The old timers speak of the before days, when the earth had color. They speak of fresh green grasses, calming blue skies, happy pink petals yearning toward a yellow sun. They talk of a time when humans had the luxury of creating art and daydreaming. But I know better than to listen to their fairy tales; to the fictions conjured by withered old men.
There’s no green in the world I know. No blue. No sunny yellow. In fact, there’s no sun at all in the Krovgorod labor camp.
The past, the present, the future—everything is gray.
Ashes cling to the air, the sky, the skeletal landscape. They coat my tongue and clog my lungs. Eventually you get used to the acrid taste, gritty texture, and suffocating scent. You become numb to the knowledge that you’re consuming death.
I tell the children that the constant rain of ash is a result of the war. I don’t mention the war ended a decade ago. The lies fall so easily from my tongue. They have to. The truth would frighten them too much. And if there’s one thing the Troika loves more than blood, it’s the flavor of terror in the vein.
I’m lying to you even now. Because gray isn’t the only color here. In the Troika’s world, only one hue is equally revered and feared—the deep red of venous blood.
I used to be a person, but now I am a slave. All humans are. The undead are our masters, and those of us who managed to survive the war are as good as dead.