Chernobyl. That single word conjures images of a terrible disaster that occurred just outside the town of Pripyat in Russia. On that nightmarish day on April 26th, 1986, nuclear reactor number four exploded causing a catastrophic spreading of radiation that spewed into the atmosphere that eventually spread over much of Western USSR and Europe.
The death toll is hard to pin down, as cancers and other sicknesses caused by the radiation have run rampant and different figures don’t agree. Numbers you’ll find online run from 4000 to a far reaching almost million deaths. Most agree that a million is an extreme number and that the total is closer to 200,000 which is still a staggering amount. 31 deaths were directly contributed to the event itself when counting workers and emergency staff. No matter who is correct the information clearly leads to one verdict: Chernobyl was one of the worst disasters on the planet with consequences reaching even to today. No wonder many think the town outside of the power plant haunted.
Pripyat is an almost iconic sight, probably even more so to us gamers. It’s been heavily featured in games like S.T.A.L.K.E.R and who can forget their jaunt through the fabled city in Call of Duty Modern Warfare? The city itself was built as a place to house the workers and their families of the power plant and stands today as it was after the accident; completely abandoned. When walking through the oppressively quiet ghost town one could find scenes of everyday living suddenly stopped; dishes laid out for dinner perhaps or books spread out where a child was studying. The history and the city itself is eerie and lends itself perfectly to ghost stories.
One of the more intriguing stories were of the firefighters that rushed to aid anyone they could. Months later they all succumbed to radiation poisoning. The beds in which they died in the hospital still held radiation and they were storied that people who lay in the beds would die, radiation poisoning or no. Prior to the catastrophy people claimed to have terrible and vivid nightmares, receive strange phone calls and see apparitions around town. Since, the few people allowed to investigate the area have seen apparitions of firefighters in full gear, heard whispering from darkened doorsteps, and seen shadows dart to and fro or linger ominously in doorways.
Whether or not the city of Pripyat is haunted it stands abandoned, dark and oppressive; a symbol of lost lives and regret that is utterly saturated with a desperate hopelessness. Home to a killer that is still killing. Seeing videos and pictures of the place it’s clear that, haunted or not, the town of Pripyat is one scary place.