zombiefistAfter slumming it in the caverns beneath New Bunker for a few days I finally have a few leads and am ready to make my way into hostile enemy territory.  I reflect a moment on my predicament, I have nowhere to go except directly into the city. The city run by a man who wants me dead. The city built piece by piece from scum skimmed from the pot of greed and gluttony that feeds desperate humans’ base desires. I’m looking forward to it really.

I spent some time watching the meat grinder that is the public entrance to New Bunker. With hundreds arriving per day and only dozens allowed admission, sections of the caves and tunnels have degenerated into a slipshod refugee camp, an entire sub-city. With the help of a few guards sympathetic to my cause I can come and go as I please from these areas. I keep my head down and observe the demoralized system that keeps this city alive. I can’t help but be amused that even though Conroy knows I’m here, he cannot seem to find me. Those few who know my identity know better than to sell me out. They’ve got a bigger reward coming their way if they play along.

Face it Vincent, unless you’re about to come down here and find me directly, nobody knows what I look like. I’ll bet you can’t even describe me with any amount of integrity. Were my eyes blue? Or green? I had short hair didn’t I? But that was some time ago, perhaps I’ve grown it out? So very hard to say isn’t it?

I watch from the shadows as a mother and daughter petition the guards for entry. They’re not having it. The mother pleads with them, I can’t make out the entire conversation from my vantage point but I make out something about the mother wishing her daughter grow up in “civilization”. The poor woman believes the hype. And why not? Surely there is safety in numbers. The largest city on the East coast, electricity, running water. From the outside it sounds like a paradise. Clearly she is not one of my readers.

The guard pushes her back, motioning for the next would be immigrants to the city to advance. The mother surges forward, falling to her knees she’s wailing her sad story. The daughter is shaking in terror as the crowd of wannabe New Bunker citizens is growing restless at this woman’s theatrics. An outpost set ablaze by violent blood thirsty children and then overwhelmed by hordes of undead. She only had time to take a few belongings and then make the trip to New Bunker. She was willing to do anything she said. Anything for safety.

Another guard sneers and then whispers something to the first. Suddenly their grins are matching and my stomach turns. I know what’s coming next but this poor woman is still ignorant. I’ve seen this story play out a dozen times in the past few days. Trying to stop it would mean a quick death for myself and this woman. Turning away would be the easy thing to do. Turning away might help me sleep at night. Turning away isn’t an option. I will not deny myself this truth. I must remind myself that even if I can’t save this woman now, her story is important. Hers and hers alike need this story to be told. If change will happen in this city. It will be at your hands. You need to know the truth that I am setting before you. These words are meaningless if they don’t inspire action.
The guard motions for the woman to empty her bag, a small hopeful smile appears on the woman’s strained and exhausted tear covered face. Surely her pleas have warmed the guards’ hearts? Unlikely.

She spills the content to the ground, a handgun, some jewellery, a few pre-Collapse bound books that catch my eye. The guard pokes through the belongings with the barrel of his assault rifle. He nods to his companion. The second guard smiles and yanks the daughter forwards by the wrist. The girl cries out. The woman protests. The butt of the assault rifle slams into the woman’s jaw. She falls to all fours and spits blood and shattered teeth into the sand in front of her. Her daughter looks away and I can’t fault her in her weakness. The guard brings the butt of his gun down again into the back of her skull and the mother falls unconscious or dead face first into a puddle of her own blood.

The second guard flings the daughter over his shoulder with ease and she barely protests as she has gone into shock. That’s good; it’ll make what happens next easier for her. New Bunker has a new citizen.

A weasley man who I’ve heard some refer to as “The Banker” shows up with two of his cronies, they scavenge through the items and place the gun and the jewellery in separate bags. The books are tossed into a heap of “useless” items. The woman is moved to the side, nobody even bothering to check for a pulse. If she comes to before the end of the shift she’ll likely be put on a work detail. If not, she’ll be thrown out with the garbage. Deep in the caverns no zombie will smell her so there’s no urgency, best not to take chances though. If she dies now or later her life as she knows it is over. In another way; so is her daughter’s.

The guard waves again to the next group in line to move forward. I brace myself for another round of degraded humanity. I’m shocked when the guards are not nearly as aggressive with this group. They’re speaking quietly and the guard nods in approval. I risk moving slightly closer to try my hand at lip-reading. A stone drops into my stomach as I make out my own name formed by their lips.

“St-Brigid”. Unmistakable. Even inaudibly I am sure they’re talking about me.

The entire group is waved into the next station, their bags are not even searched. Apparently they have some information that is valuable enough for entry.

Information about me.

I have to move quickly.

I move back away from the crowd and one of the books lying on top of the pile of discarded items catches my eye.

A Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela.

I’m sure the irony was lost on everyone involved.

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