Story by Dokken Storm & Nate Armstrong
Image created by Nate Armstrong
In The Upside Down there is a place that is not set in time and space but is there in the moment. A moment that is cemented in the minds of the individuals that have lived this event, this epoch. It could very well happen in another place, another time, again.
The Liturgy was performed in an abandoned missile silo. The decommissioned missile now stood reverently in the middle of the Nave. The towering weapon, once proud and powerful, had become barren, as its parts and fuel had been used for survival over the years.
The parishioners had painted the missile hull full of saints and crosses. There was little space left in the silo not full of Orthodox Christian art and Icons.
The converted Church had been blessed by Fr Innocent the moment he saw it with tears of joy running down his cheeks. The priest was now performing Divine Liturgy as had been taught to him by his spiritual fathers. “A perfect place for people to gather”, Fr Innocent would always say to his parishioners.
The whole parish smelled of incense as Fr Innocent started his sermon, “Today we commemorate many of the warrior saints of our times and the past. One that is of great importance is Great Martyr Mercurius of Caesarea. He served as a soldier in the Roman army. This was at a time when the Romans were persecuting Christians to a horrendous extent. I have to say that he is brought up and this is important because we face something similar today. We are hiding here because many will attack us simply for being who we are. Across this beautiful land, some evil people simply don’t understand the Truth of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have had to fight with the robbers and pillagers at times to keep our children safe. Something an angel said to Mercurius is this ‘Fear not, Mercurius. Go forth bravely against the enemy, and when you are victorious, do not forget the Lord your God.’ What do we get from this?” Having asked this question the parishioners became deathly silent. The missile was gleaming from the light of the candles in the silence.
The silence carried for a time. There was a bang on the parish doors. Some men were scraping the doors and banging. Screaming out loud and lewd statements. Breaking down the doors the gang rolled through and ordered everyone outside but the Priest. Fr Innocent was struck with questions and bewilderment stood in place for a second. Shortly after a few people had left Fr Innocent heard screams and cries of children. He thought they might be murdering them. He ran out a side exit to see and attempt to help, he saw military trucks with a red “R” on the doors being packed with people. Everyone was taken and the Priest was left alone with a note on the main doors reading, “You had ten days to pay the fee for being in my territory. You will be killed if you don’t pay and so will the people. You have three days.” In a haze and fear, Fr Innocent ran to the woods and prayed for help from God.
In the Siberian winter wastelands, there is a constant shortage of ammunition. This required all who understood the dangers of the wasteland to be a good marksman with very little ammunition.
A man solely known as Blackie was going into a small town of maybe a hundred people. Blackie was not a man who enjoyed using his gun. Deeply he wished he could just live without conflict with another. Blackie in his younger years was a member of a group called the Cossacks. He left to see things himself and explore the land he loved.
There so happened to be a large amount of the Rath gang skulking around town. Blackie walked his horse through the town center to the closest water supply. “There has to be something good here for all these people to be standing around”, he pondered. Above a small sign for a store, a man was staring at him. Knowing he had little ammunition and that the guy would get his buddies involved if he felt like starting something, he looked away for a moment before “You must be new here,” a man said. This man popped up in front of Blackie right as he turned away from the other man. A pig-nosed man was asking Blackie questions as though he was some sort of authority in this little town. He showed no credentials and didn’t have the usual look of someone keeping the peace. He looked like the one who starts all the trouble.
Blackie didn’t say much to the man, he just wanted water for him and his horse and maybe some food rations. “We’d like your horse and all your supplies”, someone said. Blackie turned to the person saying these outlandish things. When he turned it was a shorter man with a mustache and torn and tattered clothes. Not as unusual as Blackie thought he would look.
They looked at each other for a moment before Blackie said, “I don’t think that is going to happen.”
“You don’t think it’s going to happen?” the man said sarcastically.
“That’s for sure and for certain” Blackie said back.
The short man was joined by three others, “You still think it’s not gonna happen?”
“As a matter of fact now I definitely think it won’t happen,” he said undeviatingly.
Now the group was coming ever closer to him and making movements to do battle. With minimal ammunition, he knew he had to time everything perfectly. He scanned the enemy and made decisions based on their movements. His first thought was to shoot the main guy and then see what happens. Eventually, that idea went away cause these folks looked like they also had a vested interest in what he had. Blackie looked around for things and ways to take care of the situation quickly and smoothly. He was known for his shooting but not directly at people. He saw a sign that looked sturdy enough to ricochet a bullet and the angle looked close enough and then he saw his other options. In an instant, his plan was settled.
A split second later, everyone drew and Blackie went for the ricochet first. To his surprise, the bullet definitely had it in for this short man. The bullet hit him in the head and he twisted around and shot one of the other guys, that guy shot another guy and on it went. Blackie couldn’t believe his luck. He counted his blessings and got everything together to move on…