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The squad stood around the shipping container, which was left some time during the night in an open field a couple of days ago. Sent to investigate what the shipping container held, the nine men waited for their squad leader to decide what to do next; he was standing off to the side speaking into his two-way radio. They had walked from the small town of Tokmak, where they had heard the rumor of something being left behind by the Ukrainian forces. Its door had dents from the inside, it puckered out like metallic cysts. One of the men stepped forward.
“What happened to this?” the soldier asked in Russian.
“Looks like someone hit it with a sledge hammer.” Another responded.
Another soldier came forth to examine it. “No… this was made from the inside.” He gingerly touched the bumps.
“Inside? Are you saying there’s something in there?” The first soldier said.
The second soldier pulled on the lock. “But it’s locked from the outside. How could there be someone in there?”
“I don’t know.” The third soldier said as he returned back in line. Their squad leader was approaching.
“We are to stay here tonight and have this opened to see what we can use. This is possibly a high tech communications hub. All of you know what to do.” The squad leader said.
A low creak emanated from the steel hull, the soldiers glanced at it and adjusted their weapons. The squad leader drew their attention away as he barked instructions to set up camp. Dimitri, the first soldier, continued to scan the container. It stood silent, the late morning sun gleaming off of the metal. Goosebumps raced along his arms as unfounded dread drifted into his mind.
With the tents pitched, communications systems up, and their bellies satisfied with a mid-day meal the soldiers got to work on opening the metal container.
“Don’t you find it strange that it only has a simple lock?” Dimitri asked the soldier with the steel cutters.
“Yeah, so?” The soldier said as he pushed the shears into the loop of the lock.
“Well, isn’t there sophisticated communications gear inside? Now we have access to what they’re saying. This is too easy.”
The soldier grunted and pushed down on the cutter’s handles, snapping the lock. He yanked the lock out of the metal door’s loop. A couple of soldiers approached and grabbed on to the doors. They slowly opened the container. All of the soldiers including the squad leader peered into the hazy opening. Dust littered the air and settled to reveal an empty vessel.
“What the hell is this?” The squad leader asked.
“There’s nothing in here.” The soldier with the cutters said.
“I can see that!” The squad leader said, glaring at him.
Some of the soldiers stepped forward to scan the metal container. Dimitri stayed back, his apprehension growing in the pit of his stomach.
“I’ll have to report this.” The squad leader said and stepped away.
One of the soldiers, Sergey, ventured in; a lad that Dimitri sometimes had a connection with since they both had started in the military at the same time not too long ago. The darkness engulfed Sergey as he made his way to the back of the container. A light flickered on, Dimitri guessed that Sergey had his flashlight with him. A few minutes passed and the light flickered off. Sergey’s boots echoed towards the soldiers.
“Is there anything in there?” A soldier asked.
“Nothing of what we were looking for, except for this.” Sergey said and he raised a piece of paper up in the air.
Dimitri scanned the paper. There was no writing on it, only an image. Something drawn with crayons, perhaps done by a child. It was a dark figure with long limbs and fiery red eyes. Claws made up its hands. Dimitri uncontrollably shuddered.
“What is this a joke?” The soldier with the cutters asked.
“What is that?” The squad leader had returned and grabbed the paper out of Sergey’s hand.
He ripped it into small pieces and threw the bits into the wind, cursing.
“This was a waste of time.” A soldier said.
“I don’t see it that way. We get to just relax here.” Another soldier said.
“No! We are going to search around. All of you push out in a three hundred feet radius and come back if you find anything. Otherwise, return once night falls.” The squad leader said.
Grumbling, the nine soldiers took up arms and spread out scanning the ground and tree tops. They walked past large trees densely grouped, eventually the forest began to thin out. Dimitri caught up to Sergey.
“Why do you think that picture was in there?” Dimitri asked.
“The container was probably used as a shelter for these people and one of them was a child playing with crayons.” Sergey said, he was squinting under the glare of the sun.
“Isn’t it strange?”
“No. What’s strange is that you are talking about it.”
“I just have a bad feeling about that container.” Dimitri said as he bit into his lower lip.
“It’s empty, what’s there to worry about?” Sergey said, adjusting his cap. “I think we should split up.” He said and began walking away from Dimitri.
Dimitri veered to the right and found himself on an open field. None of the others were about. He hesitated, the grass almost reached to his neck. Slowly, he stepped forth, pushing the blades to the sides. Dimitri sensed that he was reaching the center. There was a burst from the grass as ravens dashed into the sky in front of him; they cawed menacingly. Dimitri immediately reached for his weapon, shaking as he tried to aim. When he realized what had happened, his face grew hot and he peered at the sides.
The dread he felt before bubbled into his chest. Silence greeted Dimitri, it was so profound that he heard his rapid heartbeat in his ears. What happened to the birds and insects? He wasn’t sure if he should continue or go back, yet it was the same distance either way. Dimitri pushed forward, gun in hand.
A current of air reached him and he gagged. Death carried in the wind. As much as he had smelled it in the past few weeks, he could not get used to it. Shakily, he separated the blades and found where it came from. A mutilated torso laid on the bent blades of grass. Dimitri turned back and swallowed down his midday meal. Sweat dotted his forehead. Not wanting to turn back, he tried to think of what exactly he saw. Was it human? I don’t remember seeing fur if it wasn’t. He refused to go back and look. I don’t know what it is and don’t know why it’s there. He headed towards where he started at a fast pace.

Night followed the soldiers back to their camp, none of them having found anything. Dimitri didn’t tell anyone, not even his squad leader what he had found. As they huddled in their tents the wind picked up. A few of them tried to eat soup, but the wind cooled down their meals. Some of the tents were yanked out of the ground and tumbled away into darkness. Having nowhere else to go, the soldiers entered the metal container.
“What is going on with the weather?” A soldier asked.
“It’s late spring, the wind shouldn’t be this strong anymore.” Another said.
“Well, the container is good for something.” The soldier who had cut open the doors said.
“Did anyone see the dead Ukrainian in the field?” Sergey asked.
Some of the soldiers shook their heads, Dimitri stayed silent.
“How do you know it was Ukrainian?” A soldier said.
“From what was left of his body, I searched his clothes. It was their tactical outfit. He might have been one of the ones who put this metal container here.” Sergey said.
“What could have happened to him?” Another soldier asked.
“We happened.” The lock cutter said.
The soldiers laughed.
“We have an early start tomorrow. I suggest sleeping.” The squad leader said as he brought his blanket up to his neck.

Dimitri stirred awake and scanned the sleeping bodies. Something had awoken him. He peered at the opening of the container. Someone had propped it open with stones earlier. He noticed that the wind had died out, along with the sounds of the crickets. Again the dread returned as he held himself up on his elbows. A low moan escaped from the back of the metal container. He stared in the direction of the sound. Shadows danced on top of shadows as he tried to focus his sight. Dimitri peeled his gaze away to see if anyone else had awakened. All were still sleeping. A scraping of metal peeled across the roof of the container. At this, the soldiers woke up with a start.
“What is going on?” The squad leader asked.
“I don’t know, sir. There are strange sounds happening.” Dimitri said, his voice sounded tiny.
“Who has a flashlight?” The squad leader asked.
“I do,” Sergey said, in the gloom Dimitri could see him shaking it in his hand.
“Point it towards the back, I think that’s where the sound came from,” A soldier suggested.
Sergey clicked the light on and flashed it towards the back. Screams pierced the metal frame of the container as everyone caught a glimpse of what was hanging on the corner of the back end. Dimitri recognized the long limbs and the eyes that were the pits of hell.
Sergey dropped the flashlight and it went out. Dimitri was trampled as the soldiers stumbled to the metal doors, but before they could reach it; it slammed shut. They had entered a void so thick that it appeared to have substance. Dimitri could hear the gasps from the others and felt flailing hands upon his body. One after the other, sounds of groaning and sloshing and tumbling upon the ground reached Dimitri. He crawled backgrounds, his hands and feet touching wetness. His back slammed into the wall of the container.
There was silence again. Dimitri whimpered and shook violently. A clawed hand grabbed his face. He tried to fight off the assailant but yanked his hand back when he touched its arm. His hand seared as if he had touched ice or a torch. Just as Dimitri gave up, the thing hissed.
“LEEEESSSSHHIIIII,” Dimitri began to buck and gurgle as his throat was cut open.


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