#1 - Living off the grid
I put some extra logs on the fire and sat back in my rocking chair. I extended my arms to grab ahold of my son and wife and started praying. I first prayed out of gratitude. Then for strength and wisdom. I prayed for the incoming blizzard to pass. I prayed for us to survive. This is the first time in 18 years I've questioned our decision to live out here.
We have forever loved the outdoors, my wife and I. But working regular jobs only leaves you with so much time. We spent all our free time in nature. Hiking, mountain climbing, cycling, you name it. We took any chance we could to escape. We couldn't stand the masses, the peer pressure, the idea of consumerism and the ever present brainwashing.
So one day, out of thin air, we decided to build a house about 400 kilometres north of Norilsk. Without even filing resignation letters we packed our belongings and set off north.
We knew these places well as we frequented them often. We dreamed of living here for a long time and now it was finally to come true. We took a breath of the warm summer air and without hesitation set off to find the perfect spot to settle. When we found it, we decided to name it Святилище (Svyatilishche), which translates to The sanctuary.
It took us 39 round trips to bring all the equipment and materials to The sanctuary and two summers to complete. Being a carpenter definitely helped.
We quickly adapted to the new lifestyle and not for a second did we think of our old lives or regretted our decision. Three years later we were blessed with a son. A new set of hands, but firstly a new mouth to feed. We struggled at first to find enough food for the three of us but we always found a way to make ends meet.
Life wasn't easy at The sanctuary, but it was the life of our dreams.
I got up to look through the window again. The winds have picked up speed and I could hardly even see anything through the snow curtain. The blizzard was coming straight at us, that much was clear. We have had multiple snowstorms hit us over the years, but the winds at their strongest were merely a breeze compared to this. I shuddered with the thought of what more was to come.
There was nothing to do but wait. There was no way to reinforce the structure, no way to go anywhere safer, no way to pass the time faster. Seconds turned to hours as we listened to the wind howling and the wood squeeking.
I called my son and wife to the kitchen and we squeezed ourselves under the kitchen table in hopes to be safe from the flying debris if the house goes down. There was nothing else to do at this point but hold our hands and pray. I could feel them shivering with fear. I could hear them sob. I prayed louder and louder in hopes to override the deafening noise of nature's wrath.
Is this the end?
Next thing I remember is being surrounded by wooden remains still wrapping my arms around my family. In place of the noise was now dead silence. The storm had passed. I could feel both of them still shudding. They were alive. We were alive. We made it.
I thanked to whoever is up there and went on to calm down my loved ones. We worked our way out of the debris and were blessed with the last of the sun's rays. Tears of joy came pouring from our eyes as we just stood on top of the ruins of The sanctuary in the middle of nowhere hugging each other tighter than ever.
But the adrenaline wore off and and the cold kicked in. It was already turning dark, and we had no place to sleep. We had no food. We had no means to start a fire. And we were definitely lacking warm clothing.
We realised the worst was yet to come.
I proceeded to dig through what was once our home throwing snapped wood planks in all directions. My son and wife followed suit in hopes to find anything useful before it gets pitch-black.
Suddenly I felt something. A tube. A narrow metal tube. I knew immediately what it was.
My hunting rifle.
I put five rounds in it this morning and used three as target practice. It took no mathematician to know there were only two rounds left. I knew what this meant. I knew what I had to do.
My eyes watered and as I took aim. It was hard to decide who was first but I could never have my son watch his mother's death.
I pulled the trigger.
I pulled on the bolt as fast as I could as she started screaming.
I fired again.
It was the least painful way to go. We were never going to make it through the night.
I fell to my hands and knees. I could feel the teardrops freezing on my cheeks. I could feel my feet going numb.
With the last of my powers I took off my ushanka and undid my coat. I looked up one final time and wished it was fast.
This is it.
This is how it ends.