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by Shade ... ©1995
"Come on. You did it. Let's get out of here."

"Yeah."

"You OK? Isn't like you haven't done this before. You're our best shooter." A hand rested reassuringly on his shoulder. He shrugged it off as he began working his way back out from the pile of rubble that had been a downtown apartment building. 

"I don't think this is going to make much difference." His attention was still on the scene behind him. No one had come to gather up the remains. Sometimes they did. Sometimes they didn't. It usually depended on what the body was holding ... if there was anything worth stealing.

He just wanted to make sure the pack the fool went around with didn't want retribution. It had happened. Firepower didn't stop madness. Neddy shouldered his weapon and followed his partner back towards camp. They never went out alone. Discipline, structured discipline. Not much left of that in the world. Not in this world, anyway. 

He'd heard it wasn't that different anywhere else since the collapse but he wasn't going to go out and find out either. That is, not until he got back to camp and saw the smoking ruins of it. It didn't bother him as much as Warren. Warren still had family. Maybe not now though.

"Who did it?" Warren came up beside him.

"Whoever it was, was good." Neddy pointed towards the sawed off heads stuck on poles before the entrance. "Mack would have liked that. He always tried to look more fierce than he really was." Neddy felt like throwing up. Being a shooter was one thing. Facing total chaos was another. He'd gotten comfortable in the routine of the camp and the official shootings he was asked to carry out.

Moulding his own bullets and counting out each grain to specification had been good. He liked the fine detail, the stability it provided. It would be too easy to join the crazy ones that survived on chaos. "Come on. Time to go." Warren sounded urgent. "Don't drop the gun!" He caught it as it slipped from Neddy's fingers. "Brace yourself, man, or it's the end of us, too. They;re still here." It made Neddy look up. Shadows were weaving in and out of the rubble, weaving their way in for the kill. Someone had loosely organized this bunch.

Neddy watched them with a professional eye, marking who showed themselves a second too long and who seemed to be giving orders. Warren pulled him back by the collar as the first shot whined off the brick facing they were standing near. "Babysitter, that's what I am." Warren's voice was full of self pity. He never uttered another.

The next bullet took him between the eyes and he fell at Neddy's feet like a rag doll. "Peace, brother." Neddy whispered. There were no eyes to close. They'd been blown from the man's head. His family wouldn't be lonely after all. Neddy reached down for Warren's revolver and spare clips. He shouldered the bloody strap of the man's back pack and moved with growing haste towards chaos.


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Shades of Fantasy

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