was going down his throat like fire. It was gross. Only once did he drink one worse. It was among the snow covered hills. He remembers the winter sun, and the frost in his nostrils, and the light that was reflecting on the bottle. The memories were returning, as he was wandering...
"Man, who can drink this shit?"
Oh, come on, Major, don’t be so harsh. It's good, it’s better than nothing."
He was looking at this kid, and he suddenly felt sorry for him. His uniform was big, and he was bent to one side from the weight of the rifle on his shoulder. The others were also mainly kids, but this one was the smallest.
"What do you know about brandy, kid? You haven’t even tasted life yet," he asked out loud, but later regretted it. He was tired, and he had had enough of everything, so he started making mistakes. One should teach morals to soldiers, and he was doing the exact opposite.
"He has no clue — same as us. But, who cares about it, Major?" Dugi said. Dugi was almost seven feet tall; it would always get them into trouble when they were sneaking up on enemies. Branko died yesterday and everyone was upset about it. That is why he allowed them to stay one more day in the village. That is why he allowed them to drink that brandy. They were so honest to report it to him, so he did not have the heart to forbid it.
"Where did you find this bottle?" he asked them.
"The third house from the top. It was the last one left. They left it to us when they were running away, so we can have it for the New Year!"
He was looking at Darko Bogović and he was wondering what he was made of. He was giving him a hard time, more than anyone else. He was a young man without any emotions, a man of war. He was aware of men like him. There are plenty of them in the Balkans, more than enough. Some people are simply born with that killing instinct inside of them. And they just wait for the opportunity so that it reaches its maximum. He felt that Darko still hasn’t reached his maximum, and he was hoping that God will take him before he will have a chance to live up to see it.
"Are you sure the village is empty?"
"We checked everything, Major, every single house. There aren't even corpses left."
Where could all these people be? He knows this environment well: there is no cave capable of hiding hundreds of souls. They would freeze in the woods after a couple of days. This village had been empty for a lot longer. There were no signs of fights, no traces of missing people. They must have been taken away and buried somewhere.
Now, we are doing it, too, he thought.
Last month, he spoke to Potonjac — a good friend; a big, old soldier — through a safe connection. A grenade blew off his foot. They exchanged only a couple of words, but the things that the old soldier didn't say were more important. It wasn’t going well, no.
"Don’t get drunk, we must go before it gets dark. Is that clear?"
He left ‘Krigla’, because he would have thrown up for sure. Not from alcohol, but from the nerves. He’s always had a sensitive stomach. The brandy brings back the bad memories. It’s best to think of Sandra.
Sandra. The rocker girl. A shame to his father, the General Marko Babović. He remembers all the times his friends described her to him while they were in the barracks. The way she dresses, the way she puts on makeup, her ass, tits, behavior and everything else. He admired the General. But also felt sorry for him. The military is like a family: when people start saying bad things about you, it travels far. It was difficult to blame him. It’s the worst when you get backstabbed by your own child.
Then, all of a sudden, he met her. And his opinion of her changed completely.
She stopped him in the corridor.
"Excuse me, I’m looking for my father. General Babović"
"I think he left for Kragujevac this morning."
She had a sad look in her eyes. She looked differently; not how his friends described her. She was an angel.
He started the conversation, as if in a delirious state, aware only of his need to stay in her presence as long as possible. Luckily, she didn’t stop him from being around her. They saw each other the next day, and many times after that. Then one rainy evening, while wandering around the city, looking for another drink, destiny had them kiss their first kiss.
A metal voice brought him back tothe unpleasant street reality.
"Hey, dude. Sorry, I just want to ask you something."
He was staring at the worn out junkie. There have been more and more of them these days.
"Do you have 500 dinars? I’m in a lot of trouble…"
The distance between them started to shrink quickly, but he didn’t want to avoid him, move aside, or be hostile in any way. He’d rather just give him the money and save himself the trouble, but he wasn’t in the position to give up money anymore.
"I don’t have anything. Go away."
It was too late. The bum already grabbed his sleeve and got in his face. He was searching his pocket, obviously trying to frighten him, but he didn’t exclude the possibility that he actually had a knife, or some other weapon.
"Don’t lie to me, understand?" he hissed quietly. He could smell the stink. His eyes locked with the other’s glazed ones. Then he realized that the young man, under the mask of sickness, which he chose by himself, was actually beautiful.
The distance was perfect. Instead of responding, he smashed his forehead into the bum’s face, cracking some bone. He was sure of that; it’s enough to hear this sound once and remember it forever. He will never forget entering what was left out of the house and…
He saw chaos.
This place wasn’t on the map.
Wherever they came from, it didn’t matter, they hid themselves well, and started shooting. He couldn’t count all the casualties, he only knows that they are storming like crazy and destroying everything in front of them. When they finally tore through their defense, they found only three houses; probably a small village with some summer houses, existing in a better time, and now the last stronghold before the inevitable defeat. He hears his men shouting; something exploded, but he has no time to think. There could be a sniper in one of those houses, and these boys are not trained for that situation. He orders them to check the bunker, while he goes to look around.
The first house is empty. Only some food supplies that can be useful later. They haven’t had any food in two days, and they were running out of water. He made a mistake with the directions, but he couldn’t admit it to them. Doesn’t matter. As soon as they finish here, he’ll try to find the right direction. He went below the fence to the neighbors. The window is opened. He can hear the battle; he takes position and aims his gun directly toward the chaos —something he’s been so afraid of for a long time.
Darko’s pants were around his knees. A rifle next to him, and a gun in his hand. A woman is on the floor while he’s holding her hair and hitting her. He’s completely delirious. The puddle of blood is huge; teeth remain in her every time he lifts her head, so he’d put it down again with a sound of triumph. He’s kept his eyes fixed at the little girl with an animal look — the girl is curled upbesides the oven, her eyes are wide open, watching this scene, terrified.
"Look, look!" he was shouting joyfully. "Look at your mom, motherfucker!"
"Stop! Darko, stop!"
"Look at your mom! Look!"
He stops the entertainment, and their eyes meet. He only needed a second to know what he must do. The bullet misses his forehead, but hits his shoulder. There was no reaction on Darko’s face, as ifhewasn’t surprised. Instead of firing at him, he fires at the little girl.
He killed him with the next shot, but it was too late for the little girl. She remained sitting, quiet as she was. How did this monster manageto get to the house before him?
"Major…" A broken voice behind his back. "Major…"
Dugi was looking at him, with tears in his eyes.
"Darko snapped. I had to kill him."
"Major." The soldier was crying. He was looking at him incredulously. That was too much for him, just as long as others will keep up. Just a bit more, until he gets them to some place safe. After that, he will take care of bringing them back home safe and sound. They’ve seen too much war.
"Dugi, calm down. Darko went mad."
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