“They’re coming!” Luca bellowed. “Safeties off, people! Do not fire unless they give you no other choice! Those are still people down there!”
I could hear them from a mile off, crying out and choking on the toxic, hallucinogenic air as they clambered over one another to reach the building.
Luca crouched close to the rooftop railing, sliding twelve gauge shells into his shotgun, staring out at the wasteland through his gas mask. A full crate lay next to him, ready for the task ahead. Whether it was enough was anyone’s guess.
They arrived in force. A good thirty or forty people, covered in their own filth. No masks. I watched them through the sights of my rifle as they flailed about, swiping at ghosts, trembling and twitching the entire time.
Luca grabbed a bloodied limb from the crate with one of his gloved hands and lobbed it off the roof. It landed in the dirt, and no less than ten people lunged for the fresh dead meat, fighting among themselves for a taste.
The others on the roof joined in, throwing legs, arms and even a few torsos down to the masses.
To my right, I saw Emily gaze long and hard at an arm before she tossed it over, staring at a ring on one of the stiff, lifeless fingers.
“I’m sorry Zach,” she whispered, almost on the verge of tears. The arm went over. She twisted the matching ring on her own finger a few times before reaching back into the crate for another limb.
A shotgun blast rang through the air, followed by a pained yelp and distant thud.
“Watch the walls dammit!” Luca called, ejecting the spent shell. “Keep them busy!”
A desperate shriek from my left caught my attention. I swung my rifle around just in time to see a dishevelled man reach up and claw at Anthony’s neck before disappearing back over the edge, taking a fresh chunk of flesh back down with him. I fired a round, but the bullet missed its mark. Anthony toppled, almost falling off the roof
“Shit!” I chambered another round, cursing myself. We couldn’t afford to keep losing people like this.
There would be no burial for Anthony. We needed the meat. It was all they ate now. It was all we had left to eat. Those people down there have no idea what they’re doing. It’s not their fault they’re like this. This was grim, nasty work, but it was our job to keep them alive and fed until the toxins subsided.
Exactly when that would happen, though, nobody knew.
For now, we held our position.
After what seemed like hours, the mob down below dissipated, wandering off into the fog, their hunger satisfied for now.
I joined Luca’s side as he pulled Anthony’s body away from the roof edge, lifted his mask and gently closed his eyes.
“Same time tomorrow?” I asked, placing a hand on his shoulder.
“Yeah. Same time tomorrow.”