June 15, 2024:
We've finally arrived at the research base in Western Wyoming, my first view of the area coming only when the sealed van transporting me and a small team of ecologists, biologists, and geologists opened it's air tight doors.
The landscape is as horrid as it is fascinating, grey depressing dust covering all as far as the eye could see and trapping everything in time, even after seven years nature seemed to gain no purchase in this place, leaving virtually every mummified tree and every long abandoned building untouched. A stark contrast to the nearly pristine mobile research center in front of us, if the sun had any power in this place I believe the light reflecting off the thing would have been enough to blind us.
June 16, 2024:
The mobile research center provides some small comforts in this place, but even in the short night we've spent in this place a depression has taken hold of many. The idea of spending months in this oppressive, dull place weighs heavy on our minds, the bright lighting and comfortable, I believe it won't be very long at all before many of the individuals here request a transfer.
June 17, 2024:
Our first assignment was given to us, me and a couple of the ecologists were to collect samples of the water and any potential animal life from a nearby stream. It was a task many of us were eager to carry out at first, anything to get us away from the boredom of this place, but our enthusiasm quickly disappeared when we discovered that some "locals" were hired to be our guides.
The Ash Jumpers, dreadful creatures, it's quite amazing what seven years in this place can do to a man. When I first looked upon them I honestly did not believe they were human, hunched men covered head to toe in old and worn out military hazmat suits wrapped in grey rags, the eyes visible under their mask lenses looking dead, the skin so sickly pale it nearly looked grey, and odd tribal looking jewelry made out of bizarre organic material.
As we moved through the moonscape with them we noticed many eccentricities, skittish and paranoid things they were, their eyes always darting about as their bodies constantly twitched, their leather gloves squeaking and straining against their rifles. They spoke clear English of course, but they seemed to develop many strange words that they threw around quite liberally, and any inquiry into their meaning was mostly ignored.
We reached the stream within a mere half hour, and finally we saw one part of this horrid land that hadn't been destroyed by the ash. The flowing water had long since cleaned itself of the ash, and now flowed as clean and pristine as you would have lived, even cleaning the rocks within it. We filled a great many vials with the water, and took a good sample of rocks, however plant or animal life seemed to be non-existent, not even so much as a worm seemed to exist in this place.
June 17, 2024:
The water and rocks revealed very little, a bit of bacterial life but ultimately the stream proved to be quite devoid of any significant findings, just a lot of water.
June 18th, 2024:
The station is in a panic, half the researchers have already begun demanding a transfer and some have outright quit. At approximately 14:00 one of the teams sent out that day to investigate an odd hill came back, however only three members of the team of twelve returned, two of the Ash Jumper guards with a severely wounded Professor MacDonald over their shoulders. The wounds were unlike anything the medical team have every seen, and the biological professors were at a complete loss at what could have caused it.
A large chunk of her calf was missing, an almost perfectly clean circular cut of flesh and bone was just gone. The moment the medical team had stabilized the bleeding and she gained consciousness about three hours after she began demanding that she be taken out of the deep zone immediately. This is a woman who had nearly been attacked by lions on a research trip to Africa and still wanted to go back out, but she outright refused to even talk about what had attacked her.
The Ash Jumpers said "the crawlers were hungry..."
June 19th, 2024:-Anon
I've terminated my contract and will be leaving this hell tomorrow, I don't even care that they won't pay me a cent, I just want to get out of here.
Already half the researchers were gone, taking one of the research vehicles and leaving in a frenzy after yesterdays events, what a fool I was for not going with them. The remaining few of us were tasked with an assignment to investigate one of the local towns buried under the ash, supposedly the radars had picked up large amounts of movement in the area and the company wanted a team out immediately. We went out with one of the few remaining research vehicles and arrived in under an hour. The Ash Jumpers were particularly on edge today, the butts of their rifles never leaving their shoulders and their fingers on their triggers at all times, how can such creatures survive in this place without losing their minds? We spent hours combing the surface for anything we could find, but as always there was nothing but ash, at one point a mummified dog had been found but otherwise the place was a graveyard.
Just as we were about to return to the vehicle one of the professors, Anderson, said he noticed movement in an alley way, and cautiously approached. When at the corner he peered in for a few brief seconds before letting out a yelp and turning to run, he never did, what looked like the talon of some massive insect quickly shot out, grabbed him, and pulled him away from us all. He only screamed for a few seconds before everything went quiet outside of a faint clicking noise.
None of us dared to rush in to help him, none of us harbored delusions that he could be saved, we ran back to the research vehicles without looking back and made our way back to the research station.
I will never return to this place.
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