The jam lasted for miles. Everyone that had remained in the city and its suburbs had made a massive egress to nowhere. Most vehicles were empty and those that weren’t contained a driver that had either committed suicide behind the wheel or were killed by someone inside. Doors hung open leaving Shannon to wonder if the occupants had left on their own or if the undead had gotten them. She pondered whether or not the undead had enough memory to remember how to work a car door.
The soldier in the tank could speak, albeit in a very slow speech, but he was able to speak. Her mind raced over the evidence presented to her. She’d seen a zombie act like nothing from a movie. She thought back to a Return of the Living Dead movie with talking zombies, directing people to send more cops or ordering people to the hospital. Those could talk, but they sounded more like a living human, like their brain functioned at near enough to one hundred percent. But that was a movie. Those zombies also drove a jeep and acted like they were a proverbial heartbeat from life. Those undead came from the ground, after years of dried rotted stillness. They weren’t recent kills like what they’d gone against. And then there was the Romeo and Juliet type zombie movie she’d heard about. Love could restart an undead heart? Asshole, please.
Shannon hated trying to make comparisons to the few zombie movies she’d seen. Those were for comedic value only. They were hardly a standard by which to measure the real world. And they were fiction too. Again, asshole, please. What she was doing was no different than comparing werewolf movies to the real deal. Everyday people had no experience with lycanthropes. Those that did were either dead or soon to experience their first transformation. Somehow she doubted lycans went to movies only to howl and call BS or foul on werewolf facts.
The question remained whether Deidre and Kelsey had come across anything like she had. She was about to ask, but decided to wait. IF they had, and that was a big if, they’d have said so, she thought. She’d wait to ask. There’d be time to talk later once they were out of the open. The pressing question now was whether to enter the city or not. Their pace slowed once they were a mile from the city, and they discussed the pros and cons. The pros far outweighed the cons. Four walls and a roof should offer more safety against zombies and werewolves than being out in the open.
Tucson’s appearance was more than enough to activate everyone’s pucker factor. Nothing moved, no undead lumbered from around a corner, surprising them, or even congregated in large milling mobs. Even pigeons were missing from the cityscape. And the feeling of being watched continued to plague them. It intensified the moment they entered the city proper.
The city’s appearance and condition wasn’t how Shannon had imagined it. It certainly wasn’t how Steve Greene had talked about it. There were no checkpoints, no command centers. No military vehicles sat abandoned in the city streets. Eerier still was the lack of traffic jams. Vehicles sat parked against sidewalks.
“Where’s the bodies,” asked Kelsey. She hugged Rance close as they moved along. “Don’t tell me that the people just up and left in an orderly fashion.”
Shannon and Deidre, two people that should have been more observant, hadn’t noticed the absence of dead. They’d been too focused on broken out windows and rooftops. Each had seen a suspected dark figure dart past a window or move out of view on a rooftop.
“There are living here,” said Shannon, gripping the automatic weapon tighter. “Lots of people died here. Lots and lots of dead were here. I smell lycans too, but it’s faint compared to the other stinks.”
“I don’t smell anything, Deidre said. “Any idea on how far away they are?” Deidre walked ahead of the pack, cautiously looking into as many shadows as she could.
“We should leave,” advised Kelsey. Her response was the most cautious and prudent.
“We need to get out of the damn street,” answered Deidre. We’re fucking targets like this.”
“Hey!” screamed Greene from a sidewalk. “What the hell are you doing?” Shannon looked around hurriedly, and found Greene’s reflection in a sub sandwich shop’s window. He had his pistol drawn. “Listen to her, Shannon! Get off the freaking street.” He glanced around and the building fronts. “Here,” he screamed, pointing a free hand to a department store’s revolving doors. He disappeared only to reappear in the picture window next to the doors. “There’s soldiers in there! They’re okay!”
Shannon shook her head no, but Greene became more adamant about it. “Get over here, you moron!” Shannon drew her lips tight as she made her way to Greene’s direction. As annoying as her new guardian was, she had to know whether it was new instinct to be followed, or just another symptom of new found lycanthropic madness.
Her foot had touched the sidewalk eighty feet from the entrance when a shrill whistle drew everyone’s attention. Two soldiers stood at the entrance. One kept watch while another frantically waved them over. Deidre and Kelsey hissed at Shannon to stop. She didn’t.
“Come on, come on,” said the soldier, waving them over. “Get in here before they see you!”
Shannon ran through the revolving doors, the hushed sweeping noise it made was oddly comforting. The nearly half dozen assault weapons leveled at her now stole that short comfort. “Are you dangerous?” asked an Asian female. She moved forward and pulled the machine gun from Shannon’s hands. “Answer me,” yelled the female Asian soldier.
“Only around a full moon,” Shannon said, trying to be amusing. “She’s one of them,” muttered another soldier. He was black and medium height, and his eyes showed a sort of calm that disturbed Shannon. He was a lycan, but his scent was light. It had been years since he’d turned.
“I’m going to do her,” said the female, thrusting her rifle muzzle toward Shannon’s left eye. Her nametape said her name was Ohkawa. Shannon didn’t feel any discomfort at the threat. Ohkawa was sweating profusely; her eyes were wild with fear and apprehension. Shannon was content with dying, even though the odds were in favor of an accidental discharge more than an intentional one.
“Stand down, Miakai. You know we’re going take her to the Captain first,” said the black soldier. He continued staring at Shannon. His nametape identified him as Strayer. Kelsey and Deidre whirled through the door then. A few of the aimed weapons focused on them.
“Christ,” hissed Deidre, skidding to a halt before falling on her butt.
“For God’s sake,” hissed the soldier that had kept watch outside.
“We’ve got a kid here! Lower your weapons.” He and his partner stepped in front of Kelsey and Deidre, attempting to get the others to take their weapons off of the two arrivals. “I said lower your weapons,” said the whistler. A few of the greeting committee were reluctant to do as they were told. With the exception of Ohkawa, the weapons were lowered.
“She’s a dog,” spat Ohkawa. “She could be with those things. Let’s kill her now to be on the safe side.”
“Not going to tell you again, Private Ohkawa,” said the whistler. “Lower it.” He walked into the muzzle of Ohkawa’s weapon. His body armor pressed against the muzzle, forcing her back. “Lower it… now”
Ohkawa did as she was told. “I’ll see you later,” she said, stepping back.
“Look forward to it,” responded Shannon. “I’ll be here all night.” She blew a kiss to the soldier. Her reaction startled her as much as it did Ohkawa. Unlike Ohkawa, it scared her to death.
Deidre was at a loss for words. She hadn’t expected to be greeted with bouquets and mimosas, but she hadn’t thought they’d receive an armed, threatening response either. That moment seemed to justify her initial reaction to steer clear of where the soldiers had shepherded them in. Damn you, Greene, she thought bitterly.
“It’s not what you think,” he answered, rolling his eyes. “Have faith, will you?”
Two soldiers stepped up taking all of Deidre and Kelsey’s weapons. One of them went through Greene. Shannon didn’t think she’d ever get over that.
“So what’s on the menu? A little rape for the ladies, both hetero and lesbian action, I’m sure. Maybe have the kid for dinner?” Shannon held her hands on her head as she spoke.
“Put your arms down. We’re United States Army soldiers, lady. Not barbarians,” said the black soldier. “Ohkawa, Filmore, Lurch. Stay with me. The rest of you return to your posts.” He spoke without turning to face the soldiers. “Sergeant James Weddington, Fox Company, Second Battalion, Third Regimental Combat Team, Thirty-fifth Infantry Division. You’re safe here, but first you have to meet our CO, Captain Hecate. He’ll make the final call on what’s going to happen.”
“Hecate? Like the witch?” asked Kelsey.
“On what to do with us? So you guys are doing the protect the civilians gig?” said Deidre. The situation looked bleak. She tried to think of it as iffy, but that wasn’t happening.
“So, you guys come here often or is this an out of the norm shopping run?” Shannon’s newfound smart mouth fired off with a mind of its own.
Weddington ignored Shannon, and looked to Kelsey. “Yes,” he said, giving a faint smile, “like the legendary evil witch. And no, we’re doing good to protect ourselves for the moment. We’ve been looking for an exfil point for the past two days, but keep running into…complications. And the answer to your question,” he stared at Shannon. His eyes were suspicious and his face set. “We only come here when there’s a sale on shoes. So far, we’re having a bitch of time finding someone to help us.”
“Kind of an odd time to be making jokes,” Deidre said, looking at him with appraising eyes.
“If not for jokes, I’d go crazy. Here,” Weddington said, pulling out an Almond Joy from a cargo pocket. He bent down to Rance, holding it out. “Been saving it for a special occasion. It’s nice to see someone not in camouflage, and a kid.”
Rance moved behind Kelsey. “It’s okay, baby. I don’t think he wants to hurt us.” She moved him out from behind him. With trembling fingers, he took the candy bar from Sgt. Weddington’s gloved hand.
“Thank you,” Rance said, tearing the wrapper open.
“Come on,” Weddington said, extending his arm toward the rear of the store. “Time to meet the wizard.”
Two of the soldiers, Filmore and Lurch, walked behind them as Ohkawa and Weddington led the way. Ohkawa whispered to Weddington. Weddington gave back a narrowed eyed, stiff jawed, silent response.
They came to a door marked Security with two soldiers standing watch. “You four stay here,” said Weddington to the others. “Ladies and sir, please.” He opened the door to two soldiers standing over a map on a table.
One soldier was marking on the map with a black grease pencil when he looked up. He was maybe five foot, eight inches tall, and seemed to be dwarfed by the stern female soldier standing cross armed beside him. She was six foot, six and made even Deidre feel short. Behind the two soldiers was a wall filled with monitors. Images of the store’s interior and the exterior up to a block away alternated between different locations. It was easy to see how the soldiers had seen them coming.
The map covered table took up most of the middle of the room and a radio sat in a chair next to the table. A voice came over declaring a section was quiet and that the speaker was moving to OP Mike. Another soldier keyed the handset, answering, “Roger” to the speaker before following up with phrases Shannon didn’t understand. Shannon assumed the taller, female soldier was Hecate. She didn’t understand what the small patches on the body armor meant, and no idea what marked a captain from a sergeant first class.
“Forgive me, but I’ll be with you in a moment,” the male said. He was Hecate, not the woman. He looked too young to be in charge to Shannon, and his obvious weary scent and appearance didn’t age his face much. His tanned face was awash with thought and experience that also didn’t mesh with his boyish features. Hecate also had the smell of a werewolf that changed often enough to be considered near full time lycan. He also had the smell of dead flesh to him. It smelled too much like undead lycanthropic flesh to Shannon. She hoped her intuition that he wasn’t malignant was correct.
“So we were being watched,” said Deidre to Weddington. She motioned to the screens. “How many OP’s do you have up at any given time?”
Weddington removed his helmet and turned his head toward Deidre. “Seven. You former?”
“Former Navy. JAG for what it’s worth.” She glanced to Rance. The boy appeared intimidated by the room. She moved to him, putting herself on his opposite, exposed side. Gingerly, she rubbed his back to reassure him. He trembled nervously underneath his sweat soaked t-shirt.
“You strike me as an officer. Lieutenant? Maybe a Lieutenant Junior Grade at the least.” Weddington gave Deidre’s appraising stare back.
“You know Navy rank.”
“My dad was a sailor, got a sister who’s a JG on a destroyer, and a brother who’s a Marine red shirt on the Kennedy. Makes for an interesting holiday season when we all get leave at the same time.” Weddington seemed to be the most relaxed in the room. He was on the side with the most guns, so it was easier for him to be ease.
“You should’ve joined the Marines. Closer to Naval service. Would’ve made everyone happy.”
Weddington scoffed. “I can swim, but I hate water past bathtub level. I like terra firma and the firma the terra the better.”
“What do we have here, Sergeant,” said Hecate with almost obvious impatience at the interruption. He dismissed everyone except the tall NCO, and Weddington before turning his attention to Shannon’s small group.
Weddington’s chin rose, but only slightly. “Civilians, sir. They came in from the southeast quadrant on foot. Packing enough firepower to hold off hostiles for a few hours. We would’ve let them pass, but for the child.”
Hecate looked the group over. “Little young for enlisting aren’t you, young man?” he said to Rance. “Of course I’m willing to bet you’re the tiger of the group.” He tried to smile, but his bloodshot eyes and dirty face made it look more like a grimace.
Rance said nothing as he returned Hecate’s gaze.
Shannon thought she’d smelled a wolf in the mix, and she was right. Hecate’s gaze and smile held a lot of wolf staring down a succulent sheep.
“Sir,” said Weddington. “Private Ohkawa says this young lady here made a remark concerning being dangerous only when there’s a full moon. It unsettled some of the others.”
“Hm. And by others you mean our esteemed Private, Danielle Ohkawa alone, right?”
“Big surprise,” said the Amazon statuesque female NCO.
Hecate ignore her. “So, lady that may be a werewolf… Are you a werewolf?”
Shannon didn’t think twice when she said, “Yes.”
No one moved. No one spoke for half a minute. “Well,” said Hecate thoughtfully. “Are you a good wolf or a bad wolf? To be honest I don’t think you’re a bad one. I’d have known it immediately if you were, and dealt with you accordingly. You also have on your side humans, well-armed at that, and a human child no less.”
Everyone in the room, save the two soldiers, was surprised by Hecate’s outright confession that he too was a lycanthrope.
Hecate came from behind the table and took a seat on it. He then turned the radio up slightly and switched to a frequency that held nothing but static. “Background noise. Don’t want too many people hearing what I’ve got to say.” He smiled a tiredly once again. “Don’t be too shocked now,” he said, breaking the silence. “Past few days have been a real eye opener for me as much as anyone else. I’m sure you’ve come out of the closet recently too.”
“I have,” said Shannon in a flat voice. “It was a matter of survival.”
“You got that right.” He sniffed the air between them. “You’ve even killed people that trusted you.” He raised his palms up in a so what fashion as if he’d just heard some discouraging sports scores. “It happens to young ones like you, especially under times of stress. I hate to sound cold, but you’ll get over it.”
Hecate walked to the door. He stood looking at it like a two-way mirror. “Sergeant Weddington, please dismiss everyone outside. Ohkawa’s getting them worked up again. So far she seems to be working them against her. She needs to be careful not to get herself into any further trouble.”
Shannon, Deidre and Kelsey collectively strained their ears. Shannon was the only one that could hear the muted talk beyond the door. Ohkawa’s voice would rise in excitement about the dangers of having Shannon around and then fall once someone would tell her to shut up. Shannon was amazed that the woman was still alive. People prone to excitement like her were always the first to fall in an emergency.
Weddington opened the door and reassigned the six soldiers lingering in the hall to other duties. He made it a point to put Ohkawa into a position that would leave her physically isolated from the others.
“Thank you, Sergeant,” said Hecate once the door closed. “Ladies, and young sir, I am two hundred and seventy-six years old. I’ve fought in two world wars, a civil one, and a few others on foreign soil. I’ve been a gunner on Old Ironsides, a Marine at Belleau Wood during the Great War, and again in Korea; I was a Navy Sea-Bee during World War Two, and even fought as a Legionnaire in Indochina. I’ve been around a while and make no mistake; I’m a professional soldier. I’ve never picked a fight that would put me in the wrong nor have I joined one. Please rest assured,” he spoke to Rance in a solemn voice. “I don’t harm the innocent, and I promise you that I have no intention of allowing harm come to you. Now, with that said, what brings you and your companions to Tucson, rookie?”
“Shelter maybe, just traveling until we can find a safe place somewhere.” Shannon felt her confidence coming back. She wondered if it was in part because of Hecate. He seemed to have the effect of inspiring those around him.
“Understand that. Hopefully we can all get out of here in one piece.” He turned to the maps, and then caught himself like he’d forgotten an important question. “Before I forget, seen any spooks lately?”
The question didn’t rock anyone other than Shannon. Her eyes widened and Deidre spoke before she could cover her shock.
“Spooks?” asked Deidre with a laugh. “What are you on about? You had my attention until you asked about ghosts because that’s what I’m assuming you’re talking about.”
“Your canine leaning friend there knows what I’m talking about. Don’t you, Ms… I’m sorry. I’ve been rude. What are your names?”
Everyone gave his or her name. Hecate remained silent and nodded with each introduction. “Pleased to meet you all. May I use your first names?” The four consented. “Great. Look, I’m polite, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be a forceful person. So, on that note maybe we should give Master Rance the tour of the place while we talk. The toy department is on three, and I bet he could use the distraction. You can go with him of course, Kelsey.”
Deidre’s mistrust of Hecate was growing once more. Considering their dire situation he was being too friendly for her tastes. She was torn between going with Kelsey and Rance and staying with Shannon. Her eyes shifted from Hecate to the door and then to her friends. She knew Shannon could give as good as she got in a fight, and despite her recent killing spree her heart still saw Shannon as a friend. In the end she wanted to be with Kelsey and Rance more. Her face must have spoken volumes to Hecate.
“You can go, too. Sergeant Weddington, return the young lady’s weapon. We need all the ready gun hands we can get.” Hecate didn’t smile. Any other time he’d never let a civilian, regardless of their background, go armed in his area of operations. Unfortunately times had changed for the worse.
Deidre and Kelsey left with Rance and Weddington, leaving Shannon alone with Hecate. There was no uneasy silence in between the door closing and Hecate speaking. He spoke as soon as the door latched shut.
“How many have you seen, Ms. Morris? If you’re lucky it’s been only one. Unlucky is every single person you’ve killed since this shit storm started.”
Shannon didn’t like confronting or even commenting on in the open what she’d seen reflected in mirrors and shop windows. She feared that discussing it would manifest Steve Greene back to life; complete with the death wounds she’d given him. Her head wanted to swivel around for his intact face in a reflective surface, but she resisted. Regardless, Hecate was smart enough to know the symptoms and urges.
“Nothing reflective in here, Shannon. It’s all LCD matte finish, fiberboard, and concrete. Whoever’s haunting you can’t gain a foothold here.” Hecate stood still in a relaxed position of at ease. He patiently waited for her to speak.
“Three,” blurted Shannon. “I’ve killed three people that never did a harsh thing to me.” Tears welled up. She couldn’t hold them back so she released them.
Hecate moved to her side. He didn’t know her beyond the fifteen minutes they’d been acquainted, but he recognized her as one of his kind. Without invitation he hugged her, letting her tears fall on the straps of his dirty war gear. “Get it out. I know it sounds cheesy, but you need to get it out before you can move on.”
Shannon’s sobs dwindled to stray tears before stopping fully. She did feel better. There was no way for her to tell if it was due to Hecate’s presence or the act of emotional cleansing or maybe both. She released herself from him, amazed that he didn’t struggle to continue his hold.
“Want to talk about it?” Hecate pulled a chair from a corner for her to sit in.
Shannon sat, wiping her eyes clear. She then launched into an unexpected story of everything that had occurred since Greene and Helfron had gotten weapons from the Marine patrol.
Hecate sat quietly, listening. To Shannon’s amazement, her tears were gone by the time she reached the end.
”Damn. As rough as you have had it, and I’m not trying to diminish anything you’ve been through, you’ve been lucky. Three deaths, as sad and needless as they were, in the space of ten years is pretty good. I’ve known werewolves that don’t go past one year without wigging out.” He waved his hands theatrically in the air. “Some go their whole lives without spilling human blood, but those are rarer than rare. I went eighteen months after I turned without killing anyone innocent.”
“Just that once?” She rubbed her temples. Crying always gave her a headache so she did very little of it.
“No. Twice. The second time was in 1918, and that was the worst. Remember when I said I’d served as a Marine in World War One?”
Shannon looked up, head throbbing and nodded.
“Belleau Wood is a big deal to Marines, even today. It’s where the Germans gave them the nickname Devil Dog. Tuefel Hunten. Marines like to say that its because we fought like the hounds of hell, but that’s only partly true. Marines of the Fifth and Sixth Regiments held back the German push to Paris. We paid dearly to do it, but so did they. I lost my control in Belleau Wood. I killed thirty-five Marines and one hundred and three Germans single handedly. I did it with claws, teeth and bloodlust.” He sighed and spread his hands apart in an oh well gesture. “It started as innocent as it could in war; they were killing my Marines. I went out to probe enemy positions, which was my way of thinning the enemy ranks. The more I killed, the more I enjoyed it. The more I enjoyed it, the more I lost myself. By the time I was finished, I was the only thing living in my sector. That was also the only time I deserted. I’d fought at Bull Run, both battles. I’d fought the British at Bunker Hill, froze at Valley Forge. I struggled with and against brave, valiant humans and one little engagement, as bloody as it was, sent me into frenzy. One hundred and thirty eight human souls followed me after that. I learned German after that. Bad news is I can now understand their curses at me, and cries for their mothers, as well as their bad jokes.” Hecate smiled. Shannon wasn’t sure if it was an attempt at brevity or the truth. “The Germans were actually more forgiving than my fellow Marines.”
“They follow you everywhere?”
“At first. Only ten remain with me now. They move on once they find peace or get tired of hanging around. Don’t believe the television; the white light is constantly around them. Ghosts can leave at any time. So, now you know you’re not alone. This Steve Greene, was he a good friend?”
“As good as could be when you hold someone at a distance.”
“My advice is you need to stop doing that, because you’re still doing that. How you kept it at bay is beyond me. Unless… Did you hunt when you were changed? Livestock maybe?”
“I hunted us.” Shannon wondered what his reaction would be. Morbid curiosity wasn’t the reaction she expected.
“All or only a select few?”
“Only those that hunted humans. My boyfriend was the first.”
“Oh. Well, not to be too personal, but was it requited love gone bad?”
“He infected me through sex. I wasn’t happy with it. Especially since he did it as a joke. He hated humans, and after that I hated him.”
“Hervorragend ,” he answered, using the German word for outstanding. “What’s your tally?”
“Ah,” his smile never disappeared. “The magic number between quite a few and a whole hell of a lot.”
“Sums it up.” Shannon felt like she was being terse. It was a reaction she clung to as a way to keep everyone at an arm’s length. The time for that was more than over since she’d let her vulnerability show.
“Fair enough. We’ll keep it at that.” Hecate walked purposefully to the door and opened it. The smile was gone and his face was placid. It was hard for Shannon to read. “Let me give you the tour of accommodations.
Shannon followed him back down the hall, unsure of what to say or how to act. She felt exposed emotionally and she hated it.
He showed her where the troops had been sleeping in shifts, where they ate and more importantly, the exits.
The roof tour yielded only a few soldiers on over watch and a stack of covered bodies. The site of the thirty to forty wrapped figures was startling to her. She didn’t know why but they seemed more like mannequins than once living beings. The smell was more than enough to betray the bundles as bodies. The soldiers had ventilator masks on to guard against the smell. Even with the wind blowing the stench away from her, she still fought her gag reflex.
“Yeah, it’s pretty bad,” said Hecate. “In the four days we’ve been here we secured the floors and bolted down every rooftop entrances, but they still got in. I’m guessing they were here before us, and were biding their time.” He motioned to the bodies absent mindedly. “These were my people. Werewolf or werewolves unknown breached our perimeter. Five dead, two injured. Now, I’ve got half of my force checking the remaining six floors. I know the contact was broken. Whoever did this got what they needed, which reeks of sport, and nothing more.” His tone was as even as he could keep it. A hint of rage could be sensed, but he kept in check. He looked back to her as he moved to the roof’s edge. He stared down before speaking again. “I can’t give them a proper burial. I can’t burn them in the furnace either. The smoke would give away our position. And I sure as hell am not tossing them over. They deserve better than that. In the end, we’ll have to leave them behind. We’re leaving tomorrow. This position is tenable at best.”
Shannon briefly mulled over the silence that followed his admission that the situation was more than perilous. She appreciated not wanting to leave the dead behind, but they were dead, and wouldn’t it make more sense for the living to leave them behind so they would have a better fighting chance at survival. She kept that thought to herself. She knew enough to know that soldiers were very touchy about comrades, living and dead.
“Did you know that some of us have taken to eating our own kind?” Hecate’s statement stunned her. She’d eaten a human before, and she often wrestled with the cannibalistic aspect of that, but to hear that took her aback. “Even with the necrotic activity going on they might take a nibble if we tossed them over. Either way, it would be pretty obvious that the living are inside. Speaking of, have you encountered any undead lycans?”
She joined him at the edge, and what had been a background dullness in her head ramped up to undeniable pain. Heights bothered her, but not to this type of paralyzing extent. She looked over the edge, her shoed feet gripping the rock and tarred flooring.
There was nothing below to be seen. Shannon used the moment of silence deciding how to answer Hecate. “Yeah,” she said, fighting through the thumping pressure. “The first was at an old mental hospital. I did that one alone. The second run-in was at the checkpoint on the outskirts of town. They were with me for that one.”
“Hm. So that was you. At the checkpoint I mean. And I’m not really surprised that it was you doing the shooting, but just that you survived. Our scouts reported survivors were holed up in the nearby community center. That was when we were sending people out to recover civilians and any remaining personnel. That was also when our scouts started disappearing. We cut that activity short quick.”
“You knew about those people? The ones in the that building?”
“Oh, so you weren’t with that group. Good for you, and yes, we knew. Those people are dangerous. The scouts that did make it back reported that they drew fire immediately. I’ve decided to let those people alone. With the way they were blowing through ammo, they’re bound to be overrun by undead, werewolves, or both sooner or later.”
Shannon was stunned to hear his callous and casual statement. “Maybe they were just scared. You know, panicked shooting because they thought you were raiders. Those do exist now.” More venom than she meant to use laced her words, and a coming headache was fast approaching a crescendo. It beat in time with every word that Hecate spoke. Her stomach became excited with stomach acids churning to escape.
“Scared?” Hecate spoke slowly with his own brand of venom. His tone sounded ancient somehow, like the sound of a millennium scroll being unrolled. There was no pity or careful tone of well-groomed but false caring. It was frigid and spiteful. Shannon emotion’s unexpectedly matched the word Hecate had spoken. She was scared. “No doubts there, Miss, but they’ve got their pitiful enclave, and that’s fine. We only take in those that want rescue. We can only help those that want to be helped. They’ve made their Hell.” Hecate fell silent and stared at Shannon. “Maybe we’re the ones that are dead and this is our Hell.”
He turned from Shannon and walked to the service elevator entrance. “Let’s go check on your friends, shall we?” His tone was less hostile, but still chilly.
[Ma1]Change this to correct word.