“Hey, that’s my food!” the man bellowed behind his surgical mask. “That food was in our pantry, not from the community supply. I’ve lived here for twenty years! You people come in here and think you can run things, this is bullshit! We’re leaving with our food.”
“I’m sorry sir, but we have orders to keep people from taking too much of the town’s supply,” one of the gate guards said. I knew the guy a little bit from all the coming and going that the gathering squad does and he seems like a nice enough kind of guy. “Allan is gracious enough to allow you to take enough food and water to last your family for a week or so, but anything else is community property and should stay with the community.”
“Fuck you! This is my property. I bought it. Your people didn’t bring it in here. I’m leaving with my property. All of it,” the man said. I thought I recognized him from the food lines, but I couldn’t be sure. He tried to push his way forward and was shoved backwards hard enough to cause him to lose his footing.
He cried out as he fell and grasped at his wife’s coat to keep from falling. As he did so, he inadvertently pulled it off of her. We all gasped and jumped back as we realized that she had a sawed-off shotgun under the coat. She leveled it at the guard who’d pushed her husband and fired a blast directly into his stomach. At this close of a range he was knocked backwards four feet from the pressure. She pumped the handle and fired into the back of a second guard who’d turned to run.
Rebecca and I dove behind the rear bumper of a car that was sitting near the wall. I heard the shotgun pump another round into the chamber but the woman didn’t fire the third round. A warm, gritty substance splashed across our clothing before we even realized what had happened. I blanched when I saw little flecks of bone and brain matter stuck to Becca’s coat and I pulled her down deeper into the snow behind the vehicle.
The man began to scream obscenities towards everyone in town and a large-caliber handgun began to fire wildly in all directions. A round pinged off of the car before the firing stopped suddenly. I pressed myself as flat into the snow as possible and whispered to Rebecca, “Sniper. On the wall. Stay down.”
We lay in the snow for several minutes before one of the guards tapped us on the shoulder and said we could get up. The scene that greeted us was of sheer madness. The man and woman had both been shot in the head, which would explain why they’d suddenly stopped firing. Blood was sprayed out from each of their bodies back towards the car where we’d been hiding which meant the sniper was somewhere in front of us. A large section of the snow was trampled down by men from the guard crews who’d dragged the bodies of the two dead guards.
The strangest part about the entire scene was the children. They stood silently looking around with wide eyes. Each of them was handcuffed to a chain leading to the woman. I began to piece it together that these children weren’t the offspring of this couple and the man really had intended to leave town with all of his property. Holy fuck, we’d regressed centuries in a little over four months.
The guard who’d told us that everything was clear looked us over and asked if we were taking any of the community’s property when we left the town. “No, I see how that ends,” I said as I pointed towards the couple’s remains.
“Hmpf,” he snorted. “Slavers. We’ve heard about them, but this was our first run-in with them. I’m sure we’ll find the parents of these two with their throats slit in some alley somewhere,” he said as he pointed at the children, whom I could now see were a boy and girl of about twelve.
“Wait, this is happening a lot out there?” Rebecca asked as she pointed towards the gate.
“Oh yeah, all the time, especially kids. They torture and murder the parents, then take the kids for themselves or to trade them,” the guard said as if it were common knowledge. “What, second-guessing your decision to leave? Once you go, Allan won’t see it in his heart to let you back in.”

///Want to read more? You’ll have to wait until this section is completed and published in my new book “Unclean Wonderland: The Apocalypse”! Watch for it late summer/early fall 2014!!!////

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